December 2, 2016

by Caroline von Krockow - Lahame

There are so many contemporary art fairs around the world these days, admit it… how many do you attend a year? Three at least? Even though many of us might not understand or even like contemporary art. But with our already busy schedules and the endless options which one do you attend? In the good old days, we mingled with our newest dresses, hats and shoes at horse races in Ascot, Baden Baden or the Arc de Triomphe. But now, contemporary art fairs have become the new place to be. There are VIP events, where one has to go two or three days early so as to attend the pre, pre-VIP cocktails and events, especially if one wants to rub shoulders with the crème de la crème and still get the pieces (which are often actually sold before you arrive.) It would not be difficult to go to a different contemporary art fair each month as there are new ones popping up all over the world, all the time.

Art Cologne (established in 1967 as Kölner Kunstmarkt) is regarded as the world’s oldest art fair for modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st century. Art Basel (established in 1970) is now possibly the most important one and from there the list goes on forever.  There is for example Art Basel Hong Kong, Bogoart in Colombia, Art Dubai, Melbourne ArtFair, Arco in Madrid and Art Turin to name but a few. So after Frieze London and with Art Basel Miami around the corner, is it all really worth it? Why go to FIAC especially with all the bad news coming from France? Is it even safe in Paris?


Kim Kardashian just had all her gems stolen (news I discovered in the train on my way to London). But flying back I noticed someone sitting next to me, a celebrity covered in gems, who obviously did not worry about the recent news and terrorist attacks. Paris’s appeal stays unshakable. With the sparkling Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe – the City of Lights remains one of the most magnificent cities in the world.  A glass of champagne in the Hemmingway Bar of the newly opened Ritz, beautifully served with a white rose at its rim, just does not taste the same in New York or London. There is something about celebrating in Maxim’s, an institution since the 19th century. Thaddeus Ropac’s, a must for a seated dinner during the FIAC, an obvious and glamorous choice.

Paris uniquely combines historical buildings with contemporary art and FIAC (since 1974, also one of the oldest contemporary art fairs) has made its mark especially since its taking place in the arched historical edifice. Most art fairs tend to exhibit in impersonal halls, not the FIAC however, which is situated in the Grand Palais, an immense building housing international fairs since its creation in 1900. Built for the Exposition Universelle, the first exhibition which showcased sculptures, horse shows and motor cars, drawing visitors from around the world. A century later, international visitors are still attracted by the contrast in architecture with its heavy stone on the outside and a light iron structure on the inside. This year, on September 24th, Emmanuel Perrotin rented out the whole space to host a party around his stand showing Elmgreen & Dragset’s work.


This October, for FIAC’s 43rd edition, I checked out the 174 international galleries and other events in Paris. The FIAC has become unbeatable since Jennifer Flay took charge. The New-Zealand born galleriast was FIAC’s artistic director from 2003 to 2010 and is its general director since June 2010. She recently stated that FIAC is the only art fair in the world which is able to provide true museum conditions for her exhibitors and said that there are some really beautiful works being shown in the Petit Palais as well, including a great Damien Hirst “Fallen Angel,” an ensemble of Abraham Cruzvillegas light sculptures, a new David Altmejd, a new Oscar Tuazon, and a new Guillaume Leblon – 38 artworks in total.

Some of my personal highlights at the fair include:

Paul Mc Carthy’s  “White snow dwarf (bashful)” at Galerie Valois

Alicja’s Kwada’s “Be-hide” at Galerie Perrotin

Duane Hanson’s “Old couple on a bench”

and the George Baselitz at Gagosian gallery

All the Robert Longo’s (Vincent Van Gogh, Rose) at Thaddeus Ropac

Barbara Kruger and Hans Op de Beeck’s “The Settlement” at Galerie Krinzinger

A short distance from the Grand Palais you will find my favorite antique gallery. How can an antique gallery attract visitors during FIAC you might wonder? The Galerie Aveline on Place Beauveau next to the Hotel Bristol, which specializes in 18th century furniture, knows how. Jean-Marie Rossi is a visionary having collected Liechtenstein and Daniel Buren long before others. The gallerist bought 10 Buren paintings in the 60s and this year Buren did the façade of the gallery making it shine. Inside are Rossi’s Burens, but in addition many more. Marella Rossi, Jean Marie Rossi’s daughter now runs the gallery with the same vision and energy of her father. To perfection, she combines contemporary art and antique furniture, creating a beautiful dialogue between the centuries. Lovers of the artist should definitely visit the Louis Vuitton Foundation where Buren’s roof shows bright colors until April 2017.

