'Strong and Sexy': French Art Fair Makes a Comeback
The Paris art fair FIAC is celebrating its 40th anniversary at a time when the global art market is attracting more money than ever. After years of irrelevance, it has reclaimed its spot as one of the world's premier events for contemporary art.
Ten years ago, France's big-ticket contemporary art fair, the Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain (FIAC), was on the brink of irrelevance. Many critics thought the event had lost direction and attractiveness, according to the fair's current director, Jennifer Flay. Even she, a New Zealand-born French gallerist, had stopped sending works to the Paris show for exhibition.
But today, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary, FIAC has returned to global prominence and reclaimed its spot among the world's most important art fairs. This year's event is playing host to 184 galleries from 25 countries, making it the most international collection ever.
It also comes at a time when the commercial market of contemporary art is booming. Artprice.com, a French company that compiles information on art auctions, reported earlier this month that global art sales from July 2012 to June 2013 had surpassed 1 billion ($1.38 billion) -- a new record for any 12-month period.
Many of the works have already been sold, including a wrecked Ferrari by Bertrand Lavier for $250,000 and a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat -- the artist with the highest auction turnover in the world, according to the artprice.com report -- for just under $5 million.
Flay, who took the helm of FIAC in 2003, says she wants to show that France can be "strong and sexy." Among the collection are works from some of the world's most sought-after artists, including Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst, Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter and Yan Pei-Ming. The fair officially opened on Thursday at the Grand Palais and lasts through Sunday, Oct. 27.
acb -- with wires
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