France at the time of drawing
Every year, for one week, in March, Paris is a paper tiger. Blame it on the Salon du Dessin, which is inaugurating its 31e edition: over the years, his reputation has become international and attracts collectors and museum curators from all over the world (half a dozen major American museums have sent their representatives this year) for whom he rolls out the red carpet, their notably organizing visits to public and private funds that are difficult to access. It has even had children: launched in 2007, Drawing Now Art Fair, devoted to contemporary drawing, is in its 16e editing.
Recently, the whole of France has been won: a Printemps du dessin – it is in its 6e publishing – intends to bring together throughout the country, until June 21, public and private cultural venues wishing to express their interest or sympathy for paper (www.printempsdudessin.com). They are 51 to have responded this year, including the FRAC Picardie, which, since its creation in 1983 in Amiens, has centered its collection on drawing. An excellent idea: even if some sheets can reach astronomical prices, works on paper are generally much more affordable than paintings, which makes it possible to constitute – and this is the case in Amiens, which now has more than 1,400 works – remarkable sets.
Very dense offer
The offer is very dense, especially since there are also auctions centered on the same theme, which try to capture the clientele of the salons: Drawing Now, 73 galleries present 300 artists and 2,000 works. The Salon du Dessin is more selective, with around forty exhibitors for around 1,000 drawings… There is also a selection made from some 10,000 sheets kept at the Musée de l’armee, which therefore does not only house instruments warriors. If the presence of a large gouache by Edouard Detaille (1848-1912) representing Napoleon at the siege of Toulon is hardly surprising, that of the study for A Bad Place (2018), from the Art & Language group, is more astonishing, except when the cartel specifies that it was created during an installation during the exhibition “Napoleon? Again ! », which was held at the Invalides, in 2021.
It is also the Salon du Dessin that Daniel and Florence Guerlain, whose collection has become, over the years, one of the most respectable, have chosen to award their annual prize for contemporary drawing. It rewards three artists, selected to exhibit at the Salon. The winner receives 15,000 euros, the other two 5,000 euros each. The nominees for this edition are representatives of art brut: the Belgian Pascal Leyder (born in 1988), the Iranian Mehrdad Rashidi (born in 1963) and the American Melvin Way (born in 1954). Finally, to encourage vocations, the magazine Little Leonard organizes a competition of children’s drawings there: the works of the winners are exhibited with those of their illustrious predecessors!
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