The Euro is spiking again, and so is Paris' reputation as a crucial destination for both casual art pilgrims and serious collectors. Its pedigree as the cradle of Modern art is forever assured, but in recent years the buzz of contemporary art has been elsewhere--Berlin, London, Shanghai. However, there was evidence at last month's 2010 FIAC (Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain) that galleries world-wide should ink the 5-day fête in their schedules. Sales were reported to be brisk at both of its venues, the pavilion in the Cour Carrée (a marvel of ad hoc architecture in the bosom of the Louvre) and the Grand Palais, an exquisite Beaux-Arts superdome built in 1900. While the Grand Palais housed the more established galleries, the young and the brave were found at the Cour Carrée. In addition, there were outdoor pieces installed along the main path of the Jardin des Tuileries. 85,000 visitors swarmed through the fair--21,000 of them art-world professionals--an 8% increase over 2009. Taking advantage of all this traffic were nearby fringe fairs like Show Off, Art Elysees, Cutlog, Slick and, at the newly designed docks adjacent to the Quai d'Austerlitz, the Chic art fair. Anybody who says there's not much new to see in Paris hasn't been there lately.
The consensus was that the works on display at FIAC had risen in quality and that this was the best Paris art fair in years. Collectors took the cue. David Zwirner Gallery sold all of the Adel Abdessemed pieces it brought from New York, to French, Belgian, Swiss and American buyers. Daniel Templon Gallery, based in the resurgent Marais art district, said it had their best sales at the fair in 20 years. Such was the chorus of cash registers that word soon spread of FIAC's perfect counterpoint to London's giant Frieze Art Fair, the week before, and October Channel-hopping will likely be de rigueur next year.
I can personally vouch for the frenzy. Trying to get into the Grand Palais one day, armed with a press pass that allowed me to squeeze past a long unruly line of jostling attendees held back by guards, some guy swatted my back in protest. Once inside, the aisles and stands were packed with art-lovers, but the vast glass-and-steel canopy of the Palais, bathing everything in Parisian light, muted the usual claustrophobia of such events. One became a contented flâneur, in the best Paris-strolling tradition.
As for trends to be seen, the conclusion of many was that art was returning to the more classical (and sellable) mediums of painting and sculpture and away from more tenuous forms. But let some of the gallerists tell you themselves about this year's FIAC. Below are videos of eight who spoke to us on the last day of the fair--about FIAC itself, some impressions of what was being shown, Paris as a revived locus of new art, and the artists they brought with them.
FIAC 2010: THE ART FAIR
FIAC 2010: PARIS IS BACK
FIAC 2010: TRENDS
FIAC 2010: 4 PARIS GALLERIES
FIAC 2010: 4 GALLERIES THAT CAME TO PARIS
Michael Kurcfeld is a Los Angeles-based documentary filmmaker and journalist (stonehengemedia.com).