My dear friend Diane opened a new space and is showing American Abstract Expressionism at her gallery Diane de Polignac & Chazournes. In the heart of St. Germain the young, dynamic gallerist presents a selection of American Abstract Impressionism including Sam Francis and Paul Jenkins. The large, airy gallery space has three rooms and visitors can also see European lyrical abstraction like Gerhard Schneider, Hans Hartung and Pierre Soulage and Post-war abstraction.

Another exciting event is the sale of Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Porte-Bouteilles,’ showing at Galerie Thaddeus Ropac. The gallerist will sell this piece to a museum, preferably an American one, which are all sending daily competing offers. Opening for FIAC week, Duchamp’s emblematic ‘Porte-Bouteilles’ is being shown in the gallery’s Marais space along with a selection of works by the French artist and archive documents. The exhibition coincides with the 100th anniversary of the term ‘ready-made’, used by the artist in a letter to his sister Suzanne in 1916. Concluding that, the contemporary art scene in Paris still has that unique, sexy French touch!


1. Maurizio Cattelan: Not afraid of love at Monnaie de Paris, October 22 – January 8: We all know Cattelan for his colorful provocative portraits of fingernails, cigarette buds and sculptures, as for example the Pope being hit by an asteroid. In the 18th century rooms Cattelan once again seeks to challenge visitors with horses jumping into the wall, a covered elephant and a man popping up from the ground. “Is there life after death?” is his real question. In the Monnaie de Paris visitors can contemplate this whilst enjoying the delicious Guy Savoy cuisine.

2. MTX showroom, subsidiary to Chanel: Fashionistas should definitely visit this new concept, which bridges a gap between sculpture and interior design. The exclusive creations are constructed with modules that unfold and multiply themselves indefinitely. Playing with colors and sparkles of lights, these exceptional pieces defy scale, thus achieving a dialogue between the precise techniques of embroidery and the immensity of architecture.

3. Hervé di Rosa and Les Arts Modestes, plus jamais seul at La Maison Rouge, October 22 – January 22: The exhibition shows how Hervé di Rosa’s pictorial and sculptural work has drawn inspiration as much from major artists from the 20th century such as Matisse, Picabia, and Dubuffet as from the multitude of unique objects he buys, accumulates, assembles and shares.

4. Oscar Wilde, l’impertinent absolu at the Petit Palais, September 28 – January 15:

Exiting the Grand Palais, it is worth taking a peak just opposite into the Petite Palais to visit the first exhibition in France dedicated to the famous writer Oscar Wilde. The exhibition evokes his life and work through a collection of 200 pieces, bringing together exceptional documents, some of which will be presented for the first time, including manuscripts, photographs, drawings and caricatures.

visitor-look-amid-f0cd-diaporama5. Hors Les Murs: FIAC and the Domaine national du Louvre et des Tuileries present sculptures, installations, sound works, and performances around the Tuileries garden. On view this year are projects from Berdaguer & Péjus, Joe Bradley, Alexander Calder, Mirea Cantor and more which are worth exploring and a good opportunity to get some fresh air!

6. Carle André at the Musée d’Art ModerneOctober 18 – February 12: The Musée d’Art Moderne is presenting a tribute to the major 20th century American artist Carl Andre. This retrospective reveals how André, working with standard, unmodified industrial elements, redefined sculpture as a means of experiencing space, form and matter. He also produced poems that made use of words for their visual as well as their semantic and sound value.

