It’s that time of year again. As the Grand Palais opens its doors to host the annual Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain, thousands of amateurs d’art, gallery owners and dealers flock to the cultural centre to gawp, gasp and gander. And this year promises even more as FIAC celebrates its 40th anniversary and welcomes 184 galleries from twenty-five countries.
FIAC describes itself as “an opportunity to discover an exceptional artistic programme in Paris and in France.” Like James Thompson, who wrote of a similar sentiment in our FIAC special last year, I can’t help but get that same pang of irritation at the insistence upon French art and dealers – which is surely contradictory to the purpose of an international art fair – but hey, what do I know. Perhaps we should let it slide and instead faire la fête whilst toasting to French ingenuity.
Jean Dubuffet, Welcome Parade, 2008 (after maquette dated 2 July 1974), polyurethane paint on epoxy resin, Presented by Waddington Custot Galleries, London, and Pace Gallery, New York, 157 x 327 x 200 in / 398.8 x 830.6 x 508 cm; Courtesy of Pace Gallery and Waddington Custot Galleries © ADAGP, Paris, 2013. At FIAC hors les murs, Petit Palais.
To mark their 40th anniversary, FIAC is proud to present a new Hors les Murs installation site along the left banks of the Seine. A proposed “open-air itinerary” leads you along the Seine between the Tuileries Garden, the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor footbridge, the Pont Alexandre III, the Pont des Invalides and the Grand Palais. The hors les murs sites are always very popular, mainly because it is much less intimidating and accessible for the public; the FIAC main site at the Grand Palais can make you feel like you should be dressed all in black, wearing horn-rimmed glasses and murmuring something profound whilst making circular hand gestures. Another advantage might be that, in fact, you could stumble along an outdoors installation without realising it was actually part of the FIAC installation – if you even knew what that was.
Société Réaliste, U.N Camouflage, Détail (France), 2013, impression sur textile, 193 drapeaux (150 x 100 cm); Photo Christophe Brachet - Courtesy galerie Jérôme Poggi, Paris. At FIAC hors les murs, Banks of the Seine.
A highlight of the Seine site is expected to be the artistic collective Société-Réaliste’s installation along the Léopold Sédar-Senghor Bridge, which consists of 193 flags in the colours of each UN member state, each transformed into a camouflage pattern. This effectively initiates a common ground for each state, whilst also keeping some form of individuality and identity. Another popular installation will be Clément Borderie’s Page Blanche, 2013. The white rectangle, slightly folded in two, will collect micro particles from the surrounding environment and visitors, which over time reveal writing inherent to the site. This year’s commemorative additions are also seen in a display of Jean Dubuffet’s monumental Welcome Parade sculpture – surprisingly its first showing in France. The work will be exhibited in the surroundings of the Petit Palais, (opposite the main arena at the Grand Palais).
Although FIAC is introducing several new sites and installations this year, the celebrations for their anniversary aren’t quite as extravagant as those for their 30th (including an exclusive reception at Maxim’s and the “Bal Jaune” gala event planned and decorated by contemporary artists). Maybe they’ve decided to tone it down a bit in their old age…
(Image on top: James Lee Byars, Untitled, 2010, Bronze doré / Gilded bronze , 300 cm diamètre; © Photo Marc Domage / Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, Märkisch Wilmersdorf, New York, London. At FIAC hors les murs, Jardin des Tuileries.)