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Meet Guillaume Piens

Chief curator of the international art fair Art Paris

Meet Guillaume Piens - illustration 1

Guillaume Piens, Chief curator of the international art fair Art Paris

Guillaume Piens is the face of Art Paris, a major springtime event in the European contemporary art scene. He joined the team as Director and Curator in 2011, with a mission to restore it back to it's original glory. Under his watch, Art Paris has strongly defined its European DNA as well as its positioning as a premium yet accessible fair, which has become its signature. Guillaume Piens was also the director of Paris Photo art fair, and is a knowledgeable art collector himself - valuable experiences that help him build a program that hits the mark for collectors. Meet this art market specialist with Artsper!

1. After a bold 2020 edition, which benefited from a global spotlight, the 2021 edition of Art Paris enjoyed a tremendous success. How do you see the 2022 edition playing out?

I see all of the ingredients coming together for a renewed success of Art Paris 2022. The return to our usual springtime programming, in early April, makes this 2022 edition one of the first major events to open the European fair season - at a time when the health protocols are being lifted. The cultural renaissance that Paris is currently undergoing has been attracting a lot of attention and interest. For this edition, we have a list of 130 high-flying galleries, but above all, an innovative strategy centered around a strong engagement for the environment. In that respect, we have two main themes, “Natural History" and “Art & Environment", which are associated with an ecological conception of the event - a first in the world of art fairs.

2. Art Paris offers an international program while maintaining a French core. How do you see the fair's DNA evolving as the fair grows?

I would say that Art Paris has become spring's main event - a regional and cosmopolitan fair, supported by the French scene. And the Fall will see the first edition of a new, very international art fair in Paris.

Meet Guillaume Piens - illustration 1
Meet Guillaume Piens - illustration 1

The international art fair, Art Paris 2021 © Marc Domage Champ-de-Mars

3. Each year, you invite a curator to participate on a theme, highlighting the French scene. The last edition was all about figurative art and portraiture. What can you tell us about this year's theme, “Natural Histories"?

The idea put forward by Alfred Pacquement was to interrogate the perspective that artists of the French scene have on the natural world - both animals and plants - and the renewed presence that this world enjoys in contemporary aesthetics. With this theme, we notice that many artists today center their work around nature. To quote Alfred Pacquement, “this open title expresses the great diversity of approaches, the possibilities generated by multiple meanings, and an obvious convergence of the matters of society and artists' work."

Our selection takes different generations into account. It creates a conversation between three deceased artists ( Etel Adnan, Gilles Aillaud, Jacqueline Lamba), two young talents under 35 (Hugo Deverchère, Justin Weiler) and a number of others, including duos (Anne and Patrick Poirier, Tursic & Mille) - and just as many practices, from Carole Benzaken to Barthélémy Toguo!

4. The 2022 edition will also focus on the theme “Art & Environment". In your opinion, is it part of the duty of a major art world event to communicate, in its own way, on environmental issues and the climate crisis?

Alfred Pacquement selected artists who look at nature. Alice Audoin, the other guest curator of this edition, focused her scope on artists who deal with environmental stakes, like the climate crisis or the destruction of biodiversity.

To quote Estelle Zhong Mengual, from her book Apprendre à voir, le point de vue du vivant (in English, Learning to see: the perspective of the living) which inspired me a lot: “The climate crisis that we're going through is not about a crisis of the living, but a crisis of our relationship to the living."

I find it interesting to use the communicative power of a fair to contribute to bringing a widespread and profound awareness of environmental matters. It requires an inevitable shift of outlook on the world of the living.

Meet Guillaume Piens - illustration 1
Meet Guillaume Piens - illustration 1

Art Paris 2021 © Marc Domage Champ-de-Mars

5. The young galleries section features far fewer exhibitors this year, but they come from all horizons (Europe, Asia, Central America...). Is it a sign of a “less is more" approach, favoring quality over quantity?

Yes, it is partly due to this, as we do always favor quality over quantity. But it's also due to the change of location: the Grand Palais Éphémère is much smaller than the historical Grand Palais.

6. Artsper is proud to partner with Art Paris for yet another year, and to celebrate our shared value: accessibility of contemporary art. What role do you play in such a mission? Would you say the art market has a long way to go in that direction ?

Art Paris defends its position on being more accessible to a larger public than other fairs. We do a lot of communication work in that respect, specifically targeting first-time visitors: educational tours of the fair for VIP ticket holders, for example, or “1 minute, 1 artwork" videos we produce in collaboration with Museum TV, to share gallery content on our social media. Specific tools are also made available to the public, particularly on our website: virtual tours of the fair, or even the possibility of researching works by filters (prices, origin, technique...).

I believe in elitism for all, and the 2021 edition's success (with a record of 72,400 visitors) indicates that we're on the right track.

Their favourite artworks

Our recommendations Julien Colombier, Into the Wild, Print

Julien Colombier

Into the Wild, 2015
27.6 x 39.4 inch


Carole Benzaken, Autoportrait ancien, Print

Carole Benzaken

Autoportrait ancien, 2015
41.3 x 29.5 inch


Gilles Aillaud, Le lion, Print

Gilles Aillaud

Le lion, 1972
13.8 x 9.8 inch


Dan Levenson, Manfred Häusli, Painting

Dan Levenson

Manfred Häusli, 2016
16.5 x 11 inch


Anne et Patrick Poirier, Journal herbier de Bordeaux, Painting

Anne et Patrick Poirier

Journal herbier de Bordeaux, 1973
46.9 x 30.9 x 0.2 inch


Philippe  Hiquily, La Reorneadora, Sculpture

Philippe Hiquily

La Reorneadora, 2006
48 x 30.3 x 30.3 inch


Bak Bertille, Complaisant 1 (Antigua-et-Barbuda), Fine Art Drawings

Bak Bertille

Complaisant 1 (Antigua-et-Barbuda), 2014
5.1 x 7.9 inch
Fine Art Drawings


Philippe Pasqua, Olivier, Sculpture

Philippe Pasqua

Olivier, 2017
65.4 x 46.5 x 25.6 inch


Justin Weiler, Screen, Painting

Justin Weiler

Screen, 2019
47.2 x 31.5 inch


Our recommendations Pablo Reinoso, The Looping One, Sculpture

Pablo Reinoso

The Looping One, 2020
17.7 x 112.2 x 29.1 inch


Hazel Morris Nungarrayi, Yarungkanyi Jukurrpa (Mt Doreen Dreaming), Painting

Hazel Morris Nungarrayi

Yarungkanyi Jukurrpa (Mt Doreen Dreaming), 2020
29.9 x 24 inch