Salon du Dessin

Opening day at the Salon du Dessin.

Image copyright: Tanguy de Montesson

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Paris drawing week is a time of real synergy in the French art market.

It has grown up around the specialist drawings fair, the Salon du Dessin, but it extends well beyond the confines of the Palais Brongniart where the 39 exhibitors set out their stands.

For years Paris auction rooms, realising that this is the time to showcase their own drawings, have scheduled sales with a works on paper focus. Paris galleries too put on their own displays and since 2007 the Drawing Now fair at the Carreau du Temple has added an extra contemporary angle to events while the Paris Print Fair, celebrating its second edition, adds another element. The symbiosis does work, combining to pull in more private and professional visitors.

Traditional slot

This year after a series of Covid related cancellations and postponements the Salon du Dessin was staged in its traditional late March slot and the ‘back to business as usual’ gave drawing week a real buzz.

Attendance at the 31st Salon was back to pre-Covid levels (2000 attended the opening alone). The private view was full of visitors keen to meet up exchange news and views.

The babble of different languages testified to the fact that this was not just an influx of local or even French visitors. Importantly, the audience included representatives from the world’s major museums in Europe and the US, among them the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Harvard Art Museum as well as the British Museum and institutions in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Zurich.

A raft of French and international museums were also in evidence at Drawing Now.

Auction pre-emptions

The Drouot auction centre, just a short walk from the Palais Brogniart, was equally well attended by a similar clientele. But, while the renewed presence of curators from foreign museums is a welcome outcome, French institutional buying was also key.

Drawing Week had plenty of instances of French museums using their right of pre-emption buy at auction. Ader’s sale of works from the well-known French dealership Talabardon & Gautier saw no fewer than 14 pre-emptions by French institutions while Christie’s annual drawings auction had three and the Château de Versailles and Musée Cluny made purchases at Aguttes and Artcurial respectively.

Over the following pages we review some of the sales at the Salon and a selection of drawing highlights from the auctions.