PAN vs. Paris Photo: A fight to the finish

In November 2015 our team was on a mission. We set out to visit both Paris Photo and PAN Amsterdam art fairs. With a critical eye and a notebook in hand to write down the scores, our expert team started an epic battle for the Best Art Fair awards.

In the left corner we have Paris Photo, a well-known fair for photographic masterpieces. In the right corner we have PAN Amsterdam, a traditional art fair that has existed for almost 30 years. Ladies and gentlemen, let the games begin…

PAN Fair is known for the high quality of Old Masters, silver, antiques and jewelry, not to mention the fairly old crowd that it attracts by this traditional art (counted: 7 Zimmer frames, 5 prehistoric phones and 1 lonely pair of dentures left lying on the floor). But The Public House of Art, specialising in contemporary art, was of course much more interested in the latest art and was determined to scour every corner to find what we were looking for. We expected to see cutting edge works, but instead the latest trend in contemporary art at PAN seemed to be art inspired by....the past! Numerous galleries showed portrait photography that draws inspiration from the 17th century masters. It almost looked like a freaking little Rijksmuseum over there! Of course there were works from good old Hendrik Kerstens, one of the most famous Dutch photographers on this subject. But also other artists were doing contemporary interpretations of traditional portraits, such as Suzanne Jongmans for Galerie Wilms and Marie Cecile Thijs for Edouard Planting Gallery. Both artists play with light and dark, adding contemporary elements to create Vermeeresqe artworks. We loved the works, but please move over for the real master: our very own Jenny Boot, common guys, you can’t beat her!

Zusanne Jongmans, Sensibility, 2015, Galerie Wilms

Hendrik Kerstens, Red Turban, 2015, Rademakers

Marie Cecile Thijs, Girl with feather collar 2014, Edouard Planting Gallery

Paris Photo on the other hand was all about the future. Flashy artworks, new technologies and futuristic subjects were on display. Hello to the new! In particular digital artworks were making a blitz in Paris. In Pace Gallery, an interesting digital artwork from TeamLab was shown. Moving photography, that’s what we call the future!  

Sandy Skoglund, Raining Popcorn: Paci-contemporary

Something else that caught The Public House of Art’s attention was the work from Sandy Skoglund. This super talented artist combines photographs and digitals techniques together, creating artworks that represent artificial worlds of the near future. If this isn’t hot stuff then what is?! Overall the fair showed exciting new artworks of upcoming artists as well as big names in modern photography (well hello Gilbert & George, David LaChapelle and Erwin Olaf, nice to see you again!).

So now to the moment of truth, the final hour. Both teams have fought hard and done their best. We have to admit that we did like both fairs a lot, but the winner is....(drumroll please) Paris Photo! We think that the French fair was much more Public House of Arty. Or, even better, it was Awesome! And PAN a little message to you: invite us next year to your fair if you want to make your fair more fun!