This weekend is the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain. The whaaaahh? The FIAC, or FEE ACK, as the locals pronounce it. It is the contemporary art event of the Paris season, held in one of the most under-rated attractions of Paris, the Grand Nef of the Grand Palais, a recently renovated, immensely grandiose steel and glass structure built for the 1900 World’s Fair.
Modern art galleries from l’Afrique du Sud to Uruguay pack up crates full of master pieces available for purchase. Today, I saw a whimsical little mobile from Calder that is available for a reasonable 3.5€ million. There are works by Picasso, Basquiat, Warhol, Twombly and my fetish du moment, Anish Kapoor. It is like being in a extremely luxurious flea market.
And the crowd is a work of art in itself. Literally. Today I met Alexandra Fly, a Polish artist who attends these international art fairs dressed up in a bright pink outfit covered with rag sculpted penis and vaginas that is supposed to help defend Women’s Rights. There was a European couple, a man and a woman, both shaved completely bald and wearing identical fur coats with identical dresses underneath, identical black patent leather pumps and identical make-up jobs. I can’t even begin to imagine how they negotiate their wardrobe decisions before their morning coffee and I would really love to be a fly (not the Alexandra type) on the wall as they do their more mundane shopping.
Beyond the household names there is a lot of art out there from artist’s I’ve never heard of, and some of it looks like crap. Again, I am being literal here. To be really honest, I don’t get about 90% of the art that is on display and I often wonder how much of it really is art and how much of it is some guy in his studio loving the idea of getting some rich folk to shell out a rather large wad of money for a collection of stuff he bought at a thrift shop.
And then there is the 10% I do get. Some of it is fun, or thought provoking, or mind boggling, but the pieces I really love are the ones that make me feel something by playing with my sense of perception. Anish Kapoor is a master at this and last year I was enthralled with an automated mobile by the Venezuelan artist, Elias Crespin. I was very excited to see that he is back, with an equally mesmerizing work of art.
Beyond the ultimate shopping opportunity, FIAC awards the Marcel Duchamp prize of 35000€ to a promising young artist, hosts the Young Curators Invitational program and offers a series of art conferences throughout the event. You can imagine that all of this comes with a price and attending the FIAC does involve long lines for expensive tickets. But not for everything.
Because some of the best parts of FIAC are free. The Nocturne des Galeries is tonight and you can visit open houses being hosted in the city’s galleries until 23h. Click here for a map of what is open and where. Hors les Murs is a collection of monumental pieces on display in public gardens like the Tuileries and the Jardin des Plantes. Making this the perfect weekend to head out and see some art, rain or (please god) shine!