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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

Biennale in Paris is below expectations and has lost the splendor

Updated: Mar 14, 2019

Biennale Paris, a 30th edition in reduced size and without splendor

The Biennale Paris (formerly Biennale des Antiquaires) - now annual

In 2017 - is celebrating its 30th edition this year from September 8 to

16 at the Grand Palais. An anniversary date that did not simplify the task of the National Union of Antique Dealers (SNA), organizers of the event. Indeed, even more than in previous years, the ANS struggled to complete its list of exhibitors, which was finally unveiled on July 23rd. "Today, there are many fairs, so galleries do not know where to turn. Exhibitors register and unsubscribe according to the proposals made to them ", explained Mathias Ary Jan, the president of the SNA who preferred to wait until the last moment to communicate the final list. It must be said that the announcement of the new fair Sublime, which was to be held in October - a month after the Biennial - but finally postponed to next year, has no doubt caused trouble in people's minds. "At the announcement of this new fair, I was afraid for the Paris Biennale, so I decided to pass my turn this year because it represents a significant investment for me. Then, Sublime was postponed, but it was too late, I did not have the pieces, "said a Parisian merchant. The low blows and bickering between the merchants did not help.

Nevertheless, the Biennale remains the first major event of the artistic season, mixing all the specialties from ancient art to modern and contemporary art, through the decorative arts of the twentieth century and the extra-European arts. By small touches only, some changes have been made to the general configuration. If the decoration is signed Nathalie Crinière for three years, on the other hand it is the stylist and designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac who was asked to realize the scenography of the museum exhibition moved from the ends of the nave under the dome. This exhibition, which follows that of Barbier-Mueller, highlights the collection of Pierre-Jean Chalençon through twenty pieces among a set of 1,200 he gathered around Napoleon. Another notable change is that the floor plan is now straight: two main aisles distribute the stands on either side of the nave, while a rectangular square has replaced the central rotunda.

The vetting (commission of admission of objects) - largely recast last year - remains co-chaired by Frédéric Castaing, president of the National Company of experts (CNE) and Michel Maket, president of the French Union of professional experts in works of art and collectibles (SFEP), exhibitors can not be part of it since 2017.

One-third fewer exhibitors

So 62 galleries (jewelery included) that rallied the event and not 85 as announced last May. This represents 31 fewer galleries compared to last year, which included 93 (-33%). Little consolation, no stand was installed under the mezzanines !. Several major international brands have declined: Mullany (London), Röbbig (Munich), Robilant + Voena (London), Epoque Fine Jewels (Belgium) or the French galleries Eberwein, Downtown, Eric Coatalem, Jacques Leegenhoek, Delalande, Chevalier and Gismondi . Some did not recover their expenses last year, others consider the event too early in the season, deplore vetting too severe or invoke still a lack of visibility: "if our colleagues are not there, their customers neither, so we are not winners, "explained Guillaume Léage (François Léage gallery).

A dozen merchants - some of them little known who will have to prove themselves - participate for the first time in the event: Rosenberg (New York), Martel-Greiner (Paris), Laurent Dodier (Val-Saint-Père), Marc Maison (Paris), Clara Scremini (Paris) promoting contemporary glass, Esnol Gallery (Paris), Galleria Russo (Rome), Souzy Gallery (Paris) and Charles Hooreman (Paris). The antique dealer in the room, specialized in French furniture of the eighteenth century with a predilection for seating, decided to participate in a lounge and chose the Biennale to begin. However, some merchants return after one or more years of absence, such as Jacques Barrère or Tanakaya galleries. In the end, of the 62 exhibitors, only 12 are foreign (34 in 2017), including a New Yorker (Rosenberg) and an Englishman (Whitford).

Last year, the Biennale officially welcomed 32,000 visitors. This year, the NLS hopes to exceed the threshold of 40,000 entries

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