Are there any new general trends among French artists?

Perhaps a trend of moving away. Many artists live in Berlinwhere housing is cheaper and where there is an interesting art community. They also travel a lot. I don’t think there is anything very specific going on among French artists creatively speaking.
Sometimes an interesting process may involve a whole group of artists based in the same locality. I don’t think there is anything like that going on inParis right now. Besides, rent is really expensive there so you need a lot of money to live and work there.

Is there an interest in different forms of expression? For example, are the new art media behind the traditional ones?

I suppose that in times of a crisis people are seeking stability. And there is this air of stability to paintings. Figural painting is quite popular, it sells well.

Gerhard Richter: Betty. 1988

Art market is one of your specialties…

Of course, everybody is fascinated by the incredible amounts of money spent on works of art. And yet art market should be discussed from the sociological point of view instead of the anthropological one. Why is it that people at this time spend this kind of money on this kind of art specifically?

Do you think that art market has a negative effect on contemporary artists?

There are quite a few artists who permit themselves to be influenced from outside. These things happen. For instance, I did a presentation on Gerard Richter, and it is a fact that his decorative things are worth so much more than his non-decorative ones. The same old logic applies here: look, a huge picture that matches the colour of our sofa and the flowers in the vase – that’s really cool, isn’t it? The art market is, of course, fundamentally linked with the decorative function of art.

Gerhard Richter. Grün – Blau – Rot. 1993

Hasn’t it always been the case?

Of course.

Has the art market become more influential than it was, say, 50 years ago? 

Yes, and we owe it first and foremost to the increasing mediatisation: everybody is talking and writing of the gigantic amounts of money spent on art. On the other hand, you can easily find out the real prices on Artprice or Artnet. You want to know how much a Richter costs, here you are. It did not work like that fifty years ago. You would have approached an art dealer and he would have said: ‘I attended this auction, and a similar picture was sold for such and such an amount.’ What you can do today is have a quick search on the internet at night in your jammies and learn all the recent prices. That makes a substantial difference.

You said that our system of values and ranks, as far as contemporary art is concerned, may undergo some radical changes during the next fifty years. I that case, can an object of contemporary art be considered a valid investment?

People think they are investing their money. And yet it may well turn out to be a failed one.

The way it is in any other business?

Definitely. You cannot be sure of anything. In this case, however, there is also certain vanity involved: people want to demonstrate that they know what they are doing, they are on top of things. They could have bought some 20th-century art, something more established, and yet it is contemporary art, the art of today, that they want to own.