Armenian, Los Angeles-born Larry Gagosian (b.1954) was once nicknamed “Go-Go” for his skill at re-selling art works. Today, with nine eponymous galleries, and artists under his belt ranging from Pablo Picasso to Jeff Koons, he is one of America’s most notable success stories. After opening a space in Athens and two in London, he has now landed into Paris, with today’s launch of a brand-new space by Paris’s Champs Elysées, side-by-side with Christie’s, and corresponding the opening of FIAC’s 37th edition.
INSTALLATION VIEW. ©2010 CY TWOMBLY. PHOTO: MIKE BRUCE/COURTESY OF GAGOSIAN GALLERY.
While the French press was quick to call him “the hyper-merchant of the art world,” and accusing him of “an assault” on the country, a bigger question remains: is Paris finally back on the international art map?
“We’ve always wanted a space in Paris, it was just a coincidence that we found it now, it’s always been in the back of his mind, perhaps before Athens and London.” said gallery director Serena Cattaneo about Gagosian’s choice to expand to France.
The space, revealed to the press last night, consists some 900 square meters, including two exhibition areas designed by architect Jean-François Bodin, who previously worked on the Yvon Lambert gallery and the Matisse Museum of Nice.
“I think there are many things that are happening in Paris in the recent years that have proven that it’s changed a lot, the exhibition in Versailles, or at the Grand Palais.” Cattaneo explained, referring to recent large-scale art events such as Richard Serra at the Grand Palais and Takashi Murakami at Versailles.
For the ground floor space, Gagosian fittingly picked one of his Europhilic stars, Cy Twombly (b. 1928), who he showed at the Louvre earlier this year. Five new paintings composing a series, “Camino Real,” and reference a play by Tennessee Williams. The vivid, energetic palette alludes to the play’s characters, which range from Don Quixote to Casanova.
The top floor is a space dedicated to commissions and collaborations with other galleries. For the first show, Gagosian invited the Patrick Seguin gallery to present the work of acclaimed architect and designer Jean Prouvé (1901–1984), who made a name for himself for his mass production-friendly designs in impoverished post-war Europe. The show presents 1940s structure, plans, documentary; presented side-by-side Twombly, this appropriately brings together European and American Twentieth Century figures, within one gallery.
“Paris has become much more a part of the international circuit for people to do Frieze and then come to Fiac.” Cattaneo explained.
Yet the myth of the city of lights, and its weighty art history remains an eternal source of appeal, she explained: “The artists love being and showing here.” She said, but also, on a practical level, “many collectors don’t always travel, it allows us to meet them.”