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FIAC, the, Foire Internationale Art Contemporain, celebrated its 42nd birthday this year; but it still almost looks like a teenager! So many press outlets clamoured to cover the fair that my credentials arrived at literally the last minute, and my press pack consisted of a booklet talking about all the things happening outside of FIAC. But I did get a refreshing beverage!

The best way to get to the fair is via the Seine – special “river buses” have been laid on (included in the price of admission), and you can float in a leisurely way between FIAC and a whole group of museums and exhibitions (including a “traveling show” at Christies before the big sales in New York). My favorites are the sculptures – many large scale and lit at night around Concorde and the Tuileries. As usual poking politics with a sharp stick, Ai Wei Wei, presented by Lisson Gallery, has a group of 12 large-scale animal heads, surrounding a small pond. They are copies of the heads famously sacked from China in the 18th century (and two of which were sold at auction for a huge – and un-paid for – amount, and then presented by Christie’s head, Francois-Henri Pinault, to the Chinese government.

Toystory2 minMichael Majerus " overdose" 1997. Neugerriemschneider. Berlin

The fair itself, although hosting fewer galleries this year (173, as opposed to last year’s 191) looks beautiful in the Grand Palais. The organization was excellent, the VIP lounges were comfortable, and there was a wide variety of places to get a friendly glass of champagne. Although FIAC is battling for a place in a very crowded art fair circuit, almost 75,000 visitors came last year, according to their management, and they were clearly hoping to do even better this year. Walking around, I heard a fair amount of American English, some Spanish, Chinese (traveling in groups) Portuguese, and unsurprisingly, lots of French. With 46 galleries from France, and the majority of those from Paris, FIAC is, as always, a very French fair.

FIAC1

Most expensive artwork? Probably the Modigliani Jeune Fille at the rather misleadingly named Nahmad Contemporary (misleading because there was not so much contemporary but a fair amount of expensive classic) The price? Well, it was either $28 or $29 million, depending on who you talked to on the stand (oh and please don’t stand too close to it while you’re thinking about it).

modigliani minAmadeo Modigliani “Jeune Fille” Nahmad Contemporary

Other wonderful things? David Juda had a 1961 Hockney, “Big Stone” at 1.6 million Euros, and on the other side of the fair. Lelong had a 2011 Hockney, “The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire”, edition of 25, for 28,000 Euros, frame included (Hockney insisted). Galerie Lelong had, as always, an excellent stand overall, crowded with buyers. A collector favorite was a sculpture by Barthelemy Toguo, “Don’t Shoot” at 30,000 Euros that I’m pretty sure was sold before night’s end.

Guns minBarthélemy Toguo, "don't shoot" 2015 Galerie Lelong

Another collector favorite? Eddie Martinez, the Brooklyn based artist, who had a hugely popular (and hugely photographed) mixed media 2015 work, “Men’s Health” at Mitchell-Innes & Nash

A really spiffy 2002 unique Stella, “Arpachiyah” for $450,000 was at Daniel Templon, and was the only Stella I saw. Unlike previous years, Pop art was not much in evidence

Most red dots? On opening night, it was Applicat-Prazan, specializing in School of Paris works. Having just returned from exhibiting at Frieze Masters, they didn’t miss a beat, and mounted a very pretty (and very classically French) show at FIAC, which, judging by the number of red dots, was very well received.

Should you go? Yes, you should go…but plan to spend a few days to see the artworks in the gardens of Paris, the performances, the numerous fairs. And save a refreshing beverage (rhymes with champagne) for me.

42nd Annual FIAC

Grand Palais

22-25 October 2015 12noon-8 PM late night Friday

Entrance 35E (includes Batobus) Combined entrance with Officielle 40E

FIAC + catalogue 60E