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FIAC Dealers Unsettled by Frieze Date Change
The Art Newspaper

By Gareth Harris

Dealers and collectors fr om around the world are making the annual pilgrimage from Frieze London to Fiac in Paris this week. But visitors and participants at the 42nd edition of Fiac, which opened its VIP preview yesterday (21 October), were debating how the fair landscape is transformed next year when Frieze will open a week earlier.

The organisers of Frieze London and Frieze Masters have decided to move both fairs earlier in the month in 2016, to avoid a clash with the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, which falls on 11 October. Both fairs’ VIP openings will be on Tuesday 4 October, with the events running until the weekend of 8 and 9 October. Fiac is due to run from 20 to 23 October next year, leaving nine days in between.

“For real collectors who are truly motivated, it won’t be a problem,” says David Maupin of Lehmann Maupin gallery at Fiac. His gallery sold Angel Otero’s painting, A rustling in the leaves drives him away (2015), to Istanbul Modern museum (priced between $100,000 and $150,000) during the VIP preview.

The US dealer Peter Freeman, who is presenting a range of works by the French artist Anne-Marie Schneider (€3,000-€14,000), said that “more than 50% of US collectors will have to choose wh ere they go”.  A spokeswoman for 303 Gallery of New York said that US collectors are more likely to opt for Fiac next year, but a London dealer who preferred to remain anonymous said that “Frieze has loads more energy; collectors would be mad to miss out on this.”

Meanwhile, Jennifer Flay, the director of Fiac, told the French web publication Le Quotidien de l’Art that the fair will need to relocate for one year while the Grand Palais is refurbished, though it is unclear when this will happen.

She says: “We have signed a three-year contract with the Grand Palais from 2016 until 2018. We are going to have one year in a temporary site.” The start date for the renovation of the historic venue, which was built for the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) in 1900, largely depends on whether Paris wins the bid to host the Olympic Games in 2024 (city officials say that the Grand Palais could be used for sporting events).

“It all depends on whether the date for the renovation work is brought forward or put back.... We have informed the authorities at the highest level that Fiac couldn't survive a long period of exile,” Flay adds. But a Fiac spokesman stressed that the fair will be held at the Grand Palais in 2016 and 2017.

Business was brisk for some galleries at the Fiac preview: the Madrid gallery Parra & Romero sold a mirrored piece, Timeless Painting by the Mexican artist Stefan Brüggemann (2015), to a French collector for €60,000. A sculpture by Isa Genzken, Untitled (2012), priced at €200,000, was sold by Hauser & Wirth.

The French dealer Jerome Poggi sold four works—bouquets of fresh flowers—assembled by the Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga to collectors based in London and Italy. The conceptual pieces, priced between €6,000 and €12,000, come with instructions on how to reassemble the perishable blooms. “Through the pieces, Kiwanga asks: what is African history?” Poggi says.

High-profile visitors to the Paris fair included the Connecticut collector Peter Brant, Beatrix Ruf, the director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and Silvia Karman Cubina, the director of the Bass Museum of Art in Miami. Serge Lasvignes, who was appointed president of the Centre Pompidou in March, made his first visit to Fiac this year.