Since 1962, the Syndicat National des Antiquaires has hosted the Biennale in the Beaux-Arts Grand Palais in Paris, featuring enough top-shelf art and antiquities exhibitors to attract A-listers adding to their A-list collections, including museum curators - from institutions like the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Getty, the Art Institute of Chicago and the New York Public Library - interior architects and decorators such as Jacques Grange, Jean-Michel Wilmotte & François-Joseph Graf.
The presentation is appropriately lavish, with hundreds of artisans, plasterers, carpenters, cabinetmakers, carpet layers, lighting experts, welders, painters and florists working tirelessly to prepare an escapist fantasy fit for the Saudi princesses, assorted European royalty and newly-minted gazillionaires from China, Egypt, Turkey & Russia who jet in for a little browsing & shopping in "booths" (if you can call them that) designed by creative visionaries such as Jacques Grange and Peter Marino costing in excess of $125,000.
This year, the fair is - for the first time - being expanded within the Grand Palais. Following years of renovation, the famed Salon d’Honneur wing is finally being re-opened, increasing the number of exhibitors from 86 (in 2010) to 150. $50 billion worth of Archaeological treasures will be on display - including arms and armor, furniture, paintings, drawings, graphic works, sculpture, books and illuminated manuscripts, tapestries, rugs, objects d'art, coins and medals, stamps & ceramics. Prestigious fine jewelry will also be available to eye & buy from Wallace Chan (right), Chaumet, Bulgari and Boucheron, all exhibited alongside Piaget, Chanel, Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston, Cartier and Christian Dior.
As the largest Biennale to date - more than 100,000 visitors are expected to view this treasure trove of exceptional works spanning 1000 years and six continents - it was only appropriate that the designer be larger-than-life. "This era is different, I wanted to evoke, not reconstitute," notes this year's Sultan of Scenography. "The intended effect is “that the visitor immediately feels enveloped by the atmosphere as soon as he enters the Grand Palais."
WHERE: Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris 8eme arrondissement
MORE INFO: Syndicat National des Antiquaires
- Lesley Scott