Uber-gallerists Thaddaeus Ropac and Larry Gagosian have both opened monumentally proportioned mega galleries on the outskirts of Paris with shows of new work by Anselm Kiefer. We take a tour of the museum-sized spaces.
Whereas once it was considered edgy for a gallery to open in the 13th, 18th or 20th arrondissements of Paris, it is a sign of the changing pace of the local art market – the increasing presence of international dealers, the trend towards large scale artworks and the increasing importance of Paris as an art market capital – that two museum-sized galleries open this week outside of the périphérique. Uber-gallerists Thaddaeus Ropac and Larry Gagosian are both inaugurating monumental spaces in the banlieue with exhibitions of new work by Anselm Kiefer. Speculation as to the rivalry that led them to open similarly sized spaces with the same artist during the FIAC art fair (October 18-21) is being played down as simply friendly competition.
When Austrian gallerist Ropac first decided he needed a second, larger outpost in Paris, he did so to meet the demands of his artists. “We created this new space which will give the artists the opportunity to realize their vision without the usual restrictions of space,” he says of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris Pantin in the north east of Paris, where five buildings with soaring skylights were overhauled by architects Buttazzoni & Associates.
“We felt that the last show we did with Kiefer in the Marais showed its limits. When we were preparing our last show with Antony Gormley, he gave us sculptures that weighed up to four tons and we couldn’t move them into the space. We had to give up on two sculptures,” explains Ropac of the need to expand from his original Paris gallery in the 3rd arrondissement. “The space presents the ideal conditions for Anselm Kiefer to produce monumental works.”
Over at Gagosian Le Bourget, which is situated on the site of the Bourget airport that services private jets, collectors will be able to touch down almost within sight of the 1,650-square-meter 1950s industrial warehouse that has been renovated by Jean Nouvel. As well as providing ease of access to Netjetting collectors (Kiefer notes: “Airplanes arrive and depart while my works hang there. The pictures arrive, stay for a while, and, once seen, can leave again.”), it was the building itself that attracted the gallery to a site 30 minutes north of its central Paris sister space.
“There aren’t that many spaces in Europe that allow you to show art in this way,” says Serena Cattaneo, director of the Gagosian Gallery in Paris, of the vast interior that is overlooked by a 340-square-metre mezzanine, an unusual feature for a gallery that is perfect for viewing oversized artworks.
Ropac readily admits that it is artists not collectors who are driving the move towards ever-larger artworks. “We are here to help the vision of the artist become reality,” he says of his primary role. “We have taken quite a few of our artists here, from Alex Katz to Gilbert & George. I anticipate that we will get a lot of large-scale art, but it will be a challenge for us to place it. There is still a limited number of collectors, museums or foundations who are able to take such works.”
Certainly, the inaugural artist Kiefer is thrilled to exhibit in such monumental proportions. "Gagosian's daring new Paris gallery is a delight. Both the architecture and location captivate and enchant me,” he enthuses. “The space is so inspiring that you can envision the artworks in it immediately.” Proof, it seems, that in the current art market big is better.
"Gagosian's daring new Paris gallery is a delight. Both the architecture and location captivate and enchant me. Situated on the edge of an airfield--similar to my own studio in Croissy--airplanes arrive and depart while my works hang there. The pictures arrive, stay for a while, and, once seen, can leave again. This is the objective. The flights, the paintings, the comings, the goings. The space is so inspiring that you can envision the artworks in it immediately. It makes me think of the poem"Unter den Linden"(Under the Linden Trees) by Walther von der Vogelweide.
- Anselm Kiefer
Under the lime trees
On the heather,
Where we had shared a place of rest,
Still you may find there,
Flowers crushed and grass down-pressed.
Beside the forest in the vale,
Sweetly sang the nightingale.
Excerpt from Walther von der Vogelweide (c. 1170-1230) "Under den linden" (Under the lime trees) Translation by Raymond Oliver
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris Pantin
69 avenue du Général Leclerc 93500 Pantin
Subway line n°5, Station Eglise de Pantin (5 minutes walking distance)
RER E, Station Pantin : From Saint Lazare (20 minutes to the gallery)
From Magenta (15 minutes to the gallery)
Gagosian Le Bourget
800 Avenue de l’Europe, 93350 Paris
+33 1 48 16 16 47