OF LA BIENNALE
An iconic and prestigious event for over sixty years, La Biennale has built up a faithful network of reputed dealers, international galleries and luxury upscale jewellery houses that seduce the public and meet the expectations of the most discerning collectors.
Since its inception, La Biennale has been offering amateurs a fabulous and diverse choice of antiques, fine art and jewellery.
A look back at six decades of passion and excellence. From the beginnings with the first ‘Foire des Antiquaires’ (Antiques Fair) to the newly-named ‘La Biennale’ (now an annual event).
The beginnings of the Biennale, the ‘Antiques Fair’
The idea of a ‘French Antiques Fair’ emerged in the ‘50s, in 1956 precisely, on the initiative of the newly elected Chairman of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires (National Union of Antique Dealers), Pierre Vandermeersch.
This annual fair, which was held at the Porte de Versailles until 1961, already provided amateurs and art collectors with an event gathering the big names of the profession around the elegance, beauty and prestige of the objects on display.
The first Biennale des Antiquaires
at the Grand Palais
In 1962, under the aegis of André Malraux, who opened the doors to the Grand Palais (Malraux had just asked Reynolds Arnould to adapt the setting in order to make it a suitable venue for prestigious temporary exhibitions), the Antiques Fair became the Biennale des Antiquaires.The greatest antiques dealers, decorators, jewellers and booksellers from France and overseas displayed their wares in a magical setting of pavilions, gardens and fountains. The first Biennale opened its doors under the name ‘Antiques Dealers and Decorators at the Grand Palais’.
The 2nd Biennale and the Debutauntes’ Ball
In 1964, the second Biennale des Antiquaires demonstrated its success with 350,000 visitors, and hosted the Debutantes’ Ball. No longer scheduled in June, it now took place in autumn, from 26 September to 18 October 1964, at the Grand Palais. Numerous well-known figures such as Greta Garbo, the Rothschilds and Jean Seberg contributed to making this second Biennale the social event of the year.
The 3rd Biennale des Antiquaires
The Biennale des Antiquaires continued to be an important event for the world of the arts, literature and politics and in 1966, welcomed Arletty, Michel Simon, and of course André Malraux, and Jean Lecanuet.
The 4th Biennale des Antiquaires
The decor of this edition of the Biennale was a colourful Mediterranean city, spread over 8,000 square meters. The publication Art & Curiosité concluded its article on the Biennale des Antiquaires as follows: ‘In short, this Biennale, despite the fears that we had following the events of May, was an indisputable success on all levels, especially in terms of its international renown’.
The 5th Biennale des Antiquaires
From Mathieu to Von Karajan, from Sheila to Cary Grant, as well as Hubert de Givenchy or Ministers Jacques Baumel and Olivier Guichard, the 5th Biennale des Antiquaires was as appealing as ever.
The 6th Biennale des Antiquaires
A regular at the Biennale des Antiquaires, Karl Lagerfeld collaborated on this 6th edition, showcasing the work of lacquer artist Jean Dunand for Anne-Sophie Duval’s stand. This edition was also complemented with the first pieces of Art Deco.
The 7th Biennale des Antiquaires
This year, the Grand Palais was closed for restoration work. Therefore, the Biennale des Antiquaires hosted its 76 exhibitors at the Palais des Congrès, Porte Maillot. Amongst this year’s visitors was actor Lino Ventura, a collector of nautical antiques, hoping to find something special.
1976 – 1978
The 8th and 9th Biennale des Antiquaires
In a setting designed by Jean-Raphaël Milliès-Lacroix and Guy Balhardère, the 8th and the 9th Biennale des Antiquaires brought together over 90 exhibitors for each edition.
The 10th Biennale des Antiquaires
An emotional edition as Pierre Vandermeersch retired from his position as Chairman of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires. He was the first to occupy this role from 1955 to 1981.
The 11th and 12th Biennale des Antiquaires
Over the years, the Antiques Biennale gained greater prestige and recognition on the international scene. More than 100 exhibitors gathered at the Grand Palais for these editions.
The 13th Biennale des Antiquaires
“‘(…) Civilizations, men and their vanities pass, the artworks that you see here come from all the periods that have preceded us, they have survived, preserved in large part thanks to our professions, objects of curiosity for some, of desire for others; they are the witnesses of life, and of the quality of life and culture that we must safeguard.’ Philippe Brame
The 14th Biennale des Antiquaires
Patrick Jaouanet succeeded Jean-Raphaël Milliès-Lacroix, the architect of the Biennale since its creation.
The 15th Biennale des Antiquaires
For this new edition, draped velum softened the light streaming through the glass roof of the Grand Palais.
The 16th Biennale des Antiquaires
Pier Luigi Pizzi was responsible for the neo-classical decoration implemented by Patrick Jaouanet for the 16th Antiques Biennale, before the Grand Palais closed for a long period of renovation. It wasn’t until 2006 that the Biennale would return to the famous glass nave of the Grand Palais.
The 17th Biennale des Antiquaires
The Carrousel du Louvre hosted the Biennale des Antiquaires for the next six editions. Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Patrick Jaouanet designed the architectural concept for this new setting, located close to two prestigious museums: the Louvre, temple of Art, and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts).
The 18th Biennale des Antiquaires
The Biennale des Antiquaires organized its first gala dinner in aid of the Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris – Hôpitaux de France. Over the years, the ‘Biennale des Antiquaires Dinner’ has become an unmissable international event, a gathering attended by famous media personalities and keen collectors.
