At Paris+, Art Basel’s inaugural show in the City of Lights, a few outliers wore couture more in keeping with the LOOK-AT-ME! LOOK-AT-ME! scene of Miami Art Week (and Art Basel Miami) where contemporary art is a stone’s throw from bikinis and beer on the Miami Beach sandscape.
Here at the Grand Palais Éphémère, close to iconic Parisian museums, the scene is very different. The zeitgeist seemed instead to be saying LOOK-AT-ART! LOOK-AT-ART!
And indeed, there was much art to savor, in this photographer/writer team’s view.
With the exception of the Emerging Galleries section, most exhibitors were largely the big name galleries you also see in Miami, Switzerland and Hong Kong’s Art Basel – and some of the same works on view in prior years’ shows. Indeed, many of the works that stopped us in our tracks were from the 20th Century.
Similar to other Art Basel events, several booths are peppered with works by historic giants – Calder, Picasso, Modigliani, and more.
Politics and protest – sometimes the main headline in prior Art Basel fairs that Picture This Post has reported on – seemed, at least to this writer, to be relatively muted and comparatively cerebral conceptual presentations. Apart from a few notable exceptions, the lens was decidedly Euro-Centric.
One consistent highlight of Art Basel events is the skewering of colonialism and racism one sees in the works brought to these fairs by Mariane Ibrahim which has galleries in Chicago and Paris, and soon Mexico City too.
One could have sat for hours before a provocative video installation by Bertille Bak called Mineur Mineur at the Xippos booth, showing multi-ethnic children as miners burrowing like ant drones – a portrait of exploitation that moves into more and more dimensions exponentially as you succumb to its mesmerizing visual narrative.
Paris – the second most visited city in the world – is ALWAYS densely packed with art museums and galleries. Parisians might take this for granted.
You too might feel this most when you compare the Sites outdoor art exhibits in each locale. In Miami, this writer often felt that many of the people interacting with the Sites installations were experiencing contemporary art for the first time. There, fresh takes abound and it’s somewhat of a thrill to encounter them. Contrast that to Paris, where most of the people frequenting the Tuileries faced the fountains as they read their tablets or phones, scarcely giving the Paris+ installations around them much of a glance. The majority of the interactors with the Sites installations in Paris seemed instead to be toddlers and young children curious about how the usual do-not-touch rules were nowhere to be found.
Paris+ by Art Basel Inaugural Edition was Right-Sized
Relatively speaking, Paris+ is petite and its organizers, who had the unfortunate job of selecting which galleries to include, might have complained about leaving out too many worthy ones. But you might agree with the Picture This Post team that Paris+ skips the art overdose and snow blindness that comes with the territory of more supersized fairs. This one feels right-sized.
That said, you too might have the nagging feeling that somehow sculpture is underrepresented, and that smaller works are in greater density. More though, the Euro-Centric focus builds a nagging hunger for the Latin vibe of Miami Beach shows – both exhibitors and buyers in the crowd—and the greater number of provocative works born in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia too.
Paris+ gives an American in Paris the swoon-making magic of looking out the show’s café window to see the Eiffel Tower staring back at you.
If you are in an art buying (or savoring) mood and planning a trip to Europe, why wouldn’t you schedule it to overlap with Paris+?
For more information, please bookmark the Art Basel website.