• 12 November 2016

Art at Fair/e

Art at Fair/e

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More than just a property investment, art is a living passion to Fair/e just like the journeys of the entrepreneurs we have the pleasure of accompanying, and we delight in talking to you about this. It is therefore our pleasure to welcome Jeanne Bastien, eminent member of our network of esteemed experts and enthusiasts of the unusual, to share with you some wonderful teachings taken from the latest edition of FIAC, in the virtual gallery that is faire.paris. Following her studies at l’Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Reims (Neoma Business School), and a twenty year career in the interest rate markets as a trader at Lehman Brothers, and sales manager for rates at Credit Suisse, she decided to follow her passion and make her love of contemporary art her métier. After training at l’Ecole du Louvre and obtaining a professional masters in Market Art at the IESA, she became a consultant manager for art collection to private art collectors and businesses.

FIAC 2016: A Quality Vintage

Thanks to a new formula and to some exacting selections, the FIAC rose to the challenge to offer an edition of great quality, during which sales met all expectations.

By associating with the Petit Palais for the first time, the FIAC has been reborn now that it has the capacity to show large works of art in an exposition called On Site. This offering is reminiscent of the unmissable ‘Unlimited’ section at the Art Basel fair. It offers galleries the chance to promote outsized artworks which are difficult to show on a typical art fair stand, and of course giving some of their artists a superb opportunity to showcase their talents. Despite the glaring absence of American collectors, the FIAC will welcome over 72,000 visitors in 5 days, about 0.5% more than in 2015, thanks to the enthusiastic participation of European and French collectors.

What were the key points of this edition and collectors acquisitions?

Unlike in other recent editions where we tended to find the same in-vogue artists at different stands, this time out we were able to enjoy a wide range of diverse art works. This year gallerists selected some remarkable works, such as an impressive canvas by Georg Baselitz at Gagosian, or a powerful drawing by William Kentridge at Marian Goodman and a fascinating installation by Alicjia Kwade at Kamel Mennour. Some gallerists even took the risk of showcasing solos from lesser-known artists in France such as Nick Mauss at the New York gallery 303, illustrating that they believe they can find collectors and connoisseurs in Paris who are eager to make new discoveries.

The first purchases were underpinned by private foundations for some museum pieces but also some works by up-and-coming artists. Le Quotidien de l’Art reported that François Pinault bought over thirty works, showing his colors for Jean-Luc Moulène to whom the Centre Pompidou has consecrated a retrospective until February 2017, but also the young Mexican artist Martin Soto Climent who created the ”Bas-Bar” at the Palais de Tokyo earlier this year; structuring space with the use of lady’s tights which are an emblematic element of his work. These recent acquisitions will be exhibited at Venice but as of 2018, at a new exposition space recently acquired by the Paris Stock Exchange. The Kamel Mennour Gallery sold a remarkable Morrellet for a six-figure sum to a French institution that many say was the Louis Vuitton Foundation. Presenting this exceptional piece was a fitting homage to the French artist who passed away last spring.

European collectors were mainly looking for works by artists with well-established ratings, with the Paula Cooper gallery being mentioned in the sale of a Rudolf Stingel Brocade (2016) to a European collector for between1 and 2 million dollars; the Thaddeus Ropac gallery sold a Rauschenburg Bumper (1984) to an Austrian collector for 1 million euros. French collectors weren’t to be outdone and quickly bought works as soon as doors opened, purchasing from the Max Hetzler Gallery (who recently opened an office in Paris), an impressive piece called the Iron Tree Trunk (2015) by Ai Weiwei, and an oil on paper by Albert Oehlen Rock (2009), for more than 1 million euros each.
Many gallerists mentioned that collectors who attend the FIAC are connoisseurs who tend to take their time over purchasing the best works, unlike in Frieze or Hong Kong where the frenzy to buy only fosters fads and trends. These sales were most encouraging and confirm that the buyers were up to the occasion and that ratings remain solid when it comes to works of quality.

This year, the Marcel Duchamp prize was awarded to the already established artist Kader Attia, for his work on ‘the phantom member’ and ‘the repair.’ These and the three other finalists are on display at the Centre Pompidou until January 30. The Continua Gallery and the Lehman Maupin Gallery sold various works valued between 50k and 100k euros.

The week was also marked by many astonishing satellite events. We could begin by mentioning the inauguration of the exposition devoted to the Chtchoukine collection at the Louis Vuitton Foundation and the inauguration of the Maurizio Cattelan exposition at The Monnaie de Paris. The Parisian galleries took advantage to launch new expositions and we were able to visit the VnH gallery and witness the exceptional performance of Michelangelo Pistoletto, breaking an entire room full of mirrors upon which the word ‘respect’ was written in different languages. The auction houses also profited from the presence of collectors to organize some exceptional sales like the Claude Berri sale at Christie’s.

The FIAC has shown that by the quality of the works exposed during the week, and in its capacity to attract important collectors, it now ranks amongst the major contemporary art events in the world. The FIAC has surpassed London’s Frieze, which disappointed this year in terms of sales made, the Brexit no doubt making its presence felt; works sold in USD or euros perhaps proving a little too much for the English collectors this time round. The FIAC might not yet have the capacity to set annual trends in motion quite like the Art Basel Fair, but it has undoubtedly cemented Paris’ reputation as an inescapable setting for contemporary art.