Crowds outside the Grand Palais on the public opening of FIAC, October 21, 2011. All photographs for Art Observed on site by Caroline Claisse.
After two days of previews, FIAC opened its doors to the Paris public on Friday, October 21st. Jill Silverman, Director of Paris/Salzburg-based gallery Thaddaeus Ropac, tells Art Observed that the fair presents “a very good cross section of European collectors.” FIAC is one of the most nationally-focused art fairs, boasting a solid 32% of French exhibitors, whereas last week’s Frieze in London had only 25% British galleries. American presence increased this year with several New York galleries making their debut at the fair: Matthew Marks, Eleven Rivington, Andrew Kreps, Michele Maccarone and Friedrich Petzel. After a 30+year absence, Pace Gallery made a comeback to the fair. Works by seasoned veteran Damien Hirst are exhibited at both White Cube and Gagosian. Anish Kapoor also has work spread across the fair, whose gargantuan installation Leviathan filled the entire interior of the Grand Palais earlier this year. Lisson is showing one of his signature colored concave mirrors in fire-engine red; Kamel Mennour has wine-red, Galeria Continua has green, and Kukje/Tina Kim has purple; all have different price tags. Sales have been strong thusfar; Pace Gallery’s Arne Glimcher told Artinfo, “We had sales right off the bat, it was really fascinating. I hadn’t anticipated this kind of rush, especially in this economy, where Europe is not in as good of shape as America. But I think we have the right artists.” He added, “FIAC is certainly an enormous cut above Frieze.”
Michelangelo Pistoletto, Two Less One (2011) at Galleria Continua
More on site coverage and images after the jump…
Gagosian Gallery booth
Collectors François Pinault and Bernard Arnault flew in early, while works were still being installed, raising a few eyebrows—including the fair’s director Jennifer Flay, who commented “I have no idea how they got in” and plans to increase security measures. According to Bloomberg, “Some exhibitors were incensed to discover that France’s premier art collectors, Christie’s International owner Pinault, and Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, had been given a private tour the previous evening while they were attending a charity dinner at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Visiting galleries can spend as much as $100,000 on their booths and related expenses in the hope of meeting such billionaire buyers.” Other browsers to the fair included L’Oreal honorary chairman Lindsay Owen-Jones and French Socialist Party contender Martine Aubry.
Reportedly, the layout of the fair is causing a bit of a stir—although in previous years the booths of small galleries were housed in the courtyard of the Louvre, this year’s installment has them occupying an upper floor of the Grand Palais. This move is creating what the Financial Times called a “Siberia-like exile up two flights of stairs,” but apparently “this did not prevent some dealers virtually selling out in the first hour at the Wednesday opening, when invitees were allowed upstairs but not yet downstairs.”
Kaws, Seated Companion (2011) at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin
Not everyone had complaints; French gallerist Chantal Crousel commented that she was delighted by “the quality of the fair this year. Galleries have played their game and have made a careful however remarkable selection. Overall, it is all very elegant. The stands are very open and the absence of an extension in the Cour Carrée (Louvre) is not really crucial. The concentration of all exhibitors in one place is very positive.”
Takashi Murakami, As the Interdimensional Waves Run Through Me, I Can Distinguish Between the Voices of Angels and Devil (2011) at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin
The majority of complaints subsided as sales poured in. Emmanuel Perrotin sold many works to the background of Takashi Murakami’s elaborately titled As the Interdimensional Waves Run Through Me, I Can Distinguish Between the Voices of Angels and Devil (2011) which “sold before the fair to a European museum that asked the gallerist not to divulge its name,” reports Artinfo.
Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin booth
Hauser & Wirth also had an impressive opening at FIAC, quickly selling a Thomas Houseago plaster diptych to a foundation and three bronze editions of Face in Movement, I (2011) to various collectors. This is also the gallery’s first major display of New York-based artist Rashid Johnson, who recently joined the gallery. His wooden sculpture Napalm (2011) went to a Miami Foundation; two other large scale pieces, including Wanted (2011), were also sold. A new painting by Wilhelm Sasnal was placed in a UK Foundation.
