PeopleInstitutions 17-12-2015

The fairy godmother of the Parisian art scene

How to become a key figure in the art world? Talent, money, ambition, and above all, energy. Over the course of a few short years, Sandra Mulliez has managed to turn her SAM Art Projects prize into one of the best known events on the French art calendar.


Before becoming a collector and professional career advancer, Mulliez was an artist in her native Brazil. Arriving in France in 1990 she set up her documentary production company and after marrying millionaire Amaury Mulliez in 2009 she was able to found SAM Art Projects, a prize worth €20,000 accompanied by a monograph and a solo exhibition at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo.

By way of SAM, Mulliez aims to ensure that the creators remain at the centre of the game. A category of people that she believes are the most vulnerable within the ecosystem of the contemporary art market. “We are involved so that the work can exist,” she says.


Her ambitions go beyond her local stomping ground however, inviting artists from outside of France to exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo such as Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira or Polish Angelika Markul. A tenacious character, Mulliez was even able to convince Paris’ monuments architects, against their better judgement, to let her install a 100-metre long, 16-ton sculpture by artist Adrián Villar Rojas, through the middle of the Tuileries.

Accompanied by Alfred Pacquement, Jérôme Sans and Jean de Loisy, choosing the winner for SAM is “an entirely democratic practice,” one through which she discovered French artist Laurent Pernot in 2010.

SAM is built all the same from a global stance — foreign artists see their projects realized on a grand scale in Paris, whilst French artists see their international presence grow. It is a facet of the project that Mulliez is most proud of. Markul’s Bambi à Tchernobyl, which won her the SAM prize, has since been exhibited across Poland, Spain, South Korea and Argentina. Zineb Sedira has exhibited in Venice as part of the Adeline Von Fürstenberg exhibition, while Bouchra Khalili has sold a piece to MoMA.

The award ceremony for the next edition of the SAM prize is to take place at the Tokyo-Art Club at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo on December 17. 


Photo: Poems for Earthlings (2011), Adrián Villar Rojas

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