I never really need an excuse to visit Paris so I always look forward to my annual pilgrimage for Paris Photo. As The Little Black Gallery we do not exhibit, but I love going anyway as it is a good time to meet clients, galleries and photographers and generally have a good time in the beautiful city.
So Wednesday afternoon I set off from London St Pancras travelling with one of our biggest collectors. The journey is always so smooth and before we knew it we were in Paris and off to St Germain for a quick bag drop at L’Hotel on Rue des Beaux Arts whilst I was staying across the street in the serene and beautiful apartment of another client. Quick wardrobe change later and we were off to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris for the Prix Pictet party (pix 1 & 2) and the announcement of the new theme for their annual global award in photography and sustainanility. We arrived just in time for the announcement by Stephen Barber, Chairman of the Prix Pictet, to a packed room of industry people. The new theme was dramatically revealed as ‘Disorder’. It will be interesting to see how this will be interpreted as I am a massive fan of previous winners Benoit Aquin, Nadav Kander, and Mitch Epstein. Lets hope this year’s entries will be of as high calibre. A few cocktails later and catch up with Danish photographer Magnus Arrevad, art curator Tristan Lund, Mark Foxwell of Genesis Imaging, photography critic and all round photography guru Francis Hodgson, we were off to Christie’s for their party and preview of their Photographs sale. We must have arrived too late for the party but it was nice to have the space to see the pictures – our favourites being the Robert Mapplethorpes and the Ansel Adams. I was hoping to have seen Christie’s Philippe Garner and Jude Hull but both seem to have already slipped off into the night, which we then also did for a quick dinner before retiring knowing that Thursday was going to be a big day.
After an early breakfast with my client we enjoyed a brisk walk in the early morning sunshine along the Seine to the Grand Palais and were first in the VIP queue and first in at 11am on the dot. Much the best way of doing Paris Photo as we had crowd-free aisles. The Grand Palais was basking in the sunshine and we whizzed up and down the aisles with a professional eye. Almost immediately we bumped into one of my favourite photographers, the irrepressible Vee Speers on the stand of her French gallery (School Gallery) (pic 3) where she was exhibiting some of her images from her infamous ‘Birthday Party’ and new series ‘Bulletproof’. However, there was no time to stop and chat for too long as there was work to be done. Galleries and people that caught our eye were: the well curated Robert Mapplethorpe show by Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (pic 4) (having only just seen the Mapplethorpe show at the Tate Modern it was nice to see more of his fabulous images); Hacklebury Gallery with their array of William Kleins and Garry Fabian Millers (pic 5); Hamiltons Gallery who always have the best stand and most iconic images – this year with their Horst (‘Meinbocher’ and a ‘Male Nude’ being my favourites – although I wasn’t taken by the male nude being printed on canvas. I prefer the photographic version); I spotted ‘Nuit Noel’ by Malick Sidibe at Galerie du Jour Agnes B (pic 6) that I know a client wanted so texted him and arranged to meet the following day; Christian Tagliavini at CameraWork (pic 7), although I am disappointed they are still peddling Jimmy Nelson and his exploitative pictures of tribal peoples, which I also noticed have now spread over the pond to Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York. By contrast I was happy to see some Sebastiao Salgado images (pic 8) beautifully framed and presented (unlike their recent outing at Beetles & Huxley in London), and indeed literally bumped into the great man himself as we was leaving the fair. I introduced my client to the Steven Kasher Gallery, and we were both immediately drawn to the beautiful new work of Marianna Rothen and her series ‘Tangerine’ (pic 9). Before you knew it my client had added one to her collection. Marianne is definitely a name to watch. Then I spotted a wall of Will McBride’s. I already have ‘Mike with other students in shower’, so I was quite keen to add another. However, the small image of a boy swimming underwater (pic 10) was overpriced so didn’t get my euros. My favourite picture of the whole fair though was by Ren Hang from his ‘Censored’ series at Galerie Paris-Beijing (pic 11) – well at least it amused me!
