The Straits Times
Published on Oct 16, 2012

Paintbrushes at dawn as mega-galleries sprout in Paris


PARIS (REUTERS) - A white horse quietly munches hay in the corner of a new warehouse-sized art gallery in the Paris suburb of Pantin, an oblivious player in a giant exhibit featuring mud-and-rust-coloured paintings, creepy embryo sculptures and a black-and-white projection of an artist reciting Goethe.

Welcome to the world of the mega-gallery, a larger-than-life testament to the booming power of the US$1.2 billion (S$1.47 billion) contemporary art market and the latest battleground for flamboyant art-dealer players and their increasingly valuable big-name artists.

While the French capital tends to be seen as a sleepy second fiddle to London in terms of market share, today it is staging the latest round of the fight for collector cash as two rival mega-spaces open just days apart with works by the same artist.

In one corner, Austrian-born dealer Thaddaeus Ropac, whose new gallery in Pantin is a 2,000 sq m space housing a horse, its hay bale and a series of gloomy works by cerebral German artist Anselm Kiefer including doll-sized dresses skewered by branches.