By Friday, several participants in Paris+, the first edition of Art Basel in the French capital, reported having sold artworks worth millions of dollars, potentially suggesting that the fair could have lasting power.
Galleries brought to the fair all kinds of work, from new pieces by rising stars to old ones by art-historical giants of years past. It was well-established international talents that seem to have performed best, however, and not artists associated with the French scene.
Still, French galleries said they felt a good deal of enthusiasm at the fair—perhaps more, even, than they’d found at FIAC, the long-reigning French art fair that was ousted from its venue and October slot by Art Basel this year.
“We were surprised by the number of first choice guests, the number of collectors is exceptional per square meter,” said Galerie Templon executive director Anne-Claudie Coric in a statement. “We had visitors from the United States, Latin America, China, we saw people from Turkey. We have never seen such eagerness, such excitement around the ex FIAC, that’s one thing.”
As always, it’s worth remembering that sales at art fairs are self-reported by galleries and difficult to verify. What galleries did report, however, is roughly on par with what gets announced when they participate in other top art fairs around the world.
Below, a look at eight works that sold at Paris+.
Joan Mitchell at David Zwirner
Sold for: $4.5 million
Paris is having a Joan Mitchell moment, with a blockbuster show at the Fondation Louis Vuitton that elevates her art-historical standing by placing her work and Claude Monet’s side by side. The energy appears to have also been felt at David Zwirner’s Paris+ booth, where Mitchell’s painting Border (1989) reportedly sold for $4.5 million. That’s roughly a quarter of the $16.6 million that a Mitchell work from 1959 brought in at the Swiss edition of Art Basel in 2018, but the difference could in part be explained by the fact that Border dates to the later part of Mitchell’s career, and not to the postwar era. Border went to a private collection, David Zwirner said.
George Condo at Hauser & Wirth
Not for the first time this year, Hauser & Wirth reported that it sold a George Condo at a fair for millions of dollars. Per the gallery, Condo’s 2022 painting The Dream, a Picasso-inspired view of a distorted face, sold at Paris+ for $2.65 million. That’s just slightly under the $2.8 million that a Condo raked in at Hauser & Wirth’s Frieze Seoul booth last month.
Alberto Giacometti at Kamel Mennour
Sold for: $2.7 million
On opening day, Paris’s Kamel Mennour gallery reported having sold two Alberto Giacometti sculptures. Composition (1927–28) sold for €2.75 million ($2.7 million), while Figurine (1953–54) went for €1.45 million ($1.43 million). Neither of those figures even approaches the amounts that top-tier Giacomettis can net on the auction block, but at Paris+, both ranked among the most expensive works at the fair.
Roni Horn at Xavier Hufkens
Sold for: $1.3 million
Roni Horn’s minimalist glass sculptures have regularly proven a hit at fairs, and Paris+ proved no different in that regard. Xavier Hufkens reported having sold one for $1.3 million. The work has an intriguing name: Untitled (“I was His Most Virtuous Highness’s pillow bearer for twenty-six years. I accompanied His Majesty on travels all around the world…, – His Majesty could not go anywhere without me…). Its price is just $100,000 more than the one for the Horn sculpture that BTS member RM recently bought.
Robert Ryman at Pace Gallery
Sold for: $900,000
Robert Ryman’s abstractions seem to have been a hit at Paris+, where they appeared at both David Zwirner and Pace’s booths. (The Ryman estate departed the latter for the former in 2021.) Zwirner said it moved an untitled 1963 painting by Ryman for $3 million, while Pace reported that it sold Surface Veil (1970) for $900,000. Surface Veil is part of a series in which Ryman painted on a fiberglass panel and affixed pieces of masking tape. Similar works are held by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and other institutions.
Günther Uecker at LGDR
Sold for: $850,000
At age 92, Günther Uecker is still at it, producing pieces composed of nails that combine to form perception-warping abstractions. LGDR, which has a space in Paris in addition to ones in London, Hong Kong, and New York, said it sold a new work by Uecker for $850,000. Homegrown French talent didn’t seem to fare quite as well at the gallery’s booth. The gallery also had on offer a new Martial Raysse painting that sold for $175,000, a price that’s around one-fifth the sum for the Uecker. It’s all the more ironic given that Raysse has had a retrospective at the Centre Pompidou, Paris’s top modern art museum, and Uecker has not.
Michael Ray Charles at Galerie Templon
Sold for: $138,000 and $196,000
Galerie Templon, one of a number of established Paris-based galleries participating in the fair, reported the sales of multiple works by Michael Ray Charles, a Texas-based artist whose work is currently on view at the Quai Branly museum in the French capital. They sold respectably, going for between €140,000 and €200,000 ($138,000 and $196,000) each. Here was another case where locally known artists didn’t fare quite as well. Templon also brought to the fair a painting by Gérard Garouste, who is having a retrospective at the Centre Pompidou; the painting sold for a mere €95,000 ($93,500).
Anicka Yi at Gladstone Gallery
Anicka Yi has made herself an art-world superstar with sculptures that incorporate organic material. Right now in New York, however, she’s having a Gladstone Gallery exhibition of paintings done in acrylic that resemble fish eggs and skins; they look a lot like AI-generated art. One work from that series appeared at Gladstone’s Paris+ booth. The gallery reported that it sold for $150,000, a not so shabby sum for an artist whose auction record doesn’t even approach that number.