Galeristes: Paris' new fair brings dealers back into the limelight
Twenty-six French galleries, mostly Parisian and half located in the neighboring Marais, have taken over the Carreau du Temple between December 8 and 11 for Galeristes, the fair conceived by Stéphane Corréard, formerly director of the Salon de Montrouge.
Highly-mediatized for its supposedly innovative approach to the contemporary art fair — its mission to offer a solution to the crisis of the gallery system — Galeristes does not disappoint in its inaugural edition. The general feeling among the dealers — the fair’s eponymous protagonists — is very positive, and though some of the fair’s Marais neighbors have been wary of Corréard’s proposed format, those that made the cut have heaped praise on the fair’s atypical configuration.
The very central, albeit modest, space of the Carreau du Temple, reshaped by the metallic structures of architect Dominique Perrault, makes for an Ikea-esque journey through the exhibitors’ stands, which benefits both collectors and dealers. Less dispersed than most fairs, and more akin to an actual exhibition, Galeristes imposes a fixed route to visitors, and the openness of its stands privileges the presentation of the artworks themselves rather than the names of the relevant galleries, as we are told by Eric Mouchet.
Eric Mouchet Gallery at GALERISTES. Courtesy Eric Mouchet.
Philippe Bouté of MAGNIN-A — showing works by Romuald Hazoumè, Joël Andrianomearisoa and Frédéric Bruly Bouabré among others, with the latter selling particularly well — agrees that Galeristes’ peculiar format encourages collectors to freely explore the fair, and benefits exchanges between galleries themselves.
Corréard’s desire to democratize the art fair is evident in all aspects of Galeristes: as we enter, we are presented with a selection of works by the participating galleries — some of which are arguably the fair’s most interesting pieces. However, despite the director’s best intentions, the desire to make collecting more democratic comes across as a somewhat over-the-top attempt to market the fair’s format, particularly when artwork prices are said to start at the equally Ikea-esque total of… €8,33 a month.
Not all gallerists agree with Corréard’s marketing strategy, and only two-hundred works are available at the very publicized price of under €1000, which is all the more understandable given that gallerists are expected to pay €16,000 for a stand — twice as much as YIA and four times the cost of Paris Internationale’s smaller spaces. Corréard does deserve praise for having attracted a strong network of collectors and representatives from some of Paris’ leading institutions, including the Centre Pompidou.
Beyond pure business, dealers also praise Galeristes for its careful selection of exhibitors. Young gallery Salle Principale, which opened for business in 2014 but already represents a roster of artists including the Austrian Lois Weinberger (b. 1947), has chosen Corréard’s fair out of a desire to “not show everything everywhere,” a representative for the gallery told us. “There is a political reflection behind the work of our artists, and some of them have found ways of selling their work that constitute an alternative to traditional models.” With an original outlook, high-quality works and space for both emerging artists and political reflection, Galeristes is a welcome addition to the vast landscape of Parisian art fairs.