PAD, the Paris art and design fair (until 26 March), has lost its vetting committee, the panel of experts that screens all the works offered by dealers, with a right to veto any objects they find to be questionable. Soon after the opening of the fair’s 20th anniversary edition on Wednesday, the Compagnie Nationale des Experts (CNE), which was in charge of PAD’s vetting, decided to withdraw. “The circumstances were such [that we] could no longer perform a proper job”, its chairman Frédéric Castaing told The Art Newspaper.
“It was a difficult decision, but one we took unanimously; our trade has a professional and ethical position to stand for. All those who volunteered for the mission thought they were being treated disrespectfully,” Castaing added. “The time given to screen the objects before the opening has been dramatically reduced, even though experts had doubts about certain objects. Some booths could not be controlled at all. So we thought it was better to stop than take on responsibility for something over which we had no control.”
Although Castaing said that some works at this year’s fair “appeared to be problematic”, he declined to give specifics. “This situation is not new,” he added. “Over the years, the material conditions have deteriorated. We decided to stop vetting PAD London before the last edition for the same reasons.”
Apparently, tensions erupted when the fair’s organisers excluded two experts from the vetting committee, “for motives that have nothing to do with professional and ethical standards” according to CNE.
Founded in 1997 by Patrick Perrin, the son of one of the most prestigious antiques dealers in Paris, PAD is held in the Tuileries Gardens, near the Louvre. It features some 67 exhibitors presenting a mix of design, sculpture, jewellery, tribal and modern art. PAD London, held in Berkeley Square each October, at the same time as Frieze, had its 10th anniversary last year. Perrin did not reply to calls and a spokeswoman for the fair said she could not comment.