Flash News: François Pinault – Walid Raad

[11 Dec 2015]


Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: François Pinault – Walid Raad

Team François Pinault
Is the collector and businessman François Pinault currently developing the most subtle network ever imagined on the art market? On December 3rd the owner of Christie’s, the world’s leading auction house, inaugurated a new residency for artists in his name, located a few hundred metres from the Louvre-Lens Museum. In 2016, the venue will welcome its first residents, Melissa DUBBIN and Aaron DAVIDSON from America, and the following year it will be the turn of the Belgian Edith DEKYNDT (1960). The latter, having newly joined the Greta Meert Gallery and set to enjoy a solo exhibition at the Wiels Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels next year, has an auction room record of just USD 6,250, recorded by Christie’s Amsterdam in May 2009 for Gowanus (2008).

In 2005, François Pinault backed out of setting up a private museum on the Ile Seguin on the outskirts of Paris, put off by considerable administrative difficulties. He then headed to Venice and acquired the Palazzo Grassi. Renovated by Tadao Ando, ​​and with lighting by Olafur Eliasson, the palace is now one of the most prestigious venues dedicated to contemporary art. Paired with the Punta della Dogana, it hosts huge exhibitions like Slip of the Tongue (until January 10, 2016). This event, which brings together the work of over 40 artists, was designed by the new darling of contemporary art, Danh VO (1975). Unknown in auction rooms barely three years ago, Danh Vo has a new public auction record of USD 920,000, recorded by Phillips London on October 14 for the work Vj Star (2010), an American flag painted in gold leaf on a piece of cardboard.

Currently, François Pinault is again looking for an area of ​​over 3,000 square metres in the Paris region and rumours are rife about the new palace he is to take possession of.

Walid Raad at MoMA
To exhibit at MoMA, one of the best known and most influential museums in the world, is an accolade that is dreamt of by almost every artist, young or old. Up to January 31, 2016, the institution is lending its walls to the works of Lebanese artist Walid RA’AD. A first major exhibition in the United States for this artist who studied in the land of Uncle Sam and currently lives between Beirut and New York. The event explores two long-term projects, both comprising essential aspects of his work: The Atlas Group (1989-2004) and Scratching on Things I Could Disavow (ongoing since 2007).

The first project is in the form of an archive centre, a foundation, collecting historical documents available to researchers, though actually a fiction whose materials are produced or even invented by the artist. The concepts of documents, history and memory are appropriated and displaced. The artist blurs the boundaries between fiction and documentary. Through The Atlas Group, Walid Raad explores the contemporary history of Lebanon and the civil war that ravaged the country between 1975 and 1991, but he also questions the collective amnesia of the post-war period, the possible representations of history and the validity of its witnesses.

The second project, Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, concerns more broadly the Arab world and its relation to art. Walid Raad turns his attention to this new need to consume art, and the recent and ever increasing foundation of infrastructures to accommodate its creation, this fascination for « Arab art » in a region that is nonetheless widely affected by multiple conflicts.

Although in his latest project he does not go so far as to examine the art market and the massive investments of the region’s sheiks, princesses and kings, the art market itself is showing increasing interest in his production. As evidence of this, in April 2015 Sotheby’s Doha hit a new auction record with the sale of a series of four photographs dating from 1989 and sold for USD 70,000 (Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, April 21). His works had previously not exceeded some USD 40,500 made in 2012 by Christie’s London (Untitled (BEY82_Soldiers_I, 1982-2004), 1982-2004], June 28). Still discreet on the market, it was not until 2012 that one of his photographs made its first entry (Untitled, from the series «We are decided to let them say…» , sold for USD 17,637 on 13 October at Sotheby’s London). Similarly, only 19 works have so far been sold at auction. It must be said that the formats of his creations (texts, photographs, videos, installations or performances) make his work less accessible and less appealing for the market, while remaining all the more consistent with the uniqueness and depth of his approach.