“contemporary art”

FIAC 2017, elevating the fair to a fine art

Four days, 29 countries invited, 192 galleries and at least 70,000 visitors expected… Unfolding its 44th edition, the FIAC stands out, once again, as the major cultural event of this back-to-school period with the City of Light reflecting bright contemporary rays. FIAC lux! Has the FIAC finally hit on the right formula? After years of hesitations and oscillations between programme strategies as diverse as they’ve been varied, the event now seems to have found a recipe that suits not only the general public, but also collectors, art critics… and even professionals. All the while reconciling artistic quality and broad accessibility. Like every year, the event’s epicentre is under the nave of the Grand Palais, where the General section is on show, gathering the most prestigious galleries on the contemporary-art market. Namely one hundred or so brands, both French and international names, in a proportion which seems to be the norm for events of this type: one-quarter are locals, the others hail from overseas. But does the distinction make much of a difference these days in the upper-market sector, where Parisian boutiques look much like those in San Francisco? In total, two-thirds of the galleries present are European in origin, which at least serves as a reminder of the discreet yet weighty role played by the EU on the world stage of the art market. This year, the selection committee for exhibitors was composed of eight specialists, namely Olivier Antoine, Gisela Capitain, Mark Dickenson, David Fleiss, Solène Guillier, Jan Mot, Emmanuel Perrotin and Christophe Van de Weghe. Out of the 192 participants, 40 galleries are taking part in the FIAC for the first time, and six new countries are making their debut: Egypt, Kosovo, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Tunisia. The cream of international galleries And then there are the faithful....

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Interview: Jennifer Flay

At this 44th edition of the FIAC, director Jennifer Flay is presenting 192 galleries. On top of its many stands, the fair is developing through its outdoor installations, scattered across the Jardins des Tuileries up to the Place Vendôme, as well as a performance festival. An interview. For this big yearly contemporary-art parade, once again, the fair’s boss hasn’t done things by halves. Voguish aesthetics and art-business rhetoric… Jennifer Flay is leading the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain – along with its paintings, sculptures, performances, installations – towards new summits. Namely with a staunch desire to anchor contemporary art more solidly in the Parisian space. The aim? To make this exciting event, held between Art Basel in June, and Miami Beach in December, one of the most stylish musts on planet Art.   This year, the fair is welcoming 40 new exhibitors – that’s quite a number! No, not really if we think back to the FIAC’s big overhaul period when I arrived in 2004, when we’d go up to 60 new galleries a year. Forty is a figure that has popped up quite naturally in the last few years. The new exhibitors are mainly young brands – including galleries in the Lafayette section, whose goal is to support emerging players – as well as design galleries who we’re delighted to bring back this year. This figure also demonstrates a certain stability: today, the FIAC is in the midst of a consolidation and stepping-up phase. Our event needs to be fresh and progressive – something that comes out especially through its state of mind. Last year, our big achievement was to close Avenue Winston-Churchill and to open up the sector to the Petit Palais, hence offering a new geography for the FIAC, but also for Paris.   In market terms,...

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“Shapeless assembly”, a new international trend

A new artistic scene is blooming, from New York to Berlin. And the works in question? Strange assemblies of heterogeneous materials, indistinct unstable sculptures, sometimes the fruit of joyful post-Duchamp bricolage. AMA has wondered why their reception is more subdued in France than elsewhere. A trend decoded. Coloured plastic drips and hangs from a piece of wood. Undefineable shapes from a mishmash of materials, punkish tubular creatures, newly obsolete machines hooked up to geometric structures… Perhaps you’ve already come across one of these creations at a young gallery or at a fair? What is it that you’re looking at? A history of our society, an encounter of different materials, or something else altogether? Does our proximity to the visual environment make it more difficult to find the distance needed to understand these works? Does the “newness” of these aesthetic forms disturb our habits? Like the Dadaists and the Fluxus movement, these artists escape from classifications for now. Their apparently incomprehensible works take on different shapes and develop a host of ideas, all the while referring to various artistic movements. Yet a number of common features helps us to grasp what is happening before us and to make out the outlines of a new artistic scene. Born in the 1980s, these artists belong to the same generation. As students in the mid-2000s, at a time when the Internet and globalisation were in full boom, they joined the working brigade in the midst of economic, social, ecological, political crisis… Their society is global and open, but also violent and dystopian. In their ambivalence, everything seems possible to them, but at the same time, nothing at all. Their productions resemble assemblies, associated – in the eyes of those of us who care to look – with the notions of heterogeneity, materiality, shapelessness....

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Oscar Tuazon or the necessity of sculpture

This year, Oscar Tuazon is taking over the Place Vendôme as part of the FIAC’s Hors les Murs programme. Using polyethylene pipe segments – usually employed for water-management purposes –, the American artist has come up with a (very) big-format work. Explanations. By using simple or everyday materials, Oscar Tuazon carries out experiments that are often connected with the environment. A practice which allows him to shine light to the ecological issues that are so dear to him. In this case, the theme of water, in relation with the history of Paris, a city where the artist lived for a few years. Tuazon takes a unique approach to his sculpture practice: he focuses as much on materials as he is nourished by his relationship to text and writing. Today represented in Paris by the Galerie Chantal Crousel, Oscar Tuazon lived in the French capital in the 2000s, and was cofounder of the gallery Castillo/Corrales in the Belleville district, along with critics Thomas Boutoux, François Piron and Benjamin Thorel. This research space – today closed, after eight years of existence – blended exhibitions and texts, debates and publishing. It was Oscar Tuazon who gave the venue its name, inspired by boxing fights. These days, the artist lives in Los Angeles, and continues to combine profoundly physical work with text, writing, poetry. For the carte blanche accorded to him by the Place Vendôme in Paris, he tells Art Media Agency that he immediately thought about a “horizontal monument. A human-scale monument that you can walk through. Like Gustave Courbet, who supported the demolition of the Vendôme column during Paris’ Commune period, this is the position I prefer for the column. It’s an ad hoc monument for water, in a city which was constructed around fluidity.” For the Place Vendôme, Tuazon has...

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Contemporary art, the cash cow

One hundred milligrams of calcium per portion and only 19% fat…this is The Laughing Cow. Something of a cult- and this year it is Belgian artist Wim Delvoye to design the collector’s edition box. Previewing at the FIAC, at only 5 euros, it’s the most affordable piece of contemporary art at this year’s fair. With four hundred million consumers worldwide, two hundred and forty portions eaten each second, The Laughing Cow is the gold standard amongst amateur cheese lovers; the quirky triangular cheese, imprinted with an image of a jovial, earring-clad cow is eaten by half of all families with children under the age of fifteen. It would seem that there is no shortage of milk on the contemporary art scene. Cheese company Bel Group has taken the bull by the horns and launched their ‘collector’s box’, a limited edition by one of the biggest names on the international art scene. So what’s the concept? An upcoming contemporary artist will create a cardboard box with 24 portions of cheese bearing the unmistakeable little red zipper of the sometimes irritating, but essentially loveable brand. Combine this with a good dose of marketing and a worldwide zeal for spreadable cheese, and you have an industrial commodity where a supermarket mainstay meets the fine arts – a gentle nod to Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans. Between Pop art and bovine humour, iconic packaging has been reinstated in the canon of contemporary cool, and The Laughing Cow’s rounds of triangular cheese pieces in salute-worthy packaging is enjoying visible influence on artists. Hans-Peter Feldmann, German artist and passionate image collector, was the first commissioned by Bel Group to create a collectors box. He was followed in consecutive years by Thomas Bayrle, best known for his work with serial repetition techniques, and Jonathan Monk, a...

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