Home Magazine Did this year’s Fair Paris+ by Art Basel outshine Frieze London?

The ultimate comparison between the French and British Art Scenes: who won the attention this year, Paris+ or Frieze?

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The Art world has been abuzz with activities in the past weeks, particularly in the European art scene. This autumn has been marked by the internationally-known art fairs such as Frieze, high-profile art auctions, and the highly anticipated second edition of the Paris+ fair, curated by Art Basel. It's an exciting time that sheds light on the strengths and vulnerabilities of major art cities worldwide, with London, traditionally the heart of the European art market, facing a new and complex situation.

Seven years after the historic British Brexit, the art market's focus has surprisingly shifted to Paris, creating enthusiasm amongst collectors and gallerists. However, the most close-knit followers have noticed some new dynamics at play during these weeks.

Frieze Art Fair and Frieze Masters

Anthea Hamilton’s pumpkin sculptures on display at the Frieze Art Fair 2022 at the Thomas Dane Gallery booth. Courtesy of  Linda Nylind, Dominick Tyler, Mark Blower, Frieze

The Frieze Week, known for its unique art and chaotic, yet fun atmosphere, brought the global art market to London once again. This year’s fair marked its 20th anniversary. New this year was the focus on the secondary market of the gallerists, instead of the usual blue-chip and established artists. Gagosian gallery didn’t follow this strategy and instead featured Damien Hirst exclusively, a move that raised eyebrows among dealers and advisors.

One delightful and somewhat unexpected surprise was the focus on artists like Marina Abramovich. Not only, she achieved cult status over the past decade but also shone with her significant retrospective at the Royal Academy, making history as the first woman to receive such an exhibition in 255 years. The spotlight also fell on the female artists represented in the new Women in the Art Fair (WIAF) project, started in 2018 and finally realized this year after pandemic-related delays.

Paris+ by Art Basel

The question that naturally arises is whether the winds are now favoring Europe, with Paris taking center stage. Does Paris+ by Art Basel truly outshine the prestige of Frieze? Rumors say Paris is challenging London's art market, with the Ville Lumière ready to take the lead thanks to its rich artistic heritage. 

On one hand, Paris+ with its inauguration of the Foundation Louis Vuitton and the Bourse de Commerce, extraordinary private museums founded by major collectors Bernard Arnault and François Pinault. On the other hand, Frieze, known for its offshore billionaires and eccentric auctions.

Like Frieze, the second edition of Paris+ for Art Basel features over 150 leading art galleries, showcasing the resilience of the art market in a challenging political landscape. This year's focus has shifted to enhancing the visitor experience and, returning to art, particularly expanding the outdoor sculpture series. However, future Parisian projects aim to overcome Frieze in terms of size, significantly increasing exhibition capacity in the coming years and relocating to the renovated Grand Palais.

Highlights from the Paris Fair

In the lavish exhibitions of Art Basel in Paris, it was impossible for the established artists and top-tier galleries to go unnoticed. This has sparked discussions focused on the lack of inclusivity and emerging artists. Major concerns this year were lack of innovation and commercialization.

Mark Rothko was the centerpiece piece of Pace Gallery and the second-highest valued painting at the event, painting priced at $40 million. 

Despite the economic challenges that hinder innovation across the art market, it was particularly evident that the general enthusiasm for participation in Paris+ far exceeded that for Frieze. The art market is adopting a risk-averse strategy, choosing to play it safe until economic conditions improve. This cautious approach is evident at both Frieze and Paris+, where exhibitors refrained from revolutionary innovations and instead focused on established names and secondary market artworks.

The Shift in the Art World Landscape

Sophie von Hellermann, installation view in Pilar Corrias Gallery’s booth at Frieze London, 2023. Photo by Mark Blower. Courtesy of Pilar Corrias Gallery.

The competition between Paris+ by Art Basel and Frieze London is on the table this year. Many visitors faced a difficult choice due to the back-to-back events, and it appears that the balance is shifting in favor of Paris. The replacement of the FIAC art fair with the more international Art Basel brand, Brexit-related challenges, and the growing allure of the Paris art scene have contributed to this shift.

Ben Brown of Ben Brown Fine Arts in London expresses concern over the impact of Brexit on English businesses, noting that it's easier to do intra-European business in Paris due to fewer bureaucratic obstacles. Some believe that Paris is becoming the preferred choice over London, and Frieze may need to reinvent itself to compete. However, others view both events as complementary and emphasize the value of new experiences in the art world.

The art market is evolving in response to economic uncertainties, with caution and established names. The competition between Paris and London as the two major art hubs will likely continue, but the pace of change may be gradual, noticeable only to attentive observers.

Cover image: Grand Palais Éphémère, Paris © Patrick Tourneboeuf pour la Rmn – GP, 2021 architecte Jean-Michel WilmotteLe Grand Palais

Written by Kooness

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