After two hours at Paris Photo we were exhausted but still on a high and not feeling a sensory overload so we whizzed off to the Sofitel Hotel for lunch with some friends who had just arrived with a group of collectors organised by The Photographers Gallery. After a delicious lunch it was off to School Gallery (322 rue Saint Martin) to see the new exhibition ‘Bulletproof’ by Vee Speers (pix 12 & 13). Vee is one of my photographers and we will be exhibiting the new show in London next May in the gallery and then at Photo London. It is a continuation of her ‘Birthday Party’ series photographing the same children six years later, as well as one or two new ones. The work was very well presented using some of the props from the shoots (masks & clothes) which really brought it to life. I am very excited about the show coming to London and I am sure a few will slip into my own collection which already includes four of Vee’s works from both her ‘Birthday Party’ and ‘Bordello’ series. Then it was back to L’Hotel for a meeting with Tristan Godefroy, who is the commercial agent to one of my best selling photographers Alistair Taylor-Young. We had a great meeting and discussed many opportunities for both of us which hopefully will come to fruition. After an hours rest and freshen up and wardrobe change it was off to L’Arc Paris (pic 14) for the cocktail party and book signing of hot USA photographer Jeremy Kost and his new book ‘Fractured’ (pic 15). I came across Jeremy a few weeks ago and have fallen in love with his work and already added one of his double-exposure polaroids to my own personal collection. He seems to be on fire and suddenly everywhere. He has just had a show at the Calvin Klein store in New York which I was sad to miss, and has been promoted heavily on Paddle8. Definitely another name to watch. Unfortunately I was not able to stay long as I had a dinner so slipped away as the beautiful people started to arrive. Dinner was with my business partner’s daughther Anouska Beckwith, her musician partner Maxime Sokolinski (from band Hologram), and Andi Potamkin (of Potamkin Kasher Gallery New York) and her fiancee the hair stylist Jordan Blackmore at Mathis (3 rue de Ponthieu). Anouska is a photographer in her own right but also the founder of World Wide Women (www.worldwidewomencollective.com), a photographers collective, who have a show in London opening 17 December at Cob Studios & Gallery London curated by Andi. Whilst we (The Little Black Gallery) will be having a show of one of their members, Iris Guillaume della Roca, next March. It was nice to catch up with Andi as we work closely with her and Steven Kasher, with us having shown some of the works by their photographer Roxanne Lowitt in our recent ‘Girls! Girls! Girls’ show, and they showing some of our artists in their new space Kasher Potamkin in New York (www.kasherpotamkin.com).
The following morning, and slightly worse the wear, it was up early again and off to the Carrousel de Louvre for FotoFever. After the Grand Palais the venue was slightly depressing (no natural light and very hot – not a good combination after a late night out, but I was pleasantly surprised by some of the content. It was a lot more contemporary and experimental than Paris Photo and a lot more nudity but amongst quite a lot bad there were a few gems. I myself picked up a very naughty Stephane Gizard (pic 16) from Galerie Emilie Dujat. Emilie herself was very amusing and a real live wire. Whilst my client picked up a classic and stunning Jean-Marie Perrier of Yves Saint-Laurent from Galerie Photo 12 – who I think had the best stand by far. It was nice to catch up with Valérie-Anne Giscard d’Estaing of Galerie Photo 12 as we are hopefully working with her in 2015 with an exhibition by our photographer Martin Usborne, who I had to meet that afternoon at her gallery. It was also good to see some of Iris Guillaume della Roca’s photographs (pic 17), which we will be showing as part of our collaboration with the World Wide Women Collective next year. I then shot off to Galerie Nuke (11 rue Sainte-Anastase) to see the Jeremy Kost ‘Fractured’ pop up show (pix 18 & 19)and to collect my own pre-purchased book and original polaroid (pic 20). Sadly the gallery seemed to be on French time and was not open when we arrived and so we had to wait 30 minutes before someone turned up, and then to find they didn’t have my book and polaroid?! Anyway it was nice to see the mini-show and after several phonecalls and emails later my package was sent over to me at the hotel. Then it was time to meet Martin Usborne, my photographer of ‘Silence of Dogs in Cars’ fame at Galerie Photo 12 (14 rue des Jardins Saint Paul). The gallery is lovely and both Martin and I liked the space and ambience for his proposed show next year. Then it was a quick taxi journey back to the Grand Palais to meet my client from London. By now the queues for Paris Photo were huge and they were saying it would take half an hour to get in even via the VIP entrance (not very VIP). After some pushing and shoving we got in and headed straight to Galerie du Jour Agnes B and after a little negotiation bought the large ‘Nuit Noel’ by Malick Sidibe. It is always nice to see happy clients and great photographs going to good homes.
Dinner that night was a dinner party at Vee Speers house where a fun night was had with a combination of collectors, friends & gallerists from around the world – including Anna, Courtney and Mark from Jackson Fine Art and my client Soraya Young (pic 21). Sadly I had to slip away first as I had to catch the early train so that I could be back in London to meet clients at the gallery visiting from both Switzerland and Italy. Never a dull moment for a gallerist. But all in all a great week in Paris. Maybe time to open our very own La Petite Galerie Noir?!
GHISLAIN PASCAL is the Co-Founder & Director of The Little Black Gallery London (www.thelittleblackgallery.com)