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Robust Sales Across the Board at FIAC 2015 in Paris

By Henri Neuendorf

Paris' scenic Grand Palais played host to the 42nd FIAC art fair again. This year, director Jennifer Flay accepted only 170 participants from 22 countries, tightening up the selection criteria and dropping 21 entry slots compared to last year's edition.

As a result, collectors and visitors were treated to a stronger selection of works, and dealers were in turn exposed to a large and diverse collector base; many non-European buyers extended their stay in Europe after London's Frieze fair last week. Flay's recipe clearly worked as almost all galleries who spoke to artnet News reported enthusiastic interest and robust sales.

Hauser & Wirth attracted a lot of visitors with a Paul Schimmel curated presentation that paid tribute to the slain journalists of the attacks on the Paris-based satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. “Artists have long been thrown into dungeons, tortured and even killed," Schimmel explained. “Its part of a long tradition; the works on show are in remembrance of the freedom of expression." Collectors were lining up to take home works from the memorable display. Within the first few hours, works by Mark Bradford, Mike Kelley, and Phillippe Vandenberg all sold for undisclosed sums. A sculpture by Isa Genzken changed hands for €200,000 ($227,034).

In an adjacent booth, Michael Werner Gallery reported some very impressive figures. Directors Gordon VeneKlasen and Gyonata Bonvicini were positively beaming. “We've sold a lot of things, its been a very good fair for us," VeneKlasen said. A large Markus Lüpertz painting sold for over $1 million, and works by Baselitz, Penck, Picabia and Enrico David sold for prices between $60,000 and $1 million. “We've had an extremely successful fair across the board," VeneKlasen reiterated.

Nearby, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac sold five of an edition of six Baselitz bronze sculptures for €750,000 ($829,335) each. Two large Robert Longo charcoal drawings depicting an x-ray of the Mona Lisa and a forrest sold for $500,000 each. Two oil paintings by Chinese artist Yan Pei-Ming—a portrait of a young Picasso, and a tiger—sold for €200,000 ($$227,034) and €300,000 ($331,734) respectively. An Anthony Gormley sculpture sold for £375,000 ($577,035) and a print by emerging photographer Claire Adelfang sold for €6,000 ($6,634).

Skarstedt Gallery, who brought along a selection of blue chip artists, reported the sale of a George Condo painting for $600,000, a Thomas Schütte for $200,000 and a beautiful Günther Uecker for $1.8 million.

There was lots of buzz all around the Grand Palais over an expensive looking Modigliani painting at Nahmad Contemporary's booth. However, the gallery was unwilling to give away any information and remained tight lipped about sales.

Berlin and Paris based Galerie Max Hetzler also had a successful day. Senior director and partner Samia Saouma told artnet News “We sold lots to French collectors and another collector from Australia." The striking red Günther Förg painting in the gallery's booth was bought by a French collector for €185,000($204,569); a wall piece by Edmund de Waal was also bought by a French collector for $90,000; a Jeff Elrod painting was sold for $80,000, also to a French collector. An abstract Ida Ekblad painting sold to the Australian collector for €38,000 ($42,019). The gallery also reported the sale of an Albert Oehlen computer painting to a French buyer for an undisclosed sum.

Elsewhere, Lisson Gallery's Ossian Ward reported positive results. “The sales have been steady but not as spectacular as at Frieze, although this is a reversal of last year. We had serious collectors for all works by Stanley Whitney from $12,000-$60,000 and further sales for Opie, Kapoor, Houshiary and others." Nevertheless, Ward was very satisfied with the level of interest in Paris. “The collectors were out in force and included Germans, French, Belgians and Italians, with many Americans extending their stay from London to Paris."

London's White Cube announced a strong opening day with sales totaling just under £1 million ($1.5 million). According to associate director Sharis Alexandrian, this included the sale of works by Etel Adnan, Imi Knoebel, Georg Baselitz, Sergej Jensen, Eddie Peake, Mona Hatoum and Theaster Gates.

New York's Lehmann Maupin did good business in Paris too, placing Puerto Rican artist Angel Otero's newest and largest ever painting in the collection of the Istanbul Modern Museum; the artwork had an asking price in the range of $100,000-$150,000. A photograph by Alex Prager sold for between $40,000-$60,000 and a film by the artist sold for between $50,000-$70,000. A wood and tin mask by French-Algerian artist Kader Attia changed hands for a price between €40,000-€60,000 ($44,231-$66,346), and a painting by Hernan Bas sold for between $80,000-$120,000.

Berlin and London based Sprüth Magers gallery attracted a lot of international interest this year. A large female portrait by George Condo was bought by a US collector for $600,000. A Middle Eastern collector took home a patinated bronze Condo sculpture for $275,000. Meanwhile another US collector bought a Sterling Ruby collage for $70,000. The gallery also reported the sale of several Louise Lawler works for between $10,000 and $85,000.

Victoria Miro Gallery's director Glenn Scott-Wright said that interest was “not as strong as last year," explaining that a “strong international contingent" drove sales. Scott-Wright revealed that two Yayoi Kusama paintings sold in the mid six figure range, and also reported the sale of a work by Wangechi Mutu.

Vienna-based gallerist Thomas Krinzinger looked pleased after having sold a painting by Jannis Varelas to a Swiss buyer for €19,000 ($21,009) and a work by to a French buyer for €45,000 ($40,695).

Andrea Rosen Gallery, who showed works by David Altmejd, Ryan Trecartin, and Robert Motherwell made good progress by the end of opening day. Rosen explained, “We brought very specific works for the fair and we've sold almost everything," adding that “We plan to reinstall tomorrow."

Parisian Galerie Kamel Mennour, who've just announced the opening of a third space in the French capital, was in a relaxed mood after the gallerist reportedly sold out his Camille Henrot solo presentation on his debut visit to London's Frieze fair. “We don't like to talk about sales," Mennour said." However, he revealed, “FIAC was good for us. The booth was not the same as yesterday," he said speaking on Thursday afternoon. “We're playing at home, its easy for us."

Many visitors flocked to Galerie Perrotin's booth, where a photorealistic nude sculpture by John DeAndrea could easily be mistaken for a performance art piece. The trick certainly worked because by Thursday evening the gallery sold 10 screens by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari for an undisclosed sum. The gallery displayed three screens, each in an edition of five, prominently at the front of the booth.

In an interview with artnet News, one of France's top art advisors Laurence Dreyfus summed up the fair as follows: "It was excellent. This year, FIAC is very good quality. The quality of the work presented was very precise and to the expectation of what the public wants to see." She explained, "After eight to ten years FIAC has matured. The correspondence between the public and the galleries was perfect."