A Contemporary Art Fair Showdown: Frieze Versus Fiac

Delphine de Causans was born and raised in Paris. After graduating from La Sorbonne University with a Masters Degree in Contemporary Art, she is now studying at Christies while working as a freelance art advisor and critic. 

If you’re a contemporary art lover, you will have been anticipating the month of October in Europe. Some of the world’s biggest art fairs are on now, and insiders always have their favorites! So how do the two biggest, the Frieze Art Fair London and the Fiac Paris Art Fair, really stack up?

Sadly, this year my opinion on the London art fair can be summarized in one word: boring! Well, I could use a few others; disappointing? Annoying? Frankly I was so bored by the Frieze Art Faire I could not even summon the desire to attend the following Frieze Masters. My expectations fell short when I failed to discover any new good artists, and to boot the works on display were rather dull, failing to generate the usual frenzied transactions you see at the booths. Art dealers reveled their hunger for a deal when a number offered discounted rates up to 20% right off the bat in price negotiations. That being said, there are a few pieces I did love. Salon 94, a new work by Marylin Minter (pictured at the top of the post) was quite impressive; a painting featuring safety pins on canvas by Jim Lambie from the Modern Institute was an original, while James Martin from the Lisson Gallery explored totally new materials. Finally, my favorite piece was Zilvinas Kempinas black tondo by Yvon Lambert.

Across the pond, the Fiac Paris has won titles as the greatest international contemporary art fair for years. At the Fiac, interest in the works on display was very strong, particularly in regards to contemporary art, which has proven to be a safe haven in investment security. Billionaires from India, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and around the world gathered to snatch up the unique works on display from over 180 art galleries worldwide. A number of exhibitions were organized by the French institutions to which they belong, such as “Le Louvre”, “Le Palais de Tokyo” and “Beaubourg”. Meanwhile galleries like Gagosian and Thaddaeus Ropac seized the occasion to host grand opening parties in the North and East of Paris! Not to mention the smaller art fairs which run concurrently with the Fiac; Art Elysées, Cutlog, Slick, Unlimited Bodies and the Design Path. Paris is bursting at the seams with a passion for contemporary art, and it really shows at the Fiac.

Overall, my verdict is in: Paris, le gagnant! Mais oui! Until next year – when everything can change again!