Friday, October 21, 2011

Is the FIAC shrinking?

As usual, the FIAC is located at the Grand Palais this year, but it has lost its other venue at the Cour Carree du Louvre, traditionally reserved for the "young galleries": 194 galleries in 2010, only 168 this year, with a decrease in size of 1020 square meters according to Le Monde.

The visit reflects these numbers. The booths are smaller and difficult to navigate due to the lack of space and the galleries have less works on display. Of course, all the big names are here, including White Cube, Marian Goodman Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, Gladstone Gallery... some are trying to stand out like The Pace Gallery with its end of the world atmosphere or the Gmurzynska Gallery with a booth designed by Karl Lagerfeld. But these are the exceptions rather than the rule and most are minimalist with white walls trying to use the space at its best.

What about the works? Jean-Luc Moulene was well represented with several galleries showing his photographs of everyday objects presented under a new light. He has been compared to Jeff Wall but I could not find the simplicity and depth of Wall's works. I noticed one piece from Sophie Calle who is also at Prospect.2 in New Orleans. Most of the works with red dots were small to medium sized, from well-known artists, like Pierre Soulages, Dubuffet, Nicolas de Stael. David Zwirner Gallery offered a great display of Dan Flavin's work red, white and blue dedicated to the citizens of the Republic of France on the 200th anniversary of their revolution (1989). Anish Kapoor was also omnipresent with small sculptures.

A special area, was dedicated to the young galleries but again the limited space had a direct impact on the number of works and artists. Cyprien Gaillard, the winner of last year's Marcel Duchamp prize was represented with a few works, small framed compositions related to the works displayed currently at the centre Pompidou for his exhibition titled "UR". One work from Pae White was playing with reflections and colors... decorative.
The three contenders for the Marcel Duchamp prize 2011 were on display in a special area and I favored Samuel Rousseau for his sci-fi composition, technically very interesting, ready to take off. It helps rekindle the dream of other planets, other worlds...but Mircea Cantor won this year with is installation "Fishing Flies".

This year I spent six hours to visit the FIAC, the previous years, my visit lasted two days.
It felt like they were two FIACs, one for the "grand public" like myself and another for the "in crowd" before and after hours. The gallerists were not trying to do business. It was already done.
Next year, we are told, the space will be bigger. Of course, everybody hopes that the economic outlook will be brighter. Still, art is a great investment... to be enjoyed even if it looses its value. With stocks, you are left with bare walls.

photographs by the author, from top to bottom:

"Complex Forms, Structure VI, Sol Lewitt, 1990-91

display, The Pace Gallery

The Nightgown", Frank Stella, 1991

"Brave Old New World", Samuel Rousseau, 2011

View of the FIAC

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