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Paris Photo 2009: Record Numbers of Visitors and Contrasting Sales
In 2009, Paris Photo undertook an unprecedented exploration of photographic practices in the Orient. Photo: EFE/Lucas Dolega.
PARIS.- The world’s leading fair for 19th Century, modern and contemporary photography, Paris Photo, closed on 22nd November with record numbers of visitors: 40,150, compared to 37,760 in 2008. The 2009 edition which brought together 102 exhibitors from 23 countries was held at the Carrousel du Louvre with a special focus on the Arab and Iranian photography scene.

A Dynamic edition
Visitors and exhibitors paid tribute to the quality of the shows put together by the galleries and to the dynamism of the 2009 edition which produced a number of particularly impressive moments: The BMW prize awarded to the Dutch young photographer Karijn Kakebeeke for her work entitled “Khadija’s Dream;” the crowds that gathered around William Klein and Martin Parr during the book signing programme; the visit by France’s Minister of Culture and Communications Frédéric Mitterrand, and that of celebrities like Lou Reed, Eric Cantona and François Pinault as well as the huge success of the SFR Young Talents operation showcasing new talent.

The world of photography descended on the fair from all corners of the globe with 18 groups of visitors from leading museums, in particular from the USA with patrons from Boston, Houston, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York.

Exceptional spotlight on the Arab and Iranian scene
The 2009 edition of Paris Photo brought to light a particularly active contemporary scene rising out of the Arab world and Iran. At the same time, the fair placed photography in the context of its history in the region. On show were the traces of very first image taken in the Orient in 1839 presented by Serge Plantureux as well as the exhibition of photographs from the archives of the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut covering the period from 1870 to 1969. These served to demonstrate that contrary to what is often thought, there is a real passion for the image in this part of the world. In addition, the conferences by Catherine David and Mirjam Brusius on the expansion of photography in the Middle East provided opportunities to learn more about a scene that is still largely undocumented.

The Statement section which brought together eight galleries from the region was met with enthusiasm, and within it, the Iranian artists in particular attracted serious attention. Tehran’s Silk Road Gallery did particularly well, selling all the works on show including four images by Bahman Jalali from his series “Images of Imagination” at €10,000 a piece, and four images by Gohar Dashti at some €2,000 each. B21 Gallery went back to Dubai almost empty handed having sold eight works by Reza Aramesh at an average unit price of €15,000 as well as three large format collages by Ramin Haerizadeh (also at €15,000 each). Tehran’s Assar Gallery did well and let go of four pieces by Sadegh Tirafkan at €5,000 each and three others by Mohammad Gazhali at €1,500 each.

Regarding the Arab world, Sfeir Semler Gallery recorded a satisfying result with the sale of two works by Akram Zaatari costing €13,000 each and a video by Wael Shawky at €12,000. Selma Ferinari of Tunisia performed well with the sale of three works by Tunisian artist Raja Aissa at between €6,500 and €8,000 each. In addition, New York’s Edwynn Houk Gallery exhibiting in the general sector sold five works by Moroccan artist Lalla Essaydi ranging between US$16,000 and US$24,000 a piece.

Sales: a contrasted picture
An early assessment of sales show a contrasted picture with some galleries performing better than last year and others recording similar or more disappointing results than in 2008.

Vintage once again attracted those in search of a secure bet with collectors worried about stable values opting for safe pieces: Françoise Paviot (Paris) sold 75% of the works in her booth, including a self-portrait by Man Ray priced at €60,000. New York’s Howard Greenberg recorded better figures than last year and let go of a Moholy Nagi for €130 000 euros and a work by Avedon at €55,000. The record for the most expensive piece in the fair went to Robert Klein who sold a 1951 Irving Pen at €265,000. Hamiltons of London did better than last year, notably with the sale of a large format Helmut Newton which flew off the wall at US$300,000. Vintage Gallery of Budapest and Lumière des Roses (Montreuil) also performed better than last year, with the latter doubling its figures compared to 2008 by selling three quarters of the works in its booth.

Regarding sales of contemporary works, modest prices ranging from €2,000 to €15,000 led the way. Although business was a little disappointing for some like Les Filles du Calvaire, Le Réverbère, Kudlek Van Der Grinten, Baudoin Lebon, Toni Tapies or Van Zoetendaal, others did well. These include South Africa’s Michael Stevenson gallery which sold all the works by Pieter Hugo at €14,000 each and Taik which traded 40 works priced between €7,000 and €8,000. Also successful was Beijing’s 798 Gallery which sold some 30 pieces, including many by Yao Lu, winner of last year’s BMW-Paris Photo prize in 2008. Taro Nasu of Tokyo, Flatland (Holland), Dominique Fiat (Paris), DNA (Berlin), Bruce Silverstein (New York), MEM (Osaka) and Anhava (Helsinki) all reported good performances, with the latter selling a wall composed of 12 pieces by Finland’s Jorma Puranen for €48 000.

Central Europe guest of honour in 2010:
In 2010 Paris Photo, to be held from 18th to 21st November, will continue to look towards the East with Central Europe as guest of honour. This will include Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. Art critic and curator Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez (born in 1976 in Ljubljana) has been asked to lead the project. She is currently working on “Les Promesses du Passé” (Promises of the Past), an exhibition to be held at the Pompidou Centre in the Spring of 2010 focussing on contemporary art from Central and Eastern Europe.

Guillaume Piens appointed Fair Manager
In charge of press relations for Paris Photo from 2002 to 2007, Artistic Director for the 2008 edition focussing on Japan and Deputy Fair Manager in 2009, Guillaume Piens has been appointed Paris Photo Fair Manager by Jean Daniel Compain, Director General of the Culture, Sports and Leisure division at Reed Expositions, France.

Paris Photo | Modern and Contemporary Photography | Arab and Iranian Photography |




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