U.S. art titan Larry Gagosian launches new gallery in Paris

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U.S. art titan Larry Gagosian launches new gallery in Paris

PARIS - One of the world’s most powerful art dealers, Larry Gagosian, opened a new outpost in his empire Tuesday with a gallery in Paris - a sign, he says, of the rejuvenation of France’s modern art scene.

Gagosian, who represents some of the giants of modern and contemporary art in New York, Los Angeles and London, said the new gallery, near the Champs Elysees avenue, was a sign that Paris’s flagging art market was picking up.

Paris “is reclaiming its position within the international art circuit through its high quality museum exhibitions and a growing art market,” said the 65-year-old, who rarely speaks to journalists, in a statement.

“We always wanted a gallery here,” one of the Paris venue’s directors, Serena Cattaneo, told AFP at Tuesday’s opening, standing by five bright green and orange abstract canvases by U.S. artist Cy Twombly.

The opening coincides with the yearly FIAC contemporary art fair, one of the top events on the European art calendar, which opens to the public on Thursday.

“There have been a lot of changes in Paris in recent years which have shown it is possible to exhibit modern art here,” she added, citing projects at the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre museum and the rise of FIAC.

Twombly painted a ceiling in the Louvre which was unveiled this year, and Versailles has caused controversy by hosting outlandish installations by contemporary artists such as Takashi Murakami.

The Paris gallery, designed by French architect Jean-Francois Bodin and London studio Caruso St John, opened with a show of work by French designer and architect Jean Prouve and work by Twombly.

Paris was the heart of the art world for much of the 20th century, but France currently has a fraction of the world market, says Georgina Adam, a market specialist at the London-based journal The Art Newspaper. She said Gagosian was likely drawn to Paris not so much by the revival of contemporary art in France as by the presence of rich art collectors such as Francois Pinault, the head of the retail group PPR.

“It’s all about the big rich names. There are several very rich collectors in Paris, so I imagine he wanted to have a gallery on their doorstep,” she told AFP.

ArtReview magazine ranked Gagosian as the most powerful figure in the art world this year. France’s Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand presented him with the Legion of Honor on Monday, France’s highest civil honor, a spokeswoman for the launch said.

Gagosian directors refused to say how much money would change hands in the new gallery. In June, Christie’s sold a 2004 Twombly painting for 2.5 million pounds ($3.9 million) in London.

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