Paris photo: an ecosystem based on inspiration and open to the market
Art Market | The field of photography embraces diverse worlds and markets : from historical and technical photography to documentaries and photo-reportage; also interacting with the fields of fashion, cinema, publishing and art. Twenty years after the pioneering fair The Photography Show (1978) was launched in New York (it focused on American photography), Paris Photo was founded in order to open up the European market (1997). Since then, the Parisian fair has persisted in unveiling photography’s different worlds, adapting itself to the evolution of the image and thus influencing the market.
Under Florence Bourgeois and Christophe Wiesner’s direction since 2015, the number of exhibitors at Paris Photo has significantly increased : from 169 (including 26 publishers/art book dealers) in 2014 to 189 (including 30 publishers) in 2017.
Without taking account of the Book Sector, the galleries’ distribution is comparable from one year to another, it follows the same pattern : a majority of European (69% in 2017 and 68% in 2015) and North American galleries (20% in 2017 and 21% in 2015). Among the Western galleries (which represent 90% of the fair) almost 70% is comprised by French, American and German participants; France represents over a third of the galleries, the United States 22% and Germany is between 12 and 15%.
Despite the presence of 25 new galleries in 2017, the introduction of non Western countries is more significant for the Book Sector. In total, Paris Photo’s 21st edition is composed by 75% of North American and European exhibitors and 20% of Asian exhibitors.
Over the years Paris Photo has obtained an increasing number of partnerships : in addition to the historical and official support of JP Morgan Chase Art Collection and BMW Art & Culture, six companies have committed to support the fair in 2017 (against two in 2015). This development illustrates the attractiveness of the Parisian fair and the market’s versatility when it comes to the photographic medium. In 2015 we could observe a clear interest towards the fair from a specific socio-professional category with the support of BMW, Giorgio Armani and J.P. Morgan. The field has been expanded to a wider audience in 2017, with the inclusion of new components such as the Estée Lauder Pink Ribbon Photo Award and the Elliott Erwitt Havana Club 7 Fellowship.
Stimuli for inspiration
Aiming to reach a wide audience in terms of social categories and generations, the Paris Photo 2017 edition has launched stimuli for inspiration while incorporating contemporary societal issues.
Although the fair puts forward the historical fundamentals of photography (there is a considerable presence of analog images), there is also a trend towards image manipulation that seems to respond to the need to play with Time. For instance, at the Flowers Gallery stand we find English artist Julie Cockburn, who conceives a new life for found black and white photographs by embroidering colored and abstract patterns on them : a new meaning is given to the photographed person and the nostalgia aroused by the image fades away. The anatomical works by Chilean Juana Gomez are even more astounding : the artist recreates her own self by transforming black and white pictures of her body with threads of color, she patiently embroiders the blood networks and nerves on the image.
Artists have also manipulated the image’s point of view, as we can see with American James Casebere, represented by Daniel Templon. The artist photographs architectural models that he builds himself, giving an impression of augmented realism through large-format prints. Whereas Philippe de Gobert, represented by Aline Vidal, creates a mise en abîme by photographing models of artists’ workshops that he reconstituted from archival images.