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Art Market

Paris Maintains Art Market Momentum despite FIAC Cancellation

The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

Paris Art Week is underway in the French capital, albeit without its marquee event, the FIAC art fair, canceled just weeks before its planned opening due to the pandemic. While the usual hoard of international collectors, curators, journalists, and art lovers isn’t flocking to the city, local galleries are coordinating their efforts online and in person to come together (in safe numbers), enjoy some (socially distanced) art, and make some sales. There’s a focus on galleries and some fun initiatives—such as an art scavenger at the Grand Palais organized by Perrotin and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux this weekend—as well as several smaller fairs going ahead with physical editions and major auctions (conducted both in person and online) at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. All in all, the energy level this week feels familiar, even if the format and context are anything but the usual.
Back in April, the French gallery association (Comité Professionnel des Galeries d’Art, or CPGA) announced that, according to a survey of its members, a third of galleries in France would close before the end of 2020. And with FIAC and most other major fairs canceled, the pressure is on. To further complicate matters, new coronavirus restrictions were imposed in Paris last week, including a 9 p.m. curfew, forcing the Parisian art world to pull off feats of flexibility and compromise.
Installation view of Perrotin’s LE PARI(S) presentation, 2020. Photo by Claire Dorn. Courtesy of the artists and Perrotin.

Installation view of Perrotin’s LE PARI(S) presentation, 2020. Photo by Claire Dorn. Courtesy of the artists and Perrotin.

Acting on its feet, the CPGA conceived LE PARI(S), a play on the French word le pari, meaning “the bet” or “the gamble” (and which, for full disclosure, is being hosted online on Artsy). The association put out a call to its members and nearly 200 galleries signed on; 172 participated in a gallery night on October 22nd that ran until 8 p.m. (in accordance with the 9 p.m. curfew); 135 galleries will extend their hours to open on Sunday. COVID-safe art walks around the Marais and a weekend full of special events in Belleville will celebrate the creative industries in those neighborhoods, from commercial galleries to museums and publishing houses.
“The CPGA wanted to support the mobilization of the galleries to show the resilience of the French gallery and cultural sector,” said Géraldine de Spéville, the CPGA’s general delegate. “It was very important for us to show how this sector is adapting and evolving to create new opportunities during this particular context.”
Daniele Genadry, installation view of “Staring in Place” at In Situ - Fabienne Leclerc for LE PARI(S), 2020. Courtesy of In Situ - Fabienne Leclerc.

Daniele Genadry, installation view of “Staring in Place” at In Situ - Fabienne Leclerc for LE PARI(S), 2020. Courtesy of In Situ - Fabienne Leclerc.

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Part of that evolution is “Hospitality,” a sector of sorts of LE PARI(S) that is reminiscent of the itinerant pop-up exhibition series Condo, whereby Parisian galleries are hosting colleagues from abroad. Among others, Backlash is hosting Moroccan gallery Montresso; Blum & Poe has taken up residence chez christian berst — art brut; and Beirut gallery Marfa’ Projects is the guest of Marcelle Alix and In Situ - Fabienne Leclerc.
“It was very important for us to not only include galleries, but also museums and private collections—it’s inclusive,” de Spéville said of the ethos behind LE PARI(S). “But it also shows how galleries are in the center of the whole process, between collectors, artists, institutions, so it’s symbolic, because galleries are the key.”
Kayum Ma’ax, El capitalino, 2019. Courtesy of the artist, Galería MUY, and Outsider Art Fair.

Kayum Ma’ax, El capitalino, 2019. Courtesy of the artist, Galería MUY, and Outsider Art Fair.

CC Gilm Art, Untitled, 2020. Courtesy of the artist, Outsider Inn Gallery, and Outsider Art Fair.

CC Gilm Art, Untitled, 2020. Courtesy of the artist, Outsider Inn Gallery, and Outsider Art Fair.


Though FIAC isn’t happening, other fairs are forging ahead and giving galleries the opportunity to tap into Paris’s market momentum. The Outsider Art Fair is proceeding with a hybrid format online and in person, through a partnership with auction house Hôtel Drouot. Asia Now’s sixth edition is showcasing several dozen galleries at a space in the 8th arrondissement. The upstart Galeristes fair is hosting more than 40 galleries at the Le Carreau du Temple, a hulking glass building from the 19th century. The Paris Internationale fair, known for its global roster of emerging galleries, has opted for a hybrid model with online viewing rooms and an in-person exhibition in a vacant storefront in central Paris.
Relatively new kid on the block Salon de Normandy, a fair of sorts organized by the nonprofit The Community, is in its second year and once again set up in the rooms of the Normandy Hôtel. The unconventional presentation, something between a typical hotel fair and a salon, was shaped in part by the loss of its original space shortly before the inaugural edition in 2019.
The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

“What’s been happening this year is, in a way, a little bit of a reflection, or let’s say déjà vu from last year, when something happened and we had to adapt and react,” explained founder Tuukka Laurila. “We are a 20-minute walk from Paris Internationale and what we’re trying to do is send everybody from here to there, and vice versa. It’s a nice way of building this community type of approach where everybody supports each other.”
In addition to the galleries and fairs banding together and adapting to exceptional circumstances, there is the city’s reliable lineup of long-in-the-making museum shows. Top of the heap this year are “Matisse, Like a Novel” at the Centre Pompidou and the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s retrospective.
The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

“Paris feels it is having a Renaissance, and this has partly to do with Brexit,” said Thaddaeus Ropac, whose namesake gallery is celebrating 30 years in Paris this year and just opened a major show at its space in the Marais. “Some major galleries are moving to Paris, they feel they want to have a stronghold in Europe and do business without any potential disputes. Paris is the European center for the art world because it’s very rich in its infrastructure and has some of the best museums in the world.”
In the absence of one of the pillars of Paris’s art market infrastructure, FIAC, longtime fair participant Galerie Nathalie Obadia is exhibiting at Asia Now this year for the first time.
“In the years to come there will clearly be a division between a few large-scale global fairs and those which will have a precise polysemic theme and which will have a defined geographical anchoring such as 1-54, Asia Now, or Art Brussels,” Nathalie Obadia said over email.
The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

The night before preview of Salon de Normandy by The Community. Courtesy of Salon de Normandy.

That split menu of global and niche fairs will likely be accompanied by refined online sales strategies. “There’s no way that we would go back to the way we presented art online before this necessity arose,” Ropac said. “But I also feel this crisis taught us how important our galleries are. I always believed very much in brick-and-mortar because I think artworks and artists deserve their work to be shown under the ideal circumstances, which we provide in our galleries.”
Galleries have pulled together this Paris Art Week to show work in the most ideal circumstances possible given the context. Unique initiatives like LE PARI(S) have taken shape, some fairs and auction houses have found creative ways to forge ahead, institutions are opening their doors, and somehow, despite a surge in COVID-19 cases in France, Paris is buzzing. The threats posed by the pandemic may even have helped forge a stronger template for future art weeks in the City of Lights.
Discover more artists, galleries, and exhibitions participating in LE PARI(S).
Amah-Rose Abrams