will open an office in Marrakesh this month. The auction house has been active in Morocco since 2011, having already organised numerous presentations and sales in the country, jointly with the Paris office.
Artcurial will develop its sales of Orientalist Paintings and African Contemporary Art from the new location, two major specialisms for the company, directly related to the African continent. The auction house also intends to organise sales celebrating the great richness of Moroccan decorative arts, in areas as wide-ranging as ceramics, glassware, furniture, textiles, jewellery and antique arms.
A Moroccan team of three, led by Soraya Abid will take charge of Artcurials day-to-day operations and organise its auction schedule, from premises spanning 200m2 in the Hivernage district of Marrakesh.
Amongst the major events that Artcurial has previously organised in Morocco are the memorable Moroccan Spirit exhibition, which was held at the Villa des Arts de Casablanca in 2014, and the legendary Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent auction that was organised to raise funds for the Fondation Jardin Majorelle in 2015.
Having had a regular presence for eight years, the time was right for Artcurial to put down roots in Morocco by establishing a permanent operation to build business there, year-round, under the leadership of Olivier Berman Artcurial Moroccos director.
The growth of a local demanding, sophisticated client base and ambitious cultural institutions made a compelling case for this move, not to mention the vibrancy of an exciting Moroccan and wider African art scene. --François Tajan, Deputy Chairman, Artcurial
The auction house has announced three auction sessions per year, at New Year, in the spring and in autumn, two of which will take place in Marrakesh with the other being held in Casablanca. Its Paris#Marrakech sales have been in place since 2016, having been held annually at the end of December, jointly with Paris. The new Moroccan structure will open the door further to local stakeholders, specifically by enabling buyers to pay in dirhams and by creating opportunities for sellers to have their paintings and objects featured in prestigious sales.
The opening of museums, setting up of foundations and launch of its fair and biennials, as well as its art scene and the emergence of prominent collectors, all illustrate Morocco's potential. The programming of the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rabat, which since it opened in 2014 has been exhibiting both works by Moroccan artists and retrospectives of international artists, is a perfect example of an increasing public awareness of art history. In September, Rabat hosted its first contemporary art Biennial.
Meanwhile, Marrakesh has been designated African Capital of Culture 2020. Every three years, this new honour will be bestowed for one year on an African city showcasing African culture and its influence.
Three sales at Mamounia in December
For several years, amongst buyers and sellers, Artcurial has been demonstrating its ability to add significant value to Orientalist works through its expertise and know-how. Artcurial has set numerous world records that remain unbeaten, like that held for a Jacques Majorelle work, with La Kasbah rouge, which was sold for 1,280,500 including fees on 9 June 2011.
This know-how has driven the success of African contemporary art too, thanks also to the contributions of the Paris and Brussels teams. 2018s only session set six world records in this specialism.
The next Artcurial sale will take place on 30 December at Mamounia in Marrakesh, with three themes:
Majorelle and his contemporaries, the Orientalist section of the sale, a specialism in which Artcurial holds numerous world records
African spirit, dedicated to contemporary African art
Made in Morocco, a section dedicated to Moroccan Decorative Arts from the 17th century to the present day.