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Paris 2013 1

Sitting with a glass of a refreshing beverage in hand (rhymes with Brouilly) at my favorite Paris cafe, my thoughts turned to my visit to FIAC, the great Paris art fair, now celebrating its 40th year.

I go as often as I can, but this year I did something a little different. Although provided with invitations for the Wednesday preview, crammed with important collectors and art world friends, I went to galleries and the Tuilleries to see outdoor sculptures ( all wonderful, although the ceramic “pont” by Shen Yuan was my favorite). Thursday I went to the open galleries and special exhibitions – and was especially struck by the wonderful Marc Pottier/Made in Town) video installation/exhibition by Marie-ange Guillemot, “Voyage”. And “Chambre a Part” an apartment, open to anybody at all by Laurence Dreyfus ( brave woman) showcasing wonderful ( wonderful) things by Brazilian artists you haven’t heard of…but you will…especially attractive: Thiago Martins de Melo.

Finally, on Saturday, I went to FIAC paid my 35 Euro (yikes!) entry fee, which did include a ride on the Seine Batobus, (note, no waiting for cash) and decided to see what ” normal people” thought of the fair.

First of all, Jennifer Flay did a wonderful job, FIAC looked wonderful, and the Grand Palais is, as always, an inspiring place to see art. Of course it was hot, with all of the lights, and the sun shining so I was fortunate there was plenty of my favorite refreshing beverage (rhymes with champagne) on hand. Lots of young folks there (always a good sign, because where would we all be without the next generation of collectors). Not so many red dots…although as we all know, that doesn’t always mean so much.

This year, I didn’t see so many things that made me think “I have to have that”. But there were a number of stand-outs.

Paris 2013 2

Big hits: already hugely commented on, Ai Weiwei, and his enormous metal tree. Standing at 7m tall, it was a bit like the Eiffel Tower- you could see it everywhere. John DeAndrea (not an artist you see so much anymore) and his life-size nude, “Zoe” at Ubu, drew huge crowds, completely overshadowing the small Andy Warhol hearts (which I have to say looked very like Jim Dine) on the back wall. Continuing the theme, Minotaur, next door, had an exhibition, “sexe, humour & abstraction” with lots of red dots on drawings by Francois Morellet, Fabrice Hyber and Krupka.

Paris 2013 3

Applicat-Prazan, celebrating 20 years, had a wonderful show of Poliakoff paintings- 6 sold, 1 reserved by Saturday. And of course, clever person that she is, Tzila Krugier, took that moment to sell one from her personal collection in Geneva, for an eye-watering price, in advance of the big NY Jan Krugier sale.

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The always- interesting Thaddaeus Ropac had an enormous, impressive, seated man by Baselitz in wood (and a friendly beverage) that drew lots of interest ( and photographs. Not far away, FabienneLeclerc/in Situ, drew crowds for video installations featuring motorcycles and wall pieces.

Pace, of course, had a wonderful stand: 3 Sugimoto photos, looking like abstract paintings, a lovely Maya Lin from 2013, a large Calder white mobile and small stabile from 1942, priced at $ 2.5 million. A series of 6 photos by Ed Ruscha (1 series left) for 35,000€ at Zander, a Stephen Balkenol head at 40,000. € at the excellent Mai 36 Galerie. And my personal favorite, a lovely green work by Rudolph Stingel (reserved) at Paula Cooper, that I wanted to put under my arm.

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Internationalism? Not so much. There were a couple of galleries from China, none from Africa, Canada, few from South America, Russia. Lots from Europe and some from America. A new fair is starting in Portugal, May 2014 which plans to feature work from Angola and Mozambique, Brazil which might put a new face on fairs, in a very crowded schedule.

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The FIAC crowds were happy, buzzing, taking photos…but there wasn’t much for them to buy- a problem always at art fairs. Basel in past years solved this problem with a small group of “editions” and a photography section. Your average young (or not so young) collector is not going home with a large ( expensive) installation or a 40,000€ sculpture. Sitting at the cafe in the fair, talking with people who had seen much- or all- of the fair, the demand is there- clearly. Most people were happy to talk about work they had and work they liked…and I got the clear feeling that if there had been more affordable work, there would have been more- a lot more- red dots. But art fairs now have become so expensive to exhibit in, that galleries now bring their best ( read expensive) work. ”Young” fairs, like Slick, next door on the Seine, have tried to show ” young galleries” with more affordable work. But nobody I spoke to had been there, or was planning to…lack of time, additional fee (10€), and I admit, I didn’t go myself for the same reason. FIAC can’t really expand- lack of space in the Grand Palais- so it will be interesting to see what solution they find. And I can’t wait to see what they come up with…with a refreshing beverage in hand.