Kehinde Wiley, Elizabeth of France, Queen of Spain (2016) (Image: Courtesy of Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris et Bruxelles. @ Kehinde Wiley Studio)
The 43rd edition of the Fiac fair (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain) opened its doors earlier this week against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty in the US and Europe. US collectors were, dealers said, conspicuously absent from the fair, which was buoyed by European buyers who were out in force at Paris’s Grand Palais.
“Since I started doing Fiac, I have never seen so few Americans. There are five good US collectors here,” said the Paris-based dealer Thaddaeus Ropac, stressing that almost all of the works on his booth had sold to “core Europeans”.
Pieces by Tony Cragg, Yan Pei-Ming and Robert Longo were all bought by Parisian collectors, while Georg Baselitz’s painting Guidiamo (2016), priced at €500,000, was sold to a German buyer. “It’s been such a success, which means that Fiac can succeed without US support,” Ropac said.
The New York-based dealer Anton Kern noted that fewer US museums were in attendance. According to a spokeswoman for Fiac, a group from the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia had visited. Two days into the fair, Kern had sold a number of drawings by the Los Angeles-based artist Matthew Monahan to European collectors, including Surfer Rosa (2016), priced at $32,000.
Dealers cited the change in dates of London’s Frieze art fair this year because of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur as another factor. “As an American collector, you had to make a choice,” said the New York-based dealer Rachel Lehmann. “Some went to Frieze and some came here. The serious collectors are still out there; they don’t have to physically visit either fair.”
Her gallery, Lehmann Maupin, had sold works by the South Africa-based artist Liza Lou, priced between $100,000 and $450,000, along with works by the Paris-born artist Kader Attia, priced between €35,000 and €250,000.
The recent terrorist attacks in France, the timing of discussions over Brexit by the UK government and the impending US presidential election added to the uncertainty, potentially deterring US collectors.
Dine, I am James Dine, age 81 (2016) (Image: Courtesy of Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris et Bruxelles. © Jim Dine)
However, Anne-Claudie Coric, the executive director of Galerie Templon, with spaces in Paris and Brussels, said that “there is a really international mix at the fair, as always”, adding that Chinese collectors were also in attendance. She had sold works by the US artists Jim Dine (I Am James Dine age 81 (2016), $350,000) and Kehinde Wiley (Elizabeth of France, Question of Spain (2016), $145,000) to Parisian buyers.
This year’s fair (until 23 October) brings together 186 galleries, compared with 173 in 2015, including 43 newcomers. The 52 French dealers make up 28% of this year’s fair roster, while the US contingent numbers 34 galleries.