Florence Bourgeois, the head of Paris Photo since 2015, has been appointed the director of Fiac art fair too, replacing Jennifer Flay who has directed the Paris contemporary art fair for the past 18 years.
The announcement by the fairs' owner, RX France, comes just a week after it was announced that Art Basel's parent company, MCH Group, had successfully bid €10.6m to take over Fiac's Grand Palais tenancy in October when it was put out to tender, effectively evicting the French event in the process. RX France has since threatened legal action against the Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais (RMN-GP), the French cultural body which manages the Grand Palais and its temporary replacement, the Grand Palais Éphémère.
Flay will leave RX France and there are widespread rumours that she may join the Art Basel team to direct the new Paris fair, for which MCH will have to appoint an entire Paris-based team before the first event this October.
However, when asked about the possibility of Flay joining the team, an Art Basel spokesperson says that the firm "don’t have anything to say on that topic".
Michel Filzi, the president of RX France, says in a statement: “I am delighted to entrust the joint management of our two art fairs to Florence Bourgeois. In addition to her in-depth knowledge of the art world, Florence has succeeded, with her team, in making Paris Photo the largest and most dynamic global gathering of the photo market, thanks in particular to a real partnership with galleries and publishers. She has also, for several years, strongly contributed to promoting female artists in this sector of art. Florence will be responsible for continuing the development of Paris Photo in France and internationally, and for working on the next steps for Fiac."
Filzi adds: “I also salute the great professionalism of Jennifer Flay who joined us in 2003 and knew how to make Fiac grow so well for 18 years." Fiac, he says, "has put Paris back at the centre of the art market."
After working in marketing for the luxury conglomerate LVMH, Bourgeois did a stint in the Modern and contemporary art department of Artcurial, before becoming the general manager of the Pavillon des Arts et du Design (PAD) fair in Paris and London in 2012. She joined Paris Photo in 2015.
Born in New Zealand, Flay was appointed the artistic director of Fiac in November 2003 and since 2010 has been the fair's director and artistic director. She is credited with the fair's considerable growth over the past 18 years and was actively involved in the project to create the Grand Palais Ephémère as a temporary replacement for events while the Grand Palais undergoes renovation. She was named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 2014 and a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2020.