Open Market

Paris
11.01.06

Left: FIAC artistic director Jennifer Flay. Right: Architect Pepe Rojas and dealer Pablo León de la Barra. (All photos: Nicolas Trembley)


Tuesday night, holding on to my black leather gift bag (overflowing with invitations) and my guest-of-honor pass (designed by M/M), I headed to a transparent tent inside the Cour carrée du Louvre for the preview of the “dynamic” part of the thirty-third FIAC art fair. Jennifer Flay, the laid-back artistic director, accompanied by Martin Bethenod, the charming general curator, were personally greeting their guests, who included stylish former ministers of culture Jack Lang and Jean-Jacques Aillagon. No doubt influenced by the venue’s extreme architectural sophistication, everyone tried to ignore the vulgar excesses of the frenzied market and attune themselves to the French art de vivre. A lady collector explained to me that art is something “profoundly human—which people have a tendency to forget these days.” Yet London dealer Pablo Léon de la Barra, participating in his first FIAC, seemed just as interested in finding out about the naughty spots of the Bois de Boulogne as he was in selling works by young Costa Rican artist Federico Herrero.

Later on, cooling my heels while I waited for Sylvie Fleury at the Fontainebleau du Meurice bar, I wondered if it was my fate to spend my life waiting for artists in the great palace hotels of Europe without ever enjoying a stay myself. We met Olivier Mosset at the preview for a satellite fair called ShowOFF (it was a little lackluster), held near the Champs-Élysées inside the Espace Cardin. Afterward, as we aren’t indifferent to the French art de vivre ourselves—especially when it comes to filling our bellies—we enjoyed the delicious buffet dinner (prepared by one of Paris’s best caterers) at Galerie Patrick Seguin, which was exhibiting work by artists from Hauser & Wirth. At the end of the night, we drank one last flute of champagne at a cocktail party hosted by Yvon Lambert and Azzédine Alaïa in Alaïa’s hôtel particulier in the Marais, where huge Julian Schnabel paintings clashed with the spare decor.

Left: Dealer Emmanuel Perrotin. Right: Artists Sylvie Fleury and Olivier Mosset.


Wednesday marked the official opening of FIAC’s main section, which is focused on slightly older modern art and takes place in the renovated splendor of the Grand Palais. It felt sacrilegious to talk business here, among the ecstatic oohs and aahs of those with faces turned to the dome’s majestic beauty. At the last minute, most of the galleries had chosen to do without canopies over their booths so as better to enjoy the view. Sadie Coles, delighted with the lunch she had hosted Tuesday at Le Duc, the best fish eatery in Montparnasse, told me it was the Grand Palais’s magnificence that had helped her convince Barbara Gladstone to share a booth with her.

That night, Emmanuel Perrotin was throwing the party, honoring his artists, inside the catacombs under the Alexandre III bridge—elaborately decorated with cuddly toys and Takashi Murakami videos. The gallery owner, proving himself admirably generous, had invited 350 people for a formal dinner and, afterward, a private concert featuring the chanteuse Feist, indie stalwarts Gonzales, and British funkmeister Jamie Lidell. Perrotin’s staff had spent several days sweating over the seating arrangements. So when a guest left the dinner party after telling Perrotin that she’d been seated with a bunch of hillbillies, he admitted to me that the boorishness he encountered in the art world never ceased to astonish him.

Left: MMK director Udo Kittelmann with curator Stéphanie Moisdon. Right: Dealer Yvon Lambert.


I was sat next to Eric Duyckaerts, who will represent Belgium at the next Venice Biennale and seemed to be fretting a little over the performance he was going to give later on. Also sitting at our table were Udo Kittelman, the designer Irie, and Stéphanie Moisdon, cocurator (with Hans-Ulrich Obrist) of the next Lyon Biennial. From Sophie Calle to Leandro Erlich to Murakami, all of Perrotin’s artists seemed to be there, chattering happily in the company of star collectors like producer Claude Berri and literary-world queen Nathalie Rheims.

When it was time for the Le Baron DJs to take control of the night, I decided to head home so as to save up a little energy for the rest of the week. There would be so much fun to choose from, including a very St.-Germain-des-Prés dinner held by Almine Rech at the Café de Flore in honor of Joseph Kosuth and the Ruinart party organized by Praz-Delavallade on Avenue Foch. Or why not go to Kamel Mennour’s “Destricted” party, celebrating the X-rated work of Larry Clark, Matthew Barney, Richard Prince, et al.? The invitation card specified that no one under eighteen would be admitted and that the films contained “strong real sex and strobing effects.” Ooh la la! Would they actually rival the Parisian delicacies tucked away in the Bois de Boulogne?

Left: Author Nathalie Rheims. Right: Designer Azzedine Alaïa with Le Plateau director Caroline Bourgeois.


Left: FIAC general manager Martin Bethenod. Right: Artist Eric Duyckaerts.


Left: Artist Takashi Murakami. Right: Former French minister of culture Jean-Jacques Aillagon.


Left: Collector Claude Berri. Right: Former French minister of culture Jack Lang.