The delicate balance in past years between the two prestigious European autumn art fairs, London’s Frieze and the Paris FIAC, may well be impacted by recent international developments. In effect, the global adjustment of art market prices and the implementation of the Brexit referendum appear to have revived competition between the two events. According to Thierry Ehrmann, founder and CEO of Artprice, « each event has the potential to hold sway over the other, which could lead to a significant re-organization of the global market ».
Paris – which wants to recover a strong position on the international art market – could take advantage of Brexit to retrieve its long-lost status as European capital of the art market. London, on the other hand, wants to consolidate its dominance by demonstrating its stability despite leaving the European Union unexpectedly. In this context, the relative success of the two fairs this year could provide a first indicator as to which way the market will evolve.
Ahead of these two major events, Artprice takes a look – as it has done over the past 13 years – at the strengths and opportunities of each fair. This year, the competition is more intense and the stakes are higher!
In a few days Artprice with AFP will release its worlwide report on the Contemporary Art as it has been done for 20 years.
Frieze London, from October 6 to 9, 2016
The Frieze’s success is largely based on its continued expansion. Building on its success in the Contemporary Art segment, the organization grew a new head by offering a second space dedicated to Old Masters, the Frieze Masters. It then gave its name to the Frieze Magazine and the Frieze Academy before launching a clone fair in New York in May 2015!
The Frieze organisation is dynamically directed by the young Victoria Siddall (38) who is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. Her dual prestige/discovery conception of the Frieze allows it to mix the most promising new galleries with well-established and internationally recognised galleries. Whereas a stand can cost up to £500 per square metre, the fair offer discounts of up to 50% of that price so that the best young galleries, selected from all over the planet, have a chance of participating.
In fact, the Frieze has essentially the same ambition as English auction houses: to attract the best art from world’s five continents. This year, 160 galleries from 30 countries will convene in Regent’s Park, with, for the first time, galleries from Taiwan, Guatemala and Egypt.
The Paris FIAC – from 20 to 23 October 2016
Hosted in the Grand Palais, at the same location as the Salon Officiel and the Salon des refusés in days gone by, the FIAC continues to take full advantage of its Parisian aura. For its 43th edition, it brings together 183 of the most prestigious galleries in the world from 26 countries. The dominance of the major Western powers is clear with the fair’s core consisting of 55 French galleries, 34 American, 26 German, 14 British and 14 Italian. Indeed, the FIAC proudly wears its objective of uniting the best global Contemporary Art in the French capital for a week.
In response to demand, in recent years the show offered a side event (l’Officielle) in order to host galleries it could not place in the Grand Palais: Unfortunately, this dimension has been suspended this year.
One of the FIAC’s strong points is its prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize, awarded since 2001 by the ADIAF (Association for the International Diffusion of French Art). The award has already “revealed” a number of artists who have since become famous including Thomas Hirschhorn, Dominique Gonzales-Foerster, Tatiana Found or Latifa Echakhch.
The Frieze, the FIAC, or both?
Many prestigious galleries consider the two fairs as perfectly complementary. The Gagosian, David Zwirner, Sadie Coles, Massimo de Carlo, Marian Goodman, among others, will therefore be present at both events again this year.
The two fairs also provide an opportunity for the best London galleries to settle in Paris for a few days, and vice versa. In fact, the major French galleries – Perrotin, Mennour, Almine Rech – would not miss the Frieze for anything (even if it meant missing the FIAC) and the best English galleries – The Lisson, Simon Lee, White Cube all come readily to the Paris fair.
Although a number of galleries choose to focus on the prestigious Parisian event with Blum & Poe, calier | gebauer, Continua, Paula Cooper still prefer the FIAC to its London rival, this year, the Swiss gallery Hauser & Wirth seems to have made a significant decision by giving preference to the Frieze… and the influence of this gallery has never been stronger. At the top of Art Review’s “Power 100” in 2015, it has recently opened a new space in Los Angeles.
The art market’s temporary slowdown and uncertainties relating to Brexit have therefore rekindled the fierce competition between London and Paris. In this context, the relative numbers of collectors attracted to the two major autumn fairs will provide an indication of the general trend and of the relative attractiveness of the two cities… and of the two marketplaces. Last year, the FIAC attracted a little more than 70,000 visitors with the l’Officielle attracting 13,000 more; meanwhile, Frieze London and Frieze Masters attracted some 100,000 amateur and professional collectors.
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