Paris Photo, the world’s leading photography fair, will take place at Le Grand Palais Éphémère from November 9 to 12. For the 26th time, dealers, collectors, and museum professionals from all over the globe will gather here.

The reshaping of the Parisian art scene, initiated a few years ago with forgery scandals among antique dealers, the decline and reformatting of the once influential Biennale des Antiquaires, and the acquisition of the contemporary art fair Fiac by Art Basel, seems to have left this photographic exhibition untouched.

Nowadays, it’s rare to find someone bold enough to distinguish the genre of photography from art. Back in 1997, when the first Paris Photo took place, there was no shortage of snobs who deemed photos a mauvais ton. The insightful French, with centuries of art trading experience, have over the years of the fair’s existence achieved not just a conditional parity between the camera and the palette, but also an absolute purity of the stands — only photographic art is showcased at the fair.

In the battle of genres, the fair was assisted by institutions and gallerists who took responsibility for the number of prints. Foremost among these is the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, which has become a mecca for photographers and photography enthusiasts, just as Paris Photo has for collectors. In 2004, the state-owned contemporary art gallery Jeu de Paume also shifted its focus exclusively to supporting photography and new media. Since then, it has been hosting powerful photography exhibitions of both classic and emerging artists in the heart of the city in the Tuileries Garden.

Over its 26-year history, the fair itself has essentially remained the same. It has merely grown, adding galleries (the current show features 191 galleries and book publishers from 21 countries) and getting fans, while refining its programs and special projects.

Henri Cartier-Bresson. André Pieyre de Mandiargues. Italie. 1932-1933

The structure of the exhibition also maintains its established layout. The Main Sector will accommodate 133 leading international galleries, encompassing the entire history of photography from the 19th century up to the present day. This includes Galerie Eric Dupont with distinctive portraits of Guinean women from 1890–1900 by an unknown French photographer, and the Pace Gallery featuring works by Irving Penn and Harry Callahan. Moreover, there are the Bruce Silverstein Gallery showcasing surrealist experiments by Man Ray, Gagosian with still lifes by renowned photographer Roe Ethridge and captivating architecture by Andreas Gursky, and the Edwynn Houk Gallery exhibiting world classics by Brassai, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Herb Ritts.

Clarissa Bonet. Fortress. 2016

The curatorial sector Curiosa, led by the fair’s artistic director Anna Planas, will feature solo exhibitions from 17 photographers making their debut at the show. This includes Colombian Andrés Baron, who plays with the ambiguity of images; French artist Constance Nouvel, who merges photography with graphics and painting; and Hoda Afshar from Iran, who delves into the representation of gender in the East through reportage photography.

Jung Lee. I Want To Be Your Love. 2012

This year’s new sector, aptly named Digital, illustrates the interplay between modern culture and technology, showcasing creations that utilize artificial intelligence and works involved in NFT markets.

Arkady Shaikhet. Globe at Moscow Telegraph Central Station. 1928

In anticipation of the influx of major collectors at Paris Photo, museums, auction houses, and naturally, local galleries are gearing up. For instance, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie will open two exhibitions — one featuring Dutch fashion photographer Viviane Sassen and another showcasing French nude photographer My-Lan Hoang-Thuy. Jeu de Paume will host a retrospective of Victorian photographer Julia Cameron. The Centre Pompidou delves into the concept of physicality in its exhibition titled Body to Body.

Hugo Bernatzik. Peuple Nuer. 1927

Local Christie’s is set to organize a pre-auction exhibition and auction off the fashion photography collection of German publisher Lothar Schirmer. Meanwhile, Artcurial will host an exhibition of photographic abstraction in tribute to the late politician and photographer Olivier Dassault, who passed away two years ago.

Aïda Muluneh. In Which We Remain (Namibia). 2020

Photo: Jung Lee/Courtesy of Christophe Guye Galerie; Clarissa Bonet/courtesy La Galerie Rouge; Copyright Henri Cartier-Bresson; Arkady Shaikhet; Aïda Muluneh; Galerie Eric Dupont