Now in its thirteenth year (and its second year at the Grand Palais), Paris Photo is being unanimously acclaimed as the second most important photography fair in the world after New York’s AIPAD. The fair has “gone up a notch,” fair director Julien Frydman told ARTINFO France, having attracted an informed and attentive group of visitors who arrive more for the work than for face-recognition. Since opening on Wednesday night, the fair has led with a spirit of discovery and thoughtful questioning, and a calmer, less-frenetic energy than most contemporary art fairs. Collectors have arrived from around the world, including from the U.S., with only a lesser turnout of Belgian collectors (as a result of the current Thalys train strike affecting the Brussels-Paris line).
The big-name photography galleries are all here, including Camera Work (Berlin), Edwynn Houk (New York and Zurich), Hamiltons (London), Bruce Silverstein (New York), Johannes Faber (Vienna), Thomas Zander (Cologne). Also present are photography agencies such as VU, and Magnum, which has been one of the most heavily trafficked booths. And certain contemporary art galleries at the fair, like David Zwirner, are appearing for the first time. Zwirner’s unequalled selection includes photographs by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Gordon Matta-Clark, Thomas Ruff, and James Welling. The storied Fraenkel Gallery, which specializes in photography but is a first-timer at Paris Photo, has brought works by Nan Goldin and Christian Marclay. And the ever-present Gagosian has a selection that includes the blurry nudes of Thomas Ruff.
Other impressive works from the talent on display include pieces by Gabriele Basilico, Franco Fontana, Luigi Ghirri, Jürgen Klauke, and Nils-Udo at Photo & Contemporary’s booth; the diverse choice of artists, including Pilar Albarracin, Didier Faustino, Tracey Moffatt, and Shirin Neshat, at the smaller booth of Portuguese gallery Filomena Soares; and photography by Brandon Lattu, Arnold Odermatt, and Gerhard Richter at Leo Koenig’s booth.
The level of sales has had mixed reports. While enthusiastic about the fair, the director of the emerging East Wing gallery of Doha, Qatar expressed concern that he had only five sales, along with a few works reserved, on the first day. Collectors may be nervous about testing the waters with artists from countries that are newcomers to the Western art market; although Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery reported strong sales, aided by the fact that the gallery has brought politically-charged works by artists “who are already very well-known in Europe,” according to gallerist Lara Koseff.
A new feature of the fair this year, titled “Paris Photo Vu Par…” (“Paris Photo Seen By…”), is a selection of favorite photos from the fair chosen by a prominent cultural figure. This year, that figure is David Lynch, and everyone has been talking about the approximately hundred photos he’s chosen from the works. It’s an unsurprisingly eclectic array, featuring a mixture of nudes, monuments, stone and flesh, and images of the female form. Another side-event, Paris Photo Platform, organized by MoMA’s photography curator Roxana Marcoci, features conferences and discussions by artists and thinkers including Lynch, Jean-François Chevrier, Beatriz Colomina, Taryn Simon, and Hilla Becher.