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Flash News: Positions Berlin – Calder at the Soulages Museum – France: vitality of regional markets

[08 Sep 2017]

Positions Berlin: 4th edition, from 13 to 17 September

Not only is the Positions Berlin Art Fair establishing itself but it is growing, with 84 galleries this year, 10 more than in the previous edition. The first international art fair of the autumn opens its fourth edition from 14 to 17 September, just before Frieze London (5-8 October 2017) and Fiac (19-22 October). Its location is therefore strategic both in terms of timing and geography, as Positions Berlin offers a real alternative to other European art fairs, by focusing on art dealers from Northern and Eastern Europe. Of the 15 countries represented at the fair, most are obviously from Germany, but also from the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Lithuania and Romania. In the stiff competition of art fairs throughout Europe and the world, this strong identity is an asset in creating interest among collectors. The artists represented are not necessarily those one sees at other European art fairs and real discoveries are possible. In addition, Positions Berlin also welcomes international galleries, notably from Greece (Kaplanon Galleries, Athens), Japan (Frantic Gallery, Tokyo), Canada (Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto), Spain (Projektefia, Barcelona) and Italy (Vijiom Gallery, Ortisei).

Germany is now the world’s fifth-largest market in terms of art sales (with 2% worldwide) and the sixth after France in the contemporary art segment. Berlin, which became the largest creative centre in Europe in the 1990s, attracting galleries and artists from all over the world, certainly doesn’t have the same aura as in the past but continues to reinvent itself and the organisers of Positions Berlin are fully involved in this renewal.

Calder’s giant metal dragonflies on show at the Soulages Museum

Until 29 October 2017, the Soulages Museum in Rodez retraces the successful and innovative career of American artist, Alexander Calder, who died in 1976.

This temporary exhibition includes 103 works from 1925 to 1974, loaned by 18 international art institutions including the Pompidou Centre, the Calder Foundation and the Maeght Gallery. Placed in the garden in front of the museum, Spiral (1958), a monumental piece loaned by UNESCO, takes centre stage as an introduction to the exhibition designed by Olivier Arnaudo. The show presents mobiles and stabiles on two central islets, similar to icebergs, monumental sculptures including Three Wings (1963), a stabile usually exhibited in the open air at the Museum of Modern Art in Saint-Étienne, but there are also gouaches, drawings and portraits of Calder created by major photographers such as Ugo Mulas and André Kertesz.

On the ceiling, set in motion by wind tunnels, visitors can see mobiles evoking ‘giant dragonflies’, in the words of André Masson, which give the exhibition its name. The artist’s work has not been the subject of an exhibition in France since 2009. This exhibition, dedicated to the artists’ early years working in Paris, was previously shown at the Pompidou Centre. Ranked first in the 2016 most expensive sculptors worldwide, Alexander Calder follows Pablo Picasso in the summer programme of the Soulages Museum. A choice that confirms the ambition of the Rodez institution: to offer exhibitions of international standing.

Sales records and the vitality of regional markets

Portrait de Luis Mariano, Travailleurs des champs and Ravaudeuses et marchandes de poisson are some of the paintings by Ramiro Arrue that can be seen until 17 September 2017, at Casino Bellevue in Biarritz. This retrospective pays tribute to both the Basque Country and to the artist, some works being exhibited for the first time, such as the nine panels evoking daily life lent by the Telesforo de Monzon Foundation in Bergara. Others come from the only museum devoted to Arrue, the Villa les Camélias in Cap d’Ail. Born in 1892 in Abando, near Bilbao, Ramiro Arrue is best known for his sailors and Basque pelota players. In 1917, he settled in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, where he stayed for the rest of his life. In his youth, he rubbed shoulders with Paul Gauguin, Jean Cocteau and Amedeo Modigliani.

It is in this context that the Côte Basque sale of Basque arts took place on 5 August, featuring 5 works by Ramiro Arrue from the former Bouvet de Thèze collection. Auctioneer Nicolas Lelièvre had the pleasure of selling La Mère for a record sum of close to $235,000, going well above the estimate of $53,000 to $94,000. Earlier in the year, in late June, Briscadieu in Bordeaux sold a magnificent bronze horse by Giovanni Francesco Susini for over a million dollars. And in mid-December 2016, a preparatory drawing by Andrea Del Sarto sold for $3.3 million at the Pau auction house under the hammer of Patrice Carrère, from Carrère-Gestas, a record for a drawing by the Italian Renaissance artist and for the Pau auction house. This illustrates the dynamism of regional markets. The last spectacular results obtained in Aquitaine can also be found in other regions of France. In the North, the vitality of the market, especially for contemporary art, is mainly fuelled by the large number of fairs, galleries and no less than 23 public sales. Didier Vesse, director of Art-Up, is delighted to note that local art fairs have notably led in recent years to the opening of eight new art galleries in Lille.

The top end of the market is obviously held by the main Parisian auction houses, as well as Sotheby’s and Christie’s, but regional auction houses possess a vitality of their own and are attentive to the demand of local collectors.

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