Mission: Decode London & Paris via Contemporary Art Fairs
Premise: Contemporary art matters because it helps us navigate the changing world.
Target: Frieze Art Fair in London & associated satellite art fairs. FIAC in Paris & associated satellite art fairs.
The international art business are like migratory birds, flocking from one end of the globe to the other in search of the perfect weather, the hottest art trend and most delicious grub. We were in London last week and this week, everyone converges on Paris for FIAC.
Unlike most art fairs, instead of a white tent or an industrial building, FIAC is held in the Grand Palais. Day light filtered through the Beaux-Art style dome of glass & iron, illuminating each gallery and the art within. Context matters. Sometimes context is everything. FIAC has a different energy than every other art fair. For starters, the Grand Palais. It provides a most spectacular context for all the art.
The art on view this week is different than last week at Frieze. The same galleries that were at Frieze last week have selected different art for the Parisian Collectors. There are lots of neon and text based work. Mirrors are everywhere, including A4 size piece of mirror with the words “you are still here” etched on.
Maybe my mindset is heavily influenced by a magazine article I’m working on, “Is This Art,” but I look at this mirror piece and the various reactions it gets (mostly giddy girls taking their photos reflected within the mirror) and I wonder, is this art?!
A few themes dominate the selections. Color. Splashy, primary colors dominate from the solid color canvas to the sculptures.
3D Objects. There is a preference for sculptural objects over 2D renderings. There were surprisingly few paintings on view this year. One artist takes the concept of readymade one step too far (in my opinion) and offers a trash can, mounted to the wall, as art.
Book and Music related paraphernalia. There is a definitive interest in either creating art out of books, records and or music related items. There were quiet a few installations / sculptures that incorporated music or have popular music imbedded into the works itself.
Overall the works on view at FIAC was lighter and easier and so is the crowd. Art felt like entertainment here instead of an intellectual, existential pursuit. There is less pressure in exchange, slightly less serious and one-dimensional. A simple conceit that can be easily discarded once the joke is gotten.
There was no stand out piece for me at FIAC. No gallerist’s favorite, nothing I would love to take home and hang on my wall, nor a standout artist who I would love to snag for our roster. The sense of play at FIAC and the beautiful context Grand Palais provided is all too welcome to the current standard in art fair but I do wonder if art as entertainment cranks up the frivolity already exists in contemporary art into the anything goes.