Installed at the Grand Palais de Paris, and with Karl Lagerfeld in charge of design, the Biennale has managed to cross borders with an international display by renowned galleries. Lagerfeld’s design in the refurbished Salon d’Honneur pays tribute to the City of Lights. The designer found inspiration in the Salon de l’Aviation of 1909, an event that made history in the Grand Palais.
Seventy five percent of the participants were French dealers, which demonstrates France’s expertise and leadership in the antiques trade. In this edition, the Salon also opened its doors to a suite of younger galleries.
The decorative arts were gloriously represented with a selection of valuable furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries, antiques from China and Africa, as well as Greek and Egyptian antiquities. One of the prestigious galleries in attendance, Brussels dealer, Gisèle Croës set records with pieces sold at $1.3 million.
Tornabuoni Art from Paris brought exquisite works by Picasso, Giacometti, Chagall, Kandinsky and Basquiat, as well as Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale. There was also a strong presence by foreign galleries, as are the cases of Phoenix Ancient Art (New York, Geneva), Didier Aaron, (Paris, London, New York), Robilant + Voena (London, Milan) and many more.
Kraemer Gallery’s display of the work of German artist Jean-Henri Riesene, the famous cabinetmaker of Queen Marie Antoinette, was outstanding. According to Benjamin Kraemer, “one must not lose sight of future collectors”. In fact, many of the visitors who purchased pieces from the Kraemer family in the Biennale were young Americans in their early thirties. “They have not yet become collectors, but with the excuse of decorating their new homes, they are already getting into the world of antiques. They know what they are looking for and have acquired pieces designed by Jeff Koons and Anish Kapoor. Not here, of course.”
The statistics have not gone unnoticed to the President of the Biennale, Christian Deydier, who, for this event, has tried to establish a balance between the tastes of classic collectors and those of the emerging buyers, bearing in mind the rise of rival fairs that offer different options to galleries and dealers.
But it was the Chinese visitors who bought the most important works in jewelry. Pieces from Boucheron, Cartier, Chanel, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels were available in this year´s Biennale. Piaget presented a necklace boasting more than 1,500 diamonds, and Chanel had the largest exhibition space within the fair, with more than 2,700 square feet. An impressive necklace by Wallace Chan, aptly named “The Eyes of Infinity”, captivated both experts and curious alike.
In its 26th year, the Biennale has consolidated itself as a leader in the industry, offering the finest creations from different periods, and the public is already eagerly awaiting the next edition. ■