Buoyant Sales and Defiance Set the Mood at FIAC 2016

Everyone's rooting for the fair and for the city of Paris this year.

FIAC at the Grand Palais , 2016 ©FIAC 2016. Photo: Marc Domage

Following a bustling preview day on Wednesday, the 43rd edition of FIAC, France’s premier contemporary art fair, opened to the public yesterday, attesting once again to Parisians’ resolute defiance in the face of threats to human values.

Where tourists may be deterred, Parisians are eager to reclaim their city, and nothing has evinced this better during FIAC’s opening day than the way in which visitors immediately filled the street between the Grand and the Petit Palais, which was sectioned off for pedestrians for the very first time this year to connect the two venues, with food trucks and little cafés set up around it.

“It’s an audacious statement,” FIAC director Jennifer Flay told artnet News. “The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, was extremely supportive,” Flay adds, explaining how long it took for the ambitious idea to be approved by Paris’ central police. “What was immediate, however, was the way the public appropriated it,” Flay notes. “There’s a real feeling of freedom out there, of people reclaiming the public space, which is under siege in Paris.”

The road is also claimed by art, featuring textual works by Lawrence Weiner and Jacques Villeglé, and an installation by Ange Leccia showing two facing cars connected by their headlights.

Inside the Grand Palais, meanwhile, the aisles were crowded with collectors, artists, and curators, though there was a noticeable absence of some American buyers this year.

Jennifer Flay. Photo by Henri Garat

Jennifer Flay. Photo by Henri Garat.

“We’re not naive enough to think that we would be the only event that would escape the drop in attendance,” Flay told artnet News, alluding to last month’s Paris Fashion Week, which saw less visitors than usual descend on the fashion capital.

That is not to say that Americans weren’t buying; they might just be doing so remotely, said art consultant Laurence Dreyfus, who is hosting private sales at a nearby hotel with a carefully-curated selection. “The quality is good, the market in Paris is good right now, and a lot of American advisors are here.”

Dreyfus summed up the mood in the city, saying: “It’s a huge party this week in Paris, everyone is so happy to escape the sadness with art and culture.”

And indeed, Sprüth Magers reported good sales on preview day, placing a new work by George Condo, Untitled (Head #2), with an American collector for $550,000.

The gallery also sold work by Kaari Upson, and Cyprien Gaillard’s Untitled, (2015)—which shows a screen printed image of the logo of the Cleveland Indians on an oil painting—went to a UK collection for €140,000. A Karen Kilimnik painting, The fop in Scotland, (2015) sold for $110,000 to a collector from the US.

George Condo, Untitled (Head #2), (2016). Copyright George Condo, Courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers

George Condo, Untitled (Head #2), (2016). Copyright George Condo, Courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers.

“It’s been a very good year so far,” Mónica Manzutto of Mexico’s Kurimanzutto gallery, told artnet News. The gallery staged a well-curated booth with a host of gallery artists, including a sculptural piece by Leonor Antunes which partly obscured the view into the booth, enticing visitors to enter.

Works by Gabriel Orozco, Jimmie Durham, Damián Ortega, Abraham Cruzvillegas, and Gabriel Kuri were displayed in the spacious booth, creating formal connections with one another, despite the wide range of practices and artistic approaches taken by the individual artists. Works sold to “quality collectors,” said Manzutto, for prices ranging from €1,600 to €350,000. She declined to specify further.

Viennese dealer Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, of Galerie nächst St. Stephan, told artnet News the gallery had “a good start and hopes it continues over the weekend.” The gallery sold three works by Daniel Knorr, from his series “Depression Elevation,” for prices ranging from €17,000 – €39,000, and a large wall sculpture by Michal Budny titled Ascension, (2013) for €23,000, among others.

Angela de la Cruz <i> Recycled (Hybrid) Red, </i>(2016). ©Angela de la Cruz; Courtesy Lisson Gallery

Angela de la Cruz, Recycled (Hybrid) Red, (2016). ©Angela de la Cruz, courtesy Lisson Gallery.

On the fair’s main level, galleries saw strong sales, and Lisson Gallery reported a “very successful” first two days. The gallery presented a booth that focused on painting, and the conceptual boundaries of the medium, expanded by artists such as Art & Language, Cory Arcangel, Angela de la Cruz, Joyce Pensato, and Lee Ufan, among others. Sales included works by Arcangel, Ufan, Pensato, and de la Cruz’s Recycled (Hybrid) Red, with the range of prices starting at £25,000 and going up to £250,000.

London dealer Stéphane Custot, of Waddington Custot Galleries, told artnet News in an email: “We met with our top European collectors and sold on the first day works by Jean Dubuffet, a 1945 wood relief by Jean Arp, a sculpture by Bernar Venet, and two sculptures by Pablo Reinoso.”

Tornabuoni Art, which specializes in Post-war Italian art, sold three works by Alberto Biasi—Dinamica, from 1996; Ingresso trionfale, from 2001; and Dinamica notte, from 2011—for prices ranging from €50,000 to €120,000.

White Cube also reported a “buoyant” first day, having sold Georg Baselitz’s Foto nuovo (2015), Theaster Gates’s Water Proof anti-racist action painting (2016), and Miroslaw Balka’s Kouros (1988), for undisclosed amounts.

Liza Lou, <i> Perfect Day, </i>(2016). Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

Liza Lou, Perfect Day, (2016). Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.

Lehmann Maupin closed major sales during the opening hours of the fair, placing a new work by Liza Lou with an American collector for a price in the six figures, and two paintings by Angel Otero to clients in France and Singapore. Kader Attia, who won the Prix Marcel Duchamp 2016 the evening before the fair’s preview, had a sculpture at the booth, which sold for a five-figure sum to a European client.

Attia opened a new space in the 10th arrondissement earlier this week, called La Colonie, dedicated to the visual arts, music, performance, critical thought, and freedom of expression. Tonight (Friday, October 21) at 6:30 p.m., the space will open its doors for the inaugural event, a dialogue between Attia and Michelangelo Pistoletto.

Upstairs, at the sector dedicated to younger galleries, the mood was upbeat, too. Gallery Jérôme Poggi, showing a solo presentation by Belgian artist Wesley Meuris, reported enthusiastic response from collectors.

Lodovico Corsini, co-director of CLEARING gallery, was visibly pleased with the sales, with works by the gallery artists selling for a range of €6,000 – €210,000 on day one.

Meanwhile, the much-needed renovation of the Grand Palais is slated to begin in November 2020, and is expected to last two years. Jennifer Flay is already gearing up for two editions away from the prime location, with the expansion into the Petit Palais this year marking the first step in her five-year plan.

“We are a site-bound fair, and we have very prestigious sites outdoors as well, like the Jardins de Tuileries and Place Vendôme. We’re already thinking about alternatives, which will have to be on the same scale. We’ll be ‘glamping’ for a couple of years, but always within sight of the Grand Palais.”

With the city deeply invested in its success, and—this year more than ever—exhibitors and visitors rooting for it, FIAC is going from strength to strength.

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