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PARIS — It’s laborious to flee the sense of rivalry between France and its cross-channel neighbor, from the Battle of Agincourt by means of the Napoleonic Wars to President Charles de Gaulle blocking Britain’s entry into the European Financial Group. And now that Britain has left the European Union, France is seeking to acquire an financial edge over its previous foe. London’s ebbing dominance of the European artwork commerce is one space of alternative.

“Paris is considering it might declare as soon as once more that it’s the capital,” the Lithuanian artist Augustas Serapinas mentioned on Monday, standing beside a sculpture he had constructed within the Tuileries Backyard for the forty seventh annual version of the FIAC truthful of latest and fashionable artwork.

Like final week’s Frieze gala’s in London, FIAC was returning to an in-person format after a pandemic-enforced yr of on-line equivalents. Did the sculptor suppose Paris might as soon as once more return to its glory days as a number one artwork market hub, because it was within the Fifties? “I don’t know. I’m an artist,” Serapinas mentioned. “A millionaire ought to reply this query.”

In 2019, earlier than the coronavirus pandemic, Britain was the world’s second greatest artwork market, after america, accounting for 20 p.c of the yr’s $64.1 billion price of vendor and public sale gross sales, in line with the 2020 Artwork Basel and UBS International Artwork Market Report. Gross sales elevated in France in 2019 to 7 p.c from 6 p.c.

Since then, artwork auctions have expanded in Hong Kong on the expense of London. Within the first half of this yr, turnover at public sale gross sales in Hong Kong elevated 47 p.c in contrast with the identical interval in 2019. In London, they have been down 21 p.c, in line with the London-based artwork public sale analysts Pi-eX. Sellers in Britain have additionally needed to grapple with a welter of additional taxes and administrative and transport prices attributable to Brexit.

In the meantime, a procession of worldwide galleries — like David Zwirner, Skarstedt and Mariane Ibrahim from america, White Dice from Britain, and Galleria Continua from Italy — have opened areas in Paris to make the most of frictionless commerce inside the European Union. Established Paris sellers, like Gagosian, Perrotin and Kamel Mennour, have expanded their footprints.

Although high-quality exhibitions in industrial galleries and museums are a significant draw for guests, gala’s stay the centerpieces of each the Frieze and FIAC “weeks.” Lately, FIAC has been held in Paris’s cathedral-like Grand Palais, however due to restoration work, this yr’s version, that includes 171 galleries, has transferred to a Frieze-like tent close to the Eiffel Tower, the place will probably be held till 2024.

“It’s principally the identical presentation as Frieze, although FIAC is smaller and extra European. Extra People go to Frieze as a result of English is spoken there,” mentioned Christy Ferer, the New York-based chief govt of Vidicom Inc. and an everyday artwork truthful customer. She was one of many few worldwide voices to be heard in a predominantly Francophone crowd at FIAC’s Wednesday preview.

Ferer, like many guests to Paris, mentioned she was impressed by the standard of the museum exhibits that coincided with FIAC. “The exhibitions we’ve seen right here have been stupendous,” mentioned Ferer, singling out the Anni & Josef Albers present on the Musee d’Artwork Moderne and the Impressionist and Modernist masterpieces from the early Twentieth-century Morozov Assortment on the Fondation Louis Vuitton. “The entire setting feels richer right here in the meanwhile,” Ferer added.

However with fewer rich People round, FIAC lived as much as its repute for slower gross sales at cheaper price factors than Frieze. Whereas the Thaddaeus Ropac gallery mentioned it had discovered a purchaser for the 1963 Robert Rauschenberg oil and silk-screen on canvas “Star Grass,” priced at $2.8 million, Zwirner, who has galleries in 4 worldwide places, mentioned that after the “vibrancy of Frieze,” he was “a bit dissatisfied” with gross sales on the Paris truthful.

“Paris is such an excellent metropolis for a good, however FIAC has tended to underperform for us,” Zwirner mentioned in an electronic mail. He added, nevertheless, that he was happy to promote a number of works for below $500,000, just like the 1947 “Research for a Variant/Adobe” by Josef Albers (whose property Zwirner represents) at $400,000.

The Paris vendor Jocelyn Wolff mentioned he bought the nine-foot panorama “Meine Wege 23.09.2018,” by the Swiss painter Miriam Cahn, for $200,000 inside the first hour of the truthful to a Parisian collector.

Wolff, who has a gallery in Romainville, an outer district of the town, mentioned he estimated there have been at the least 100 “internationally minded” Paris-based collectors with annual budgets of greater than $100,000 to spend on up to date artwork. “This can be a lot greater than in London,” he added.

London, even after Brexit, has a “very shiny elite,” Wolff mentioned, significantly within the finance and music industries, and it continues to draw the worldwide superrich who can spend thousands and thousands on artwork. “Paris will not be a spot with large heroes like Mick Jagger,” he added.

That mentioned, smooth new galleries at the moment are clustered round Avenue Matignon, close to the Arc de Triomphe: Their homeowners hope for business-transforming visits from the millionaires who fly in to view trophies on the close by Sotheby’s and Christie’s showrooms and keep on the Ritz or Bristol motels.

For some collectors, “FIAC Week” additionally presents thoughtfully curated “discovery” gala’s, resembling Paris Internationale and Asia Now. This yr’s seventh version of Paris Internationale, that includes 36 sellers from 21 nations, was held in a vacant mansion block within the good sixteenth Arrondissement.

On the fourth ground, the Tokyo-based gallery Misako & Rosen was exhibiting small works by the Japanese painters Kazuyuki Takezaki and Reina Sugihara. Takezaki provides a brand new twist to panorama portray by rotating his canvases whereas working within the open air; Sugihara, who skilled in London, creates abstracts that evoke intense bodily experiences, like childbirth. Being little-known outdoors Japan, their work have been modestly priced from $1,500 to $4,500. By Friday morning, seven of the 9 displayed works had discovered patrons from France, the Netherlands, Britain and america.

Misako & Rosen’s co-founder Jeffrey Rosen mentioned he regarded these gross sales as an endorsement of Paris Internationale’s “discovery” mannequin. “Individuals have been searching for what they don’t know,” he mentioned. The costs have been additionally attractively low.

On Wednesday night, after the FIAC preview, President Emmanuel Macron gave a reception on the Élysée Palace for about 200 truthful exhibitors and organizers, museum curators, artists and journalists. In a 15-minute speech, Macron thanked FIAC’s director, Jennifer Flay, for remodeling the truthful into the “nerve middle of the artwork world,” and name-checked a few of the worldwide sellers who’ve arrange store in Paris. He went on to welcome to France artists, sellers, curators, sponsors, collectors and academics from internationally. “Create and innovate!” he exhorted.

The truth that the president made time for FIAC exhibits how significantly the French authorities (in contrast to its British counterpart) takes the worldwide artwork commerce. However the market continues to ask the query: Can Paris convert creativity into million-euro gross sales?

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