Art Market Magazine
In March, you'll be unlikely to meet any dealers taking it easy:
it may already be sunny in certain climes, but this is the season for major events. You could even call it the European art fair season. After the BRAFA, the TEFAF – the ritual antiques gathering – is now occupying all the professionals, or at least, those lucky enough to be a part of it. It's very hard to get in, and without wanting to invoke the kiss of death, it often means waiting for a colleague to bow out before gaining entry. This year, 39 French galleries are taking part: the largest turn-out after the British, ahead of the Flemish and Germans. The younger Salon du Dessin has, over the years, established itself so successfully that it is now the international get-together for enthusiasts and specialists.
This year, 39 galleries, including 19 from France, are exhibiting their masterpieces at the Palais Brongniart. The icing on the cake is that the Paris fair is hosting an exhibition of architectural drawings from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, whose little-known collection contains some genuine treasures. For a week, the French capital becomes the Mecca for fine drawings. It'll take you less than four hours to get from Maastricht to Paris…
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When dealers and institutions get together, divorce is not inevitable. Sometimes they even hit it off famously, like the Salon du Dessin which has been enjoying a vibrant love affair with museums for many years. Since 2011, all its guests have been public collections. In 2007 the first at the fair, the Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs, exhibited some drawings by Charles de Wailly for the dressing room of Mademoiselle Contat. This year, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France is presenting a few masterpieces from its little-known collection of architectural drawings, one of the oldest in the world. As we also know, the Semaine du Dessin has been bringing a fine selection of museums together around the speciality since 2000, and in 2015, the Centre Pompidou, Orsay, the Louvre, the Fondation Custodia and thirteen other institutions will be opening part of their graphic departments to the public. We can also see signs of perfect harmony in the fair's "Rencontres Internationales", introduced in 2006. These talks, open to visitors, are presented by curators and art historians.
For the second year running, the Salon du Dessin is providing a chance to admire and study architectural drawing, a speciality within a speciality. After the Nancy Musée des Beaux-arts, which presented a selection from its graphic department last year, including works from the Thuillier donation, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France is responding to the invitation by exhibiting forty-odd extraordinary drawings from little-known sources. We talk to Sylvie Aubenas, director of the Print and Photography Department, Barbara Brejon de Lavergnée, its librarian, and Marc Le Cœur, art historian and the curator of the exhibition.
It often happens that the specialist's passion coincides with the collector's, as with Pierre-Marc Richard:
a figure well-known to photography lovers.
An eloquent expert generous with his advice, he is discreet to the point of secrecy about the discoveries he has amassed over forty-odd years. These were partly revealed in 2011 during the sale of his collection at Drouot by the Beaussant-Lefevre auction house: a first section that garnered €1,433,878, confirming the rude health of primitive photography. On 25 March, the same auction house (this time assisted by expert Philippe Jacquier) is offering the second section, which highlights a number of anonymous practitioners as well as the top names.
The Teotihuacan culture of Guerrero was represented in the sale of a collection by this statue in serpentine, dating from between 350 and 950. Estimated at €6,000/€8,000, it finally went for €21,243. Teotihuacan was the largest city in pre-Columbian America. Located close to modern-day Mexico, it was probably built in 300 BC, and reached its apogee in around 450 AD before declining in the 6th century, perhaps because climatic changes affected the food resources. It was long thought that the city had been attacked in the 7th or 8th century, but it is more likely that it fell victim to civilian riots.
To be there or not to be there! That is the question that gnaws at the top international galleries at the approach of TEFAF, the great European antiques ritual where you absolutely have to be to obtain the blessing of collectors. Here, the potential buyer is king, and everything is done to ensure guaranteed top quality, as witness the famous vetting process with its commission of 167 experts, who go over every selected object with a fine tooth comb!
And France has a lot to crow about, with an enviable position as the second best-represented nation after the UK
Olivier Simmat, advisor to the President and Director
of Sponsorship and International Relations for the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l'Orangerie, receives us in his Paris office. Between flights, he looks back over a programme of unfailingly successful events, involving three or four exhibitions each year. These act as the museum's extra-mural flagship, and their profits are finally making it possible to restore Gustave Courbet's famous "Atelier".
Italy was an essential stopover on the Grand Tour, the journey lasting two or three years introduced by the English at the end of the 16th century. A period in Rome became a goal in itself. The elite met up with each other as they travelled through Europe, completing their education. These cultivated, fashionable young people were soon followed by artists – and cultural tourism was born! Painters took over various districts of the Eternal City, and explored the surrounding countryside…
March 2015 Edition
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