Artcurial is a relative newcomer to the auction scene. Unlike Christies and Sothebys, the large and venerable British auction houses founded in the 18th century, Artcurial is a brainchild of the 20th century. In only 15 years, it has successfully carved its own untraditional path in the art world, reinventing the market and taking its place as one of the leading auction houses in the world. The French art market was archaic, having inherited Napoleonic traditions, until the people at Artcurial decided to try to change things, explains Fabien Naudan, Vice President of Artcurial. For the first time, people understood that the local art market should be opened up internationally. Artcurial developed a double culture: conserving the traditional French approach while not blocking evolution.
Today, Artcurial has branches in eight countries – including Israel since 2014 – in addition to its home base in Paris, and its auction schedule is full year-round. Despite being young, Artcurials activities are extremely diverse, covering a very large variety of categories, some of which are truly groundbreaking in the world of auctioneering. In fact, Artcurials 25 different departments include such singular fields as Historical Souvenirs, Tribal Art, Urban Art and Comic Strips. There are also more traditional departments such as Impressionist and Modern Art, Jewelry and Watches.
Fabien Naudan, who has been with the company since its inception, was instrumental in establishing Artcurials unique Design department. Design used to be considered a cousin of Art Deco and all the major catalogs only spoke of decorative arts, he recalls. I insisted that there should be a pure Design department, not mixed with pre-war Art Deco. I didnt want a fruit salad, he adds. By breaking with tradition and creating a separate Design department led by Naudan, Artcurial became an international leader in this specialty, with a devout following among collectors from around the world.
Once a year, Artcurial organizes a Design auction that offers exactly 20 lots, each year with a different theme. Three years ago, the subject was the famous Israeli designer Ron Arad; all 20 pieces were sold, some at prices that set world records. This years theme is Charlotte Forever, with 20 pieces curated from the designs of the late Charlotte Perriand. We work for a year and a half on each of these auctions, collecting high-quality pieces from all over the world, notes Naudan, adding that, People are curious about what we will do next.
Another unique field pioneered by Artcurial is Urban Art. This department was established ten years ago as the result of recognizing the emerging importance of artists and collectors of contemporary urban art, which includes graffiti, street sculptures and more. The risk paid off and today Artcurials Urban Art auctions attract an increasing number of collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world.
Another example of Artcurials unconventional and innovative style can be seen in its decision to open a Motorcars department. Collectible cars are traditionally sold by auction houses that sell nothing else. Yet, Artcurial correctly sensed that its clients would be receptive to this field, and even set a world record two years ago when it sold a collectors car at auction for 32 million Euros, at a unique auction in Paris during the Retromobile exhibition. Next year, they hope to beat the world record with a very special Ferrari which won the world famous Le Mans race in 1964.
We look at the large global ecosystem and understand that clients who buy art might also want a nice sports car, Naudan elaborates. Were not content with being like the others; we take risks and are prepared for constant evolution.
Pleasant surprises in Israel
Nearly 75% of Artcurials pieces are sold to foreigners outside of France. Important markets include the United States, China, Japan, Korea, Switzerland and the U.K. Collectors have changed a lot in the past 40 years. Today, many collectors are young and want to advance quickly. They buy because they enjoy it; they are more spontaneous and open, says Naudan. When people come into money early in life, they first buy a house or two and a nice car and then they want beautiful furniture, art and watches. Artcurial understands that modern collectors will buy different types of items and not just in a single department. This holistic approach is what makes the auction house so innovative.
Since opening a branch in Tel Aviv in 2014, Artcurial has become a part of the local art scene. The reason we came to Israel is 51% for the heart and 49% for business, admits Naudan, who has close ties to Israel, including family here. He always wanted to do something in Israel but it was when his good friend Philippe Cohen decided to move here that the perfect opportunity presented itself. Naudan convinced Cohen, a Parisian dentist and very important contemporary art collector, to head Artcurials Israeli branch. Israelis appreciate the French approach to the art market and Im very proud of what weve accomplished here, he says
In most European countries where Artcurial opens a branch, they mainly focus on historical heirlooms that people kept in their families for centuries. In Israel, they had to rethink their strategy. You cant find people here with 400-year old art. Most people arrived here with nothing or very little just 50 or 70 years ago. In Israel, our emphasis is on helping people who want to develop their collections, notes Naudan.
Israel has a disproportionately large number of serious art collectors, which was a pleasant surprise for Artcurial. They were also amazed by the scope of real estate development here, and the large number of people wanting to buy furniture and art for new apartments.
Artcurials presence in Israel is not conventional, according to Naudan. Although they have offices, they prefer to rent different venues for different events. We never repeat anything twice even if its successful. People expect novelty, he adds.
The auction houses decision to sponsor the Louise Bourgeois exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art was obvious, says Naudan. We couldnt not be partners! Its an important international exhibition that resonates globally. For the past ten years, Artcurial has been a partner of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, organizing annual events for the museum in Paris. Its natural for us to be a part of this exhibition.
For more information about Artcurial, go to www.artcurial.com.
Louise Bourgeois: Twosome
For the first time in Israel, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is presenting a comprehensive solo exhibition dedicated to the groundbreaking artist Louise Bourgeois, one of the most brilliant and influential women in 20th-century art
The new exhibition, which just opened and will run through January 20, 2018, presents unique creations from the long career of the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). Curated by Jerry Gorovoy and Suzanne Landau, the exhibition is sponsored by the innovative Parisian auction house Artcurial.
Bourgeois, who passed away at the age of 98, left a fascinating body of work that greatly contributed to the development of Feminist theory. Her artistic career spanned seven decades, but it was not until 1982, when she was 71, that Bourgeois became the first woman artist to be given a large-scale sculpture retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This turning point confirmed her status as an inspiring, leading contemporary artist whose dramatic works — which explore family relations, parenthood, marital relationships, femininity, masculinity, pain, passion and aggression — are profound and revealing in their intricacy.
The new Tel Aviv exhibition Twosome explores the duality in Louise Bourgeois's concepts and forms; the dialogues between inside and outside, conscious and unconscious, male and female, the body and architecture, passive and active. It features over 50 works — monumental as well as small sculptures, textile works and drawings — from all the major phases and periods in Bourgeois's career, including some of her best-known pieces.
For more information and tickets: www.tamuseum.org.il, Tel. 03-6077020
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