AO Onsite: FIAC Has Begun in Paris and will run through October 25th

October 22nd, 2009

Portrait of Geoff Dyer Talking, Francis Bacon (1966) at FIAC, Paris

If Frieze opened willing to court the unavoidable media speculation about sales or the lack of them: FIAC, and the exhibitors it houses this year, have in the early stages proved characteristically reticent. Not to mention laconic. At least on the surface. This morning there was little sign that much of Paris and beyond would descend on the Grand Palais and the Cour Carrée du Louvre at noon.

Visitors to FIAC at Grand Palais, Paris

More text and images after the jump….

Marclay’s Bike, Dominique Blais

The Jardin des Tuileries however opened its gates at 7.30am. The works now being exhibited alongside the garden’s permanent residents include Dominique Blais’ Marclay’s Bike, more fleeting events like Prinz Gholam’s Air, and the ethereally shifting audio recordings of Susan Philipsz’s Woods so Wild. Jim Dine, who is also being shown just outside the Grand Palais’ sequestered heart. The joint presentation of modern masterworks by 10 of the most important galleries, is currently straddling, with at Tuilieres, these two very different spaces. Where the organizers of Frieze Art Fair used interventionist strategies with an educational emphasis to offer alternatives within the fair, the freely accessible structures at FIAC’s Tuilieres are discreetly incorporated. Parisians seemed to be following their habitual routines amid quietly changed surroundings.

Large Parrot Screams Color, Jim Dine (2007)

White boards located at the exits of the Jardin des Tuilieres serving as monumental wall texts are among the sparse commentary on offer to accompany these temporary works- the organizers here harnessing the pleasant dispersal inherent in this particular venue, in contrast to the concentrated hub of the fair. School boys took the opportunity to provide an unauthorized, but invited, soundtrack to Kader Attia’s piece Untitled, 2009 by throwing stones. The theme generally though seems to be quiet discernment rather than overt, or violent intervention.

School boys took the opportunity to provide an unauthorized soundtrack to Kader Attia’s Untitled, 2009 by throwing stones.

Inside the Grand Palais a marked lack of text and conventional apparatus is also evident from the open arena of Luhring Augustine, which devotes the space in its entirety to Rachel Whiteread, and without commentary about individual pieces.

This bold move is in part a conversation with the unignorable though discreet center of the fair. The cloistered 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. Though separated from the rest of the fair, the presentation is unique in that here the galleries to not present themselves as individuals, self-contained. In one room you can see three Francis Bacon paintings: Portrait of Geoff Dyer Talking 1966 exhibited by L+M Arts, Study for a Pope 1955 by Galerie Krugier & Cie, and Head III 1949 by Acquavella Galleries.  Paul Gray from Richard Gray Gallery joked about this experience:

“This is a first! Quite interesting yesterday… with the ten of us walking around together in the same room, and sharing the same office… Some of us are very competitive.” In answer to the question of how the curatorial decisions were negotiated Gray continued: “Actually we hired a curator to do the installation so we wouldn’t have that to argue about. Well we hired an architect to design the space, and a curator to install the works. And we were here, but you know we didn’t exert that much influence.”

Kid with a Baseball Bat, Duane Hanson at Emmanuel Perrotin

Head, Alexander Calder (1929)

The Richard Gray Gallery seems to have been drawn to FIAC for this particular event: “I haven’t been to FIAC in many years but from what I understand it’s made quite a Renaissance,” and Gray has enjoyed walking around the other galleries which are presenting this year. In marked contrast to the general reticence regarding the recession Gray was very frank:

“2007 was the high water mark…2008 was a year when nobody knew exactly what was happening but most of us who have been in the business a long time felt that it was long past time for a downturn in the market…prices can’t go up forever. It doesn’t mean that the art doesn’t still sell, and doesn’t still make record prices but there are fewer people lined up. The thing is you don’t really realize how many fewer people are in the market because if a work sells it hides the fact that there may have only been one person to buy it. Whereas let’s say in 2007 there might have been ten, in 2008 there might have been only been one or two, and in 2009 in the beginning there were none. This was a very difficult year for contemporary art.”

Wall Erosion Arch (2) at Emmanuel Perrotin

Cumshot in Blue, Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille (2006) at Pietro Sparta

Gray was also illuminating on the subject of the benefits of FIAC:

I think there’s something disingenuous about the idea that an art fair is about education, I mean they’re trying to, in a way, put a different bloom on the rose, which is ok, these events can be very educational but their core is the opportunity for people to see, and buy works of art.”

