The Best of Art Paris 2024 Is Still Virtually On View

More than 130 galleries from around the world came together to celebrate the oft-overlooked Arts & Crafts movement.

Art Paris 2024 offered guided tours and virtual visits to attract a larger audience. Veronica Ferrari

This year’s Art Paris was held once again in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte’s temporary Grand Palais Éphémère, which has been the backdrop of major cultural events during the temporary closure for renovation of the go-to Grand Palais. It’s a banner year for the City of Lights, which is under the spotlight of the cultural scene, with major artistic events shaping up around both the coming Paris Olympic Games and the 150th Anniversary of Impressionism. In that spirit, Art Paris 2024 focused on opening the doors of an often “closed circle” to the wider public.

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With 136 galleries from 25 different countries, this April art fair showcased a selection of modern and contemporary art from established and rising artists repped by new galleries such as Richard Saltoun Gallery from London and Berlin’s Esther Schipper, which joined well-known habitués Poggi and Perrotin, among others. Visitors were not left to wander and wonder. In a bid to counter the perceived exclusivity of the art world, Art Paris mounted over 100 guided tours over the fair’s four days and, perhaps more importantly, invited those unable to make it to Paris to virtually walk through the fair.

While lacking the sensorial elements that made living the fair in person so remarkable, the virtual tour is a great way to get familiar with these artists or experience Art Paris from afar.

A fair of irresistible texture

With “Art & Craft” being one of the two themes of this year’s edition, most galleries selected artworks that celebrated a fusion of materials and played with layers ‘leaping’ out of the canvas. A feast of techniques from the craft world intertwined with more classical artistic styles including threads intricately sewn through canvas, glitter layered on oil, photographs printed on thinly shredded silk, wool boxed under glass panels and three-dimensional tapestries.

A selection by art critic and independent curator Nicolas Trembley was at the center stage of this thematic exploration presenting works that celebrated a movement that emerged in the United Kingdom at the end of the 19th Century and has been recently having its renaissance through international exhibitions and publications, such as the acclaimed “Unravel – The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art” exhibition at the Barbican in London and the book Women’s Work: From Feminine Art to Feminist Art by art historian Ferren Gipson.

Rows of colorful framed pictures on an art fair wall
‘Ge Ba’ is a series of fabric paintings created by anonymous female Chinese textile workers who gathered together to work on them in a moment of community in the village. Veronica Ferrari

Notably, several of the selected pieces were from artists who brought their experience with different craft techniques to the fine arts, including textile artist Sheila Hicks (Claude Bernard Gallery), painter and tapestry artist Barbara Levittoux-Świderska (Richard Saltoun Gallery), Japanese ceramic artist Shiro Tsujimura (Les sentiment des choses Gallery) and fashion designer Jeanne Viceral (Templon gallery), with her powerful garment sculptures.

Standing out, Tierras del Sur a multi-material three-dimensional tapestry by Catalan artist Josep Grau-Garriga (Claude Bernard Gallery) paid homage to his background in Catalan wall art while breaking away from tradition by mixing textures and materials including wool, jute, silk and cotton creating lumps in the wall as if hiding a mystery underneath. There was also Ge Ba, a series of “fabric paintings” presented by the Françoise Livinec Gallery and displayed as rows of framed patchworks made of fabric fragments held together with rice glue, which celebrate the unknown Chinese textile workers who created them in 1950.

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Visitors could be seen leaning in toward the front and side of artworks to get a closer view of 3D effects, with hesitant hands hovering longing to feel those textures. In some gallery booths, artists extended their art beyond the frames to the walls, such as Keita Mori’s threads swirling across Putman Gallery’s booth. Hanging abstract copper swirls by Belgian artist Fred Eerdekens contained hidden messages that were only revealed as a subtle play of lights and shadows on the walls of the Opera Gallery booth. These installations transformed visitors’ experience making them active participants rather than passive observers.

