Paris Art Week Draws Crowds Despite Security Alert

PARISWith the French capital on high alert for terrorism, Paris welcomed art aficionados this week for the second edition of Paris+ par Art Basel and a host of related events, many hosted by luxury brands.

In the run-up to the fair, the Louvre museum and Versailles Palace were evacuated after receiving bomb threats, following a terrorist attack in the city of Arras that resulted in the death of a French teacher.

Despite fears that some collectors would cancel their visit, galleries reported brisk business during a VIP preview on Wednesday, with Hauser + Wirth, which last weekend inaugurated its Paris branch, racking up more than 13 million euros, including a George Condo portrait that sold for 2.35 million euros and a purple cast glass sculpture by Roni Horn for 1.5 million euros.

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Elsewhere, Thaddaeus Ropac reported a Robert Rauschenberg sold for 2 million euros, while David Zwirner sold more than 20 million euros’ worth of works by artists including Kerry James Marshall, Marlene Dumas, Alice Neel and Noah Davis. 

Paris+ par Art Basel 2023

Security concerns did not deter visitors to the Paris-based art fair.

Courtesy of Paris+ by Art Basel

“We are not anticipating a drop in terms of attendance — on the contrary, judging from the results of the first day,” said Clément Delépine, the director of Paris+ par Art Basel, who expected to “match at the very least” last year’s tally of more than 40,000 visitors.

Security at the fair, positioned across from an active military site, was already heightened but organizers also implemented additional measures including extra guards, more protective barriers and mandatory advance ticket purchase.

An option for dedicated security detail for exhibitors’ booths was also offered, although none availed themselves of it, said the art fair director.

Visitors did not seem phased, stepping into the Grand Palais Ephémère at a brisk pace after metal detectors and security checks to take in the works displayed by 154 galleries from 30 cities. 

Louis Vuitton, a global associate partner of Art Basel, once again had a presence at the fair with a stand that showcased the fifth edition of its Artycapucines project, featuring bags designed by Billie Zangewa, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Liza Lou, Tursic & Mille and Ziping Wang.

The exterior of the booth was inspired by an oversized Louis Vuitton trunk that Pharrell Williams presented on the runway in June for his debut Louis Vuitton menswear collection. It also featured seven new works by Yayoi Kusama, on show for the first time, following the brand’s second collaboration with the Japanese artist this year.

Elsewhere, Paris- and Madagascar-based artist Joël Andrianomearisoa unveiled a three-fold installation commissioned by Diptyque. Comprising a metal structure bearing a poem, black silk paper scented with perfume, and a printed manifesto on his creative process, “Un Autre Monde” is the first participation in the art fair of the French personal and home fragrance brand.

Andrianomearisoa preparing the silk paper scented with Diptyque’s “L’Autre” perfume in his Paris studio.

Courtesy of Diptyque

“Younger generations are definitely less interested in boundaries or canon-defining,” said Delépine, noting artists are using clothing as a medium or showing both at the Cannes Film Festival and museums, while some fashion designers work in a strong visual arts context. “There is much more porosity in that sense and this is the intersection that we are interested in exploring with this fair.”

This idea of intersection also underpinned the acquisition of Design Miami by digital marketplace Basic.Space, which was announced at an intimate lunch celebrating the design fair’s inaugural Paris edition.

The move, an all-stock transaction, came as the fair “had been working on figuring out how to also enter the digital world,” said its cofounder Craig Robins, who quipped that it meant he’d get a bigger portion of Basic.Space — he is an early seed investor and will join its board.

Design Miami will continue to operate independently with Jennifer Roberts as its chief executive officer. Basic.Space founder and chief executive officer Jesse Lee will come on board as the fair’s chairman.

“Ultimately, we want to bring design and all things related to a new audience…finding a way to build a bridge between different sets of potential buyers and exhibitors,” said Lee.

While Paris+ par Art Basel, which will be open to the public from Friday until Sunday, is a sizable focal point of the week, it came amid a context of major exhibitions by public museums and private foundations alike, Delépine noted.

On Tuesday night, Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, presided over the opening of the first French retrospective in almost 25 years dedicated to the American painter Mark Rothko at the Fondation Louis Vuitton.

Bernard Arnault, Hélène Mercier Arnault, Christopher Rothko, Suzanne Pagé, Aideen Halleman.

Bernard Arnault, Hélène Mercier Arnault, Christopher Rothko, Suzanne Pagé, Aideen Halleman.