This sits oddly however with the rather frequent occurrence of works that were not for sale within the group presentation. Gray explained:

Yes actually there are a number of things that are not for sale. Our purpose for being here is to improve our ability to do our business by making relationships with collectors, by showing the full breadth of the high end of what we do. I mean I chose to bring only one painting that’s not for sale. It’s a Rothko which is in the other room. Because I didn’t think there would be anything of that nature represented in this exhibition. I thought there should be something American post-war”

He continued:

Each of us, each of the ten dealers had their own motivations for bringing things. I wanted the works that we brought to represent the best of what we do but I also wanted to make my contribution to it in terms of the breadth of what we do, which includes American post-war as well as European pre-war….The intention was – not to call it something that it isn’t and to show that some galleries have pretty high standards when it comes to selecting the work and displaying it, and dealing in it. Yeah, I think we have pretty high standards.”

Pumpkin, Erwin Wurm

2 Picassos and 1 Chamberlain, Gérard Deschampes (2002) at Martine et Tibauld de la Chartre.

The Mezzanine floor is currently populated by smaller galleries, some of whom have been exhibiting at FIAC for a long time. ShangArt provided a marked contrast to the celebrated centre of the fair in their style of presentation. A spokeswoman for the gallery, which has been attending FIAC for seven years, lamented that the fair has changed: “It’s not so contemporary”. The Mezzanine does provide some quirkier offerings, Gérard Deschampes’ 2 Picassos and 1 Chamberlain 2002 at Martine et Tibauld de la Chartre for example. One passer by noted “We’re definitely in a more bizarre corner”.

Galerie Karsten Greve picked from their prestigious collection, showing amongst others works by Cy Twombly, Louise Bourgeois who has had a recent retrospective and Pierre Solange, who is currently enjoying one. However the gallery’s younger artists created the biggest stir amongst the public and the buyers. Despite noting that they had “experienced better opening days” the gallery was attracting a lot of attention, in particular with the work of Gideon Rubin and Claire Morgan. The latter’s Striking was, and will continue to be, consistently crowded around.

FIAC cannot be easily defined at this early stage, and there will be many conflicting and lively opinions over the next few days. It is a rarity that opinions are allowed to be individually formed in a public arena. Paul Gray brought it back to a more personal level:

“I think of what I do, not really sales so much as helping people to understand why they want to collect, and helping them to dispel the doubts that stand between them and doing what they want to do…It would be wrong to define a collector too narrowly because different people come to it for different reasons but I collect because certain times, and it’s fairly rare that it happens but occasionally I come across a work of art which speaks to me. That’s the kind of thing I want to own, something that moves me.”

Gideon Rubin at Galerie Karsten Greve

Striking, Claire Morgan  at Galerie Karsten Greve

Related Links:
FIAC Homepage
That old FIAC Magic [ArtMarketMonitor]
Warhol’s ‘Disaster,’ $40 Million Bacon star in French Art Fair [Bloomberg]
La FIAC 2009 [Le Monde]
FIAC Lures Iconic (and Expensive) Works to Paris [ArtInfo]
New Work by Faile for FIAC [World's BestEver]
FIAC 2009 Art Fair Draws Contemporary Art Focus to Paris from 22nd October [FAD]
Battle of the Fairs: Paris vs London [WSJ]
Frieze vs FIAC: The Rematch [Marion Maneker via ArtMarketMonitor]
$24 Million Picasso Reserved as Arnault Joins Browsers at FIAC [Bloomberg]
Modern Masters Give FIAC a Boost [ArtInfo]
ArtPrice and FIAC Publish an Exclusive Report on the 2008/2009 Contemporary Art Market [Reuters]

- all images and text by Soraya Gilanni


Coventry Evening Telegraph (England) August 17, 1999 Castle concert ruined by poor management I CANNOT believe your reporter and I were at the same event on Friday evening.

I refer to the first of the two concerts by Simply Red at Warwick Castle.

The performance of the band was indeed “simply fantastic” despite the appalling weather, but the organisation was dreadful.

The so-called specially built stage and seating area were totally unsuitable for a pop concert when (perhaps to the organisers’ surprise) the audience tends to stand rather than sit.

The absence of a natural slope in the meadow could have been overcome by a higher stage.

The backdrop was far from unique and quite frankly Hearsall Common in Coventry would have been no worse.

The carefully planned traffic and parking system was in fact a single track entrance for thousands of vehicles.

Your reporter James Wilde suggests that this first concert at Warwick Castle will not be the last – it will be for me and, I suspect, for many others who were still trying to leave the car park two hours after the show.

Paul Glenn, Milby Drive, Nuneaton.

. . . AFTER reading your article on the Simply Red concert, I agree that the concert was a success despite the rain which failed to dampen the atmosphere created by an electrifying performance.

However the evening was spoilt, as I am sure others would agree, by the events that occurred after the concert as people tried to leave.

