New Yorkers Turn Out For French Antiques Fair

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The New York Sun

PARIS — Familiar faces from New York seemed right at home at the opening night gala of the Biennale des Antiquaires. The art and antiques assembled under the largest glass dome in the world at the Grand Palais in Paris seemed to bask in the attention of 4,000 admirers, including Chelsea Clinton and a decorator friend from Arkansas, Ryan Lawson; the grandson of the legendary French designer Jeanne Lanvin, Bernard Lanvin; architect Peter Marino; designers John Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld (whose photograph of the Grand Palais is featured in the advertisements for the Biennale); the president of Christie’s Europe, François Curiel; the chairman of Phillips de Pury, Simon de Pury, and many New York collectors and designers who are members of the American committee of Le Syndicat des Antiquaires, which organizes the fair.

New Yorkers Charlotte Moss and Marie-Josée Kravis did just fine competing with the French women on style. However, they were focused on the objects on view.

“I’ve seen a lot of drawings I just fell in love with,” Ms. Moss said.

“I’ve just begun to look,” Ms. Kravis said, “but I just love the whole setting.”

She approved of the blend of modern art and antique pieces. “Look here at Gallery Aveline, the mixture works very well,” Ms. Kravis said. “I think great things go well together. It’s about quality.”

Gallery Aveline specializes in classic French furniture, which lined the walls of its booth. But on the walls were 20th-century paintings by Michael Rovner, Alex Katz, and Alfred Jensen, borrowed from PaceWildenstein in New York. They were also on sale.

“We would never do this in our gallery, but for the Biennale we can do something different, we can take a risk,” a representative of Aveline Gallery, Marella Rossi Mosseri, said.

Early sales seemed to prove an already emerging trend: Art Deco is hot and prices are heading upward. Arc en Seine sold half its Art Deco inventory, including two Jean-Michel Frank tables from the Nelson Rockefeller estate. Buyers were also enthusiastic about pieces from the 1960s. Galerie du Passage Pierre Passabon sold all three of its Panton spaceage plastic chandeliers, one of which appeared in “Barbarella.”

“20th-century is the fashion of the moment, but what we have is quality, and fashion changes,” the director of Didier Aaron gallery, Hervé Aaron, said. Not that his booth was empty. The gallery sold a table for half a million Euros and had interest in several other pieces.

“The good thing is that I can buy more of what I like,” interior designer Robert Couturier, who favors the 18th century, said.

The French event organizers had a hard time getting guests to sit down at their tables, especially the couples lingering at the Van Clef Arpels booth, which was exhibiting one-of-a-kind pieces based on drawings in its archive that had been labeled “impossible to craft.” Finally, about an hour later than scheduled, the meal commenced, and it was one that went above and beyond some of the most expensive catered dinners in New York: a poached egg doused at the table with a spoonful of herb soup; phyllo-wrapped fish and risotto with mushrooms, and fig tart with vanilla ice cream.

Then it was home to rest. Dealers, after all, need to pace themselves. The fair runs today through September 24, for 12 hours a day. Adam Williams of the eponymous New York gallery was keeping things in perspective. “We haven’t sold anything yet but the fair hasn’t even opened yet,” the dealer of Old Master paintings noted last night, at yet another pre-opening reception.

For others, the success of opening night makes the rest icing on the cake. Take the first-time exhibitor at the Biennale, L&M Arts, the New York dealer known for post-war art. “We had a very good night,” a partner in L&M Arts, Dominique Levy, said.

The New York Sun

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