Art Basel has announced the first details of its forthcoming inaugural Paris fair, which ousted Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (Fiac) from its October slot and sent shockwaves through the industry.
The event is called Paris+, by Art Basel and will take place from 20 October to 23 October at the temporary Grand Palais Éphémère, shifting to the Grand Palais from 2024 once its €600m renovation is complete. It will be directed by Clément Delépine, the former co-director of Paris Internationale fair, which focuses on younger and emerging galleries and has run alongside Fiac since 2015. He will be joined by general manager Virginie Aubert, former vice president of Christie's France and deputy director Maxime Hourdequin, who was formerly deputy director of Fiac.
Speaking of those formerly at Fiac, what of its last director Jennifer Flay? Having stepped down in February after 12 years leading the fair, she was considered the front-runner to helm Art Basel's new Paris venture. Instead, she will join Paris+ as the president of its advisory board for its second edition in 2023, as her non-compete clause with Fiac's owners RX France means she is unable to join Art Basel until then. According to Art Basel's global director Marc Spiegler, Flay will "work closely with the directors to deliver comments and criticism from her network and leverage her existing relationships to benefit the fair," while Delépine says that he wishes to "acknowledge Flay's work in bringing Paris's art market to the place it is now."
Art Basel was met with staunch criticism from within the industry when it dramatically announced its Paris fair, and many were left wondering as to which galleries would make the cut. 10 Paris and international dealers have now joined the selection committee. They are: Florence Bonnefous, of Air de Paris, Paris; Ellen de Bruijne, of Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam; Daniel Buchholz, of Galerie Buchholz, Cologne, Berlin, New York; Anton Kern, of Anton Kern Gallery, New York; Niklas Svennung, of Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Georges-Philippe Vallois, of Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Paris; and Christophe Van de Weghe, of Van de Weghe, New York. Spiegler confirms applications will be open from mid-April.
As its name suggests, Paris+ will be a city-wide event that promises to be more than just an art fair, and will include parallel programming across the capital's institutions to incorporate its "music, cinema, fashion and design" industries. What this will look like exactly remains unclear, not least because Art Basel is still reaching out to French institutions and collaborators. However, Spiegler assures that a Modern and contemporary fair will remain "central" to the event. He adds that the name Paris+ was chosen for its simplicity and ease in integrating partnerships.
Asked whether Paris+ will resemble Art Basel Cities, which launched its one and only edition in Buenos Aires in 2018 to mixed reviews from both participants and visitors, Spiegler says that the Paris event will more closely resemble Art Basel in Miami Beach than any other initiative from the fair franchise in terms of "creating a moment" in a specific location.
Spiegler, who is a citizen of France and a French speaker, adds that his relationship to the Paris fair and Delépine will be very similar to that of Art Basel in Hong Kong and its director Adeline Ooi.
MCH group, Art Basel's Swiss owner, has paid €10.6m for a seven-year contract with the Grand Palais, so Paris+ is scheduled to run until at least 2028. However, Spiegler does not rule out its name and form shifting with future editions. “Everything is possible in terms of evolution,” he says.