A week of Contemporary art in Paris



If space is a luxury (particularly in Paris), it is difficult to find a more luxurious venue than the Grand Palais with its 77,000m² to host the 182 galleries (8% more than last year) at this year’s FIAC (18 – 21 October 2012). Both the Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery and the Gagosian took advantage of this key week in October to inaugurate new French gallery spaces: respectively 4,700 m² at Pantin and 1,650 m² at Le Bourget. And both galleries decided to feature the works of Anselm KIEFERat their openings, a nod to the first edition of Monumenta for which the artist was recently selected to invest the nave of the Grand Palais. Contemporary art is no longer only at the FIAC… for a week, it is all over Paris!

If the FIAC is the epicenter of artistic and market excitement in October, it is no short measure because it gives plenty of room to the heavyweights of Contemporary art. Right in front of the entrance, visitors came face to face with White Cube’s space with a dove with outstretched wings, floating in a bath of formalin, created by Damien HIRST. This “hot” Contemporary art signature, who embodies the excesses of the auction market in 2007 and 2008, now more rarely sees his formalin works at auctions, and the two works sold on 12 and 13 October at Sotheby’s in London were less “important” than the dove at the White Cube space. Thomas (The Twelve Disciples), a bull’s head fetched £490,000 ($785,000), and Sacred XX, a sheep’s heart pierced by a dagger (edition of 35), sold for £20,000 ($32,000).
The biggest names in Post-War and Contemporary were present, often at several different galleries: Pablo PICASSO, Joan MIRO, Lucio FONTANA, Louise BOURGEOIS, Anish KAPOOR, Giuseppe PENONE, Christian BOLTANSKI, Cy TWOMBLY, Pierre SOULAGES, etc … . Alongside these “essential” and “sure-value” names, visitors discovered the new rising stars of the market such as Glenn BROWN, Paul MCCARTHY and Jeff WALL. These three artists have all signed stunning new auction records over the last twelve months: $7.1m for Glenn Brown’s The Tragic Conversion of Salvador Dalí (After John Martin) on 26 June 2012 at Sotheby’s London, $4m for Paul McCarthy’s Tomato Head (Green) installation on 8 November 2011 at Christie’s New York, and $3.2m for Jeff Wall’s photographic fresco Dead Troops Talk (…) on 8 May 2012 at Christie’s New York.

The ‘Off’ events
In parallel to the FIAC, which celebrated its 39th edition this year, two Off fairs reached the age of reason: Show Off and Slick organized their 7th editions. Just a little younger, Art Elysées confirmed a strong position on the field of Post-War artists, abstracts and some Contemporary works, while Design Elysées has also joined the Parisian art fair marathon. There was also the Cutlog fair at the Bourse de Commerce in Paris in its 4th edition and which is planning to organise a Cutlog New York next May. The Chic Art Fair is also a FIAC satellite, but it is operating under another name, D: Fair, with a focus on experimental design. The youngest, YIA (Young International Artists) opened its 2nd edition with 25 galleries that each played the card of highlighting a single artist. Compared with the 4,000 artists exhibited at the FIAC and the usual “Offs”, the solo exhibition is indeed a legitimate way of standing out from the crowd.