AO On Site; FIAC Round-Up: many reserves, not many sales made on “modern masterworks” and Saadane Afif announced as winner The Marcel Duchamp Prize

October 26th, 2009


Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain, Paris via fiac.com

The action at France’s biggest art fair, Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) in Paris came to a stand still on Saturday, October 24. The aftermath of FIAC, much like Frieze before it, is buzzing with discussion surrounding sales – big and small. On Saturday Bloomberg News reported that Piet Mondrian’s abstract Composition With Blue, Red and Yellow, valued between $30 and $40 million, was put on hold while a wealthy buyer made up their mind. Similarly, it seems the Pablo Picasso painting, Femme Ecrivant, was reserved by a potential buyer during the first few hours of FIAC’s VIP preview on October 21.

Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve
Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve – photo by Art Observed

More text and related links after the jump….

Femme Ecrivant, Pablo Picasso (1932)
Femme Ecrivant, Pablo Picasso (1932) via ArtNet

The painting of Picasso’s mistress, Marie-Therese, was presented by the New York-Based Richard Gray Gallery. The gallery’s director, Paul Gray, commented that “twenty million-dollar deals don’t happen in a few minutes.”


The crowd at the Grand Palais via FIAC

As reported by ArtObserved, what drew much attention during the fair was the joint presentation of modern masterworks by 10 galleries: Acquavella Galleries, Galerie Beyeler, Galereie Louis Carré et Cie, Gagosian Galleries, Galerie Krugier & Cie, L+M Arts, Malingue, Pacewildenstein, Richard Gray Gallery and Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG.

The Richard Gray gallery offered a 1929 Alexander Calder wire sculpture, “Portrait of Eduard Penkala,” that had been in another U.S. collection for 20 years. “This work wouldn’t have appeared for sale if it hadn’t been for this exhibition at FIAC,” said Gray in an interview, as noted by Bloomberg – “It should give the auction houses something to think about.”


Portrait of Eduard Penkala, Alexander Calder (1929)


Architecture Philosophique, Frantisek Kupta (1913)

Another piece in the ‘Modern Project’ to receive a formal reserve was Frantisek Kupta’s 1913 painting, Architecture Philosophique, which was presented by Galerie Louis Carre & Cie with a price of 5 million euros.

Eleonore Malingue, director of the Parisian Gallery Malingue, was one of the initial proposers of the ‘Modern Project’. Malingue confirmed the project as “a very important initiative not just for the participating dealers, but for the profession in general, we want to show how strong we can be in the fight against the auction houses.”

Cour Carrée Musée du Louvre Paris
Cour Carrée Musée du Louvre, Paris

Another highlight of the fair – The Marcel Duchamp Prize – took place at Cour Carrée du Louvre, fittingly away from the high-prices and big-names at the Grand Palais. Established in 2000, the Prix Marcel Duchamp is awarded annually by FIAC with the intention of promoting international recognition of artists working in France.

Vice de Forme, Saadane Afif (2009)
Vice de Forme
, Saadane Afif (2009)

This year’s winner is Saadane Afif. Afif exhibited Vice de Forme; an invite card enlarged and presented as a poster for his current exhibition on show at Galerie Michel Rein in the Marais.  Afif’s work is primarily sculpture, but what sets him apart is that music is the creative current for the creation and installation of his works, he asks authors to write lyrics inspired by his oeuvre and then works with composers to translate these into music.

As his prize Afif has been awarded €35,000 and will stage two solo exhibitions next year at the French Pavilion of the World Exhibition in Shanghai (June 1-30, 2010) and at Espace 315 of the Centre Pompidou in Paris (September 2010).

Collection Lambert en Avignon
Collection Lambert en Avignon

French Galleries prove to be extremely popular and provocative, with the Yvon Lambert of Avignon collection, Domenique FIAT and Suzanne Tarasieve drawing a consistent crowd.

Composition With Blue, Red and Yellow, Piet Mondrian (1930)
Composition With Blue, Red and Yellow, Piet Mondrian (1930) via Bloomberg

Sans Titre, Guillaume Bresson  (2009)
Sans Titre
, Guillaume Bresson  (2009)

Sorry We’re Closed from Brussels drew a consistent crowd thanks to Académie des Beaux-Arts graduate Guillaume Bresson; his cinematic paintings have been coined ‘history paintings’ due to their constructed appearance, but this guise is no more than a framework in which contemporary events are placed.

The exhibited Sans Titre (2009) sold for €20,000 before the opening and the gallery have an order for over ten more, “we were considering taking the artwork down as everyone is drawn to this and nothing else” confided the Sorry We’re Closed representative.

While this sale at Cour Carrée du Louvre was confirmed by the second day of the fair, none of the Gallerists presenting works as part of the ‘Modern Project’at the Grand Palais could confirm any sale of their multi-million dollar works by the end of the event.

Related Links:
Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC)
Final Word on FIAC (Art Market Monitor)
$40 Million Mondrian Reserved as Art Collectors Mull Purchases [Bloomberg]
The Art Market: French flair [FT.com]
French Evolution [ArtForum]
Fiac’s Cour Carrée “So Good It’s Scary” [ArtInfo]
The Art of Paris: Inside the opening day of the city’s major Contemporary Art fair [WSJ]