Last year, Freize fell in the midst of the financial seizure. The fair and auctions were characterized by a sleep-walking sense of dealers and collectors going through the motions in the hops that normality would return. Then, the art world went to FIAC and the mood changed with commerce hitting an authentic, if still restrained from the boom years, note. In today’s Wall Street Journal, Kelly Crow sets up a battle of the fairs but concludes that many in the art world will simply attend both:
“The big difference is that London crashed and everyone’s broke there,” says Johann König, a Berlin dealer who is exhibiting at both Frieze and Fiac this year. “But Paris is old money, and old money is almost always OK.”
So far, Frieze’s trajectory has followed that of the last art cycle. It launched in a white tent in Regent’s Park in 2003 and gained prominence by inviting hip galleries to sell their latest discoveries. Bankers in London and New York lined up to buy, as did wealthy newcomers from Russia, Asia and the Middle East decorating second homes in London. Much of that money has evaporated with the recession.
In contrast, Fiac, which launched in 1973, is just now taking off. Until three years ago, it was moldering in a convention center on the outskirts of Paris, but it got a huge boost when it moved into the renovated Grand Palais, the glass-domed exposition hall in the city center.. There, it attracted collectors in Central Europe and powerful New York dealers like Paula Cooper. After the contemporary art market plunged last fall, dealers realized Fiac’s old-fashioned reputation could be a reassuringselling point, says Paris dealer Eléonore Malingue. “We didn’t go up that high on speculating, so we didn’t fall as far.” […]
New York dealer Per Skarstedt says he joined Fiac this year because he realized he was selling 40% of his offerings to European buyers, twice as much as he sold there two years ago, and he “needed even more exposure to Europe.” His booth at Fiac will have works by Cindy Sherman and Christopher Wool priced at around $1.5 million; a Rosemarie Trockel knitted canvas for around $250,000 and a Fischli/Weiss photograph of the Eiffel Tower at nightfor around $150,000. Other highlights at Fiac, up through Oct. 25, include Babette Mangolte’s fevered dance photographs from 1970s’ New York, one of 80-odd additional Fiacgalleries in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum.
Battle of the Fairs: Paris vs. London (Wall Street Journal)