The FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain) is an international contemporary art event held every year in Paris since 1974, and it has been on my bucket list for years. As a contemporary painter + major art enthusiast, I have been to a handful of art fairs in New York, Miami and Basel. Alas I’ve visited the Paris version!
Biting the Bullet (Bucket List FOMO)
During my times at American art fairs, I was an art student and had hook-ups, so I’d go to these huge, pricey fairs for free. Art fairs are sort of ridiculous art shopping malls — I believe that it would be wiser to put my money towards my own art career — thus why for my last 2 years in Paris I skipped out on la FIAC (I also could not afford the insane entrance fee).
With the news of Le Grand Palais to be shut down for years in the near-future, I knew I’d regret not going at least ONCE in my life. So, I treated myself this year, and knew I had to go on a sunny day (and not during the weekend)! I was lucky to be able to go on a sunny Friday, late-morning. The Grand Palais has the second largest glass roof in the world, built during La Belle Époque period, and it is one of my favorite buildings in the world. Such a beauty!
Wishing to experience the Grand Palais before it’s temporarily shut-down for many years? I hear you’ll be able to ice-skate inside this winter. 😉
Emerging Talent sections & Satellite Fairs
As someone who follows majority of the well-known international art galleries, it was not exactly necessary for me to attend La FIAC! for the content within.. Although there was a slight exception (other than the architecture bien sûr!):
There was a section for young galleries in the Secteur Lafayette upstairs, which provided a little opportunity to discover some new galleries and artists.
If you are at these kinds of big art fairs, I definitely recommend checking out the satellite fairs and the parts of fairs that represent emerging talent / young galleries / etc. There are free fairs at times as well. For example, during FIAC week, there is a fair called Paris Internationale and a second called Bienvenue (both free!). I think there was something in Pantin (north of Paris) as well, but I missed it. Will keep an eye out next year! There is also YIA, which isn’t free, but you can probably get a free invite to their vernissage if you email them. If you’re more interested in France-only galleries, you can attend Galeristes at the lovely Carreau du Temple for a much lower price of 10 euros (2019 price).
Gallery Hopping during FIAC Week = Internationally Spiced
Also, many of the city’s galleries (which are always free) stay open late for one of the nights during FIAC week, called Nocturne des Galeries. I don’t know about you, but as a New York expat, any chance to see French businesses open until very late definitely sparks my interest. I like breaking French-norm rules. 😀 It’s also the one week in Paris that you’ll be likely to see contemporary art-world people from all around the world in these spaces. So, it’s definitely worth it to check out Paris galleries with this extra-international ambiance! And who knows, maybe some epic networking opportunities await you.
As fancy-schmancy as FIAC! may seem from afar, it’s just an art fair. It’s art. There are people there from all over the world. There are so many attendees that no one notices you. Just have fun and enjoy the weirdness, the crazy outfits/people-watching and the gorgeous architecture! And, if you’re into selfies, there are always original selfie-mirror opps abound. (I’ve spared you. 😂 You’re welcome.)
To get more up close and personal with some of the galleries and galerists at FIAC this past October, you can check out FIAC STORIES for video interviews.
Hors Les Murs & le Jardin des Tuileries
FIAC! continues outside of the Grand Palais in other parts of Paris every year, called FIAC hors les murs, with installations set up all around the city. One consistent spot every year is the Tuileries Garden and Place Vendôme. It’s free and also includes art guides that take you around to the different pieces.
Luckily, the day I went to the fair was a lovely one, so I walked from the Grand Palais to the Tuileries Garden, then stopped to get some Japanese and Korean goodies above the Garden before taking the métro home. I had most definitely earned my matcha-infused baked goods from Aki after all of that walking. 🙂
Back to You
Did any of you attend an art fair in the recent past? Have you taken advantage of the art events in Paris every October during FIAC week? What did you see/think? 🙂 Do any of you have VIP tickets for me next year? 😂