Flash News: Malick Sidibé – Xpositions – The Brussels art fairs



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: Malick Sidibé – Xpositions – The Brussels art fairs

Malick Sidibé’s humanist photography
The Malian photographer, Malick SIDIBÉ, died on 14 April 2016 at the age of 81. His work stands out as a vital element in 20th century humanistic photography. In the spontaneity of his early photo-reportage work we can clearly see the seeds of his later reputation as the Eye of Bamako. His instinctive and impromptu photos taken at parties, weddings, baptisms and other gatherings joyfully capture life’s euphoric moments. Back in the Studio Malick, he placed his proof-prints in transparent envelopes and then displayed them in the shop window. Later, his studio portrait photography earned him national and international recognition. For contemporary collectors, his envelopes containing multiple prints represent a guarantee that they are acquiring authentic silver prints from that period.
In Bamako Sidibe’s photographic studio became famous and attracted a massive clientèle of individuals, families, couples and friends, dressed in their most fashionable clothes, posing on motorcycles or with their sheep… a far cry from the standard idea of portrait photography. Malick Sidibé’s photography may be described as humanist: a kind of photography for the people, often focusing on young people and celebrations. As of the 1990s, Sidibé’s work with his local population began to attract international attention, initially in France with a first exhibition at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in 1995, and then in the United States and Japan. In 2003, he received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award, one of photography’s most prestigious prizes. Four years later, his oeuvre was awarded the international art world’s ultimate recognition in the form of the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, a prize that did not escape the attention of collectors and rapidly ignited Sidibés auction market. His annual auction turnover was roughly $5000 before the prize. After, it was closer to $45,000. Recognised as one of photography’s key figures, Malick Sidibé is collected worldwide and is particularly popular in France which accounts for 40% of his transactions (vs. 27% in the US, 22% in the UK and 3.5% in Morocco).
His best auction result was generated by Combat des amis avec pierres, a 2007 print of a photograph taken 30 years earlier. Despite the recentness of the print (validated by the author’s signature), the photo reached nearly $25,000 at Artcurial in Paris 24 October 2010. Combat des amis generated one of Sidibé’s three best auction results along with Christmas Night (1963), showing a young man teaching his sister to dance the twist and Watch Me (1962) that captures a young man in a euphoric dance move.

Berlin Xpositions
Xpositions is not an art fair, but rather an annual rendezvous in which a number of Berlin galleries join forces to offer a coordinated (and different every year) art itinerary of the city . The event lasts three days (29 April – 1 May 2016) and this year focuses on works on paper. Its centrepiece is a group-show entitled Paper Positions at the ultra-trendy retail hotspot, Bikini Berlin, that will run from 28 April to 14 May. This show has artworks on and about paper as its theme and includes drawings and collages, but also lithographs, paper cuttings, sculptures and objects. It’s basically a tribute to paper with creations from the 1960s to the present day and works by a number of well-known artists like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, George Grosz, August Macke, Bernard Schultze, Neo Rauch, Shinkichi Tajiri, Vera Molnar and Chris Newman.
The Xpositions initiative, giving visibility to galleries and creating a recurring cultural effervescence, is not unique to Berlin. There are similar initiatives in a number of European cities. Some cities have so many galleries that an occasional collaboration seems logical.

News about the Brussels art fairs…
Three art fairs open this week in Brussels, the famous Art Brussels, but also Independant Brussels and Yia (Young International Artists). We take a quick look at their profiles, starting with the oldest: for its 34th edition, Art Brussels ( 22 -24 April) has shrunk from 190 galleries to 140 galleries and changed location to Tour & Taxis. One of the fair’s strong points is its clear division into three distinct sections: PRIME dedicated to galleries mostly representing internationally recognised artists; DISCOVERY dedicated to galleries actively promoting the recent works of promising, innovative artists who have not yet established themselves internationally, and a new section, REDISCOVERY, where 14 galleries are presenting works by under-estimated or neglected living or deceased artists , covering the period 1917 to 1987.
But Art Brussels has a sharp competitor this year with an inaugural Belgian edition of Independent, which also organises two fairs in New York. Independant Brussels has two new initiatives: a gallery-type fair at the Vanderborght Building from 20 to 23 April 2016 with 60 major international galleries (including David Zwirner, Gladstone Gallery Almine Rech) and a permanent exhibition space, Independent Régence, that will be a platform for a network of international galleries to showcase artists not represented in Belgium! This is a very positive development for the city, whose cultural appeal will no doubt benefit from the move.
Lastly, the French YIA fair is making its debut in Brussels at the same time as these 2 major fairs (at the Espace Louise 186, 21 to 24 April) with a selection of 35 galleries. For the young French fair, this is a first step towards the international art scene and certainly not the last: after Paris and Brussels, the fair has its eyes set on Maastricht.