“fair”

Trend: Wood, a magnificent material

To mark the 21st edition of the PAD (Paris Art + Design), from 22 to 26 March in the Tuileries Gardens, we take a plunge into the heart of the matter… Wood or the poetry of raw essences. Variations on an age-old material with a bright future ahead, whose presence on the decorative-arts and design market is… natural. If furniture reflects the spirit of an era, then wood is well and truly a material that cannot be dissociated from the decorative arts. The emergence of a sedentary lifestyle in the Middle Ages contributed to the development of a type of furniture whose technical characteristics have evolved. Starting off with metal hinges and complex assemblies, progress was quick and gave rise to all the variations that we know today. In France, the 17th century saw the emergence of veneered furniture and cabinetwork. Ebony took the place of blackened pearwood while a new type of furniture item made its entrance: the cabinet. The Enlightenment brought an abundance of skill and ingeniousness in all furniture forms, usages and assemblies. Following the lead of the reigning sovereign’s tastes, furniture gradually took on the contributions of Boulle marquetry, porcelain plaques, imported lacquer, Martin varnish… Some furniture was even made sheet metal! Wood was no longer the focus, merely a means of expressing unparalleled refinement. One precision nonetheless: this principle only applied to Parisian decorative arts, conditioned by corporatism. In the French regions, namely in port towns, furniture could appear in solid mahogany. Meanwhile, the 19th century placed greater priority on the quality of wood: mahogany from Saint-Domingue, from Cuba… But very quickly, mechanisation hollowed a gap between artistic craftsmanship and industry. A union between the arts and industry was not a vain utopia however. Michael Thonet thus perfected a bentwood technique drawing inspiration from...

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Drawing Lab, a place for experimentation

Not far from the Louvre, the brand new Drawing Hôtel is home to… the Drawing Lab, a private art centre wholly dedicated to the promotion of contemporary drawing. An encounter with Christine Phal, founder of the Lab and the Drawing Now fair, held at the Carreau du Temple. Until 20 May, the Drawing Lab’s exhibition space is presenting Strings, a show featuring artist Keita Mori, accompanied by curator Gaël Charbau. The drawings, covering the walls and using thread, are projected in the air, stretch out across paper… or else turn into video performance. A subtle art, a metaphor of crossings and migrations, that one could say sums up the evolution of contemporary drawing in the last decade or so. Ever since, that is, the creation of Drawing Now, the fair currently being held in Paris, from 23 to 26 March. Your choice of showing Keita Mori to launch your new venue, the Drawing Lab, is no accident. It reveals how drawing has evolved in recent years. The Drawing Now fair which you’ve been organising since 2007 was quick to integrate this evolution… When I set up the fair, the type of drawing that artists wanted to present tended to be graphic works on paper, and the fair’s configuration was such that most propositions went in this direction. But the evolution of our gaze, of the way in which artists express themselves, and of the relationships that we’ve set up with other venues, have enabled us to move on. I remember that when Carine Tissot (editorial note: her daughter and partner in Drawing Now and Drawing Hôtel, who manages the hôtel – private mansion in French) and I were in New York for the Armory Show in 2009, we discussed the definition of drawing with Brett Littman, director of the Drawing...

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Fair play

There are plenty of art events on in Paris this March: five remarkable fairs and exhibitions a gogo. Everything you need to plan an enthralling itinerary, with stops dedicated to drawing, contemporary African art and design… Are you ready for a suite of springtime fairs? From 30 March to 2 April… It’s THE must event: Art Paris Art Fair, this year welcoming 139 galleries from 29 countries. Half of the exhibitors are from overseas, and the fair has attracted many new faces this year, with 50 % of the participants being new galleries. An unmissable gathering for the art world and the general public, this fair, held at the Grand Palais, allows visitors to discover what’s happening in the art world with an ever-savvy focus on overseas scenes. This year, its general curator, Guillaume Piens, is backed up by exhibition curator and cultural consultant Marie-Ann Yemsi (also to curate the next Bamako Encounters), who has helped to select top galleries from the African continent – including the Maghreb – and its diaspora, most of which are exhibiting for the first time in France at the event. Amongst the twenty or so galleries singled out for this African focus, a few come from very diverse horizons: Uganda is present via the Afriart Gallery from Kampala; there’s also Nigeria, with Art Twenty One based in Lagos; the Ivory Coast is represented by the Fondation Charles Donwahi from Abidjan; not forgetting South Africa, with Whatiftheworld Gallery from Cape Town. The October Gallery from London, representing El Anatsui in particular, and Parisian gallery Magnin-A, namely exhibiting Chéri Samba, present great classics in modern and contemporary African art. Also of note: the solo show accorded to South African artist Kendell Geers by Barcelona-based ADN Galeria. Emerging African creation is also represented by stands in...

