FIAC 2011 – Notes from the fair



The 38th edition of the FIAC just ended. Nearly 21 countries represented, 168 galleries, close to 70 000 visitors… the 2011 FIAC was a tremendous success.
Although collectors and dealers feared the effect of the economic crisis on the art market, the results from London the previous week somewhat calmed these fears and the FIAC clearly demonstrated the art market’s buoyancy within the generally morose context.

Without the Cour Carré this year, visitors primarily focused on the Grand Palais. Under the glass domed roof of the Grand Palais, the major galleries occupied the ground floor while the emerging galleries were on the first floor.
Lovenbruck was the first gallery by the entrance on the first floor with Alina SZAPOCZNIKOW’s “lips” and a wrecked car signed Fabien GIRAUD and Raphael SIBONI. More metal shapes were on display a little further on at the Torri gallery by the young Florian PUGNAIRE.

While the quality on the first floor was somewhat mixed between emerging works and “decorative works”, the ground floor was almost museum quality. Impossible to describe everything, but we note the fairly bling-bling stand designed by Karl Lagerfeld for the Swiss Gmurzynska gallery and its beautiful Yves KLEIN sponges and a woven work by Joan MIRO. This was not the only gallery to concentrate on Modern art; Vedovi and Tornabuoni Art had some excellent concetto spaziale by Lucio FONTANA. Just next door, Zlotowski had dedicated its stand to Simon HANTAÏ.

On the Contemporary front there were works for all tastes.
Emmanuel Perrotin had a majestic 3 metre “Brussels Tower” in stainless steel by the Belgian artist Wim DELVOYE, as well as works by Bharti KHER and a gigantic painting by Takashi MURAKAMI. Opposite the Japanese artist (known for his design work for Louis Vuitton), a statue by Xavier VEILHAN, just returned from an exhibition at the Espace Louis Vuitton in Tokyo… the gallery makes connections between its works, its artists, and a little marketing!
We found the less flashy works of Loris Gréaud at the Pace Gallery – back after 30 years of absence from the FIAC – which dedicated most of its space to this French artist aged barely thirty. The works were in black, but surprisingly effective. The artist is preparing an exhibition at Centre Pompidou and represented the Contemporary French scene that was in effect scarce on the ground floor (Loris GREAUD was also present at Yvon Lambert). The former winner of the Marcel Duchamp prize, Mathieu MERCIER, was also quite visible, with a solo exhibition at Chouakri Mehdi, and works at The Minotaur and Massimo Mini; however the other French artists were unfortunately not very visible (Jules DE BALINCOURT, the top-selling French Contemporary artist was only present at Thaddeus Ropac with a small painting). Overall, it was clear that the galleries were playing safe. We found Damien HIRST’s medicine cabinets at the Gagosian and another of Hirst’s glass displays at the White Cube; Andy WARHOL “flowers” at Van De Weghe and the Gagosian; Roy LICHTENSTEIN (also at the Gagosian), Dan FLAVIN neons and Donald JUDD installations at David Zwirner… in short, a ground floor that could very well have been an exhibition space for a future sale at Christie’s or Sotheby’s.

We also noted two taxidermist installations by Claire MORGAN at Karsten Greve and the fabulous fragments of open books by Georgia RUSSELL next to a small sculpture by Louise BOURGEOIS and a huge triptych by Pierre SOULAGES.
A number of “small size” works by Antony GORMLEY (a few metres high… nothing compared with the monumental sculptures by the former Turner Prize winner) as well as anthropomorphic sculpture by Tony CRAGG (at Marian Goodman, Thaddeus Ropac, the Lisson Gallery and elsewhere).

With Paris Photo due to be investing the same venue (Grand Palais) in a few days, we saw a lot of photography this year. Between Thomas STRUTH, Florian MAIER-AICHEN, Carlo BALESTRINI, Andreas GURSKY and, of course, boosted by her recent record sales making her the most expensive photographer in the world, Cindy SHERMAN… indeed, all the most expensive photographers were represented.
The advent of the flat screen has breathed a new lease of life into video works: the Korean Kukje gallery, associated with the Tina Kim Gallery in New York, showed videos by Bill VIOLA. Video works that used to take up so much space in the past are now hung on the walls like paintings (LCD screens). New Media, to which Artprice dedicates a large section of its Contemporary Art Market Report, are increasingly gaining market visibility.

There is more to tell… and there was still a lot more to see at the FIAC this year. The next major rendezvous for the art market is in New York in a few days time with the Impressionist & Modern art sales. Will the market continue its momentum and ignore the economic turmoil?

Visit the FIAC photo gallery by clicking the links below :

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