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Modern Art in Paris

A note from the world of contemporary art: here are translations of some news reports on the FIAC, the International Fair of Contemporary Art, at the Porte de Versailles at the edge of Paris. Valérie Duponchelle and Béatrice de Rochebouët, in an article (Fiac 2004, la sortie du désert, October 22) for Le Figaro:

Contrary to the vicious rumors, the bride was not wearing black. There has not been that air of excitement, for many seasons, necessary to the success an art fair, a vital ingredient in this context of killer concurrence: six large European art fairs in less than two months, including its direct rival, the Frieze Art Fair, which just had a media triumph in London. At the opening of the 2004 Fiac, Wednesday night [October 20], the smiles spoke volumes about the effort of the 214 galleries from 24 countries (including more than a third of new arrivals) to give new life to Paris. To spice up this 31st edition, revised and corrected by the young steering committee under the direction of Jennifer Flay, a new much anticipated formule after the deadly criticism and the flop of the VIP evening last year.

From Tuesday, as in London two days earlier, the biggest collectors and/or their advisers strode down the long aisles. Above all, eager to see Thomas Schütte's three solitary giants, placed in the space of the Nelson Gallery (installation from the Grosse Geister series already sold, remember, before the FIAC for 500,000 €).
The number of works was impressive, according to the reviewers, "considering the desertion of German galleries, all snapped up by London."
Philippe Dagen, Morts illustres et tendances fraîches à la FIAC (Le Monde, October 22):
This year, photography is losing ground to painting, its rejuvenated and triumphant rival. If there is a general trend in this packaged FIAC, it is the domination of painting. It is no surprise that this would be the case in the historical section, but it is just the same on the side featuring younger galleries and artists. Guy Pieters is giving his space to Combas. Anne de Villepoix is showing the watercolors of Toguo. The first-timer from Geneva, Charlotte Moser, is displaying Maike Freess's drawings next to Béatrice Cussol's watercolors and Corpet's canvases. The Zürcher Gallery is showing Desgrandchamps's last triptych, JGM the suspended figures of Tatah, and Claudine Papillon the watercolors of Frédérique Loutz. The tone is no different in the Perspectives and Future Quake areas, even if objects and photographs—both often treated humorously—are more present there. Like Pretorius's pseudomedieval paintings at Zieher and Smith, impossible insects drawn by Sorbelli's two hands at Maisonneuve, some of Hajdinaj's very kitchy still lifes at GB Agency. Why so many paintings? Maybe only because for years it was no longer good taste to dare show young artists who dare to paint. Today, that proscription is dead. We're not complaining.

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