Despite much talk of a strengthening post-Brexit French art market, international mega galleries have been slow to settle in Paris.
Gagosian got the ball rolling in 2010 by setting up shop on rue de Ponthieu, in the 8th arrondissement, before inaugurating a gigantic location in Le Bourget in 2012 and a smaller one on rue de Castiglione in 2021.
In 2019, David Zwirner followed suit on rue Vieille-du-Temple, opening in what was the former headquarters of Yvon Lambert and then VNH Gallery.
This autumn, it will be the turn of the Swiss brand Hauser & Wirth to launch in Paris. The gallery, which has just opened the exhibitions Cindy Sherman, Roni Horn and The God That Failed (of Louise Bourgeois, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko) as part of the Zurich Art Weekend, already has premises in Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, London, Somerset, St. Moritz, Gstaad, Menorca and Monaco.
The new Paris gallery will open on 14 October, a few days before the second edition of Paris+ by Art Basel. It will be located in a 19th century neoclassical private mansion at 26 bis rue François 1er, in the 8th arrondissement, not far from the Champs-Élysées and the chic Avenue Montaigne. Set over four floors, the 800 square metre space has been redesigned by Laplace, a Parisian architecture studio, and a site-specific installation by the British artist Martin Creed will adorn the spiral staircase.
The gallery will be overseen by Séverine Waelchli, Hauser & Wirth's new senior director for France who will also manage the Monaco gallery. Waelchli, most recently a director at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Paris, studied art history at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich before working for Sprüth Magers gallery—notably managing its Paris office—before joining Yvon Lambert gallery.
For the opening show, Hauser & Wirth Paris will present an exhibition of previously unseen paintings, sculptures and installations by the Los Angeles-based artist Henry Taylor, coinciding with a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (4 October to 28 January, 2024). Many of these works are being made during the artist's residency in Paris in June and July.
The gallery also says it intends “establish meaningful local partnerships to create an inclusive learning program as an integral part of the presence in Paris."
Hauser & Wirth's arrival will undeniably strengthen Paris's artistic offering.
Marc Payot, Hauser & Wirth's president, says the opening of the Paris gallery "is the realisation of a long-held dream, one we’ve shared with our artists since the founding of Hauser & Wirth thirty years ago...The city has supplied so much inspiration to our artists—from those like Louise Bourgeois and Pierre Huyghe who were born there, to those who arrived from elsewhere like Takesada Matsutani, Alina Szapocznikow and Ed Clark, among others—that their careers would be unimaginable without it."