Interview : Guillaume Piens, artistic director of the Art Paris Art Fair

Guillaume Piens tells us about the history and developments of Art Paris Art Fair, an annual trade exhibition that attracts some 60,000 visitors and 150 international exhibitors. You will also get to know what’s new about this latest edition, which will be held from 4 to 7 April at the Grand Palais. Save the date!

Could you introduce us to the Art Paris Art Fair (date of creation, major evolutions, details on the actors and the pro target, international dimension ...)? What have been the highlights of this trade exhibition since its creation?

Art Paris Art Fair is a generalist modern and contemporary art fair created in 1999. There have been different developments in its history. Firstly, a satellite fair during the FIAC from 1999 to 2005; it then moved definitively to the Grand Palais from 2006 on spring dates as a counterpoint to the FIAC in autumn; finally the arrival of a new team in 2012 and a total overhaul of the event have given it a new artistic orientation.

The concept taken up since 2012 is that of ‘cosmopolitan regionalism’: the idea of a regional exploration of European artistic scenes from the post-war period to the present day, whilst at the same time giving a real place to new international creation whether it be from Asia, Russia, Africa, Latin America or the Middle East.

Now the must-attend event of spring, Art Paris attracts almost 60,000 visitors from 50 countries over six days, both art lovers and professionals, directors of institutions, curators, and collectors who come to find out more about trends in contemporary art and to buy the works presented by the galleries.

What is new about this latest edition?           

With 150 exhibitors from 20 countries, the 2019 edition, has a double theme: firstly, a focus on women artists, entrusted to Camille Morineau and her association AWARE: Archives of Women Artists, research & exhibitions; and secondly, an exploration of Latin American art from the 1960s to the present day. Some twenty European, Asian and Latin American galleries present a group of 60 artists, Argentinean, Brazilian, Chilean, Colombian, Cuban, Mexican, Peruvian and Venezuelan. Parallel projects such as a video programme, in situ installations, the presentation of a private collection and talks at the Maison de l'Amérique latine will highlight the creative vibrancy of Latin America.

How is the art sector doing today?

The art sector is resisting the crisis well. For many people, art has become a safe haven in an economic climate dominated by uncertainty. But this investment applies to works that are already historically renowned. Things are more difficult for young artists.

Paris: What explains the choice of the French capital each year as the venue for the show?

First of all, Paris is one of the few European capitals (except for London) to host two modern and contemporary art fairs, one in autumn and the other in spring. There is a real audience - very knowledgeable and cultivated - for contemporary art, and an exceptional density of institutions, foundations and private museums that make Paris a world capital for art even though the financial heart of the art market is located in New York. Finally, the Grand Palais is the most beautiful setting in the world that a fair could dream of. It is a unique prestige asset that motivates foreign visitors and galleries to come to Paris.