This year’s Paris Photo at the Grand Palais appeared even more frenzied than its predecessor in 2018, which marked the transfer of the fair from the cavernous spaces in the Carrousel du Louvre to this new destination. The larger, airier building has encouraged a growing number of events and galleries to be represented – a record 140 this year. Yet in terms of content, what still appears to be missing are galleries from beyond Europe and America.

As seems to have been the trend in recent years, the major international commercial players exhibited an impressive roster of big names with extremely strong stands from Gagosian, Pace/MacGill and Fraenkel.  Of these, Gagosian alone continues to rile everyone with their refusal either to put labels near their works or disclose prices.   But where are galleries representing the very best and most interesting work now emerging from Brazil, China, India, Russia and the Middle East – surely this is a prime opportunity to try and reflect these growth areas in terms of their representation at such an important event as Paris Photo?

The best news this year was the decision to abandon the idea of an overall theme for the event – while last year’s theme of Africa worked as a generic focus for the branding of the fair, it didn’t percolate down into the bowels of the Grand Palais. It was widely agreed that the very small show of highlights from Bamako should have been given more prominence than being relegated to a small space under the stairs (especially given the Bienale’s now precarious status due to civil conflict in Mali).

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This year’s Paris Photo at the Grand Palais appeared even more frenzied than its predecessor in 2018, which marked the transfer of the fair from the cavernous spaces in the Carrousel du Louvre to this new destination. The larger, airier building has encouraged a growing number of events and galleries to be represented – a record 140 this year. Yet in terms of content, what still appears to be missing are galleries from beyond Europe and America.

As seems to have been the trend in recent years, the major international commercial players exhibited an impressive roster of big names with extremely strong stands from Gagosian, Pace/MacGill and Fraenkel.  Of these, Gagosian alone continues to rile everyone with their refusal either to put labels near their works or disclose prices.   But where are galleries representing the very best and most interesting work now emerging from Brazil, China, India, Russia and the Middle East – surely this is a prime opportunity to try and reflect these growth areas in terms of their representation at such an important event as Paris Photo?

The best news this year was the decision to abandon the idea of an overall theme for the event – while last year’s theme of Africa worked as a generic focus for the branding of the fair, it didn’t percolate down into the bowels of the Grand Palais. It was widely agreed that the very small show of highlights from Bamako should have been given more prominence than being relegated to a small space under the stairs (especially given the Bienale’s now precarious status due to civil conflict in Mali).

Three other public institutions – Fotomuseum Winterthur, LACMA and Huis Marseille made brave and bold selections from their respective collections. This new platform for introducing the holdings of major international collections is beginning to shape up into something extraordinary within the context of the otherwise commercial imperative of Paris Photo.

Finally, worth noting as a nod towards the growing importance of incorporating genuine public programming into the fabric of the Fair, is the Talks programme, which has grown in stature  since the event relocated to the Grand Palais.  Previously this was not an area which would have warranted serious attention but with the decision to appoint an individual to curate the programme –Parachute editor Chantal Pontbriand last year and Roxana Marcoci this year – the quality and content of the talks programme has enabled an excellent range of artists and issues to be debated; one which is now proving so popular, it is often difficult to secure a seat.

Although it was difficult to find time to leave the Grand Palais, there are a growing number of offsite events worth tracking down.  AMC’s independent approach to curating was more closely aligned to the spirit of OFFPRINT, which served to bring together an array of energetic publishers – cooperatives and independents sitting cheek by jowl alongside major publishing houses, all united by their commitment to publishing interesting new work by artists/best wedding photographers nyc working both within and outside the mainstream. There was much of interest to be found here and a very different spirit at play – a more informal, collaborative atmosphere which was a welcome change after the more cloistered, competitive mood at the Grand Palais.