The 19th Biennale des Antiquaires
The Biennale des Antiquaires once again proved its reputation as an event for arts-loving celebrities, come to visit the stands or attend the traditional gala dinner. Spotted in 1998 were: Gérard Oury and Michèle Morgan, Catherine Deneuve, Pierre Bergé, Kenzo, Charles Aznavour, as well as Jacques Toubon and Agnès Soral.
The 20th Biennale des Antiquaires
The theme behind the 20th Antiques Biennale was ‘Paris, Crossroads of the Continents’, encouraging fruitful exchanges that have led to major artistic creations. Christophe Decarpentrie was the decorator for this year’s edition.
This year, Pierre Rosenberg, former Chairman of the Louvre Museum, said: ‘Coming here is a dual pleasure, as I am both a neighbour and a collector. I personally believe that a good relationship between the art market and museums is essential to the life of museums, and I am more than happy to see Paris organizing such a beautiful exhibition. I hope that it will encourage many to become part of this world in the future’.
The 21th Biennale des Antiquaires
Welcoming some twenty leading European and American galleries, the Biennale reinforced its international dimension. Jacques Chatelet, responsible for the lighting of many theatrical events, operas and dance shows, was entrusted by the Biennale: he was appointed ‘lighting designer’ with the remit of creating a decor that would provide this edition with an original, colourful atmosphere.
The 22th Biennale des Antiquaires
Following tradition, the Biennale called upon the services of a great decorator. For this edition, François-Joseph Graf created the setting that would host the many exhibitors. Moreover, nine highly-reputed French chefs put together a different menu every day for visitors, in partnership with Bottin Gourmand and Potel & Chabot.
The 23th Biennale des Antiquaires
For its 23rd edition, the Antiques Biennale returned to its pavilions under the glass dome of the Grand Palais, with an exhibition area spread over 4,000 square meters. It brought together 111 exhibitors, 45 of them from outside France, a quarter of them newcomers, with 15 specialty areas represented and, all in all, over 7,000 objects on display, spanning three millennia.
The 24th Biennale des Antiquaires
A key event in the art market calendar, the Biennale continued to offer a wide range of specialties presented by internationally renowned professionals in the fields of antiques, fine arts and jewellery.
The 25th Biennale des Antiquaires
To celebrate this 25th anniversary, in an important green setting punctuated by fountains designed by Patrick Bazanan, fireworks are set off inside the Grand Palais during the Gala Dinner and the Vernissage. On the initiative of Hervé Aaron and Patrice Bellanger, a Spingboard for the Biennale invites twenty-five young talented dealers to exhibit an object in a common stand.
The 26th Biennale des Antiquaires
Karl Lagerfeld was the set designer of the 26th Biennale des Antiquaires.The Syndicat National des Antiquaires asked the designer to take charge of the setting, decor and visuals. Karl Lagerfeld, an artist with many talents, who is also a great collector and lover of rare and beautiful art objects, accepted the challenge.
‘I like antiques dealers and everything the Biennale represents, and I love the Grand Palais, which is my favourite place in Paris. I have so many memories of Chanel runway shows here with oversized decor. (…) states Karl Lagerfeld.
The 27th Biennale des Antiquaires
Jacques Grange designed the setting for the 27th Biennale, inspired by the gardens of Versailles and Trianon.
That year, there will not be one but two gala dinners: the first in the Orangerie of the Château de Versailles, the second at the Grand-Palais.
The 28th Biennale des Antiquaires
In this Biennale, 125 exhibitors took part against a backdrop created by set designer Nathalie Crinière.
Three prestigious institutions were the guests of honour: the Musée de l’Ermitage, displaying some of the flagships of its collections; the Mobilier National (the French national furniture collection), and the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, showcasing their extraordinary know-how and craftsmanship.
From this edition onwards, the selection of exhibitors would become the responsibility of the Biennale Commission open to qualified experts, outside of the SNA.
The Biennale Paris
The Biennale des Antiquaires has become an annual event and is now called La Biennale Paris. For this edition, the Biennale offered the public a unique opportunity to discover the exceptional heritage of the Barbier-Mueller family and their remarkably varied collections. This exhibition, unprecedented and prestigious, celebrated the passion of collector Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller, and an art collection inherited across three generations, brought together here for the first time.
The Biennale Paris
For its thirtieth edition, La Biennale Paris continues to renew itself while preserving its identity and quality criteria, which remain among the most rigorous in the world. The Carrousel Céleste designed by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac has spread modernity and enchantment in the nave of the Grand Palais. An ode to the central exhibition “Napoléon, Empereur sous la verrière” presenting Pierre-Jean Chalençon’s unique collection.
The Biennale Paris
This 31st edition, is turned towards the international with a great exhibition on the art of Bahrain. Traveling through the ages, it always presents the most prestigious treasures of the world ranging from archaeology to design, it has also been enriched by twelve young galleries, thus bringing an opening close to its time on contemporary art.
The Biennale Paris
For this 32nd edition, La Biennale paris is one of the first fairs to be held at the temporary Grand Palais. A unique sculpture trail welcomes works by Adel Abdessemed, Panamarenko, Wim Delvoye, Koen Vanmechelen, Christophe Charbonnel, Christian Lapie, Bruno Romeda, Jivko and Tamara Van San.
Five institutions are also invited: the Art Workshops of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, the Dina Vierny Foundation-Musée Maillol, the Mobilier national, the Musée de Flandres and Sèvres.