Art fairs

Chirac for FIAC: Many welcome changes for collectors and galleries to remedy last year's poor performance

The ailing fair has brought in radical new measures including a party with the President at the Elysée Palace to encourage collectors and improve the standard of exhibitors



Paris’s leading contemporary art fair, FIAC (foire international de l’art contemporain) looks set to emerge leaner and fitter this autumn (2 to 7 October). After a disastrous showing last year, nine galleries broke away from the event and threatened to form their own fair.

The body which organises the fair, Cofiac, has already changed its own structure and regulations in a desire to improve the organisation of the event. Now the fair itself has announced changes. Among these will be a warmer welcome for collectors: foreign, private and institutional collectors will be invited to nothing less than a reception at the Elysée in the presence of Jacques Chirac, who is writing the introduction to the fair’s catalogue.

Potential buyers at the fair will be treated to visits to private collections of contemporary art in the Paris region, and to the Francis Bacon show at the Pompidou. They will also be given a free entry card to France’s thirty-four national museums.

This year’s fair will see eighty non-French galleries taking part out of the total 130. This compares to fifty-eight out of 121 in 1995. All the galleries are selected by the organisers, Cofiac.

Among those returning after some years’ absence are André Emmerich and Sperone Westwater of New York; Bruno Bischofsberger, Zurich; Albert Baronian, Brussels; James Mayor, London; Antoni Estrany from Spain; and Sophia Ungers from Cologne.

Participants are required to submit a detailed explanation of how their stand will look. Furthermore Cofiac will take photographs of the stand and use these the following year to decide on the quality of the participant’s entry.

To deal with the thorny issue of “young” galleries, a separate committee comprising Christophe Durand-Ruel, Rodolphe Janssen and Cyril Putman has selected around twelve galleries who have been in business for less than seven years.

The City of Paris has even agreed to station a convoy of taxis on quai Branly, while the price of the catalogue has been cut by half to FFr100.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Chirac for FIAC'