Art Market Magazine


In the age of the Instagram revolution, photography is coming closer and closer, flooding our smartphones and tablets with a multitude of images, some of which even lay claim to being works of art. What about fine art photography though, something that is passionately and sometimes foolishly sought out by collectors? The answer may perhaps lie in this edition, which focuses on this developing speciality! The industry is thriving, showing an increase of 50% in 2012. Paris, the historic home of photography, sees a multitude of exhibitions and sales flourish every autumn to tie in with Paris Photo, the speciality's great event. This November is no exception to the rule with a 2013 program that gives pride of place to primitive photography, with work by Gustave Legray, Charles Nègre and Désiré Charnay. Almost two centuries after Niepce, when the image dominates and the word is often reduced to 140 tiny characters, it is likely these pioneers would not have turned their backs on this wonderful way of sharing, the depth of field of which knows no bounds!

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Photography has apparently remained unscathed by the recession, changing and adapting to the times, with Parisian gallery owners even declaring that business is going rather well. For example, Jean Noel de Soye, who jointly runs the Parisian In Camera gallery with Hanane Hilmi, commented: “We opened four years ago in the midst of the economic crisis; the recession is still here but so are we”. The obvious health of Paris Photo is reassuring. Evoking the vitality of the buyers and collectors, Didier Brousse, owner of the Camera Obscura gallery in Paris, notes that “there is a significant diversity of French and international collectors, and the variety of visitors to Paris is an asset”. “Paris Photo has stimulated a common interest in both the general public and the collectors thanks to its very broad price range”.


Art Market Magazine

Coming up for sale at Drouot by Audap & Mirabaud, this charming portrait of Aglaé de Gramont leaves us in no doubt that this young lady was quite as ravishing as her mother, Yolande de Polignac, the friend and confidante of Marie-Antoinette. Born at the Château de Versailles on 7 May 1768, Aglaé was married at the age of 12 to Antoine-Louis-Marie, Duc de Gramont et de Guiche, earning her the charming nickname "Guichette". Louis XVI gave her a dowry of 800,000 livres: a more than handsome sum that enabled the couple to maintain their rank at court. Then the revolutionary storm struck. The Polignacs and their children rapidly fled into exile after the storming of the Bastille. They went to live in first Switzerland, then Italy, and finally Austria, where the Queen of France's friend learned of the execution of Louis XVI…



If ever one were wondering where Paris ranks on the world stage of photography, the 2013 agenda gives an unequivocal answer: highly, very highly! The large number of sales orchestrated in November during Paris Photo, a very influential photography fair, confirms this. Primitive works of art, considered more rare, will hold a prominent place at the fair. As such, one of the great privileges of this edition will be the opportunity to own, or admire – the value of this piece is, after all, around €200,000/300,000 – Désiré Charnay’s “Cités et ruines américaines”, an item that has been described as “museum quality” by the Ader Normann Auction House. Let’s not forget that to this day, the highest bid for an album from this photographer was €159,750 (source Artnet)



While the FIAC was packing out the Grand Palais, urban art brought plenty of success to Drouot on 25 October (Digard SVV). On the ground for two days with conferences and "in and out" appearances by artists, the auction house crossed the finish line with an astonishing income of €2,202,995 generated by sales. This was owed first and foremost to two historic figures, Jean-Michel Basquiat, who came to contemporary art via street art, and Keith Haring, a contemporary artist connected to the street art phenomenon. Living artists were next in line with a third six-figure sale achieved by the darling of international urban art, the muchhyped Banksy, credited with €132,615, a French record thanks to his aerosol and stencil on canvas dating from 2000...



From the Italian Primitives to the Flemish painters of the 17th century and up the French Neoclassicists, the Old Master sector covers a broad range of styles and themes, whose only point in common is that they belong to the past. This age factor does not shield works from the effects of fashion, and at present they have given way to contemporary works, which seem to be attracting the attention of new collectors. Therefore, the results for Old Masters have posted quite a drop over the past few years: a fallback that is not due solely to the crisis of 2009. Nonetheless, 2012 was a pretty good year. Sales totals rose by 5% in France – thanks to a big rise in the average price (33%) –, while they increased by 2% outside France.



Contemporary art, as showcased by the not-to-be-missed FIAC and side events, has reached its hour of glory. Make room for ancient paintings with this month’s opening of Paris Tableau! Situated in the reserved atmosphere of a magical space at the Brongniard Palace, this fair has found its audience, with even more visitors expected than for the two previous editions. This event will allow collectors and curators to choose from a selection of prestigious - and unpublished - works of art, while art enthusiasts can meet and greet committed professionals. In strictly commercial terms, one hundred odd works of art, some of them museum-quality, will be available between €10,000-3,5M.



Remember his name. Zeng Fanzhi has become the world’s most expensive living Chinese artist. On 5 October, his picture "The Last Supper", inspired by the famous fresco by Leonardo da Vinci, was sold in Hong Kong (Sotheby's) to the tune of HK$180,440,000 (US$23.3 M). It is worth noting that this large picture came from the Foundation of Guy and Myriam Ullens de Shooten, almost the Steins of contemporary Chinese painting. Alongside that of Uli Sigg, their collection is currently the most complete of its kind. As for the purchaser, it could well be the collector François Pinault, a great admirer of the work of the Chinese artist, by whom he owns several canvasses. He even sees Zeng Fanzhi as the Jackson Pollock of the 21st century (quoted in The Economist).



Art Market Magazine Gazette International

November 2013 Edition

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