BIENNALE DES ANTIQUAIRES
Biennale des Antiquaires – A Show Among Shows!
Once every two years, art lovers and collectors from the Paris jet set and the international elite congregate at the Biennale des Antiquaires, the premier showcase of art and antiques featuring treasures from the world’s greatest dealers since the 1950s. This year, the event took place at the Grand Palais in Paris from September 11 to 21.
The edition saw the participation of renowned haute jewellery brands such as Boucheron, Bulgari, Cartier, Chanel, Chaumet, Christian Dior, Graff Diamonds, Piaget, and Van Cleef & Arpels. There were some first-timers, too, including David Morris and Giampiero Bodino.
For its 27th edition, the National Union of Antiques Dealers, the event organiser better known by its French acronym SNA, called upon
internationally acclaimed interior designer Jacques Grange to recreate the Versailles Gardens under the iconic Grand Palais glass dome, with help from the gardeners of Château de Versailles and Trianon.
Grange, who has decorated the homes of great personas such as Yves Saint Laurent, Isabelle Adjani, Caroline of Monaco, and Francis Ford Coppola, studied in schools such as Camondo and Boulle in Paris. His talent earned him the title of Chevalier des Art et Lettres and Chevalier de l’ordre de la légion d’honneur. According to Grange, “La Biennale 2014 is an imaginary garden leading to exceptional objects.” His reference has been the gardens of Versailles by André Le Nôtre.
The plan of the Biennale is built on three main roads leading to three pavilions. Trellises and
arbours emphasise the perspectives through a graphic play between fountains, groves and lawns.
When entering the Grand Palais, an olfactory fountain by the Francis Kurkdjian house plunged the visitor in the heart of the 18th century, through the “Bouquet de la Reine” that inspired this fragrance.
The aim here was not to reconstruct or reproduce the gardens of Versailles, but to be inspired by its history, in order to create a unique promenade in the Grand Palais.
Under one roof As the must-visit event for the art market for more than 60 years, the Biennale draws together the finest jewellers as well as art and antiques dealers, who gather to present their greatest masterpieces.
The idea of an “antique dealer fair” first appeared in the 1950s and more precisely in 1956 under the aegis of the new chairman of the SNA, Pierre Vandermeersch. The dream was to create an event where the beauty of the objects on show could compete with that of the women who visited the exhibition, a venue where elegance, prestige and celebration would await a host of art lovers and collectors.
It was André Malraux who opened the path to the Grand Palais, a legendary Parisian landmark built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The first International Biennale, in its present form, was held in 1962. It was a focal gathering of the greatest French and foreign antique dealers, decorators, jewellers and bookstore owners under the famous glass roof in a thrilling setting made up of pavilions, gardens and fountains.
Over the years, celebrities such as André Crivelli, Jean-Raphaël Millies-Lacroix, Pier-Luigi Pizzi, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Christian Lacroix and Karl Lagerfeld brought their talent to the show.
All the exhibitors at the Biennale are members of the SNA. The Biennale welcomed 81 exhibitors, gallerists, merchants, and high-end jewellers, all of whom presented their art works, objects and masterpieces.
Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the Grand Palais that stands in the very heart of Paris is a symbolic French heritage site. A real architectural marvel with its magnificent glass roof, the Grand Palais is a historical monument that the public is eager to visit each year to discover the events under the nave, the exhibitions of the Galeries Nationales (since 1964) and the Palais de la Découverte (since 1937).
After having remained closed to the public for renovations for 12 long years, the Grand Palais finally reopened for the XXII European Heritage Day on September 17, 2005, and visitors could finally admire the majestic glass roof restored to its former glory in full illumination, enhanced even further by the two famous Coronelli globes.
The Syndicat National des Antiquaires
The SNA was founded on October 17, 1901, and has its very own ethic of “authenticity, quality, and honourability”, thereby upholding a code of honour shared by all professionals with respect to customers and colleagues alike.
The members of the SNA make a telling contribution to the protection of French and world heritage by identifying and estimating objects of art, and by delivering their finest counsel to protect and maintain them.
Today still, over 75% of sales in the antiques and fine arts markets are made by antique dealers, thus strengthening the role of the SNA and its activities for the defence of the profession and of the arts market.
“As members of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires (SNA), we are duty-bound to talk about objects, their history, their protection and above all this heritage that we have to pass on to future generations. Let us not forget that we are only the custodians, or temporary owners, of works of art.”