Paris Photo exhibitors gave positive feedback on the fair, now back after 2020's cancellation. And though there were fewer visitors—58,000 vs. 70,500 in 2019—international institutions and museums were reported present.
© Jérémie Bouillon
Reduced to three sectors so it could fit into the temporary building (smaller than the Grand Palais) set up at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, Paris Photo refocused on its fundamentals: the main sector covering vintage, modern and contemporary (132 galleries compared with 158 in 2019); the Curiosa space dedicated to emerging art—expanded to 20 solo shows—and the traditional 30-odd international publishers. Florence Bourgeois, its director, was keen to emphasize the international dimension: "63% of the exhibitors came from 30 countries and 112 museums made the trip, two-thirds being foreigners from all over the world."
In terms of content, quality featured large, with attention lavished on a stage design alternating uncluttered hangs, colorful walls and works in situ. "I was pleasantly surprised, because I hadn't been very hopeful about the change of location," said collector Damien Bachelot, sponsor of a prize dedicated to prints. In the aisles, people's pleasure at meeting up again was palpable. Edwynn Houk (New York), who had skillfully mixed contemporary and modern, summed up the atmosphere: "We knew it was an unpredictable year. But I felt this edition was almost normal. Sales weren't as good as in previous years, but things weren't bad at all." A highly enthusiastic Clémentine de la Féronnière (Paris) was glad she doubled her stand area. In addition to three French contemporaries, she presented the last vintages by James Barnor still available (between €8,000 and €30,000) and some rare Martin Parrs (€12,000 to €20,000): "I found collectors eager to buy. We sold several pieces at around €20,000 and I am waiting for various confirmations."
This edition also marked the return of large formats and color, almost on a par with the black and white and small prints largely dominant in 2019. Just a trend? It's not certain: large pieces mean higher transactions. The very wide price range was also noteworthy: from €700 for small prints by Catherine Henriette at Sit Down (Paris) to over €100,000 for Le Gray at Hans P. Kraus Jr (New York), who sold three. Some prices went even higher—for instance, a photograph by Irving Penn sold for €190,000 at Pace Gallery (London) and a portfolio by Carrie Mae Weems for €400,000 at Howard Greenberg (New York). As further proof of this diversity, Lumière des Roses (Montreuil) sold over 70% of its stand, including some shots of anonymous people for under €1,000, and an 1844 duplicate of a daguerreotype of Daguerre himself for €50,000.
This variety was a way of limiting the risks, as prices for stands were high. The bet paid off for Les Douches (Paris). Françoise Morin sold works by Sabine Weiss, Frank Horvat and Hervé Guibert, "which are becoming rare commodities", at between €3,000 and €6,000, and notably a Robert Frank at over €50,000. But "the most important thing was meeting a lot of new collectors." This was reassuring for many exhibitors, as there were far fewer American visitors—and foreigners in general—than usual.