If attendees at the second edition of Art Basel’s Paris+ fair had any anxiety leading into the event, their fears appeared to have been assuaged during the first VIP preview day on Wednesday. The aisles were jam-packed throughout the day, and dealers reported a bevy of sales during the fair’s opening hours.
Among them were four works, sold for over $1 million each, at Hauser & Wirth and several pieces at Pace Gallery’s Rothko-dedicated booth, including a $65,000 sculpture by Alicja Kwade, who has just joined the gallery. Thaddaeus Ropac announced the successful sale of a $2 million Robert Rauschenberg, and the Paris-based Mennour gallery, meanwhile, said it had sold nearly €3.5 million worth of art.
“Paris+ confirms its major importance,” dealer Kamel Mennour said in a statement accompanying his gallery’s initial sales report. “Since the opening this morning, the concentration of international collectors, curators, and art world players, is extremely high and energizing.”
Below, a look at the best booths on view at Paris+, which runs until October 22.
Ghislaine Leung at Maxwell Graham
Strolling through the aisles of Paris+, out of the corner of your eye, you might spot that something seems askew in Maxwell Graham’s booth. The two paintings on one wall are hung flush left, with barely a gap between them. The central wall is completely empty, and so is the facing wall, minus the small bulb of a camera. Upon closer inspection this installation is a clever reconfiguring of art-booth aesthetics in service of a work by Ghislaine Leung, who is one of the nominees for this year’s Turner Prize.
Titled Monitors (2022), this conceptual piece has a simple score: “A baby monitor installed in one room and broadcast to another.” A version of this work is currently on view in the Turner Prize exhibition at Towner Eastbourne, where the feed shows the museum’s art storage facilities. At Paris+, an easy-to-miss screen for the monitor is installed on the other side of the false wall. When you gaze into its tiny baby monitor, you can see that the two paintings and floor sculpture are now perfectly framed.
The use of a baby monitor in this work and much of Leung’s recent work is significant. As she wrote for a 2022 solo show at the gallery: “I do not wish to drop out from my art, I do not wish to entirely outsource care for my daughter. I wish to do both art and care and in doing so change the terms of identity and labour within our industry.”
Hugh Hayden at Lisson
At the center of Lisson’s booth is an imposing wooden sculpture consisting of a large wooden wardrobe that was sourced in France. Inside hang two intertwined sculptures showing a skeleton’s torso, hand-carved in cherrywood. Titled Us, these two skeletons appear to embrace—perhaps they are lovers, perhaps they are friends. By paring these figures down to just their bones, Hayden has intentionally rendered it tough to make any definite conclusions about them. This presentation is also a preview of sorts for the artist’s forthcoming exhibition at Lisson’s Los Angeles space next month.
Roberto Gil de Montes at Kurimanzutto
Kurimanzutto has given over its booth to Roberto Gil de Montes, who was born in Mexico City, moved to Los Angeles as a teen, became a major figure in the Chicano Art Movement, moved back to Mexico and then back to California, and now lives in small fishing town on Mexico’s Pacific coast. The paintings on view here chart that path. The booth’s centerpiece, Boca Chica (2022), depicts two men, one in a pair of white briefs, the other in black pants holding a white towel to his chest. Behind them is a shallow pool of water in which lays the fragment of a marble sculpture. Further on is a cemetery, and finally the sea, with a rising landmass indicative of the Mexican town of La Peñita de Jaltemba. Time seems to collapse in this piece, which recalls some of the ones that made him a standout at last year’s Venice Biennale.
Sarah Lucas at Sadie Coles HQ
One of the most popular works at this year’s Paris+ is Sarah Lucas’s SIX CENT SOIXANTE SIX (2023), which debuted earlier this year in an exhibition she curated titled “BIG WOMEN” at Firstsite in Colchester, England. A vintage, yellow Triumph TR6 takes center stage here. Lucas, who is currently the subject of a Tate Britain survey, has added some of her iconic bunny sculptures, made from stuffed pantyhose.
SoiL Thornton at Galerie Neu
Strewn across the edges of Galerie Neu’s booth are 18 stainless-steel trash bins that have been patinaed and encased in vacuum-sealed bags. Because of their handles and odd shapes, they resemble scrunched up shopping bags, which, given the context of their display at an art fair, lends the installation even more potency. Prior to sealing them, Thornton whispered their hopes or wishes into each; they are meant to remain unopened. Fittingly, the piece is titled Waisted Breathe (2022).
Lonnie Holley at Blum
At the center of this solo presentation dedicated to Lonnie Holley’s work is a grouping of sculptures. The Atlanta-based artist and musician makes them using found objects that are often welded with metal—one features a faded US flag, a broom, and wooden poles that rise out of a lobster trap that is loosely filled with newspapers. That work’s title is The Catch of America (2018), a name that is both haunting and beautiful, not unlike the works themselves.
Cooper Jacoby at Fitzpatrick Gallery
An equally unsettling and intriguing artwork comes in the form of a wall-hung sculpture by Cooper Jacoby. Produced for Paris+, it features a chartreuse locker into which the artist has implanted a sponge-like blob meant to mimic tripe. Also included is an automated orange lock that every so often readjusts itself to spell different four-letter words (or just random combinations of letters). While I was standing in the booth, the combination went from TELL to SELL.
Adriana Popescu at Plan B
At the center of Plan B’s work is a table filled with dozens of sculptures by the late Romanian artist Adriana Popescu. All but four are part of a large-scale installation titled Stones from an imaginary museum (1995). Part of a generation of like-minded artists, Popescu eschewed the traditional mediums of bronze, copper, and marble in creating in her sculptures. She instead preferred materials like found wood and blown glass as a means to create a new, distinct visual language.
Charles LeDray at Peter Freeman, Inc.
A Charles LeDray textile sculpture at Peter Freeman, Inc. features a pair of brown plaid trousers, pattern shirt, black jacket, floral tie, and a hanger. All are done in miniature, making for a sculpture that is relatively small and easy to pass by amid the rush of the fair. LeDray meticulously fashions each of the elements, using vintage fabrics to create the clothing and fabricating the buttons, closures, and hanger. The work offers a salient commentary on how men present themselves in society, but it also contains plenty to admire, visually, too.
Tamara Henderson at Rodeo
At Rodeo’s booth, an oversized chair appears as if it could collapse at any moment. Titled Sun Spider, the sculpture by Tamara Henderson takes the shape of the arachnid with each leg resting on a clear blub that at first glance appears to be glass but is, in fact, plastic. She came up with the concept for this sculpture when she was pregnant, and it featured in an exhibition titled “Womb Life” at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin in 2018.