Hauser & Wirth’s new gallery boosts Paris’s art-world standing
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
“Paris is a city we love, and it’s very important for artists!” exclaims Hauser & Wirth’s president Marc Payot, speaking about the company’s new gallery in the capital, which opens to the public on October 14. “We had been looking for the right space for over 10 years,” he says, “and we got very close a number of times, but now finally we have found the right building in the right neighbourhood.”
That building is a four-floor neoclassical hôtel particulier dating from 1877: its facade is listed but the inside was completely rebuilt by architect Luis Laplace, creating a breathtaking six-metre-high gallery on the ground floor. It is in the “golden triangle” bordered by the Champs-Élysées, avenue Montaigne and avenue Georges V; neighbours include couturiers and luxury goods stores such as Céline and Courrèges. It is the 16th gallery for the juggernaut, which as well as selling art has a separate business running hotels and restaurants, Artfarm.
The Paris space will be run by the trilingual Séverine Waelchli, who has a wealth of experience in the gallery world: she has previously worked with Sprüth Magers, Yvon Lambert and Thaddaeus Ropac.
I ask her about the recent chatter concerning rivalry between Paris and London. Since Brexit, the British capital has lost some standing in the art market, while Paris seems to be on the up-and-up, with smart new private museums and, of course, the Olympics next year. Is this another sign that the French capital is winning out?
“London will always be London, and the two cities are complementary,” Waelchli says. “There is no doubt that the cultural scene in Paris is expanding.” But Payot affirms: “This is definitely not a decision against London, we really believe in the city!” Indeed, Artfarm bought the storied Groucho Club in Soho last year. “We don’t favour one capital over the other,” he says. “Of course there is competition, but Paris is important for its layers of history, and a longer engagement with contemporary art.”
The space opens with a show by the Los Angeles-based artist Henry Taylor, with paintings and sculptures spread across the two exhibition floors. In a preview, I saw immense sculptures including the 4.6-metre-high “One tree per family” (2023), made of artificial afro hair, and an untitled portrait of a group of white-shirted black boys posing against the sign “Victory”. The lift and walls around the impressive staircase are decorated with bold black and gold diagonals by the artist Martin Creed.
“Henry is one of the great black figurative painters,” says Payot; his retrospective has just travelled to the Whitney in New York from LA MoCA. “But he doesn’t have the same institutional support in France, he hasn’t had the same exposure in Europe, which is one reason why we decided to open with his work in Paris.” Taylor has certainly immersed himself in Paris, having spent all this summer there, drawing inspiration from the Impressionists, Expressionists and Fauvists in its museums, notably the Musée d’Orsay.
Hauser & Wirth Paris will host four to five shows a year, with a mix of international and French artists — already planned are exhibitions by Camille Henrot, Pierre Huyghe, Barbara Chase-Riboud and Hélène Delprat. “And we will add new artists to the programme as we go along,” says Waelchli, noting that the gallery had just signed Delprat and will give her a show in January. “But we won’t only show French artists, and many [non-French artists] we represent are very keen to show here — artists all want to show in Paris.”
‘Henry Taylor: From Sugar to Shit’ runs October 14-January 7, hauserwirth.com