Art Market Magazine


Society dinners are often an occasion to ramble on about the future of the French art market, among other things. Can Paris recover its former glory, faced with rivals like London and New York? This somewhat hackneyed subject still gets an outing in the press. So the sale of the Félix Marcilhac collection provides an answer for the arty elites of the capital and the world's leading marketplaces: yes, Paris is still the beating heart of a market with a penchant for good taste and a certain idea of luxury. During the Seventies, Marcilhac, a well-known specialist, gallery owner and writer, gathered together some top-rate Art Deco pieces by Coard, Frank, Legrain and many others. The collection recently obtained a grand total of €24,727,715, with several world records thrown in for good measure. In comparison with the €50.16 M garnered by the Dray collection in 2006, and still more with the €59.1 M raised by the Art Deco section in the Saint Laurent/Pierre Bergé sale three years later, the uncharitable might scoff that it's not very impressive… But we would riposte that this result in a period of crisis confirms the vibrant dynamic of the French capital, which has remained the setting for historic dispersions of the speciality since the celebrated Jacques Doucet sale in 1972.

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One of the virtues of Bill Viola's work is its undoubted ability to win over an audience resistant to contemporary art, particularly one of its most specialised media: video. Current art can sometimes be taxed with commercial gadgetry, or, at the other end of the scale, with conveying unrelenting darkness and even nihilism. The images enclosed by the American artist in television sets or projected onto screens are light years away from this. Firstly, because their content is timeless, essential and universal, evoking the miracle of life and the inevitably of a death that brings release. Even when these two themes are not directly involved, the basic elements – water, earth, fire and air – are always present, even if only through the shimmering heat rising from a sun-drenched soil captured by the camera. All this avoids any cosmic grandiloquence: on the contrary, it is always on a human scale. A humanism that echoes that of the Renaissance, a period sometimes cited explicitly by the video maker – because the other obvious quality of Viola's images is their undeniable beauty, in the classic, Platonic meaning of the term, which partly explains their powerful appeal.


Art Market Magazine

His name, Jeff Koons, is as well-known as his works. There is a whiff of scandal, provocation and money about him… "If the Beatles had made sculptures, they would probably look like mine," he said in 1990. Works staging him and his wife (he was married to Ilona Staller, aka "Cicciolina", a former porn film star and singer now involved in politics) and idols like Michael Jackson have brought him international fame.His sculptures, rooted in both Pop art and kitsch, are sought after by leading collectors, and feature in public collections. In 2008, he was invited to set up seventeen works in the Château de Versailles and its gardens. This coming June, the Whitney Museum of American Art is organising his first retrospective, which will then go on show in Paris at the Centre Pompidou, on 26 November 2014.



Staged in Paris on 11 and 12 March, this sale of the collection of Félix Marcilhac, expert, dealer and author of reference works, will go down in the annals of Art Deco history (Sotheby's and Artcurial). The initial estimate at between €8.2 and €11.7M was more than doubled, achieving a total of €24.7M (95.2% by lot; 97% by value). To continue with a few more figures, 88% of the lots changed hands for higher prices (including the buyer's premium) than expected, with thirtyone of them topping €200,000. No fewer than twentyone world records were beaten, firstly for Jean-Michel Frank with the €3,681,500 obtained for an extraordinary patinated bronze cabinet inlaid with gypsum panels from around 1935.…



To suit every budget. Drawings cover a huge field in terms of technique, period and style. From the simplest sketches, often preparatory to larger Works on another support, to works in their own right; from sanguine to charcoal, and from 18th century pastel portraits to Henri Michaux's mescaline-inspired ink drawings, there is something to suit all tastes and budgets. Drawing is a significant sector in France, as can be seen from the prestigious art fair bringing enthusiasts and professionals together at the Palais Brongniart. It is quite natural for this segment to have experienced growth comparable to that of other segments under consideration. But its share is still relatively modest, especially if we limit ourselves solely to specialised sales, as here.



Appointed in June 2013 as head of the Musées des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Olivier Gabet, still in his thirties, speaks about the museum's projects with composure. As we know, “for those valuable, worthiness doesn't wait the number of years… You took over last September. Do you feel you are home at last? I had always wanted to work in this museum one day. Even though it has come about sooner than I expected, I don't feel totally unready. After specialising in the 19th century at the École des Chartes, I became curator at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and looked after objets d’art from the Twenties and Thirties, before returning to my first love at the Musée d’Orsay.



Art Brussels, formerly known as a "contemporary art fair", is one of the oldest in the world, and also one of the most atypical. Here there is no focus on the outsize and few alarming prices; what it does have is a typically Belgian sense of welcome. A fair that seeks to reflect the Belgian collector, according to Brussels gallery owner Rodolphe Janssen (incidentally, a member of the event's selection committee), meaning someone who buys early in an artist's career, and in an eclectic way. This does not prevent Art Brussels from being a genuinely international event, because less than 25% of the participating galleries come from Belgium. Unlike its opposite numbers, Art Brussels continues along a path unconcerned with the race to gigantism, and far from the pitched battles between major global events.



With the sixteenth Armory Show, prudence pays off today! We take a look at an event that took place between 6 and 9 March. After its thundering inauguration in 1913 (garnering acerbic criticism that still réverbérâtes to this day), the Armory Show went underground. No other was held until 1994. Then there was a pause until 2001, followed by a number of more or less successful editions. But Marcel Duchamp's "Nu descendant l'escalier" – compared with "an explosion in a tile factory" – and Brancusi's "Mlle Pogany", likened to "a hard boiled egg on a sugarlump", had done their work. Since then, thèse "artistic UFOs" have found generations of followers, as is the case with Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle at the Thomas Schulte gallery, whose "Birds in space" series makes a direct reference to his Romanian colleague. At the present time, the fair is still a "show" if ever there was one, since it brings together more than two thousand five hundred works representing twenty-nine countries in over two hundred galleries!



Art Market Magazine Gazette International

April 2014 Edition

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