The contemporary photo market is booming

While the international Paris Photo exhibition opens its doors in the Grand Palais, contemporary photography takes advantage of the longing for contemporary art, provided it is selective.

Michel Journiac, Abduction, 1974 24 hours of the life of an ordinary woman / Phantasies Silver print on paper Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris

According to the Artprice database, France has only a 12.5% ​​share of the global photo market. Nevertheless, in Paris it is the most important fair for this medium, Paris Photo, which will be opened at the Grand Palais on 8 November. With an audience of 199 exhibitors, this show offers a good overview of the trends of a market with variable geometries.

Modern and contemporary photography is the lion's share. On the other hand, the location of the XIX photoe century – barely 15% of the show – is shrinking. There is a segmentation similar to auctions. According to Artprice, the old picture represents only 9% of this market, compared with 25% for modern photography and 66% for post-war and contemporary photography.

" The old photo requires specific knowledge and therefore time to learn and understand, notes Elodie Morel, Christie's specialist. Today we are in the vicinity, the demand must be met quickly. "

It was not always that way. Twenty years ago, photo sales consisted mainly of so-called primitive photo's. Sotheby's had caused a sensation in 1999 by allocating £ 460,000 Big wave from Gustave Le Gray to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani from Qatar. Looking at the curves of Artprice, this market segment is very unstable. In November 2017, three drawings of Le Gray at Sotheby & # 39; s sold between 40,000 and 100,000 euros, far from the tops of 1999.

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" The public struggles to renew themselves ", Acknowledges Jonas Tebib, a specialist at Sotheby & # 39; s, who is distributing a series of daguerreotypes from Girault Prangey on November 9, estimated at between 3,000 and 10,000 euros, and in this niche, even more so than others, the slogan is selectivity. really important works only appear with an eclipse and the unsold percentages are important, about 53% in France in the past five years.

Some great collectors

Even if in theory it would be interesting to hang one seascape the current Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto together with a marine Gustave le Gray (1820-1884), the different segments of the image do not attract the same buyers. Except in the case of masterpieces that, according to Elodie Morel, " remains the privilege of a few large collectors who are not limited by a specific period "The famous photo Black and white from Man Ray, dated 1926, attracted bidders who were not at home in photography. And as a result of the races, this draw sold for a record amount of 2.6 million euros at Christie & # 39; s in 2017.

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" This is a trophy, an icon. It is not so much Man Ray that sold well as this image "Says David Fleiss, co-director of the 1900-2000 Gallery, specialized in surrealism and to specify: "The market for some photo's of Man Ray is closer to that of contemporary art "The heavyweights of contemporary art are well understood, Gagosian Gallery now presents Richard Avedon, Hauser & Wirth shows Diane Arbus and Thaddaeus Ropac has Irving Penn in her list.

Name handle

The flourishing of contemporary photography is inseparable from that of contemporary art. " The market tends towards contemporary art because the supply is more important ", Notes Jonas Tebib The runaway is now crystallized around a handful of names like Wolfgang Tillmans, Cindy Sherman, Marina Abramovic and Hiroshi Sugimoto It is no coincidence that Christie chose to organize a special sale around this Japanese artist on 8 November , exhibited in parallel in the Castle of Versailles.

Paris Photo makes it possible to think out of the box

Christophe Gaillard thus presents a solo show by Michel Journiac, a French artist who is skilled in the performance and who died in 1995. Two years ago the gallery struggled to give up its works: too sulphurous, ironic, political, too erotic and also "queer". " The appearance has changed enormously in two yearssays Christophe Gaillard. Journiac is in perfect resonance with the problems of the world today, asking for identity from his work on blood and AIDS. It took twenty years to be considered the true standard. "

During the solo show of the artist at FIAC last October, the gallery was a hit at the opening of the show. The IVAM, Museum of Modern Art in Valencia (Spain), has acquired a series of photographs. Pierre Molinier, another sulphurous and transformist artist, is experiencing a similar posthumous increase, with a price increase of about 30 to 40% in ten years. At the Frieze Masters fair (in London) in October, Christophe Gaillard and Galerie 1900-2000 caused a stir with photographs that were as ambiguous as fetishistic.

New niches

Today, the spectrum of possibilities in contemporary photography is increasing. The photo now runs over the frame, from his gongs, sometimes even sculpture. Young artists, such as the Moroccan Mustapha Azeroual, renew with old techniques such as cyanotype or daguerreotype.

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New niches have also appeared, such as prints that document performances and happenings, but also local photography. The value of the anonymous photos, to be found from 1000 euros in the Lumière des Roses Gallery, is due to their unique character. " Even if the area of ​​discovery is immense, these images are rare and very difficult to find "Says Philippe Jacquier, director of the gallery, and to add:" What makes my eyes the price of an anonymous photo is the power of suggestion, the mystery that releases it. Without referring to both names and prices, the collector can only trust his own judgment, choose with his eyes and not with his ears. Difficult exercise. But oh so worth it.

Paris Photo, from 8 to 11 November, at the Grand Palais, Paris,