“Grand Palais”

The trafficking of cultural goods

From Afghanistan to Syria, the world’s emblematic cultural sites have turned into hostages at the hands of religious extremists. This is the context in which one particular exhibition is opening in Paris, under the patronage of UNESCO. An opportunity to look at the matter from a legal angle…   The past year has been marked by an intensification of conflicts in the Middle East, echoed in the West by a series of bloody attacks, namely in France. Beyond the loss in human lives, these conflicts have a universal impact on the cultural field, given that they are staged in countries, namely Iraq and Syria, whose archaeological heritage is particularly rich. In addition, certain combatants have decided to target cultural heritage in their destructive strategies, for ideological or mediatic reasons – and also for financial motivations as trafficking is a lucrative activity. The archaeological nature of this heritage makes it particularly vulnerable. Given the conflicts underway, it is not possible to monitor sites or to fight against underground digs. Meanwhile, unlisted archaeological objects are especially difficult to locate, and hence, to trace, making them easier to transport and deal in – handy qualities for the criminal sphere when objects draw attractive market values to boot. All these elements promote the development of illicit trafficking of cultural goods. The response to this phenomenon is firstly political and international, with measures taken against the conflicts in general, and against trafficking in particular. It also comes from the rallying of professionals and national and international authorities who play a role in the circulation of cultural goods. Finally, it occurs through the application of legal measures aimed at illegalising all movements and transactions of goods involved in this trafficking. The standards making up these legal measures for fighting against the trafficking of cultural objects...

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Tintin takes off

On 18 and 19 November, Artcurial held a sale of comics that raised a total of €4,456,049, going over its global estimate and selling nearly three-quarters of its lots. At a time when Hergé is being exhibited a few metres away from the auction house, at the Grand Palais, the Belgian illustrator scored a world record for a single comic-strip page from the album Explorers on the Moon, published in 1954, going for €1.55 million to a European collector, thus outdoing the high estimate of €900,000. In addition, an exceptional private collection of 20 original sketches made for Hergé’s 1942-1943 greeting cards, known as “snow cards”, sold for €1.5 million. According to Éric Leroy, a comics expert in the auction house, “Tintin’s adventures have crossed the century, accompanying different generations. He’s a living character. Collectors are passionate and the market is solid. Today, Artcurial holds eight of the world’s ten highest prices for Hergé, including the absolute record for a comic-strip work, with a drawing for the cover pages of Tintin books selling for €2.65 million in...

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Fotofever, five candles still burning bright!

Let’s go over the origins of Fotofever – and its projects – in the company of Cécile Schall, director of the fair for contemporary photography. Wide angle on an event taking an original perspective. Cécile Schall stresses the extremely competitive ecosystem in which she finds herself. “Thirty years ago, we could barely count a handful of fairs. Today, there are several hundreds of them.” While these rendezvous have become a privileged way to distribute contemporary art, the development has been made at the price of fierce competition. “Everything is becoming more professional; it’s important to keep a start-up spirit, an innovative spirit.” Cécile Schall started her career in marketing. Her entrepreneurial spirit has enabled her to keep her fair intact. In the shadows of the gigantic Paris Photo, competition is tough… “Photo Off no longer exists, just like No Found; Cutlog was meant to launch a photography fair which never saw the light, as was Chic Photo.” Why this decline? “The photography market is no longer big enough in Paris for so many players. It’s important to exist, but most of all it’s important to perpetuate an economic model,” she confides. To get there, it’s necessary to mark out one’s territory with a clear and unique positioning. Fotofever concentrates on young photographic creation and initiation to collection. New scenography Perpetuation entails innovation. And what is Fotofever’s biggest innovation this year? Its itinerary. Recently, fairs have tended to leave aside traditional stands to experiment with new ways of presenting works. This was the case of Unseen (Amsterdam) and Cutlog (Paris, New York). It will be also the case of Galeristes – Stéphane Corréard’s fair with scenography in the hands of architect Dominique Perrault – as well as Fotofever, which rejects – more or less – the stand format in favour...

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Bourgeois-Wiesner, a photo duo

Florence Bourgeois is director of the Paris Photo fair and Christoph Wiesner, its artistic director. Here, they reveal their own tastes in photography, and discuss the evolution of the market for a medium that has not ceased to win over collectors.   Amongst the many proposals of the galleries exhibiting at Paris Photo, which ones stand out for you? Christoph Wiesner: The Prismes sector reveals some fascinating projects, namely that of Anthony Hernandez, a very great American photographer who immortalised the city of Los Angeles in the 1970s. Douglas Gordon has also done some original work for this section dedicated to large formats and series, which I like in particular, not forgetting the 153 galleries welcomed under the nave of the Grand Palais and our other projects. Florence Bourgeois: What’s interesting about Paris Photo is that it covers over 150 years of photography, but I admit that I’m particularly interested in the work of young artists, for example Noémie Goudal, represented by the gallery Les Filles du Calvaire, or Thibaut Brunet and Mustapha Azeroual, from the gallery Binôme, not forgetting Thomas Mailaender, represented by Roman Road, who reworks old techniques such as cyanotype. Because a new trend emerging in this digital era: photography is rekindling its ties with matter! Christoph Wiesner: We are going to unveil some very beautiful solos featuring major historic American photographers such as Danny Lyon at the Etherton Gallery, showing bikers form the 1960s, or Paul Fusco at Danziger, who filmed Bobby Kennedy’s funeral procession.   Quite a number of galleries are showing American photography, probably because of the elections… Globally speaking, do you think that photography remains a medium that follows the news? Christoph Wiesner: Photojournalism is not greatly represented even if we can place the images by Paul Fusco in this category. This...

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Photos in focus

Over a period of one week, Paris is snapping to the rhythm of photos, historic, vintage or artistic… No way to escape them as the city fills with exhibitions, sales, specialised fairs. A close up on a universal medium! For several years already, Paris Photo has been rocked by a hive of satellite events around the capital. The fair long attempted to channel them in order to avoid competition and a scattering of its public. Today, it is perfectly at ease with them. Indeed, taking advantage of the diversity of its forms, it is even flirting with practices and proposals close to contemporary art in order to attract new publics. This year, thanks to a quirk in the calendar, Paris Photo benefits from a long weekend that helps it to draw photo lovers from afar to enjoy a photographic stay in Paris. So the public is expected to not deprive itself but instead to turn up. Mourning the Paris attacks last year, Paris Photo had to close prematurely in 2015, cutting short any speculations and conclusions on the evolution of the market and collector behaviour. Photo London, for its second edition at Somerset House in May 2016, offered a fairly similar programme to that of its French rival. Galleries present at the 2015 Paris Photo naturally turned up at the British capital to make up for the shortfall due to the early closing of the French event. One might have imagined that sales would be put off… But this was not the case. Overview and proposals Stage one: the Salon de la Photo at the Porte de Versailles. A must for photo amateurs and professionals looking for telephoto lenses of all sizes. Here we find them stocking up on technological innovations and dreaming of an artistic future in the...

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