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Winning edition for Art Paris Art Fair 2014: Record numbers of visitors, brisk sales and an electric atmosphere
A visitor looks at an artwork by Iuri Sarmento during the 'Art Paris Art Fair', in Paris, on March 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT.

PARIS.- Art Paris Art Fair 2014 brought together 140 galleries from 20 countries. The fair closed on Sunday 31st March showing a record 58 387 visitors, a 10% increase on last year’s 53 257 despite being a day shorter and the closing off of the Champs Elysées area because of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to France on 26th and 27th March.

The 2014 edition of Art Paris Art Fair confirmed its identity as an accessible European fair that looks to the East and favours the discovery of new talents and art scenes. The success of this new direction adopted in 2012 was evident from the first day. The trade and private preview attracted a record 17 115 professional visitors (up 24% from 13 847 en 2013). Celebrities flocked to the fair including Eric Cantona, Marion Cotillard, François Cluzet, Catherine Frot, Valérie Bonneton, Agnès Varda, Mathieu Demy, Jack Lang, Bernard Kouchner, Lise and Jacques Toubon, Dominique de Villepin, Vikash Dhorasoo, Stany and Dolores Chaplin, François Vincentelli, Gérard Darmon, Mickaël Cohen, Anthony Delon, Florence Foresti, along with leading collectors like Monique Pozzo di Borgio, Diana Widmaier Picasso, Edouard Carmignac, Uli Sigg and Gilles Fuchs… On their way out they all stopped to admire Miguel Chevalier’s psychedelic digital work, represented by Louise Alexander Gallery, that was projected across the entire façade of the Grand Palais.

This was the first time that China has been invited as Guest of Honour in an art fair in France. It brought a very special energy to the 16th edition of the fair. Highlights included the seven tonne “Iron Fist” by Liu Bolin that stood at the entrance of the fair, the monumental sculpture installation by Zhang Ding presented by Helene Bailly Gallery and ShanghArt, and of course Li Wei’s unforgettable performance during which he rose up in the air under the immense glass roof of the Grand Palais dressed as a cosmonaut on a space flight. The fair offered an exceptional panorama with more than 90 Chinese artists, including leading moderns like Zao Wou ki and Wang Keping, and many stars of the contemporary scene like Yu Minjun, Liu Wei, Feng Zhengjie and Rong Rong. Also on show were new rising talents such as Wang Ningde, Li Fang, Luo Dan, Dai Guangyu and Quin Ga. In addition, a couple of French collectors presented key pieces of their exceptional collection of Chinese art providing an added dimension to this rich tribute to Chinese art that coincided with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China.

Visitors expressed their appreciation of the carefully presented and coherent exhibitions by the galleries who offered many new works at affordable prices. This includes abstract works by Geneviève Claisse at Bertrand Grimont, others by Regina Bogat at Zürcher gallery, monochromes by Bernard Aubertin at Jean Brolly, gouaches by Matthieu Schmitt at Catherine Issert, Alvar Gullichsen’s architectural paintings at Heino gallery from Helsinki and anatomic drawings by Lubos Plny by Christian Berst. Also on show were works by young Ukranian artist Nicolas Tolmachev at Blue Square and others by young Turkish artists Bengü Karaduman and Yagiz Ozgen at Priska Pasquer. Two outstanding works based on the Chinese flag by Gérard Fromanger and Jean-Pierre Raynaud were presented under the title “China Red” at Caroline Smulders gallery. Another major work on offer was a kinetic installation by Venezuela’s Manuel Merida at Meyer Zafra gallery.

The thematic sections in the fair drew praise from visitors who appreciated the variety of the design pieces in the ArtDesign section, emerging artists in the “Promises” section, the “China Platform” of course, as well as the particularly successful Art Books Librairie Flammarion bookshop where people were able to meet authors and have their books signed. The elegant art book binding space also attracted a great deal of attention.

This year saw the introduction of an educational component to the fair: visitors to the website were able to sort works by price and geographic origin as well as take a virtual tour of the entire fair (a functionality developed by SISSO). In addition, each gallery had its own flyer describing the works on offer and some 100 guided tours were conducted by members of a contemporary art think tank for collectors or the clients of partner companies. Also new this year was the creation of a collectors’ group called “We are all Collectors.”

