Croissants and Collectors in Paris

This week Outside In’s Communications Officer Kate Davey has written about Outside In’s adventure at the Paris Outsider Art Fair.

“On the 21 October, the Outside In team packed its bags and set off to Paris with the work of nine artists to set up shop at the Paris Outsider Art Fair. This is the second year we have had a stall at the event, and we were really excited about meeting other galleries and projects from across the world – not to mention the opportunity to see some fantastic art, much of which we had never seen in the flesh before.

Just off the Eurostar....

Just off the Eurostar….

This year there were 38 stalls – we were number 24 (right next to Maroncelli 12 from Milan and just across the way from the Ricco Maresca Gallery and the Cavin-Morris Gallery from New York). We took the work of Outside In artists Albert, Manuel Bonifacio, James Cook, Shinya Fujii, Nnena Kalu, Nigel Kingsbury, Martin Phillimore, Ronald and Michael Smith. There was a lot of interest on the opening night from fellow galleries and projects, and we did really well, selling 13 pieces. The intricate ink drawings of Japanese artist Shinya Fujii were very popular amongst the visitors, which was particularly good as the fair was only the second time his work has been exhibited outside of his native Japan.

Hanging the work at the fair

Hanging the work at the fair

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Albert’s ‘safe houses’ caught the eye of some well known collectors, and we sold almost all of his work on the opening night. We were able to share the stories of the artists, having met all of them in person at some point since they signed up with Outside In which visitors to the fair seemed to really appreciate and enjoy.

Elsewhere in the fair, there were some very famous works by some renowned outsider artists. These included pieces by Martin Ramirez, Bill Traylor and Madge Gill. Andre Robillard’s guns (made from material salvaged from the rubbish tip) took pride of place at the Nicaise Gallery from Paris, decorated with little red dots suggesting they were one of the more popular buys at the fair this year.

Andre Robillard's guns

Andre Robillard’s guns

Other popular pieces included works by Italian artist Carlo Zinelli, which popped up on several different stalls including Maroncelli 12 and the Cavin-Morris Gallery. Our Artist Coordinator Hannah Whitlock was excited to see Henry Darger’s Vivien Girls in the flesh as she had focused her degree dissertation on the artist (there’s a picture of her with one of his pieces below!) I was really pleased to see Gregory Blackstock’s visual lists on show with the Garde Rail Gallery from Austin, USA and Outside In Manager Jennifer Gilbert had her photograph taken with artist Michel Nedjar!

Hannah Whitlock with the Henry Darger works

Hannah Whitlock with the Henry Darger works

Me with the Gregory Blackstock's book I bought at the fair

Me with the Gregory Blackstock book I bought at the fair

Gregory Blackstock's work at the Garde Rail Gallery

Gregory Blackstock’s work at the Garde Rail Gallery

Jennifer with Michel Nedjar!

Jennifer with Michel Nedjar!

The opening night on Thursday was an exciting and busy event, with an air of hustle and bustle as key dealers and collectors in the outsider and visionary art fields went for first dibs on their favourite pieces. The works we were showcasing were extremely popular on the opening night, with the sale of five pieces by Albert triggering a snowball effect, leaving us with just three of his pieces left by day two of the fair. We sold to some major collections, including the Mad Musee, ABCD Collection, the Dammann Collection and the Ricco Maresca Gallery, which is really wonderful news for the artists.

The legendary Carl Hammer at his stall at the fair

The legendary Carl Hammer at his stall at the fair

On the Friday, I sat in on a talk about basic instinct and sexual representation in the artworks of Aloise Corbaz, Henry Darger, Miroslav Tichy and Eugene von Bruenchenhein. It was all in French, which was a challenge as I’ve only been learning for the last 18 months, but the panellists examined Henry Darger’s Vivien Girls, and questioned whether Tichy’s obsession with surreptitiously photographing women was voyeuristic, or whether it was one of the reasons his work is some of the most famous in the ‘outsider art’ genre.

On Friday night, the fair closed at 8pm, and we promptly hopped on the subway to visit the opening of Ave Luia at the ABCD Gallery. The exhibition showcased some amazingly spiritual and religious work by a range of artists, including crafted altar pieces and drawings of religious figures – in colour and black and white.

Irene Gerard's work at the ABCD Gallery

Irene Gerard’s work at the ABCD Gallery

We bumped into friendly faces, like Outside In Ambassador Carlo Keshishian, who had work on display at Galerie du Marche, and Editor of Raw Vision Magazine, John Maizels. But we also met some new friendly faces, with whom we shared the work of Outside In and the incredibly talented artists whose work we had on display.

The whole six days we were in Paris were inspirational, leaving us proud of the talented artists we work with and humbled at the huge number of people interested in this kind of work and working so hard to promote it. We’ve come away having sold some fantastic pieces – to some fantastic collections, but also to visitors who just fell in love with the work – and having made some great new connections, and friends! There are a lot of collaborations in the pipeline as a result of the fair, and we’re really looking forward to building on these on our return to the UK. Paris – we’ll be back next year!”

See you next year Paris Outsider Art Fair!

See you next year Paris Outsider Art Fair!

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