PARIS—This year’s edition of the Art Paris art fair, held at the Grand Palais from March 29–April 1, presented artworks by 120 galleries and welcomed a total of 48,000 visitors. But, whereas attendance remained stable and was comparable with 2011 levels, this year’s fair promoted change—new leadership under fair manager Guillaume Piens, the former artistic director of Paris Photo who took over from Lorenzo Rudolf—and a focus on renewed quality and coherence of the works on display.
As Piens explained, more than half of the galleries selected to exhibit, by a committee, were new additions to the fair, with many hailing from outside France.
As a result, the fair introduced many collectors to many new artists, and featured new programs, including a special section for monumental works; a “Limited Edition,” in which six galleries showed exclusive pieces made by contemporary designers; and photography highlights, including a “Dessine L’Espoir” section in which works donated by African photographers were sold to help fight HIV/Aids in Africa.
French art across a wide range of mediums found buyers, as reported by Bernard Zürcher, co-director of the Parisian Galerie Zürcher. He praised the fair and said that he had sold more than a dozen works, including a €64,000 ($85,360) large triptych by French realist painter Marc Desgrandchamps. Strasbourg’s J.P. Ritsch-Fisch gallery, which specializes in Art Brut, sold several works, including a work by A.C.M., a French couple known for their intricate assemblages made of recycled metal and electronics pieces. The piece sold for €100,000 ($133,374).
Parisian gallery Berthet Aittouarès presented a booth focused on minimalism with artists linked to the French movement Support/Surface, including Jean Degottex, Claude Viallat and Pierre Buraglio. The gallery sold 15 pieces with prices ranging from €1,500/40,000.
A large variety of foreign work also found success. Paris dealer Nathalie Obadia sold Montmartre, 2011, a brightly colored, crochet wall sculpture by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos, who was chosen to show at the Chateau de Versailles later this year, for €70,000. Paris dealer Patrice Trigano reported selling several pieces, including a Mel Ramos painting for €150,000. French dealer Stéphane Jacob, director of Arts d’Australie, which specializes in Australian aboriginal art, sold an acrylic painting by Kathleen Petyarre for €120,000 ($160,000).
Espace Meyer Zafra, Paris, sold kinetic works by Venezuelan artist Manuel Mérida. His vivid monochromatic wall pieces in the form of rotating discs sold for €17,000 ($22,700) and up.
313 Art Project, a gallery from Seoul, reported selling three pieces by Korean artist Insook Kim for €24,000 each. And, in the “Limited Edition” contemporary design section, one of the more important sales was reported by White Moon gallery in Paris—a highly crafted, curvaceous, Carrera-white-marble “Cinderella table” by the Dutch design collective Demakersvan, which sold for €145,000 ($193,400).