The Marcel Duchamp Prize adds momentum to the French Contemporary art scene

[03 Oct 2023]

The Marcel Duchamp Prize is a distinction created 23 years ago at the initiative of French art collectors and the ADIAF (Association for the International Diffusion of French Art). It was created by collector Gilles Fuchs (amongst others) in response to a very clear shrinkage of the influence of French artists at the international level in the 1990s. Its mission was quite simply to rescue French art by generating an environment more conducive to the emergence of French artists in what was then a very delicate context for the French Contemporary art market.

In over twenty years of existence, the Marcel Duchamp Prize has become an essential reference in the world of Contemporary art, but beyond the prestige of the prize itself, the ADIAF allows the French scene to exist more intensely at the international level and to support French Artistic creation.” thierry Ehrmann

Every year, the Marcel Duchamp Prize highlights French artists or artists working in France during the FIAC, now Paris+ by Art Basel. Since 2016, the finalists are given a substantial spotlight (often their first) at a strategic moment in the international Contemporary Art calendar: their works are shown at the Pompidou Center for three months in an exhibition area of 600 m2 (previously, they were exhibited for a few days at the FIAC and only the winner benefited from an exhibition at the Center Pompidou). This exposure in one of France’s top museums is already a major boost for their careers, but the ADIAF also deploys other strategies to promote hopefuls from the French scene on the international stage.

The impact of the Duchamp Prize

On top of a substantial financial reward for the finalists (90,000 euros, including a prize of 35,000 euros for the winner), the winner also benefits from a research residency in the United States at the Villa Albertine. Indeed, beyond the allocation of a prize and the one-off exhibition, the Marcel Duchamp Prize aims to be a complete system of support for artists in their careers. The idea is to promote the French art scene in the world via international exhibitions organized in partnership with foreign museums and with the support of the French Institute. More than 50 Marcel Duchamp Prize artists and 140 major works have benefited from visibility during some 20 exhibitions organized in major museums around the world, in Buenos Aires, Beijing, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Seoul, Tokyo and recently Bucarest. The professional networks established with the Marcel Duchamp Prize can constitute important springboards. This represents invaluable support because while obtaining a Prize always constitutes a positive argument in the career of an artist by boosting his/her legitimacy, it is above all the meetings with collectors and the exhibitions generated as a result that will increase, in the long term, the artist’s notoriety and market prices.

Price winners’ market price ?

It is difficult to assess the immediate impact of winning the Marcel Duchamp Prize on the artists’ market prices. Although it is clear that obtaining such an award does indeed sharpen the interest of collectors, the galleries are the first beneficiaries of this momentum, since the Prize does not necessarily trigger an acceleration of transactions on the auction market (which is essentially a ‘secondary’ market).

Among the big names who have received the Marcel Duchamp Prize in the past, Thomas Hirschhorn, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Laurent Grasso, Tatiana Trouvé, Mircea Cantor, Kader Attia, have established themselves as artists of international quality and are sought after by major collectors. However, the auction market does not always reflect the quality of their careers or of their works.

While the works of Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (2002 winner), for example, have been acquired by several major museums including the Tate Modern (London), the Dia Art Foundation (New York) and the Pompidou Center in (Paris), her works are extremely rare at auctions; and when they are presented, they are not necessarily indicative of the artist’s interdisciplinary practice, which encompasses cinema, installation, video and various forms of collaborative work. Her auction record of $23,410 in a Christie’s sale in London (Multiverse, 2004-2012) has not been renewed since 2012 – more than ten years ago – a significant amount of time in the dynamics of the Contemporary art market. Indeed, some winners like Clement Cogitore (2018 winner) have never seen their works offered at auction, or have not yet found their audience in the art market, like Julien Prévieux (2014 winner).

Other artists, when supported by particularly powerful international galleries, enjoy more sustained auction activity. This is the case of Tatiana Trouvé (supported by the Perrotin, Paris; the Gagosian, New York and Johann König, Berlin), Cyprien Gaillard (supported by Gladstone, New York and Sprüth Magers, Berlin), Laurent Grasso (supported by Perrotin, Paris and Sean Kelly, New York) or even Latifa Echakhch (supported by Kamel Mennour, Paris; Kaufmann Repetto, Milan; Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv and Eva Presenhuber, Zurich), all ranked in the 10,000 top-selling artists at global auctions.

Tatiana TROUVÉ (2007 winner) and Latifa ECHAKHCH (2013 winner) have both already ranked among the 5,000 top-selling artists on the global market and have in common auction records dating back to 2015. Tatiana Trouvé’s installation Untitled (ref: cable 9) sold for $67,000 at Phillips in London, and, a few months later, a painting by Latifa Echakhch fetched $203,300 at the same auction after being part of the collection of Dr. Frederic S. Brandt in Miami. The young Latifa Echakhch, today sought after by international collectors, has been crowned by eight auction results above $100,000.

Other winners have sold above this price level, a significant and rare level for young French artists indeed. They include Cyprien GAILLARD (1980) (2010 winner) whose peak currently stands at $193,750. Again, his record also dates back to 2015 (like those of Tatiana Trouvé and Latifa Echakhch), but Cyprien Gaillard’s was hammered at Sotheby’s New York and not in London.

