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A Tour Of La FIAC 2015
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A Tour Of La FIAC 2015

Picture of Laetitia Collier
Updated: 14 November 2015
La FIAC, which stands for Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (International Contemporary Art Fair), is a great annual event which has taken place every October since 1974 in la Nef, the great hall, of Le Grand Palais, just off les Champs-Elysées as well as in various other venues and gardens across the city. The event is such an important one in the world of contemporary art, that is has been nicknamed in France ‘the year’s craziest Art week’ and takes over the entire capital for a week. Hundreds of French, European and International gallery-owners gather their most prestigious pieces, whether it be a unique Picasso or the work of a young, prominent artist to be showcased and, hopefully, sold to the swarming number of Art dealers and collectors that show up every year.

The event is organized by Reed Expositions and its artistic director since 2003 is Jennifer Flay, a French gallery-owner, who has helped it acquire a remarkable international reputation, making it one of the most esteemed Contemporary Art fairs just behind Art Basel. Last year’s edition was attended by over 74,500 visitors, including Mr President Hollande. This year’s 42nd edition is represented by 175 galleries, a little less than 2014’s 191, a decision that Flay explains by a desire to expand each exhibitor’s showcasing space. The fair hosts galleries from 23 different countries, although 70% of which remain European. France is obviously the most represented country, with 42 galleries, followed closely by the United States. Although French galleries make up for 25% of the exhibitors, they’re slowly starting to feel more and more excluded. Walking around the massive Nef, one will notice a large predominance of German and Belgian galleries. However, 3 Chinese as well as several Mexican ones are part of 2015’s edition, which illustrates Flay’s desire to show a ‘plurality of vision’ and to ‘not only deal Western Art’.

In 2013, the organizers decided to launch its ‘sister fair’: OFFICIELLE, an exhibition platform mainly devoted to emerging and up-and-coming artists which is held across the river, at La Cité de l’Art et du Design in the 13th arrondissement. American and Malian artists Alexander Nolan and Amadou Sanogo’s works are being presented there this year. Another side-project of la FIAC is HORS LES MURS, a manifestation designed to take over two of Paris’ most beautiful gardens, le Jardin des Tuileries and le Jardin des Plantes, with artworks of all sorts. Every year since 2006, around 20 different projects involving performance, sculpture and interactive installations have been introduced in the gardens and continue to captivate a growing number of visitors every year. This year, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma is presenting ‘Yure’, a project composed of several nomadic houses made of wood, a crossover concept between Art and Architecture.

La FIAC is the perfect opportunity to help owners put forward the identity of their gallery, as well as that of artists with a prominent position on the scene : it’s all about talent spotting. However, for the past 2 years, the fair has also been trying to reaffirm the presence of Modern Art as well, mostly due to the influence it has had and continues to have on most contemporary artists, as well as the benefits it offers in terms of trade. Landau Fine Art, an internationally established gallery based in Montreal, therefore chose to present Picasso’s ‘Tête d’Homme’ (1965) alongside Clive Head’s ‘Thinking about Georges Braque’ (2013). A will to showcase post-war productions and contemporaries is clearly a theme of this year’s FIAC : Joan Miro’s ‘Femmes, Oiseaux’ (1944) hangs a few rows away from Danny McDonald’s rhinestone-incrusted skull sculpture ‘Imitation Art Object of Questionable Value’ (2010). Other mentionable names include Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor, whose works ‘Ladder’ (2015) and ‘Untitled (Green)’ (2015), are represented this year by Continua and Regen Projects respectively. There is indeed a commercial interest in choosing to feature an artist like Kapoor at this year’s edition, in parallel with his highly-mediated installation in the Château de Versailles’ famous gardens. One of the most monumental pieces presented this year at the Balcon d’Honneur du Grand Palais is a collaboration between Los Angeles-based artist Wu Tsang and SWAROWSKI jewelers, one of the fair’s biggest sponsors. The piece, titled ‘Pay No Attention to The Man behind The Curtain’ (2015), is an impressive crystal sculpture weighing almost a ton and was designed as part of an experimental project set to explore the acoustic potential of crystal. It towers majestically over the huge exhibition hall. Another noteworthy event of the week is Gallerie Thaddaeus Roppac’s Dennis Hopper exhibition. Along with its residence at Le Grand Palais, Le Marais’ famous gallery decided to showcase several of Hopper’s photographs, sculptures and personal objects in a series called ‘Icons of the Sixties’, an intimate and fascinating premiere.

2014 was a particularly flourishing year in terms of business and this year’s edition, which is in a way more devoted to emerging artists, hopes to conclude on the same note. The FIAC recently renewed its contract with Le Grand Palais until 2018, after which it will have to move locations while the venue undergoes yet another series of renovations. Jennifer Flay admits she is terrified of another ‘exil’ but one thing is certain : La FIAC still has a sensational number of successful seasons ahead.