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Art Paris: New Venue and Verve Draw Sophisticated Buyers

Now in its eighth year, a very successful Art Paris fair was held from March 16-20 in the Grand Palais, an historic site in central Paris that reopened this past fall after several years’ renovation.

PARIS—Now in its eighth year, a very successful Art Paris fair was held from March 16-20 in the Grand Palais, an historic site in central Paris that reopened this past fall after several years’ renovation.

Though smaller and less contemporary than the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC; see ANL, 10/25/05), Art Paris has become more prestigious and more international since the change in date and location. (Until last year it was held in the fall, coinciding with FIAC.)

Forty new galleries joined the fair for the first time, and the event proved strong in its display of classic modern art, including works by Jean Dubuffet, Wifredo Lam, Man Ray, André Masson, Yves Tanguy and French photographer Willy Ronis. Some 37,000 visitors came, viewing works by 108 exhibitors, 30 percent of them from outside France. A special area was also created at the Grand Palais for a sculpture gallery, highlighting works by Arman (Armand Fernandez), Daniel Buren, César (César Baldaccini), Niki de Saint-Phalle, Dubuffet, Max Ernst and Keith Haring.

In the highest price range, two works were sold for about €1 million ($1.2 million) each: a painting by Joan Miró, at Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne and Zurich; and a Pop art work from 1963 by Martial Raysse, at Marion Meyer Contemporary Art, Laguna Beach, Calif.

The Galerie Jeanne-Bucher, Paris, sold numerous works by Dubuffet, each for around €300,000 ($363,000), in a solo show devoted to the artist’s series of paintings and sculptures from 1962-74, entitled “L’hourloupe.”

Many other works in the €300,000 price range sold as well, including some by painter Pierre Soulages at Darga & Lansberg, Paris (participating for the first time in the fair), and by Robert Combas at the Belgian gallery Guy Pieters. Similarly, Galerie de France sold a large blue painting by Simon Hantaï from 1964 for an undisclosed price. Gallery director Catherine Thieck describes the figure only as below that of a Hantaï work sold at Christie’s Paris in December for €560,800.

Several galleries report plentiful sales for pieces in the €100,000 range: Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, showing works by such artists as Valerio Adami, William Eggleston, Gérard Garouste and Claude Viallat; Dina Vierny, Paris, displaying a mini-retrospective by Robert Couturier, a French sculptor and pupil of Aristide Maillol; Galerie Lahumière, Paris, featuring works by Victor Vasarely and Günter Fruhtrunk, a German abstract painter of geometric forms; and Galerie Lelong, New York, Paris and Zurich, which reports selling a work by James Brown just minutes before closing time on Monday night. Owner Daniel Lelong says the fair was “at a much higher, more interesting level than in years past.”

Among popular works on display were some by French artist and calligrapher Fabienne Verdier, who had studied in China for a decade; her series “Maturare” was shown by Galerie Alice Pauli, Lausanne, participating in Art Paris for the first time. The selection, ranging from recent inks on paper priced from €10,000 ($12,100) to enormous multipaneled works fetching more than €100,000 ($121,000), was sold out, reports gallerist Alice Pauli.

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