While London starts to make its presence felt in the photography field, thanks in part to the well-received new Photo London fair, Paris remains the undisputed centre of photography in Europe. Paris Photo, which opens today, is now entering its 19th year on home turf (a fourth Los Angeles edition is due to open in April 2016), and remains the leading fair for photography.
There have been significant changes this year with the appointment of Florence Bourgeois as director and Christoph Wiesner as artistic director. Bourgeois is an art historian and the former managing director of the Pavilion of Art and Design fair (PAD), with previous financial and marketing experience at the LVMH group. Wiesner was the senior director at the Yvon Lambert gallery in Paris and previously worked at Berlin’s Esther Schipper gallery promoting up-and-coming artists. Together, they say, they make an ideal team: “We have very complementary experiences—I’ve already been in charge of a fair, while Christoph has worked inside them for many years,” Bourgeois says.
The event returns to the Grand Palais, with more than 140 contemporary and historic galleries from blue-chip behemoths such as David Zwirner and Gagosian to specialists such as Magnum, Michael Hoppen and Bernheimer. Twenty-seven publishers and art book dealers will also be exhibiting.
The biggest structural change is the creation of a new section, Prisms, in the Salon d’Honneur on the first floor, where nine galleries will show ambitious works in series. “Many photographic works are often displayed as solo objects even though they are part of a series,” Wiesner says, “which together makes them a large-scale work.” Are they harder to sell? Perhaps, to your average collector, “but they are very good for institutions, and don’t forget that there are some very strong private collections out there,” he says.
Highlights from this section, which is supported by Giorgio Armani, include a collaborative project between Akio Nagasawa and Jean-Kenta Gauthier galleries, which have assembled the definitive set of photographs from the Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama’s influential photo-book Farewell Photography (1972). The display will feature 50 prints from rediscovered negatives that were not published in the book.
The Bruce Silverstein gallery, meanwhile, will show Portraits in the Times of Aids, a selection of works by the American Rosalind Solomon that shocked a largely uneducated and unprepared public when they were originally exhibited (and underappreciated) in New York in 1988, at the height of the Aids crisis.
Another presentation to look out for is at Sprüth Magers, where photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher are sure to be in demand following the death of Hilla in October at the age of 81.
Should the Parisian photography establishment fear being overturned by London? Not just yet. “We can’t be arrogant, but the material at the fair is of the highest quality, the venue is extraordinary and photography does have a historic pre-eminency in Paris,” Bourgeois says.
UPDATE: Paris Photo is closed today (14 November) following yesterday's attacks in the French capital. The fair released a statement saying: "Under the order of the Ministry of Culture and Communication and the Prime Minister, all cultural institutions in the region of Ile-de-France are closed today".
• Paris Photo, Grand Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris, 12-15 November