Nudes Prevail at Brussels’ FotoFever Fair

Marc Legrange,
Icarus XXL, 2012


Brussels’ Fotofever was founded last year as a satellite event running  at the same time as the well-established Paris Photo fair. This year the fair took place last week, in advance of November’s Paris Photo.

Director Cécile Schall has plans for expansion. “It’s not a pop-up fair. We plan to expand also to Asia and U.S.,” she told A.i.A. With 60 participating international galleries, the fair took place in a renovated warehouse belonging to the Belgian royal family of Thurn and Taxis on the Brussels-Charleroi canal.

By day two, rumors circulated about a sold-out booth. “That’s not quite true,” Gailord Bovrisse, the director of Pure Fine Arts (a web-based gallery with a showroom in Brussels), told A.i.A. “But I did remove the price tags. Some of my colleagues were getting jealous because of all my red dots.” A quick look at the price list revealed that by the end of the fair, Bovrisse had sold a number of 2012 C-prints by Vogue photographer Jean-Daniel Lorieux, netting close to $390,000. The sale followed the gallery’s controversial move this past June to Brussels’ Palais des Beaux Arts museum, where the gallery rented space to exhibit Lorieux. “Collectors could buy works in the museum on the opening night,” the 30-year-old dealer told A.i.A. Other Pure Fine Arts sales included an unique vintage print by Irving Penn, which went for around $100,000.

Elsewhere, first day sales were sluggish. Schall chalked the results up to a national railway strike. Yoeri de Backer, director of Absolute Art Gallery (Knokke and Bruges, Belgium) was disappointed. De Backer shared the fair’s largest booth with Leonhard’s Gallery (Antwerp) and both showed mostly large-scale nudes, such as sepia prints by Marc Lagrange and Eugeen Herman’s colorful Miss America (2011), available in an edition of five for just $2,600. By the end of the fair, he hadn’t report a single sale.

Galerie Rothamel (Frankfurt and Erfurt, Germany) sold all their nudes by Anne Kant on the first day. “Let’s give it a second chance next year,” Joerk Rothamel said. Galerie Paris-Beijing (Paris, Beijing and Brussels), which specializes in Photoshop-based photography, also reported solid sales, especially of works by Chinese photographer Liu Bolin.

Nudes were on display in over 50 booths. Łukasz Trzcinski’s large-scale Take Me (2009) available for $4,500 at the booth of Galeria Asymetria (Warsaw) or Jürgen Altmann’s smaller Shelter, 2011 for 3,600 Euros at Artitled! Contemporary Art (Herpen, Netherlands).

“There is so much manipulated photography here”, Raymond Viallon, director of Galerie Vrais Reves (Lyon). Alain D’Hooghe of Brussels’s Box Galerie told A.i.A., that the selection of galleries and works on view “is not at all representative of the state of photography today.”