7. Tino Seygal at Palais de Tokyo, October 12 – December 18: The Palais de Tokyo offers carte blanche to Tino Sehgal, a major figure on the international scene and one of the most radical artists of his generation. The artist’s experiment will transform the Palais de Tokyo’s exhibition space into an area where his own «constructed situations» reside.

8. The Shchukin collection at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, October 22 – February 20: The collection constituted by Sergei Shchukin includes works by the most renowned impressionist, post-impressionist and modernist masters like Monet, Cézanne, Gauguin, Renoir, Picasso and Van Gogh. The Moscow industrialist was a visionary in his taste for modern French art, leading him to begin forming an exceptional collection from 1898, representing the most radical trends in art from the era.  Nationalized during the Russian revolution, the paintings in the collection have been displayed at separate locations in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.

9. Slick Art FairOctober 19 – October 23: SLICK co-founders Johan Tamer-Morael and Aude de Bourbon Parme have collaborated with passionate galleries who persistently contribute towards promoting the French and International art scene. A stroll along the river bank to explore the compact sized, always new, visionary fair is therefore a must.

10. Asia NowOctober 20 – October 23: Asia Now is the first ‘boutique art fair’ in Europe to focus exclusively on the contemporary Asian Art scene. This year, highlights include Chimères, a platform curated by Hervé Mikaeloff in collaboration with Matthias Arndt and Shang Xia & Christie’s with a collaboration on Chinese contemporary design.


11. Outsider Art FairOctober 20 – October 23: Out of the 38 exhibitors present for the fourth edition of this fair, 15 are newcomers, which confirms that the Parisian fair is expanding.

12. The Nights of Uncertainty: The Infinite Conversation and The great animal orchestra at the Cartier Foundation, July 2 – January 8: Based on a proposal by Hans Ulrich Obrist, a conversation in his presence between artists, scientists and intellectual’s relation to the great animal orchestra exhibition. The Great Animal Orchestra was inspired by the bio-acoustic compositions of Bernie Krause. Krause contemplates ecosystems as a poet, listening to animal sounds to analyze them as a true scientific.

13Private collection of Daniel and Florence Guerlain at the Guerlain Foundation, The founders of the Daniel and Florence Guerlain Contemporary Art Foundation in 1996, and the Contemporary Drawing Prize in 2006, have been collecting for about 30 years. Featured artists include Jose Maria Sicilia, Gilles Aillaud, Martial Raysse, and Gaetano Pesce.

14. René Magritte at the Centre Pompidou, September 21 – January 23: This new show, under curator Didier Ottinger , focuses on five figures the painter always referenced in his work : fire, shadow, curtains, words and the fractionated human body.

15. Picasso-Giacometti at the Musée national Picasso, October 4 – February 5: Organised in collaboration with the Alberto and Annette Giacometti Foundation, the exhibition will highlight the formal, amicable, or iconographic relationships that these two major artists of the 20th century maintained.

16. Francesco Gennari at Galerie Antoine Levi, September 23 – November 15: A new art scene has rapidly emerged in Belleville (mainly the 20th arrondisement.) Not to be missed is the Levi gallery, which was founded three years ago, and since has cast a bright light on the work of Francesco Gennari.

17. Tom Wesselmann: A different kind of women at Almine Rech Gallery, October 17 – December 21: Almine Rech Gallery is hosting the most significant representation of Tom Wesselmann’s work in Paris in over 20 years. The exhibition features a selection of historical works and viewers can watch the performance piece ‘Bedroom Tit Box’, as well as other key pieces.

18. Marcel Duchamp Prize at the Centre Pompidou – Presentation of the shortlisted candidates by their representatives: Kader Attia, born in 1970, presented by Dr. Clémentine Deliss, curator and critic. Yto Barrada, born in 1971, presented by Omar Berrade, writer and art critic, director of the Dar al-Ma’mun Library in Marrakech.

19. Ulla von Brandenburg, born in 1974, presented by Jean de Loisy, president of the Palais de Tokyo; and Barthélémy Togua, born in 1967, presented by Roger Malbert, Head of Hayward Tourig, Hayward Gallery, London.

…And the winner is?