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In Rotterdam, Haute Photographie revamps the fair concept

Putting on a museum-quality collective show, Haute Photographie, held in Rotterdam from 8 to 12 February, is renewing the concept of image-related commercial events. A lowdown on the first edition… Haute Photographie is a new fair concept tested out by Dutch gallerist Roy Kahmann during Art Rotterdam Week, from 8 to 12 February. After a pilot initiative last year, Haute Photographie has just welcomed crowds of visitors to its first edition, held over five days. Organisers filled a 1,250 m2 space adjacent to Rotterdam’s FotoMuseum. Some 250 works by around fifty artists were presented by five galleries. This new type of fair was designed to offer a more intimate and convivial version of the big yearly events that punctuate the photography market, of which Paris Photo has become emblematic. “I hate the current system of fairs organised by stands that are limited in size and in which the visitor’s attention gets lost,” explains the Haute Photographie founder. “I wanted image presentation to be closer to that in a museum while offering the possibility of buying works. Here, visitors can discover pieces in a relaxed atmosphere before going off for a meal in the starred restaurant or looking around the bookshop.” Instead of the customary stands, organisers have taken the collective-hanging approach, with each artist being accorded wide picture rails. These were presented in a highly organised space that facilitated circulation and offered armchairs and benches. Particular attention was paid to lighting. Young and vintage talent At the fair’s entrance, visitors were ushered in by a selection of three large prints by Antoine d’Agata, hanging opposite three images of Rotterdam’s parks by Jeroen Hofman.  Polaroid nude shots by Carla van de Puttelaar were on offer at €1,450 while black-and-white portraits of young sailors by Belgian Stephan Vanfleteren were priced at €2,950....

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Zona Maco 2017

“Latin America’s most important contemporary art fair…” At Zona Maco, sales are slowing down but Mexico City’s art scene is thriving. Throughout this week, Zona Maco’s website was unavailable to use half of the time with a message appearing across the screen announcing “Resource Limit Is Reached”. One wondered if the message was an unintentional commentary on the fair’s performance, as much as that on the dysfunctional website. Though the energy fluctuated across the opening days (8-12 February) as well as across the sections, Zona Maco often appeared slightly out of breath, lacking the thrill excitement that typically accompanies the global art world’s most successful “trade shows”. Hopping from one international fair to another with a baggage of art celebrities’ latest multimillion creations is no doubt an exhausting business, which might explain the weariness at some of the booths, particularly those of the top galleries from New York, Paris and London, whose abundance in the exhibitors’ list makes Zona Maco the most international art event in the region. Zona Maco 2017, presenting 120 galleries and 1500 artists, was unequivocally described as the most international edition so far, both when it comes to the geographical spread of participating galleries, and that of collectors in attendance. The sales however were uneven. With many dealers confirming the fair’s sluggishness when speaking in private, and asserting fantastic sales when approached in writing, one can only assume the truth must be somewhere in the middle.  Los Angeles’s Steve Turner confirmed all works from their stand, part of a curated section Zona Maco Sur, were snapped up within the first four hours after the opening. The gallery was showcasing paintings and a video by Yung Jake, a multidisciplinary artist “born on Internet in 2011”, fusing hip-hop, technology, and contemporary art.  Curiously, all the works went...

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