François Goize / Saywho / Courtesy of Fondation Louis Vuitton

The artist’s son, Christopher Rothko, joined guests including Delphine Arnault, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Pietro Beccari, Matthew Williams, Camille Miceli, Haider Ackermann, Jean Arnault, Philippe Starck and Max Richter.

Model and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova, dressed in a red and white optical illusion dress by Loewe, posed in front of red and yellow painting, directing her husband Antoine Arnault, head of communication, image and environment at LVMH, to take the shot.

Vodianova wearing a Loewe dress in front of “No. 13 (White, Red on Yellow)” by Mark Rothko.

François Goize / Saywho / Courtesy of Fondation Louis Vuitton

“When I saw this dress, I thought I have to have to wear it tonight,” Vodianova said. “I wanted to do an homage to this artist that I always loved. I think his colors just give so much emotion.”

For the occasion, the Louis Vuitton City Guide app also added a new contemporary art walking tour, which includes a stop at Paris+ par Art Basel, which stepped up its public-facing installations across the city.

These included Urs Fischer’s “Wave,” a curving crest of milled aluminum and steel presented by the Gagosian gallery on Place Vendôme; a duet exhibition between Daniel Buren and Michelangelo Pistoletto presented by Gallery Continua at the Palais d’Iéna; and sculptures dotted throughout the Tuileries gardens including Gaetano Pesce’s bright red “Double Heart” and a musical kiosk dressed in tinsel by Italian performer Romina De Novellis.

Daniel Buren and Michelangelo Pistoletto at the Palais d’Iéna.

Courtesy of Paris+ by Art Basel

Brands and galleries also offered a smorgasbord of exhibitions throughout the week.

Guerlain, the LVMH-owned fragrance and beauty brand, has just opened an art exhibition called “Les Fleurs du Mal,” or “The Flowers of Evil,” taking its name from the book of poetry by Charles Baudelaire. The show, encompassing 26 art pieces — including photographs, paintings, installations and sculptures — spans each floor of Guerlain’s Paris flagship on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

The exhibit was curated by art consultant and independent curator Hervé Mikaeloff, who chose artists from around the globe. Ten art works were created especially for the exhibition, and some are shown for the first time in Europe.

In the main room, on the minus-one floor, visitors can find the largest concentration of art. There’s work by Francesco Clemente, for instance. 

Anna Aegraad Jensen's

Anna Aegraad Jensen’s “Flirtatious” at Guerlain.

Courtesy of Guerlain

“This is one of his last paintings of flowers — he called it ‘Winter Flower [XLII].’ He works a lot with pigments, is very into Buddhism and spent a lot of time in India,” said Mikaeloff, pointing to a painting composed of figurative and abstract flower petals.

Other artists represented include Jennifer Steinkamp, Nobuyoshi Araki, Alvaro Barrington and Anna Aagaard Jensen.

Also on the Right Bank, Carita, at its Maison de Beauté, has an exhibition called “The Golden Odyssey,” with art works created by Chinese sculptor Gao Weigang.

“He reinterprets very simple objects of everyday life, but he tries to give them a new dimension and perspective for viewers,” explained a Carita spokeswoman of the artist who works a lot with 24-karat gold. “So it was love at first sight when we met him with Carita, because his aesthetics really match beautifully with the Carita maison. And we share the same passion for this metal.”

Weigang created Carita’s first-ever commissioned art piece, which he titled “The 24K Gold Maison,” which looks like a multistory wire house build with the brand’s iconic arches. 

Other pieces include ”Where 2#,” a golden ladder, and “Superstructure,” which resembles a golden stairwell that’s either running upward or downward — depending on how one views it.

Japanese outerwear brand Tatras supported The Imaginary Museum, which is composed of an exhibition and digital platform taking a cue from and reinterpreting “Le Musée Imaginaire,” a book about the effects of photography that was penned by former French minister of culture André Malraux in 1947.

Artists on display here include Gioele Amaro, Flavie Audi, Giovanni Leonardo Bassan and Natalia Mimran.

“The idea of the show is also to pay homage to this art movement called Fluxus. Their goal was to deconstruct the art norms,” explained curator Mehdi Dakhli. “That’s what digital art is, it’s really creating a shift in the practice and the deconstruction of the media. It is just pushing the boundaries.”

Some proceeds of the exhibition are to be donated to the Music Academy and Art Center in the Bidi Bidi refugee camp in northern Uganda.

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