In 2011, Paris Photo celebrated its 15th anniversary by taking up residence in the Grand Palais, a coming-of-age move that did not go unnoticed. The Parisian Crystal Palace fits the event’s dimension and rank as one of the foremost international art fairs, next to the Fiac (also in Paris ) and the Frieze.
49 galleries participated in Paris Photo for the first time, bringing the total of represented galleries to 117 (for 23 countries). Institutional collectors, veteran connoisseurs and intimidated novices gathered under the Palace’s nave to scrutinize, discuss and exchange photography at prices ranging from $500 to $1,000,000 – the fair is an excellent opportunity for anybody wishing to start a collection, as meeting the photo gallery and seeing the prints first-hand is a safer option than heading to the auction house.
Irving Penn, Alexandre Rodtchenko, William Eggelston, Diane Arbus, Sugimoto… The most en vogue photographers on the market were all represented, alongside lesser known (and more accessible) artists, and rivaling with a thriving vintage market. What's more, Paris Photo chose to turn the spotlight on African photography, a dynamic and diverse scene, especially on the South African front – reminding us that South African photographer Jodi Bieber won the World Press Photo of the Year. Four South African galleries were present, among which Bailey Seippel and the Goodman Gallery. The stands of Revue Noire, André Magnin, Baudoin Lebon, Galerie du Jour Agnès b. etc. exhibited works by Samuel Fosso, and rising stars Malick Sidibé, J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, Seytou Keita and Philippe Koudjina, echoing the Rencontres de Bamako – the African photography biennial which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2013.
New director Julien Frydman’s program – including three “Recent Acquisitions” exhibitions by the ICP (New York), the Tate museum (London) and the Musée de l’Elysée (Lausanne); the “Private Collection” exhibition featuring Arthur Walker’s exploration of African portraiture over three generations; and the Paris Photo Book Prize, a companion to Aperture ’s new project, the PhotoBook Review – was a success. Still, Paris Photo’s greatest achievement might just be that the general public does not regard it as a professional fair, but as an exceptionally lively photo exhibition, worth standing in line for hours at a time.