Five Things We Wanted to Buy at Paris Photo (and Where to Hang Them)

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Pear, 2013© Bart Julius Peters, courtesy of Lunn Galerie

Where better for a fantasy shopping trip?

Paris’ majestic Grand Palais – site of Chanel space stations, Hermès horse shows and many a headline-making exhibition – is a thing to behold when full to the brim with the finest photography from around the world, for the 2018 edition of Paris Photo. Naturally, to every art aficionado happy just to absorb the work on display, there was also a keen collector ready to acquire pieces by the likes of Cindy Sherman and Barbara Probst – and, not wanting to miss out, it seemed an excellent opportunity for us to (at least pretend to) do the same. From the best new photo books to read in the bath, to a photographic alternative to an expansive garden, we select just a couple of our favourites. Already wrapped and en route to us, of course.

1. Sexy snapshots, for the guest bedroom

At the top of the fair, visitors found Curiosa – a new section, this year curated by Martha Kirszenbaum (who will also take on next year’s Venice Biennale), and constructed around the theme of erotica and the body. Here, behind enticing warnings about explicit content, pioneering works by Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama and Robert Mapplethorpe underpinned a spread of work by practitioners from iconic artist and musician Genesis Breyer P-Orridge to LA-based Paul Mpagi Sepuya, whose powerful, intimate works shining a light on queer black masculinity have recently illuminated rooms at Amsterdam’s Foam Museum.

Take a leaf out of curator Antonia Marsh’s book and hang such works in the guest bedroom to encourage visitors to enjoy themselves to their fullest degree. We’d place radical feminist German artist Renate Bertlmann’s cheeky 2005 series Top U29, which envisions a pair of slightly misshapen sex dolls in various different compromising situations, in pride of place above the bed – or, Bart Julius Peters’ pleasing peachy Pear.

2. Works by women, for the hallway

Trailing their way through the labyrinthine fair like a red thread winding from the oppressive past to a (we hope) more egalitarian future, red stickers bearing the words ‘Elles X Paris Photo’ lead visitors on a who’s who of the most important and exciting women artists working in their field, from Jo Ann Callis and Viviane Sassen to Katrien de Blauwer and Ana Mendieta.

Expertly curated by Fannie Escoulen, it was a spectacular rebuttal to the underrepresentation of women in photography – but also a defiant demonstration of how far we have still to go. Of special note: Viktoria Binschtok’s powerful #metoo & bloody hands, made in this revolutionary year. Works by female artists should be hung everywhere that those by male artists are, obviously. We suggest placing this in the hallway – welcome visitors to your home as they walk through the door in the same way as you mean to go on.

3. The best new photo books, for bathroom reading

Not far from Paris Photo proper, Offprint took over Saint Germain’s beautiful École des Beaux Arts, filling the sculpture-lined school hall (if it can even be referred to as such, ornate as it is) with printed matter of all kinds. Ditto’s celebration of the legendary 100 Club and Lena C. Emery’s newest work Yuka & the Forest, which re-evaluates our connection to the natural world through a look at Japan’s powerful relationship with its forest, were two of our favourites. The prim and proper among us will insist such tomes belong next to an armchair. We suggest placing them in the bathroom – for reading in the tub, and anywhere else you wish to.

4. Photographs of flowers in full bloom, in the place of a garden

Baptiste Rabichon is a Paris-based artist whose deft way with old and new technologies resulted in some of the fair’s most verdant works – huge pieces created as part of the BMW Residency which saw a love of gardening and an experimental eye collide, to spectacular effect. Snippets of images of greenery and gardens appear solarised, cut and pasted, manipulated and merged, to create tall and ambitious works which thrust their viewer into the urban jungle of a green cityscape.

Of course, for those whose homes don’t encompass a garden, Rabichon’s blooming pieces could happily stand in. Hang in the place of a window for the best possible impression of a expansive and expensive lawn.

5. Works about reading, for the library

An unexpected joy tucked away in the corner of the fair, shego/hego/ego, the McEvoy Family Collection, is, unfortunately, already presumably happily housed within that home – but were it to be up for sale, the Moyra Reading room presented a captivating spread of works on the theme of reading that we would eagerly acquire. From a snapshot of the wall of André Kertesz’s study (taken by Kertesz himself), and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s 1968 shot Martine’s Legs, Martine Reading, to an eternally youthful Jean Seberg clutching a newspaper in À Bout de Souffle (photographed by Raymon Cauchetier on the set of 1959 film), and Sante D’Orazio’s Kate Moss, Italian Vogue, we’d take it all. Around the corner, a group of works about photography, including this portrait of sorts by Anne Collier, points to the themes that emerge in different guises in a personal collection. To hang in the library, of course.

Paris Photo ran from November 8-11, 2018, at the Grand Palais, Paris.