8 September 2023

Study of a crouching naked woman, 1912, Georges Dorignac (1879-1925).

In March, drawing is celebrated everywhere in Paris. At the Salon du Dessin, a temple of beautiful old sheets located at the Palais Brongniart. On Drawing Now Art Fair, its contemporary counterpart, at the Carreau du Temple. Not to mention the myriad of auctions and smaller events like Ddessin. This means that the success of this niche market is not weakening. At auction, the volume of drawing sales has more than tripled in twenty years, jumping from 44 million to 146 million euros.

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Prized by informed buyers, the medium offers a great gateway for beginners. Because there is something for all tastes, and all styles, from figurative to abstract, from impulsive to controlled. If the practice thrives in adversity, there’s nothing flashy about it. No showing off, no cheating. “A drawing can’t lie, that’s what makes it so endearing”summarizes Christine Phal, founder of Drawing Now.

“Drawing is spontaneous, it is the direct transmission of an artist’s first thoughts”, rebounds Sébastien Castel, 50 years old. Twenty-five years ago, this PVC resin importer from Rouen started buying drawings, “for 200-300 francs”, he specifies. A quarter of a century later, it has a more than respectable collection, rich in some great names in the history of art, such as Théodore Géricault. “It’s a very different world from the rest of the art world, people share their knowledge, you feel welcomed when you’re young”, recognizes Sébastien Paraskevas, 34 years old. Above all, he adds, the drawings remain accessible. “For 400 euros, you can find a good anonymous drawing at auction, for less than 5,000 euros, a drawing by a known artist”says the young Londoner.

A reasonable odds

A drawing is usually 40% to 60% cheaper than a painting by the same artist. The pointillist canvases of the painter Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910) usually trade for a few hundred thousand euros. From this contemporary of Paul Signac (1863-1935), the AB gallery presents, for 6,500 euros at the Salon du dessin, Napan unfinished sheet in black chalk depicting a sleeping woman.

“The siesta”, around 1900, Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910).

On March 22, Christie’s is offering a study of Orpheus by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898), in connection with one of the murals in the Boston Public Library. The composition is modest, like the estimate, between 3,000 and 5,000 euros. Although the artist is known for his great decorations of the Pantheon and the great amphitheater of the Sorbonne, his rating remains reasonable. Although out of purgatory for twenty years, the painter of antiques which the Nabis and the pointillists claimed to be, has not been completely rehabilitated.

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