After standing in the rain for three or more hours, concert- goers had to endure a farce that erupted after the organisers failure to appreciate the sheer volume of traffic leaving at the same time.

Although Warwick was not effected by the bad traffic management, some people at the concert had to sit until after midnight to escape the car park.

The ridiculous task of removing thousands of cars from a field through one exit spoilt a wonderful event. The crowd must be commended for their patience at having to wait.

Warwick Castle could be a wonderful concert venue, however after Friday night’s farce I will favour other venues with the experience to handle the volume of traffic. here escape the car

Riding progress IF your Saturday’s Soapbox correspondent Simon Yates were a member of the British Horse Society he would know that the BHS is at the forefront in fighting for the maintenance of bridleways, restoring lost rights of way and opening up new routes.

We deal with over 200 cases a week. I also know the problems on a more personal level – I have the mud on my boots to prove it!

There is no doubt that the BHS has made progress on rights of way issues.

At least horse riders are now included in the proposals – up until now the government has only considered the needs of cyclists and walkers.

However your report condensed the BHS comments and failed to point out that we were not happy with proposals to reclassify all RUPPs (roads used as a public path) as bridleways, as this would exclude carriage drivers from the very limited routes now available to them.

The BHS has suggested that a better solution would be to upgrade RUPPs to byway status, using weight restrictions to restrict motorised traffic.

At no time has the BHS proposed that all bridleways should be used by carriage drivers. This would not be a practical proposition, as Mr Yates so rightly points out.

We would like to see all riders become BHS members and help us in the struggle to provide adequate off-road riding.

Janet George, head of public relations, British Horse Society, Stoneleigh Deer Park, Kenilworth.

Store anger I WOULD express my disgust at Woolworths store in Coventry city centre.

After completing my purchases there I went upstairs to use the toilet. The girl on the till told me I could not use it as it was for cafe customers only. When I said I often used the cafe she finally agreed to unlock the door.

I will think twice before shopping there again.

Wendy Quinney, Ambler Grove, Copsewood.

City skateboard facility is long overdue I WAS interested to read your story (Evening Telegraph, August 10) about Daniel Shuttleworth who successfully petitioned Coventry Council for a skateboard facility at the War Memorial Park and has been asked to help design it.

For the past 12 years myself and friends have been going through the same procedures as Daniel.

Just last year I put a petition on the counter in a skateboard shop and within four weeks we had over 1,000 signatures.

We handed this petition over to Coventry Council who told us there was no money available. here escape the car

As teenagers we would skate in the disused fountain outside Walsgrave Hospital and the brick banks opposite the Council House. Almost every day we would get moved on.

Over the last 12 years I have lost count of how many letters/ petitions have been put to the council asking for somewhere to skate.

The old answer was skateboarding is just a fad and will be out of date next year.

On a couple of occasions the council has written to me saying that skateboard ramps were going to be built in Caludon Park, Wyken and Cannon Park, Canley. What happened to those plans?

However, I am pleased to hear about the new facilities that are going to be built in Memorial Park.

I just hope Daniel knows how to design a decent skate park that will last, as I have seen a lot of bad mistakes in other cities. Most of the time the dimensions of the skateboard ramps are totally wrong and are too steep, or ramps are crammed into small spaces and there is no room to skate around the park without obstacles getting in the way.

When this happens no one uses them, I would hate to see money wasted.

I would advise Daniel to contact Chris Ince at Radlands Skatepark in Northampton for help and advice.

At last people are beginning to see skateboarding as an up and coming sport and not just a toy for children to go rolling down hills on. It’s about time.

Gary Taylor, Clovelley Road, Wyken.

Straight to the POINT SURELY chemists shouldn’t be allowed to charge what they like for paracetamol. A local chemist near me charges 80p for 32 tablets. A supermarket in the Binley area charges 16p for 16 tablets. Both are the same type.

Last year 100 tablets cost 89p.

Mrs Doreen Cooke, Linwood Drive, Walsgrave.

ONLY tame academics and those who profit from evil – the film-makers and producers of gratuitous violence, pornography and permissiveness – still cling to the corruption that TV, videos, films and pornographic publications have no effect on those exposed to such filth.

Cllr C T Wearing, National Viewers and Listeners Association, Jays Close, Winyates Green, Redditch.

I AM an author who is seeking information from former residents of Paynes Lane and Hillfields House, Yardley Street, from 1940 onwards.

Also anyone who remembers Whitefriars Monastery (the Workhouse) from the 1920s, the Blitz and what Coventry was like during and prior to WW2.

I also seek information on a cafe in Paynes Lane during WW2.

Mrs Patricia Kelly, Ballybuninabber, Termon, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, Eire/Ireland.