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Le Journal des Arts, Jean-Christophe Castelain

May 11th, 2024

Hernan Bas, The Last Museum Guard at the Last Museum on Earth, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 274x213 cm.The artist is presented by Perrotin, rue de Turenne.

© Sylvia Ross

Daniel Pontoreau, exposition à la Galerie Berthet Aittouarès du 23 mai au 29 juin 2024 ©Od

Daniel Pontoreau's workshop

© Odile Aittouarès / Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès


Nearly 100 Paris galleries, a fourth of them new, will be open all weekend from May 24-26th, offering special events and new exhibitions.


Paris. While Berlin celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Gallery Weekend at the end of April, Paris is getting ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary on May 24th, 25th and 26th. Year on year, the event organised by the Comité Professionnel des Galeries d'Art (CPGA) has gone from strength to strength: for this year's event, around a hundred galleries have agreed to pay a membership fee of €1,000. The principle remains the same, as in all the capitals that have set up their own events: to encourage the public and collectors to go from one gallery to another by promising them new exhibitions and events. It's a way of offering an alternative to fairs, which are accounting for an ever-increasing share of gallery sales - an average of 30%, according to Clare McAndrew in the annual Art Basel / UBS report on the global art market.

One of the strengths of this Parisian event is that it has a large number of participants, thus a high density of galleries in each district, recreating in a way the experience of wandering through the aisles of a fair. And as with all fairs, the participating galleries will also be open on Sunday. Of the seven itineraries offered (available online and on a printed map), the best ratio of galleries to distance covered is the one in the Marais district, which takes in the rue Chapon and allows visitors to visit ten galleries in close proximity. It's on this route that you can discover the photographs of Laurent Montaron at Anne-Sarah Bénichou, the strange paintings of Drew Dodge at Semiose and the photographs of the self-taught Marcel Bascoulard at Christophe Gaillard.

One of the promises of Gallery Weekend is its events. Perrotin, for example, is organising guided tours of its different spaces: Julian Charrière at impasse Saint-Claude, Hernan Bas on rue de Turenne. A number of dealers coincide the event with the opening of their new exhibition. This is the case of Olivier Waltman, who is organising an original exhibition on the contemporary Slovakian scene in his Marais gallery, in the presence of the artists, and the German gallery Zander, which is exhibiting neon works by Dan Flavin (rue Jacob). Other exhibited artists will be present for all or part of the weekend, ready to engage in dialogue with visitors (Raphaël Zarka at the Galerie Mitterand). Several dealers are playing the conviviality card by offering a brunch (the Faidherbe gallery on rue Jean-Macé, Galerie Poggi on rue Saint-Martin) or a snack (H Gallery, rue Chapon), while others are betting on more spiritual nourishment. Jérôme Poggi will be getting in on the action himself with a very timely talk entitled "Une petite histoire des vernissages".

To mark the occasion, the organisers have launched a new initiative, borrowed from museums and Fracs (Fonds régionaux d'art contemporain): inviting a leading figure to design a gallery exhibition. These curatorial exhibitions are more relevant than 'coup de coeur' exhibitions, which are of limited interest, and transform a simple hanging into a more significant statement.  Claudine Papillon called on the former director of the Fondation d'entreprise Ricard, Colette Barbier, to create what she called a 'gastronomic' exhibition. Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès asked the writer Marie-Hélène Lafon (Renaudot Prize 2020) not to design an exhibition but to present the sculptor Daniel Pontoreau, who is showing some twenty abstract and brutalist sculptures.

Attracting a larger audience...

and a more captive one

Marion Papillon, President of the CPGA, is behind the Paris Gallery Weekend, which she has kindly donated to the Committee. She expects the event to attract the widest possible audience, enabling them to enjoy a "gallery tour", discovering the latest works and rediscovering new ones. All of this is free of charge, unlike the big fairs where admission tickets are increasingly expensive. But as with fairs, at the end of the weekend, the success of the event depends first and foremost on sales. So the challenge for the organisers is to attract collectors. A large part of the event's budget is devoted to organising a VIP lunch, which this year will be held on the Thursday evening before the event, at the Manufacture de Sèvres.

One question remains: why are only a third of the CPGA's member galleries taking part in the event? Marion Papillon dismisses the question, citing the difficult economic situation of many galleries since last autumn. Some of them, whose galleries are located on the routes, might be tempted to take advantage of the flow of visitors without paying their dues. Others, such as the Hervé Courtaigne gallery, say that the Paris Gallery Weekend brings in little revenue. Events professionals know this well: it is over time that an event can establish itself in the collectors' calendar, taking advantage of each edition to capitalise on past years and introducing new features to surprise the public. It's a recipe that the Carré Rive Gauche, which is organising the "5 jours de l'objet extraordinaire" a few days after Paris Gallery Weekend, should re-read. 

Jean-Christophe Castelain

Paris Gallery Weekend, May 24th-26th, entire program on

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