‘Art Basel Paris Was Not Going to Work’: To Satisfy Its French Hosts, Art Basel’s New Fair Will Be Known as Paris+, by Art Basel
Clément Delépine will head the fair, and Jennifer Flay, formerly head of FIAC, will head its advisory board in 2023.
In early 2022, news broke that Art Basel was planning a new Paris fair, to join an international coterie of events it manages that also includes Art Basel in Miami Beach and Art Basel in Hong Kong. As of today, the concrete plans for the splashy new French fair have been officially unveiled—and, to the surprise of few, it will not be called Art Basel in Paris.
Instead, the October event will be called Paris+, by Art Basel.
What’s behind the name? In a phone call with Artnet News, Art Basel head Marc Spiegler explained that when the Swiss fair was first invited to make a play for the coveted October spot at the Grand Palais, which had been home to FIAC since 1975, they were told, right off the bat, that a name like “Art Basel Paris was not going to work.” The Parisian profile was to be front and center.
And so Paris+, by Art Basel was born. “It’s very minimalist and works in different languages,” Spiegler explained. “We wanted a name that was not going to take up too much space, because one of the big parts of this adventure is that we want to work with other creative industries. We wanted a name that worked well for collab mode.” Spiegler’s vision for Paris+, by Art Basel involves city-spanning programming that weaves in the city’s bustling fashion and design industries.
The inaugural edition of the fair has locked its dates at the brand-new Grand Palais Éphémère, the temporary home until a major renovation of the historic Grand Palais is finished. It will run from Thursday, October 20 to Sunday, October 23, 2022, with VIP preview on Wednesday, October 19.
Paris+, by Art Basel will be helmed by Clément Delépine, who begins as the fair’s director, departing his post as co-director of Paris Internationale, the hip, young art fair that runs that same week in October. Delépine knows the French art scene and market intimately, but also brings a sharp curatorial eye, having previously worked at Swiss Institute in New York. “Even before my appointment, I welcomed the news of Art Basel’s selection to stage a new fair in Paris,” Delépine said.
Two other seasoned Parisians will steer the fair alongside him: Virginie Aubert, formerly Vice President of Business Development at Christie’s France, joins as general manager, and Maxime Hourdequin, formerly deputy director of FIAC, will take bring his nearly ten years of experience hosting fairs at the Grand Palais to the same role for Paris+, by Art Basel.
Spiegler expressed his excitement about this newly minted leadership team who begin on Monday: “You can have a generational shift that is less about the content of the art fair and more about how the content is communicated and contextualized—that is what we are looking for.”
A notable addition to the team is Jennifer Flay, who had been the long-term director of FIAC (rumors that she would join Art Basel had circulated, though the fair had declined comment as recently as February to the Art Newspaper). Due to a non-compete, Flay will not join the Paris+, by Art Basel team until March of next year. She will take up the role of president of the advisory board.
A selection committee of 10 international art dealers was also named for the fair, including six who had previously been on FIAC’s committee. They are: Florence Bonnefous, of Air de Paris, Paris; Ellen de Bruijne, of Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam; Daniel Buchholz, of Galerie Buchholz, Cologne, Berlin, New York; Anton Kern, of Anton Kern Gallery, New York; Niklas Svennung, of Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Georges-Philippe Vallois, of Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Paris; and Christophe Van de Weghe, of Van de Weghe, New York.
Meanwhile, the experts selecting the younger galleries sector, which will be called “Galeries Emergentes,” are Isabelle Alfonsi of Marcelle Alix, Paris; Mark Dickenson from Neue Alte Brücke, Frankfurt; and Simone Subal, from Simone Subal Gallery, New York.
“We thought it was important to keep some of the people who know this history well,” Spiegler said. “Certainly, to say that someone who was working on the FIAC committee could not be on our committee would have been absurd.”
The fair’s run will butt right up against Frieze Week, which takes place between October 12 and 16. Historically, many collectors—and several dealers—have happily hopped the English Channel. But whether the ambitions of Paris+, by Art Basel might end up eclipsing the energy of Frieze Week, which has similarly city-wide events during its fairs, remains to be seen.
For his part, Spiegler told Artnet News that the two big events might end up being complements rather than competitors: “With two strong fairs in Europe on adjoining weeks, there will be even more of a reason for international collectors to come here.”
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