Paris has a new flagship art fair for October. Farewell FIAC; enter “Paris+, par Art Basel” (or, in English, “Paris+, by Art Basel”).
In January, the group that runs the Grand Palais made the shocking announcement that international art fair giant Art Basel, owned by Swiss group MCH, would replace FIAC in its annual fall slot. FIAC had occupied the spectacular cathedral-like exhibition hall for a week every October since 2006, but relations had soured between the owners of the fair, the Anglo-Dutch group RELX (also owner of Paris Photo ) and the management of the Grand Palais. FIAC moved last year to a temporary site near the Eiffel Tower while the historic Grand Palais is closed for renovation.
Today, MCH announced the details of the new event. The management of the Grand Palais, anxious to protect the distinctive character of the French capital’s art scene, stipulated in its seven-year contract with MCH that the fair should not be labeled “Art Basel, Paris”.
In response, the organizers based in Switzerland, in collaboration with the French branding company Yorgo & Co.proposed “Paris+”.
Is it pronounced “Paree ploos”, as in French, or “Paris plus?”
“The official name of the fair is ‘Paree ploos’, but people will translate it as ‘Paris plus’,” said Marc Spiegler, global director of Art Basel, in a telephone interview. “We wanted something small and minimal because a lot of what we want to do is work with other entities in the art world and outside of it,” Spiegler added, echoing the previous interviews in which he said that MCH wanted to create a dialogue between the fair and other cultural industries in Paris.
Paris+ will launch at the temporary Grand Palais site with a roster of around 170 merchants, and will remain there until 2023, before moving in 2024 to the Grand Palais itself, with its capacity of more than 200 exhibitors, said Spiegler.
The director of the new event is Clément Delépine, the former co-director of Paris Internationale, a much-loved fair for emerging gallery owners that was held each year in a distinctive location during what used to be called “FIAC week”. .
“We want to develop its historical continuity and take advantage of the cultural context,” Delépine said in an interview. “We will have a VIP team of more than 30 people from Art Basel,” he added, stressing that the organizers of the new fair were committed to maintaining the distinctive French flavor of FIAC. “We agreed from the start that 25 to 30% of the galleries will remain French,” Delépine said.
In a statement, Art Basel said three of the seven gallery owners on the fair’s selection committee, which chooses new exhibitors and maintains quality control among existing attendees, were based in Paris. Jennifer Flay, long-time director of FIAC, will join the Paris+ management team as chair of the fair’s advisory board in March 2023, the statement added.
“Clément Delépine will bring freshness to the fair, which is welcome,” said Christian Oger, art advisor and private dealer based in Paris, specializing in the 20th century art for which Paris is famous. He added that one should not forget the exhibitors of the show focusing on historical pieces.
“There are a lot of fairs for emerging artists. If you want hard-hitting American collectors to cross the Atlantic, you have to give them a reason to fly,” Ogier said. “That’s Paris.”