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Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Walther König & Cahiers: the future of art magazine

 «What would decorate our coffee tables without magazines and art books?» a discussion with Ms. Alyskewycz,  the manager magazine section of the Palais de Tokyo

With a shop over 450 meters wide, Palais de Tokyo’s bookshop provides prominent magazine publications to fuel the contemporary artistic debate. With the aim of expanding the contemporary art debate, Walther König & Cahiers d’Art merged in twenty-seventeen to run the Palais de Tokyo’s bookshop.

The history of the Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo is a Paris-based contemporary art museum, initially designed in 1937 on the occasion of the Exposition Internationale. It was named after Tokyo Quai, the former street where it was built. 12 years later, the museum has become Europe’s largest contemporary art center, following a series of renovations. As part of its construction, the museum was designed to house both the Musée National d’Art Moderne in the west wing and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in its east wing. The current Palais de Tokyo is situated in the former one, while the latter in the year 2000, hosts the center of contemporary art established by Mr. Bourriaud and Mr. Sans.

The architectural style of the palace is Art Deco, which was realized by the architects Mr. Aubert and Mr. Dastugue. The name is short for Arts Décoratifs from Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, the world’s fair held in Paris in 1925. A combination of craftsmanship with the new industrial process influenced the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, and everyday objects. 

Palais de Tokyo’s bookshop tender

In 2017, the Palais de Tokyo was looking for a new partner to take over its bookstore. For the occasion, Cahiers D’art and Walther König decided to associate themselves with the shared mission to win the tender. The former was first founded in 1926 by Mr.  Zervos, a Greek philosopher, editor, and art critic born in 1889. The business consists of a combination of a publishing house, an art gallery, and a revue. In total, he published 97 issues before closing the business in 1916. Its longevity was a result of the mixture of striking typography and layouts, abundant photography, and juxtaposition of ancient and modern art. 

Mr. Ahrenberg, a Swedish art collector and film producer, acquired and relaunched it in 2012. He publishes new revues and maintains a gallery that exhibits the artists the company publishes through its editor work. Cahiers d’Art continues to connect avant-garde artists and architects like Picasso, Duchamp, and Le Corbusier to contemporary artists and architects.

Walther and Kasper König founded the business in Cologne in 1969. Within a few years, it had become one of the world’s preeminent addresses for art-related literature as well as a hotbed of intellectual exchange for the artistic scene in Germany.  Despite having more than 40 shops around the world, König didn’t cover Paris. As a result, they joined forces with a smaller structure, such as Cahiers d’Art. Ms. Alyskewycz stated, «their association was a perfect match between a French historic art publisher and a major and big European bookstore».

Two souls in one entity

Being two different souls inside one store, they arranged the interior with some of their products. Cahiers d’Art has its own corner where clients can find prints from contemporary artists, its revue, some of the books it publishes, and a selection from its archive. The latter includes older editions of books, magazines, and second-hand art books. Concerning Walther König, it has its publications mixed with the main bookstore. In fact, the German publishing house treats all sorts of volumes, which are arranged in their section of reference: contemporary and modern art, photography, design, architecture, graphic design, fashion, and the children’s section.

The store space is more than 450 square meters wide. For these reasons, in addition clients can also find stationeries, gift articles, and objects associated with the ongoing exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo, some of which Walther König signed. In charge of supervising the selection of products, there are Ms. Alyskewycz – for the magazine and fashion sections, and Mr. Frémaux for the architecture and design sections.

Palais de Tokyo’s magazine selection

Ms. Alyskewycz has adapted the publication’s range for international audiences as the Palais de Tokyo is internationally recognized. To deliver a unique selection for an art institution, she works with big distributors as well as smaller publishers. She continuously explores new publishers for magazines created by students or artists. The only criteria that Ms. Alyskewycz uses to find publications are that they reflect the «zeitgeist of the moment».

The main topics are related to art and the collateral disciplines of the institution, like fashion. In fact, Palais de Tokyo has become a prominent host for fashion runways. For this field, Ms. Alyskewycz keeps scouting new magazines that both help feed the debate on the subject and the bookshop to stay relevant.

Regarding the museum, the library works alongside the curators to compose a list of references for each new exhibition. Ms. Alyskewycz will then re-design the store’s arrangement to have a dedicated section at the bookstore’s entrance. By doing that, the bookshop proves to be an additional part of study for both museum visitors and scholars.

An international community

The principal clientele of the bookshop will always be the visitors of the Palais de Tokyo, but since the library is open and accessible to everyone from twelve to midnight, artists and students from all areas of creativity are welcomed.  There is a good plethora of art amateurs that come to the bookshop in search of inspiration, guided by passion.

The selection of magazines aren’t just French, rather it features international titles due to the global clientele. Moreover, Palais de Tokyo’s bookshop has an Instagram page @librairiedupalaisdetokyo, that has almost two-thousand followers. On it, the library keeps updated its clientele, and most importantly it connects with the non-public. The non-public market segment is composed of those who can’t physically visit the shop, but admire the institution and want to be connected either way. This strategic move will help the bookshop structure its future business.

The future of the Palais de Tokyo’s bookshop

Ms. Alyskewycz believes that magazines will continue to exist in the future as art books. In her opinion, the numbers probably won’t be the same, but considering the craft they require, people will appreciate them. In the end, as Ms. Alyskewycz said, «what would decorate our coffee tables without magazines and art books?».

Ms. Alyskewycz and her team are working on improving their reputation as an art bookshop both in France and worldwide. Every day they work to select new magazines and objects to showcase in the library and implement new voices in the publisher market. 

Palais de Tokyo

13, avenue du Président Wilson 75116, Paris 

Palais de Tokyo is a contemporary art museum born in 1937 on the occasion of the Exposition Internationale. Since then, the Paris-based museum has become Europe’s largest contemporary art center. Walther König & Cahiers d’Art has run the bookshop since 2017. The two companies decided to join forces to divulge contemporary art.

Fabiana Boglione

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
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Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
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