Sales were on the whole satisfactory with most works going for between 1,000 and 25,000 Euros. Several galleries sold out including Paris-Beijing and Claude Bernard with a one-man show of ink paintings by Gao Xingjian. Some galleries reported their best performance yet this year, including A2Z Galerie and J.P. Ritsch Fisch. Galerie Vieille du Temple sold 40 pieces at between 1,000 and 25,000 Euros. Duplex 100m2 et L’Agence à Paris (Sarajevo/Paris) doubled its sales from last year while Galerie Oniris . Florent Paumelle sold five works by François Morellet at 50,000 Euros, with half the buyers being new or foreign clients. Claude Lemand sold a piece by Shafic Abboud for 300,000 Euros and a tondo by Iraq’s Dia Al-Azzawi at 80,000 Euros. Galerie Templon sold the “Roll Up” sculpture made in 2010 by British artist Antony Caro while Galerie Particulière let go of “Schema” a sculpture made of feathers by Kate Mccgwire for 60,000 Euros. Zürcher sold two large paintings by Marc Desgranchamps at 35,000 Euros each. Newcomers to the fair were satisfied, in particular Thailand’s Adler/Shubashok gallery which sold nine of Manit Sriwanichpoom’s “Pink Man” trolleys and a piece by Chatchai Puipa at 80,000 Euros. Françoise Livinec sold 31 drawings and paintings at between 400 and 25,000 Euros while Françoise Besson from Lyon let go of 16 works by Laurent Mulot at between 1,500 and 3,000 Euros. Clients also commissioned a work from her artist Patrice Giorda.

Concerning thematic sections, buoyed by huge exposure in the press, the China platform was a resounding success. IFA gallery sold 3 works by Jiang Shanqing at between 10,000 and 25,000 Euros as well as a large photograph by the Gao Brothers at more than 20,000 Euros. Photography gallery M97 from Shanghai did well, selling some 20 works at between 1,000 and 8,000 Euros, in particular by artist Luo Dan who caught the attention of many visitors who discovered him for the first time. 10 Chancery Lane Gallery let go of a large painting by Huang Rui for 35,000 Euros. Xing Dong Cheng, a leading gallery on the Chinese art scene who had not been back to the fair since 2009 “was very impressed by how the fair has changed,” adding that “this is the first time a European fair produces a tribute of such size and quality to the Chinese art scene.”

Satisfaction was high among the 12 participants in the “Promises” section reserved for young galleries (less than 5 years old) whose booths were sponsored (50% of the cost) by ART PARIS ART FAIR. ALB – Anouk le Bourdiec gallery stood out with her two large drawings by Dutch artist The Kid that went for 20,000 and 27,000 Euros. Muriel Guépin from New York sold 4 drawings by Korean artist Keun Young Park at 4,500 Euros each while Feizi Gallery (Brussels, Shanghai) let go of some 20 drawings by Ye Linghan at 2,500 Euros each.

This year’s ArtDesign section was completely remodeled and directed by design expert and collector Caroline Mondineu-Jollès. Supported by IDEAT Magazine and Maserati, the section included 9 participants. An exhibition entitled “ArtDesignLab” with experimental work by 8 designers was widely acclaimed for its discriminating and cutting-edge selection. Many galleries expressed the desire to come back next year, including the Manufacture de Sèvres which sold works to new clients with prices ranging between 2,600 and 20,000 Euros. For its first time at the fair, Armel Soyer gallery was delighted, having sold a mirror by Mathias Kiss to Russian collectors for 30,000 Euros.

The ArtDesign prize that rewards the best collaboration between a gallery and an artist went to Florence Doléac represented by Jousse Entreprise for her work “Satellite Dreams II” made exclusively for Art Paris Art Fair. For the first time this year, the winning work will be donated to the Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Vera Molnar and her gallery MiniMasterpiece received a special mention from the jury of the 2014 ArtDesign prize.

In conclusion, all the galleries that were interviewed were pleased with the nature of the fair’s visitors who were seen as high level and serious. They all mentioned the significant number of new contacts made, in particular among foreign visitors.

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