Art Market Magazine


Paris in the month of March… The air can be sweet, and it is often a delight to stroll around the "city of a hundred novels" so dear to Honoré de Balzac. This year, more than any other, the tourist – like a latter-day Lucien de Rubempré exploring the capital – will catch a distinct scent of China. This is because a few weeks ago, celebrations started for the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. So of course, it's impossible not to join in the general rejoicing. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs has reorganised the presentation of its outstanding Asian art collections especially for the occasion, while the Musée Cernuschi is exhibiting its contemporary works, echoing the Art Paris Art Fair, focused this year on a new generation of painters and performers from Asia. A taste for things Chinese is nothing new in this country, as we know. For centuries, the Middle Kingdom with its splendid courts and exquisite artefacts nourished the fantasies of a West enchanted by the tales of Marco Polo and Juan Gonzàlez de Mendoza. Today, though curiosity has given way to an admiration tinged with apprehension, investors see China as an El Dorado...

.Content - Number 34

It's sometimes hard to find your place in the sun. This struggle has been the sad reality for many fairs burgeoning on the international stage over the past few years. So, competition is tough. Yet it is not impossible to survive in a market where a superabundant offer confuses the issue – as witness the success of Art Paris Art Fair, a Paris event created in 1999 that has cut quite a swathe. "Today, fairs are pretty much alike, and all the same artists tend to turn up," says Guillaume Piens, curator of the fair since 2011. He has thus broken new ground and sought out new talent, readily citing Victor Segalen: "Life is made glorious through difference and variety." For three years, with his team, he has fine-tuned the DNA of his fair: a decidedly European gathering with an eye on the East


Art Market Magazine

In March, drawing rules in Paris. This gouache belongs to a set of four (including a pair) depicting Roman ruins with people, sold at Drouot on 12 March (Oger-Blanchet SVV). Clérisseau was highly knowledgeable about ancient monuments and often combined or transformed them for the sake of his drawings. In the rooms of this ancient palace with sarcophagi and funerary urns (gouache dated 1775 or 1771 estimated at €10,000/12,000), he has us witness a body being put into a coffin during the time of the Roman Empire. Don't forget the portrait of Rodin by Renoir on 6 March or the landscapes by Jean-Baptiste Oudry on 25 March...



This season’s sales get off to a great start thanks to vintage cars. For its French debut on 5 February during Rétromobile, Canada's RM Auctions, which specialises in classic cars, opened the sale with fanfare, taking in €17.7M (80% in lots). This is where the highest bid roared: €3.6 M for a 1955 D-type "short nose" Jaguar powered by a 3.8-litre six-cylinder engine. The seventh such car built for a customer, it was delivered new to Australian champion Bib Stillwell and successfully competed in many local events. In 1958 it received a factory-made 3.8-litre engine that equipped the most recent D-types. In all, 54 customer cars and six factory cars were made.



With almost continuous growth, 20th century décorative arts is an important sector of activity in the French market. It should be said that it depends heavily on a long list of Art Nouveau and Art Deco creators, from Louis Majorelle and Émile Gallé to Edgar Brandt and Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, not forgetting designers like Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Paulin. This area also benefits from the dynamic energy of institutions like the Orsay, the Arts Décoratifs and the Centre Pompidou museums, and the segment accounts for 4% of auction business in the French market. The sector was unaffected by the crisis of 2009, in France at least, and has posted almost continuous growth for nearly ten years...



Could TEFAF's founders have imagined nearly 40 years ago that what was then called "Pictura" would become as important in the art world as the Venice Biennial or Art Basel? For several days it brings together learned collectors, museum directors and famous billionaires. It is the "only event of the year for them," says Christian Boutonnet of the L’Arc en Seine gallery (Paris). "It's one of the only fairs offering such a mixture of specialities at such a high level of quality," says Anthony Meyer, a Paris dealer who has observed that the origin of most buyers has shifted from northern Europe 10 years ago to southern Europe, Brazil, China, etc. today. No fewer than 376 private planes landed at Maastricht-Aachen Airport in 2013. "People did not expect a fair in the middle of nowhere to be so successful," says decorator François-Joseph Graf.



In the international fair calendar, there are the flagships like TEFAF and Parisian Biennial, and then there are the frigates, which are smaller, yet also faster and thus in a better position to head off in the right direction… The BRAFA, flying the Belgian colours, belongs to this squadron, and is completely at ease with its status as an outsider. The fair cultivates its difference; in fact, as a non-specialist event, it has the leeway to follow trends (particularly in the contemporary field), while asserting its European identity (85% of exhibitors are French and Belgian), preserving its human scale (only 131 galleries, so you don't come out gasping like a marathon runner) and making you feel welcome as only the Belgians can. Its aisles exude a delightfully friendly atmosphere, not at all typical of huge gatherings, competitive by nature.



Celebrated forty years ago as a "moment of perfection" during the 1974 exhibition at the Hôtel de la Monnaie in Paris ("Louis XV: un moment de perfection de l’art français"), the 18th century was one of the most flourishing periods for French art, where the decorative arts enchanted the Europe of the Enlightenment and were all the rage. Woodworkers and cabinetmakers vied with each other in inventiveness, creating a huge variety of furniture for every kind of use, and under the aegis of the marchands-merciers, boldly using unlikely materials like Far Eastern lacquer, porcelain, straw and wax. These marchands-merciers called on the talents of the finest craftsmen to embellish porcelains with splendid mounts in chased gilt bronze, and fostered the production of numerous objects that contributed to the elegance of the fashionable home...



Art Market Magazine Gazette International

March 2014 Edition

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