Regarding the quality of the works on view, FIAC is more adventurous than Frieze. “Everyone has brought their best things to Fiac,” commented French dealer Michel Rein, “and it shows how Paris is really on the up.” He pointed out the increasing number of foreign galleries setting up in Paris in recent years, the likes of which include Gagosian and Tornabuoni.” New York-based art adviser Todd Levin told Bloomberg, “I look for a sense of liveliness at a fair, and I find more of it here than at Frieze. If dealers exhibit at both fairs, the quality of the booth tends to be a notch higher here in Paris.”
Mark Dion, The Dark Museum, on view at In Situ/Fabienne Leclerc, Paris
Paris gallerist Fabienne Leclerc took a risk with an enormous piece by Mark Dion entitled The Dark Museum. She lamented that French collectors were still not familiar with his work, but stated, “It is our duty to take risks. It feels like an injustice when the works that sell are zero risk, works that you will certainly see at auction within a few years. That’s everything that doesn’t interest me.” This notion was confirmed by the Financial Times, who wrote that “dealers at FIAC tend to be more adventurous than in London, not hesitating to bring challenging pieces such as Pilar Albarracín’s ‘Untitled’ (2010), a stuffed donkey seated on a pile of books (€60,000 with Vallois).”
A work by Samuel Rousseau, up for the Marcel Duchamp Prize.
A work by Mircea Cantor, up for the Marcel Duchamp Prize.
A work by Damien Cabanes, up for the Marcel Duchamp Prize.
For those who cannot attend this year, or for attendees who would like to go deeper into artworks, Artnet.fr has partnered with FIAC in offering several video interviews with artists exhibiting at this year’s fair.
Santiago Torres, Trame Rouge Blanc Bleu (2011) at Galerie Denise René Paris
Loris Cecchini, Gaps (2010) at Galleria Continua
Miklos Onucsan, Self Portrait by the Yard (2010) and Adrian Ghenie, Dr. Josef (2011) at Plan B Gallery.
Dvir Gallery booth
Gallerist Kamel Mennour
Tony Cragg, Round the Block (2002)
Tony Oursler, Reward Risk Punish (2009) at Baronian Francey
Works by Wang Du and Gilbert and George
Thomas Schutte, United Enemies (1995) at Skarstedt Gallery
Take Ninagawa booth
Wim Delvoye’s tower at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin
Matt Johnson, Dice (2010) at Blum & Poe
Martin Barré and Ricci Albenda at Campoli Presti Gallery
Marcelo Cidade at Vermelho Gallery
Maccarone New York booth
Sherrie Levine, Bobcat Skull (2010) at Simon Lee
Sarah Lucas, Random Mother (2011) at Sadie Coles
Sadie Coles booth
Praz Delavallade booth
Paula Cooper booth
Maurizio Cattelan, Mother (1999)
John Armleder, Alchemilla Vulgaris (2007) at Vedovi Gallery
Barbara Kruger at Spruth Magers
Charles Mason, Dummy II (2010-2011) and Damien Mazières, Fire (2009) at Cortex Athletico
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (1977-2011) at Metro Pictures
Damien Hirst, Humility (2007) at White Cube
Works by Dan Colen, Elmgreen & Dragset, and Rudolf Stingel at Massimo de Carlo
Fabien Giraud et Raphael Siboni, La Condition (2009)
A work at Marian Goodman Gallery
Jeff Koons, Split Rocher (Pink, Blue) (1999) at Galerie Jerome de Noirmont
– J. Lindblad
A Supercharged FIAC Returns to Paris, Surprising Dealers with Fierce Competition and Million Dollar Sales [Artinfo]
Hirst’s 100 Fish Fetch $2.8 Million as Pinault, Arnault Browse [Bloomberg]
Art de Triomphe [Financial Times]
The 10 Best Booths at FIAC 2011 [Artinfo]
FIAC Steps Up Its Game [The Art Newspaper]
Letter from FIAC: Fast and Furious [Artnet]
Art World Thumbs Nose at Crisis in Paris [AFP] + VIDEO [Youtube]
Successful Start to FIAC [Art Media Agency]
FIAC Art Fair Offers Respite from Grim Economic Outlook [Auction Central News]