Fairs France

Paris Photo dazzles

Americans return as market strengthens

Paris Photo 2010 (Photo: Delphine Warin)

Paris. After previously highlighting Japan and the Middle East, this year's Paris Photo fair (18-21 November) showcased the photography of Eastern Europe. While the quality of the Statements section—which featured contemporary artists from the region—left a little to be desired, the historic works, including works by Brassaï, Miroslav Tichy and André Kertesz, were dazzling, with jewels including Kertesz's Chez Mondrian, 1926, offered by Howard Greenberg gallery for €684,000.

London's Hamilton Gallery brought the iconic Irving Penn image, Woman in Moroccan Palace, 1951, on sale for $650,000 (an edition of which sold at Christie's in April for $446,500). Such a work, at such a price point, rarely finds a buyer at the fair. Hamiltons had, however, sold a photo by Horst P. Horst for $150,000.

“The economic crisis is not scaring people as it did before. People don't feel frozen,” said Greenberg, who sold Robert Capa's Death of a Loyalist, 1936, for €12,830 to the Yale University Art Gallery.

The healthier market had encouraged the return of four US exhibitors, notably Gitterman Gallery and Yossi Milo (both from New York), and two New York newcomers, Aperture and Barry Friedman. The latter sold a collection of six photos by Michael Eastman to a European collector for between €6,500 and €16,500 each.

“I'm very happy with the sales. There is a very strong possibility that I will come again,” said Friedman.

Back after a three-year hiatus, Yossi Milo sold 25 photos in three days. Fair veteran Hans P. Kraus sold 16 works by Henri Courmont for between $5,000 and $75,000.

American collectors, who had been absent from the fair for the past two years, were also back and were particularly active. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, bought Adolphe Braun's Fleur Photographiées (mid-1850s) as well as Pierre Jules César Janssen's Surface of the Sun, 1894, from London's antiquarian sellers Bernard Quaritch. The Getty Museum was in negotiations to buy the entire series Maquettes/Lights, 1995, by Naoya Hatakeyama, from Paris's Sage Gallery.

“It started off slow, but the networking is amazing. The number of collectors and press grows here every year. There's no other place in the world where I can show my artists to a targeted audience,” said Tom Gitterman.

Even if buying was less active in the Statements section, being at Paris Photo offered unexpected visibility to the lesser-known galleries.

“Photography is not appreciated at the same level as other art categories in Slovenia,” said Dejan Sluga, director of Photon Gallery, based in Ljubljana. “The market is weak there, with a population of only two million. We exist thanks to public support and EU funding.”

Despite this, the fair is ending its Statements section. Next year it will instead have a platform focused on African photography.

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