Opera Gallery's Art Paris booth
Artworks celebrating different crafts created a sensorial experience throughout the galleries. Veronica Ferrari

Imagining ‘Fragile Utopias’

Less enthralling than the “Art & Craft”’ selections, “Fragile Utopias” paid homage to artists from the French scene who portray a utopian vision of possible ways to improve the world. Without imposing them as imperative ideals, these representations are doubtful possibilities, which, according to curator Éric de Chassey, are the only possible utopias in today’s world. De Chassey, director of the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA), chose these based on his reaction to the works, selecting artists active all across France including several who have left their homelands to make France a new home, possibly finding in it some of their utopian ideals.

Art hanging on a white wall
Elika Hedayat’s ‘Heroum’ series at Aline Vidal Gallery. Veronica Ferrari

Renowned artists from the modernist period, such as Sonia Terk-Delaunay with her Rocks in Monteaux at Bérès Gallery and the soothing Women and Birds in a Park by cubist and dadaist painter Juliette Roche (Pauline Pavec Gallery) merge with the work of emerging contemporary artists. Iranian artist Elika Hedayat’s oils on canvas (Aline Vidal Gallery) illustrate attempts to escape a dystopian controlling power by creating local utopias. Her paintings often include women with long black hair sprawling, a symbol of Iranian women’s fight for freedom. Yto Barrada’s vivid photographic series Flea Markets (Polaris Gallery), depicts building waste and abandoned furniture from the streets of Tangier while Daniel Schlier’s vision of Spring (Galerie East) questions how to create harmony between nature and industrial development through the use of the Alsatian technique of reverse glass painting (on plexiglass in this case).

Then there were the solo shows

The fair included eighteen solo shows among the gallery booths, with homages to historic artists such as Jean Hélion (Patrice Trigano Gallery) and contemporary discoveries such as Columbian artist Leyla Cárdenas (Dix9-Hélène Lacharmoise Gallery), whose photographs of urban buildings on shredded silk polyester catapulted the viewer inside the scene.

Artworks by Katia Kameli at Art Paris
Katia Kameli’s solo show presented by 110 Galerie Véronique Rieffel. Veronica Ferrari

Franco-Algerian artist Katia Kameli (110 Galerie Véronique Rieffel) and French artist and photographer Sophie Zénon (Galerie XII) stole the “solo” show with their homages to the natural and animal world, which seemed to be one of the unplanned and unsung protagonists of the fair overall, with large landscapes, pressed flowers framed in an array of materials, a flower carpet, and upside-down orchid pots dotting the exhibitions. Kameli’s ethereal ink on silk backdrop Stream of Stories came together with her musical series of ceramic sculptures The Canticle of Birds creating a peaceful oasis in the bustle of the event. Zénon’s installation applied different techniques, including photography, printing on tulle, sculpting and collage, creating a sort of diary of a naturalist observing obsidional plants—those plants that have been migrated or grown, voluntarily or not, in the wave armies traveling during wars.

Art Paris’ unmissable galleries

Without a doubt, Art Paris was a fair to stir visitors’ senses and imagination, bringing attention to emerging artists and galleries from across the world. Some galleries that particularly stood out for their selections included Opera Gallery (Paris) and Clavé Fine Art (Paris) for their mesmerizing choice of international artists who played with forms, layers and dimensions, La Forest Divonne (Paris and Bruxelles) for the bold and colorful nature-themed canvases and Jeanne Bucher Jaeger (Paris and Lisbon) for pieces paying homage to cultures across the world. Helen Bailly (Paris) created an exquisite setting composed of an art-deco-inspired tree-shaped lamp and natural elements embracing canvas by renowned artists such as Picasso. 313 Art Project (Seoul and Paris) surprised with hilarious work by South Korean artist Woo Kukwon, as did Double V (Marseille and Paris) with its entire selection of artists, particularly French artist Elise Boundelle and Brazilian Manoela Medeiros.

The Best of Art Paris 2024 Is Still Virtually On View