As Paris’s art market star continues to ascend, the Swiss mega gallery Hauser & Wirth has announced today it will open its first location in the French capital, planned for spring next year.
The gallery will occupy the entirety of a late 19th-century townhouse at 26 bis rue François 1er in the city’s eighth arrondissement, between Avenue Montaigne and the Champs-Élysées. It is located near Gagosian’s Rue de Ponthieu space, which opened in 2010, Almine Rech, Christie's and Mariane Ibrahim, but is some while away from the large cluster of blue chip galleries in the Marais district, which include Thaddaeus Ropac, Perrotin, Chantal Crousel and recently, David Zwirner, which opened its first French location in 2019.
Spread across 800 sq.m and four floors, Hauser & Wirth’s Paris branch will include a six-m-high ground floor exhibition space and a further one upstairs on the first floor. The top floors will be used as offices and viewing rooms. From 1955 to 2018 the building was the headquarters of the radio station Europe 1, one of France’s most popular networks. Before that, it was once occupied by the decorative arts gallery La Maison Decour until the 1940s. Hauser & Wirth will rent the space from an investment fund that bought the building in 2018 from Lagardère Group, which own Europe 1.
News of the gallery’s arrival will unlikely be a surprise to most industry players, with the gallery’s co-founder Iwan Wirth saying in a statement: “We have made no secret that we have been looking for the perfect home for Hauser & Wirth in Paris for some years and I’m delighted that the search is now over.” He adds: “Our love for Paris extends beyond the gallery’s 30 years and matches that of our artists, many of whom have already been embraced by the Parisian art community, institutions and collectors who are very supportive of our programme. In this respect, the city is a natural fit for the gallery.”
Hauser & Wirth maintains European spaces across Switzerland, the UK, Spain and Monaco. French, or French-based artists on the gallery’s lengthy roster include Pierre Huyghe and Camille Henrot, as well as the estate of Louise Bourgeois.
The gallery's Paris move is the latest sign of renewed art market interest in the city, which has seen a number of international galleries and advisories open in the past five years. Most recently, Art Basel announced it will launch a new commercial event this year, Paris+, pushing out the stalwart Foire internationale d'art contemporain (Fiac) from its usual October slot at the Grand Palais. Hauser & Wirth will apply to take part in the inaugural edition of the fair, a gallery spokesperson says.
News of Paris's recent art trade boom often accompanies speculation around post-Brexit London's dwindling position within the global market. The most recent UBS/Art Basel report found that the UK’s global share of the art market fell by 3% to 17% last year, while France's increased from 7% to 8% during the same period. However, in a move likely meant to reaffirm its commitment to Britain, Hauser & Wirth announced in December it will also be opening a new flagship gallery in London on South Audley Street in Mayfair, more than doubling its footprint in the UK capital.
“Despite the disappointments and disadvantages that came with Brexit, our artists all want to show in London. It has such a draw and vibrancy. London is by no means dead by a thousand cuts,” Wirth told the Financial Times at the time of the announcement.