The Paris Salon du Dessin continues to go from strength to strength
Huon Mallalieu finds the Paris Salon du Dessin going strong
The preview evening at the Paris Salon du Dessin seemed even more crowded than ever and, indeed, by the end of the fiveday run on March 27, the total number of visitors, which had hovered around the 12,000 mark for some years, had risen to about 13,000. At least 400 drawings changed hands. The enthusiasm of this crowd is unlike almost any other in the art market. These are people who know and love their subject and were there to meet like-minded professionals and amateurs, to learn and exchange knowledge and, above all, to revel in beautiful, fascinating works that, more than any others, show the workings of the minds of their creators.
Given the Salon, with 39 top galleries in medieval to modern works on paper, the Drawing Now contemporary fair, and the chance of privileged access to exhibitions and displays from the collections of dozens of museums and instither tutions that are normally difficult to access, it is near essential that any amateur du dessin should be in Paris for at least some of the week.
Americans may or may not be scarce at other international fairs, but they were certainly among the old and comparatively young collectors, curators, students and dealers at the Salon.
It is not an occasion on which assumptions could safely be made about anyone and appearances may mislead. One might wonder, for instance, whether a man seen talking animatedly to exhibitors there every year is a buyer or merely a lover of vernissage Champagne. In any case, etienne Dumont is certainly a work of art (although not strictly on paper) himself. Since 2005, the 68 year old has been completely [sic] covered in tattoos and he is fur-
embellished with lobe and chin discs, miscellaneous piercings, rings and silicon horns.
he does collect Old Master and 18th-century French drawings and he is a leading Swiss art critic, until recently writing a column for the weighty daily Tribune de Genève.
I, alas, was not buying, but window shopping and, as usual, soon found a theme to follow. This year, there were many tempting coast and beach scenes, including a very striking watercolour study of a stormy sunset by Ruskin, which Turner would have approved of, various harpignies
Fig 1 top: Boudin pastel. With Galerie de la Présidence. Fig 2 above: Corot oil sketch. With De Bayser
Fig 3: Mahogany microscope slide cabinet. £12,400
Fig 4: Pen-and-ink studies for Faust by Delacroix. With De Bayser