Gagosian Opens New Space Outside Paris With Kiefer Show

Larry Gagosian
Art dealer Larry Gagosian. Photographer: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Two years after opening a Paris branch, Gagosian, the world’s biggest commercial gallery network, this week inaugurates a big space in Le Bourget -- on the grounds of a Paris airport where private jets land.

Designed by Jean Nouvel -- the Pritzker Prize-winning French architect -- the gallery is a former 1950s hangar with 1,650 square meters (17,760 square feet) spread over two levels. The inaugural exhibition is by German artist Anselm Kiefer, 67.

The Gagosian opening coincides with the annual Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain, or FIAC, in Paris, which is attracting a growing number of wealthy international art buyers. The presence of billionaire French collectors such as Francois Pinault and Bernard Arnault is further boosting Paris’s appeal as a destination for art dealerships.

“I liked the situation with the hangar here,” Kiefer said in a media briefing on the new gallery’s upper level. “It’s always a space of transition. You arrive and go away, and that’s important for me.”

The centerpiece of the maiden exhibition is the “Morgenthau Plan” -- a huge, golden field of handmade, individually crafted wheat stalks surrounded by a tall, rust-colored steel cage. The title refers to a radical 1944 plan devised by then U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau to disarm Germany by stripping out its industry and turning it into a purely agricultural state.

“I like all those ideas that don’t happen,” said Kiefer of Morgenthau’s masterplan.

Space for Sculpture

He said he came up with the sculpture because, given the size of the new space, “I thought it was not possible just to hang paintings” (of which there are five in the show.)

Nouvel, also at the media preview, said he was shown the building last June, and designed the space in four months. He has put up four white partition-like walls inside, creating a central area, and used the space outside the walls and beneath the high ceiling to create display rooms and mezzanines.

The architect said the gallery was well located to receive every kind of visitor, including collectors flying into Le Bourget or nearby Charles de Gaulle airport on private jets.

The gallery opens to the public on Oct. 18, and will have three to four shows a year. Kiefer’s exhibition ends in January 2013. Gagosian would not say what the next shows would be.

Muse highlights include Jorg von Uthmann on Paris art, John Mariani on wine, Warwick Thompson on London theater and Jeremy Gerard on New York theater.

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