Paris is a city in which art flourishes. The streets are populated with a vast selection of artistic spaces, making the task of choosing a gallery an almost insurmountable challenge. However, if you’re looking for an immersion in the crème de la crème of the contemporary art scene, an afternoon meandering through the labyrinthine streets of the Marais will be well rewarded. While no selection can be comprehensive, this self-guided walking tour will help you to navigate the cobblestone streets of the third and fourth arrondissements providing pointers on where to find some of the Marais’ “must-visit” galleries.
Galerie Marian Goodman – 79, Rue du Temple, 75003. Tel: 01 48 04 70 52. Summer hours: 11 am- 7 pm, Monday-Friday.
Begin your stroll just off the commercial thoroughfare of Rue de Rivoli at number 79 Rue du Temple, home to Galerie Marian Goodman (MG). The New York born gallerist is considered one of the most influential art dealers of the 20th century and her gallery is among the most important and prestigious in Paris. In spite of its notoriety, the entrance to this gem is easily missed. Marked only by a bronze plaque, the adjacent grand wooden doors are almost always closed. By ringing the bell, those-in-the-know enter a cloistered courtyard of contemporary art.
The building, which is now classified as a historical monument, was originally Hotel Montmor, a scientific academy frequented by a pantheon of scholars and philosophers. Galerie MG is located in the right-wing of the courtyard under the stone archway. The current exhibition: “Presque rien” (Almost nothing) brings together a selection of works from fifteen international artists who all share a similar aesthetic – minimal and refined. Directly across the courtyard is Galerie Mitterrand, another jewel in the Marais’ crown specializing in both modern and contemporary art. Marian Goodman and her neighbour Galerie Mitterrand are well worth a visit.
Galerie Xippas – 108 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75004. Tel: 01 40 27 05 55. Open from 10 am- 1 pm, 2 pm- 7 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am- 7 pm Saturdays.
Continue along Rue du Temple and you will find Rue des Haudriettes which paves the way towards Rue des Quatre-Fils. A short walk along this street will leave you at the turn for Rue Vieille du Temple, where through a narrow passageway you will find Galerie Xippas tucked away in a quiet enclave. The gallery sits comfortably above the glass ceiling of Galerie Yvon Lambert, another of Paris’ well-known exhibition spaces.
Galerie Xippas primarily exhibits works by photographic artists and is currently hosting the work of Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. Muniz combines collage and photography, recycling hundreds of fragments from postcards to create reconstructions of famous places and landmarks. The exhibit entitled “Albums and Postcards from Nowhere” encourages the observer to see “how one thing can represent another” and is most definitely worth a wander in.
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac – 7 Rue Debelleyme, 75003. Tel: 01 42 72 99 00. Open 10 am- 7 pm Tuesday-Saturday. Summer closure until September 1, 2015.
Once you have revelled in the photographic wonders of Galerie Xippas, continue along Rue Vieille du Temple where a right turn and a few steps will leave you at a long passageway marking the entrance to Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. The space, which stretches across three floors on Rue Debelleyme, boasts double-height ceilings with a glass roof flooding the space with light. In 2013, Ropac was named an Officer of the L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by French President Jacques Chirac for significant contribution to the arts. His address in the Marais is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most illustrious blue chip galleries, exhibiting and representing some of the most eminent names on the contemporary art circuit, making Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac an unmissable pit-stop.
The current exhibition displays a collection of Bronze sculptures of mythical beasts by Raqib Shaw that dance, wrestle and contort with each other to surprise and excite the spectator.
Galerie Perrotin – 76 Rue de Turenne, 75003. Tel: 01 42 16 79 79. Open 11 am- 7 pm, Tuesday-Saturday.
A two-minute jaunt along Rue Debelleyme will place you in front of number 79 Rue de Turenne. Inside, the Galerie Perrotin is hidden in a former hôtel particulier dating from the 17th century. A sweeping staircase in the courtyard leads to the Grande Maison where floor to ceiling windows naturally light the space which spreads across two floors.
Emmanuel Perrotin has become an icon of the contemporary art scene in Paris, representing international avant-garde artists such as Takashi Murakami, Maurizio Cattelan, Wim Delvoye, and Elmgreen & Dragset.
The gallery stages an exceptional number of temporary exhibitions by both emerging and established artists and the vernissages are frequently star-studded. Currently, the space plays host to Chung Chang-Sup’s “Meditation”, a collection of primarily monochromatic works which use hanji paper to create texture, creasing and delicate effects on the surface of the canvas.
Modus Art Gallery – 23 Place des Vosges, 75003. Tel: 01 42 78 10 10. Open 10:30 am- 8 pm.
Finally, head south on Rue de Turenne, taking a left turn onto the cobbled shopping street of Rue des Francs-Bourgeois from which the 17th century red brick edifices of Place des Vosges will be in sight. Brimming with contemporary art galleries, the historic square is imbued with a charming juxtaposition of old and new, crowning it the Marais’ playground for art-lovers.
Among them is Modus Art Gallery which sits beneath the vaulted arches of the arcade. Active participation in almost all of the major international art fairs has earned this gallery worldwide acclaim.
Exhibiting an eclectic mix of contemporary and modern art, the space features an impressive selection of paintings, sculptures, and works, which employ a variety of diverse mediums and it’s bound to delight seasoned aesthetes.