David Zwirner Will Open a Gallery in Paris, Seeking a Stable Foothold in the European Art Market Amid Brexit

The mega-dealer's newest location will open alongside FIAC art fair this fall.

David Zwirner at the Frieze Art Fair 2019 on Randall's Island in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
David Zwirner at the Frieze Art Fair 2019 on Randall's Island in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Mega-dealer David Zwirner will open a Paris outpost this fall. The new space will be his sixth gallery worldwide, and his first space on continental Europe. The move comes amid increasing concern over the impact of a hard Brexit on the international art market, and its consequences for London, where Zwirner has had a flagship space since 2012.

“Brexit changes the game. After October, my London gallery will be a British gallery, not a European one. I am European, and I would like a European gallery, too,” the German-born dealer told the Financial Times.

Zwirner’s new gallery will be in the Marais, right in the heart of Paris’s gallery district. The gallery is set to open during FIAC art fair on October 16 with a solo exhibition of the US artist Raymond Pettibon.

The fact that Zwirner is expanding into Paris, while expressing concerns about Brexit, shows just how much art-market clout France may have gained since the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Olivier Mosset’s 2015 installation at 108, rue Vieille du Temple, the future home of David Zwirner Paris. Photo by Philippe Servent.

Contingency plans for an abrupt, no-deal Brexit will have been stepped up by international dealers with spaces in London after recent comments made by Boris Johnson. The front runner to be the next UK Prime Minister has promised to deliver Brexit on October 31 “Do or die, come what may.”

There had been speculation about where Zwirner might open a gallery, after he let slip that he was considering a European expansion in a podcast this June with Art Agency, Partners’ In Other Words. On the show, he said that the decision was also informed by his artists’ desire to show in continental Europe post-Brexit.

“In recent years, Paris has quickly become one of the most vibrant cities for the visual arts in Europe. It’s a city where history meets the present, and we are endlessly excited to be able to occupy one of the most beautiful and legendary gallery spaces in Le Marais,” said Zwirner in an official statement from the gallery.

Raymond Pettibon will open Zwirner’s Paris space with his first show at the gallery since 1995. Photo: Jason Schmidt.

Zwirner’s sixth location will be an 8,600-square-foot space, which was previously the gallery of the veteran dealer Yvon Lambert. Since 2015, the space at 108 Rue Vieille du Temple has been occupied by VNH Gallery. When its co-founder, Hélène Nguyen-Ban, decided to close at the end July, she reached out to Zwirner with an offer.

Zwirner is not just taking over VNH Gallery’s space. Victoire de Pourtalès, who is Nguyen-Ban’s partner, will become Zwirner’s co-manager, and most of the VNH team will remain. Justine Durrett, who is a Zwirner director in New York, will move to Paris to be the new gallery’s co-manager alongside Pourtalès. Nguyen-Ban describes the deal as a “happy ending,” telling the Financial Times: “It’s much better than if an Abercrombie & Fitch moved in.”

Zwirner has been going through a period of ambitious growth. Between January 2016 and May 2019, the gallery added 15 artists and their estates to it roster, according to ARTnews. In 2018, Zwirner opened a new space in Hong Kong, following an expansion in New York.

The gallery’s growth has not only been in bricks and mortar. During Art Basel this year, it announced a surge in online sales with a pilot virtual gallery. David Zwirner’s son, Lucas Zwirner, was recently announced as the gallery’s head of digital content.


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