Kader ATTIA (1970) (2016 winner) also distinguished himself by the sale of two installations for over $100,000 before obtaining his Duchamp Prize in 2016, the only prize with which he had been honored until then. Thomas HIRSCHHORN (2000 winner) has an auction record of $156,190 following the sale in 2006 of a large mixed-technique entitled Abstract Relief No.548 (1999) at Phillips de Pury & Company in London. His first works went to auction in 2001, a few months after winning the Duchamp Prize, and his demand has become global with 76% of his turnover being hammered in the United States.

Award-winning artists accessible on the auction market

Many of these French artists, whose talent has been confirmed by winning the Duchamp Prize, have works that are accessible for under $5,000 at auction. This is the case for Carole Benzaken (2004 winner), whose biggest paintings exceed $15,000; Thomas Hirschhorn (2000 winner), 62% of whose works sell between $1,000 and $5,000; Matthew Mercier (2003 winner), half of whose works sell for between $1,000 and $5,000 at auction. Likewise for Joana & Khalil HADJITHOMAS & JOREIGE (2017 winners), whose politically motivated works – attempting to reveal history’s underbelly and question the standard representation of conflicts – have been exhibited at several art biennials and in museums as important as the Solomon R. Guggenheim (New York) and the British Museum (London). They have also been integrated into several large private and public collections, but still remain affordable at auction.

It is clear that solid international recognition does not always have a major impact on the auction market. Informed collectors deal directly with galleries and the prices of artists evolve confidentially, especially for works that are often transversal, atypical, and which do not necessarily conform to trends in global demand.

The winners of the Marcel Duchamp Prize

Thomas Hirschhorn (2000 – 2001)

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (2002)

Matthew Mercier (2003)

Carole Benzaken (2004)

Claude Closky (2005)

Philippe Mayaux (2006)

Tatiana Trouvé (2007)

Laurent Grasso (2008)

Saâdane Afif (2009)

Cyprien Gaillard (2010)

Mircea Cantor (2011)

Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel (2012)

Latifa Echakhch (2013)

Julien Prévieux (2014)

Melik Ohanian (2015)

Kader Attia (2016)

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (2017)

Clément Cogitore (2018)

Eric Baudelaire (2019)

Kapwani Kiwanga (2020)

Lili Reynaud Dewar (2021)

Mimosa Echard (2022)

The nominees for the 2023 Marcel Duchamp Prize

The name of the winner will be revealed on 16 October following the vote of an international jury composed of Xavier Rey, Director of the National Museum of Modern Art (Pompidou Center), Claude Bonnin, collector and President of the ADIAF, Akemi Shiraha, representative of the Marcel Duchamp Association, Dr. Jimena Blasquez Abascal, collector and Director of the Montenmedio Contemporary Foundation (Spain), Dr Josée Gensollen, collector of the Gensollen La Fabrique Collection in Marseille, Béatrice Salmon, director of the National Center for Visual Arts (CNAP) and Adam D. Weinberg, Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York.

The finalists’ exhibition is open for three months at the Pompidou Center in Paris.

Here are the four artists in the running for the 23rd edition of the Marcel Duchamp Prize:

From left to right in the photo: Bertille Bak, Massinissa Selmani, Bouchra Khalili, Tarik Kiswanson.Photo © julie ansiau

Bertille Bak

Born in 1983 in Arras (France), lives and works in Paris. Represented by Xippas Gallery, Paris and The Gallery Apart, Rome

“Bertille Bak focuses on communities by examining their rituals, gestures and objects which she later uses in her projects. Whether it is her own community in the mining areas of northern France or in groups that are unfamiliar to her, she never chooses to distance herself. On the contrary, it is about sharing a passage in life… a struggle… a resistance.” (Source Xippas Gallery).

Her work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions: Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris in 2012, Merz Foundation in Turin in 2022, Louvre Lens in 2023, among others.

Bouchra Khalili

A Moroccan-French artist born in 1975 in Casablanca, Khalili lives and works in Berlin and is represented by the Mor Charpentier gallery, Paris and the ADN gallery in Barcelona

The artist’s work includes film and video installations, photography and screen printing. Each of her projects can be seen as a platform from which members of minorities can propose, implement and share resistance strategies and discourses developed from the margins. Her work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions such as Barcelona’s MACBA and Paris’s Palais de Tokyo in 2015, New York’s MoMA in 2016 and Paris’s Jeu de Paume in 2018.

Tarik Kiswanson

Born in 1986 in Halmstad (Sweden) Kiswanson lives and works in Paris, France and Amman, Jordan. Represented by the carlier | gebauer gallery in Berlin and the Sfer gallery in Hamburg and Beirut.

His work encompasses sculpture, writing, performance, drawing, sound and video works. The notions of uprooting, regeneration and renewal are recurring themes in his work. Tarik Kiswanson presented his retrospective exhibition Mirrorbody at the Carré d’Art – Musée d’Art Contemporain in 2021.

Massinissa Selmani

Born in 1980 in Algiers (Algeria), Selmani lives and works in Tours. Represented by the Anne-Sarah Benichou gallery (Paris), Selma Feriani (Tunis, London), Jane Lombard (New York)

Through the confrontation and juxtaposition, without any logical coherence, of real elements Massinissa Selmani creates enigmatic and ambiguous scenes, emphasizing the ironic, even tragic character of the absurd and strange situations depicted in his drawings.

His work was recognized with a special mention from the jury at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Winner of the Art Collector Prize and the Sam Prize in 2016, he has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in France and abroad.

Artmaket by Artprice is pleased to support the Marcel Duchamp Prize as a patron of ADIAF.