On the occasion of the 27th edition of the Biennale des Antiquaires we met Alessandro Galli, head of the London gallery Robilant + Voena, in order to investigate the ancient art market, the art fairs and the problem of the author’s fakes.

The biennale gathered antiquaires and gallerists coming from the whole world, and from over sixty years it is an inevitable appointment for ancient art and jewelry’s lovers.
This year the Syndicat National des Antiquaires has submitted the setting of the biennale to the famous decorator Jacques Grange, who decided to recreate under the prestigious glass door of the Grand Palais the atmospheres of the gardens of Versailles and the Trianon.
In Europe the so-called “market-fair” is more and more frequent, we can cite the TEFAF of Maastricht, ArtBasel or the italian fair MiArt. In front of an art’s market always in movement, often looking toward Orient, what is the real significance of these events? We discussed it with Alessandro Galli.

Robilant+Voena Gallery

Robilant+Voena Gallery

Alice Legé: When Robilant+Voena was born e when it participated to the first art fair?
Alessandro Galli: The gallery Robilant + Voena was born in 1999 when Edmondo di Robilant and Marco Voena, both galleristis with more than one decade of experience behind their back, decided to join their efforts and to create an international structure based in London and in Milan. From this moment they immediately participate to important international fairs like the Biennale dell’Antiquariato in Florence and from 2002 they are present to the Bienniale des Antiquaires in Paris. This year they organized a stand that reflects the two principal fields of interest of the gallery: the ancient paintings from the XIV to the XVIII century (among which we can cite a magnificent Mattia Preti, ndr), and the Italian art of the postwar period, like Fontana and Burri.

A.L.: Basel, Moscow, Miami, New York, but also Hong Kong or Peking. The vastness of competition and offer is quite evident! What kind of importance a prestigious center like the Grand Palais in Paris has?
A.G.: The Biennale exhibition in Grand Palais is an unique case in the art fairs’ panorama. It is not only a “fair destination” like Maastricht and Basel are. The Paris’ Biennale take place in a wonderful building, with a strong historical memory. The Grand Palais’ setting is absolutely more luxurious and elegant than that every others fairs. For this reason it is able to attract a very international public, with variegated interests.

A.L.: In our opinion the proliferation of art’s fair can be a symptom of a market that is beginning more and more rapid. The investments “see & buy” are maybe replacing a constant collectionism made by slow and direct negotiations. How much does a fair modify the turn of business of a gallery? What do you sell more?
A.G.: Today the fairs are a fundamental appointment for a gallery. A remarkable percentage of sales happens directly during the fair. A second percentage, not negligible, happens thanks to a meeting done in the fair place that continues during time. These events remain the simplest and more direct way to enlarge our basin of clientele.
Every fair has a different public, and obviously this is a datum that influences the sales. There are fairs that are more oriented on ancient art and others that point more on the modern period. In general the fundamental rule is that by the client point of view the search of great quality and unique objects always prevails.

A.L.: Expositive centers’ prestige can be a guarantee of quality, but we imagine that a limit of risk always remains. How much is it probable, even during events of this caliber, to fall upon some art forgeries? Does a archive’s system for defending from frauds of this or other type exist?
A.G.: The most important fairs constitute a guarantee for the collector. A recognized international committee of experts, called Vetting, examines every exposed work of art. In the most serious cases, when the description furnished by the gallerist doesn’t coincide with the opinion of the experts, the committee can impose to retire the work from the fair.
Concerning the modern art, the most important artists have always an archive or a foundation that protects their work, and it allows a direct verification of the authenticity by the galleries and the collectors.

This post is also available in: Italian