“interview”

Chic and bucolic

A garden party feel on Sunday 10 September for the 4th edition of Chantilly Arts & Elegance, a partner of La Biennale Paris. Rendezvous at the Domaine de Chantilly for this event celebrating l’art de vivre, French style of course. One of the world’s most prestigious automobile races… An anticipated 15,000 visitors, collector’s cars and haute-couture gowns galore, concept cars and models with aerodynamic curves, hair-raising rallies and a forest of fancy hats, whether in felt or straw, bumping into one another on the lawns designed by Le Nôtre… No, you’re not dreaming: you’re well and truly plunged in the pastoral yet motorised décor of Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille, an event held every year in the gardens of the Château de Chantilly. A fête that dares the daring and sets the eye-catching in its sights, combining the most loyal adherence to traditions and the most innovative ideas around. For four years, this event, taking place on the eve of the Biennale’s opening, sets out to be the world’s most prestigious rally of collector’s cars. “The vehicles permitted to take part in this event are all exceptional,” remarks Patrick Peter, president of the company Peter Auto, which organises the day. “Every year, we welcome collectors from all over the world who come to Chantilly to admire them.” An open-air museum Sometimes, very little separates one ephemeral museum from another… While people go to La Biennale Paris to contemplate silent works, they head for Chantilly for the very opposite. It’s to the gentle sound of purring engines that Sunday strollers can admire some of the most beautiful cars in the world, specially gathered for the occasion. As every year, three competitions in honour of the most stunning vehicles are at the heart of the event. The most prestigious of...

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Vetting, an art in itself!

At the Biennale, the Commission d’Admission des Œuvres is the necessary transit point for any object if it is to get into the Grand Palais. This year, vetting is particularly strict. An interview with two men from the art world, Frédéric Castaing and Michel Maket… With the new season starting up placed under the sign of “moralisation”, it was hard for La Biennale Paris to offer anything other than irreproachable vetting. To oversee this “meticulous examination” of works, calling on two co-presidents seemed a good solution: Frédéric Castaing and Michel Maket, the heads, respectively, of the Compagnie Nationale des Experts and the Syndicat Français des Experts Professionnels en Œuvres d’Art et Objets de Collection. To find out more about the new standards of rigour upheld by the Commission for the Admission of Works (the Commission d’Admission des Œuvres or CAO), we talked with the two presidents, both high-flying valuers. How does one distinguish genuines from fakes? What constitutes a “Biennale-quality” object? A dive into the backstage of an art market that is regularly rocked by “cases”…   You’ve arrived at a timely moment when everyone in France is talking about “moralisation”… Michel Maket: Let’s make things clear… We are acting upon a proposition from the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, at the initiative of Mathias Ary Jan, its president, to carry out a co-presidency according to new rules formulated on the operation of the Biennale’s CAO. The principle of independence – which is fundamental in our profession of valuation – is at the heart of the new committee this year. So of course, all this contributes to the moralisation and transparency of the market. Frédéric Castaing: The thing that won my support straight away really was this notion of independence with respect to the management of the Syndicat National des...

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Barbier-Mueller: four generations of collectors

To celebrate the 40th birthday of the Musée Barbier-Mueller, the Biennale Paris is welcoming a selection of 130 works from this Swiss family’s personal collections. An opportunity to retrace a passion and a saga. For the Barbier-Muellers, collecting is part of the family history… It started off with the grandfather, Josef Mueller, then continued with the mother, Monique, the father, Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller, and today the three sons, Gabriel, Stéphane, Thierry, as well as Diane, one of the granddaughters. Four generations of collectors that the Biennale Paris has chosen to honour through a selection of works from their collection, some of which have never been unveiled to the public. “The idea was to set up a dialogue between major pieces from four generations of collectors with very different tastes by recreating the atmosphere of Josef Mueller’s apartment, where modern paintings stood alongside primitive-art objects,” is the way that Laurence Mattet, director of the Musée Barbier-Mueller in Geneva, puts it. Sculptures and contemporary paintings thus brush shoulders with Japanese weaponry and art objects from Africa, Oceania and Antiquity. This year’s event is also an opportunity to pay homage to Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller, who passed away last December at the age of 86 years, and whose name is associated with the largest private collection of primitive art – a collection which comprises 7000 objects, masks, ceramics, textiles, weapons, chairs… all originating from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania, as well as tribal and classical Antiquity pieces. The Barbier-Mueller collection took off in Switzerland a little over 110 years ago. First of all, via Josef Mueller, the son of a bourgeois family from Soleure, who became an orphan at the age of six years. Josef fell “in love” with a portrait of a woman from Picasso’s Pink Period, which he saw on...

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Mathias Ary Jan or the art of reconquest

He’s young and (very) dynamic. And he’s also at the head of the most exclusive event of the back-to-school period. His mission is to bring new life to the Biennale, the paragon of taste and vigour. An hour with Mathias Ary Jan. The platform is international, the dialectic commercial. For its first edition (as a yearly event), La Biennale Paris shows a desire to leave old rivalries aside and to devote itself to new goals. Created under the sign of excellence, this twenty-ninth opus may well be the one that reconquers the public. This, in any case, is the priority of Mathias Ary Jan, a specialist in paintings from the end of the 19th century and the Orientalist school, now also president of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires. His strategy? Gathering around 5000 objects under the glass roof of the Grand Palais over eight days, according to new standards of rigour. A renewal, thus, for this upper-end rendezvous that remains the most chic event in the world of art. One where international collectors can (finally) get back on the track of big deals!   Despite its new yearly rhythm, the Biennale is preserving its name. Isn’t that a little strange? The Biennale traces a history. It’s also a name that, over the years, has become a brand. A brand that we wish to develop, a signature that we’re going to energise even more. So detaching the event from its name would have been, I think, a strategic error. While semantically, it’s no longer a biennale, strategically, the term remains well identified. It refers to a path, a history that started in 1956, and to which we’re very attached. And then again, isn’t the Paris-Dakar held in South America?   How would you describe this twenty-ninth edition in three words?...

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Marc Spiegler: Reflections

As Art Basel opens, we talk with the organization’s great Global Director, Marc Spiegler. He speaks very openly about his vision of his job, the Art Basel fairs, the market and its evolution, about art and the people making it. Marc Spiegler: the art market architect. Marc Spiegler, 48 years old, has always been a very fine analyst of the art market. He simply loves to understand it; and because we love that too, it is always a pleasure to speak with him.   How do you feel at the eve of your fair, a decade after taking on the job? I absolutely love the job and it’s tremendously rewarding, so it certainly doesn’t feel like ten years: it feels like yesterday. At the same time, this fair is my 26th with Art Basel. And if I look back, it feels like a lot has changed. Our organisation has certainly evolved enormously. When I started, we just had the Basel and Miami Beach fairs, we were solely coordinated from Basel, our digital presence was negligible… all we did was the two fairs. Ten years later, we’ve added an extremely strong fair in Asia, and built an extensive online presence – we now have an online catalogue with more than 20,000 artworks from past fairs, not to mention our very large reach on social media, with more than 2 million followers: eight times the 250,000 attendance across our three fairs. And the leadership structure shifted from being exclusively in Switzerland to spanning across three continents, with more than 80 staff making all that happen. When I started we were barely 20. At the same time, the business has changed greatly. The expectations for fairs continue to evolve. 10 years before I arrived, fairs were exclusively trading platforms. Now the international fairs are required to be events in the...

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