French Fascination: FIAC Paris 2013 Preview

In 1974, Art Basel wasn't the only fledgling contemporary art fair to emerge in Europe. Around the same time, the Fair of Contemporary Art was held at the site of the old Bastille in the center of Paris. It was since renamed International Contemporary Art Fair (commonly referred to as FIAC) and was moved into its current abode at the Grand Palais. It wasn't until 1976 that FIAC was considered a groundbreaking contemporary art fair, as it began to attract American galleries. Photography was introduced as a medium for the fair in 1982, with a dedicated exhibition space at the fairgrounds. The so-called 'video cube' was unveiled in 2001, highlighting young artists specializing in new media.

Today, thanks to a dizzying array of film, music and sculptural special projects, the fair has branched out into the famous Tulieries Gardens, the Place Vendôme, the Jardin des Plantes and the banks of the scenic River Seine. FIAC will open to the public on Thursday and will feature such internationally-recognized contemporary spaces (in the main Galleries space) such as Gagosian, Gladstone Gallery, Hauser & Wirth and White Cube. Artists initiating solo projects in the Tulieries this year include Gary Hume, Ernesto Neto and Berger & Berger (the garden has hosted Carlos Cruz-Diez, Antony Gormley, Yayoi Kusama, Jim Dine and Franz West since 2006). In collaboration with the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Marcel Duchamp Prize has been awarded to innovative contemporary artists working in France since 2000.

FIAC, fresh on the heels of Frieze in London, is the second major fair this season but is in no way compromised by this. Close in proximity to London and considered a 'historic' art fair by chronological and quality standards, FIAC attracts a massive crowd of influential collectors, academics and visitors who are beginning to feel the ecstatic high of contemporary art madness this year. Paris will be illuminated (not just in its romantic state) by other art-related events during FIAC: a Pierre Huyghe retrospective will be held, retracing Roy Lichtenstein's work at the Pompidou, the Orangerie Museum will host Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and a Loris Gréaud sculpture will be visible under the Louvre glass pyramid. Vive la France!

FIAC Paris opens on Thursday, October 24th till Sunday, the 27th, on the Avenue Winston Churchill. Fair hours are noon to 8pm, open until 9pm on Friday evening. Access to the main fair is €35, and access to the Tuleries, the Jardin Des Plantes, the Place Vendôme and the Berges de Seine is free (until November). For more information, visit

Stay tuned, our next art blog post will be coming to you live from Hamburg Art Week…Wunderkind!