March has always been a month when drawings and works on paper feature heavily in the Paris art calendar.
For three decades the Salon du Dessin, the city’s specialist drawings fair, has been a central focus around which many Paris auction houses time their own dedicated drawings sales (or hold them with a significant works on paper element).
And since 2007 the Salon du Dessin has been joined by its younger sibling Drawing Now Art Fair which focuses on Contemporary works.
Fairs, auctions plus the shows dealers mount in their own galleries and special events put on by some of the city’s museums… it adds up to a big attraction for afficionados of works on paper who come from around the world to view and buy during ‘la semaine du dessin’.
Covid restrictions resulted in changes to this familiar pattern over the last three years with the Salon du Dessin and Drawing Now cancelled or moved to a later date.
For 2023, however, things are back to normal with the fairs going ahead in the usual late March time slot. The Salon stages its 31st edition opening to the public from March 22-27 with a private view on the 21st while Drawing Now holds its 16th edition with a public opening from March 23-26 and a private view on the 22nd.
Both will be held in their usual venues: the Palais Brongniart in the Bourse district for the Salon and the Carreau du Temple in the 3rd arrondissement for Drawing Now.
For the second year running the two fairs also have a partnership arrangement that allows visitors to access both fairs at a reduced price.
Nine new names
The Salon has a fixed number of exhibitors, 39, made up of French and foreign galleries. This year 18 of them, almost half, come from beyond France including five from Italy and four from the US.
The roll-call also features nine new names alongside the regular exhibitors with Bottegantica and Cortona Fine Art both from Milan, Zeit Contemporary Art of New York and Bailly Gallery from Switzerland along with French firms Galerie Alexis Pentcheff, Galerie Dina Vierny, Françoise Livinec, Galerie Fabienne Fiacre and the Galerie Kervorkian.
Alongside the exhibitors the Salon always features loan exhibitions.
The year the focus is on works on paper selected from the archives of the Musée de l’Armée at the Invalides and the Fondation Custodia’s tribute exhibition to Ger Luijten, its director from 2010, who died last December.
The Salon also has an extra mural element linking up with museums and institutions for bookable organised visits to their graphic art collections. This year, in line with the Salon’s art of gardens theme for its symposium, visits take place to gardens such as the Jardin Anglais of the Petit Trianon in Versailles and the new garden of the Bibliothèque National de France.
Drawing Now has 73 exhibitors showing works from the last 50 years to the present day over the two levels of the Carreau du Temple, a former covered market building.
Thirty of these are new to the fair or have not taken part recently and 21 (30%) come from outside France (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK, US and Serbia).
The event holds a variety of events with performances, a programme of talks and discussions and the Drawing Now prize.
A third diary date for March is the second edition of the Paris Print Fair which takes place at the refectory of the Couvent des Cordeliers and is open from March 23-26. Organised by the CSEDT (Chambre Syndicale de l’Estampe, du Dessin et du Tableau), this year it features 20 exhibitors from across Europe.
The big draws
Over the next four pages we preview some of the highlights from both the drawings fairs and look at a selection of works on offer in the upcoming specialist auctions.