Fiac 2021: The art market and the joy of living and selling

Visitors to FIAC 2021 at the Grand Palais Éphémère in front of the work “Dispersion devant impasse” (2021) by Senegalese artist Omar Ba, exhibited at the Templon gallery.

© Siegfried Forster / RFI

Text by: Siegfried Forster Follow

6 mins

The Fiac is back, the joy of collectors to spend a fortune on a work of art obviously too.

From October 21 to 24, the largest modern and contemporary art fair in France welcomes 170 galleries from 25 countries at the Grand Palais Éphémère, in Champ-de-Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower.


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There was a crowd this Wednesday evening during the opening of the Fiac.

Eyes shine and visitors, including actor Brad Pitt and comedian Gad Elmaleh, flock to discover the new horizons imagined by artists and gallery owners for the world after confinement.


A feeling that comes from the guts


I need to see the painting in front of me, canvases covered with oil, gouache, to experience a feeling that comes from the guts,

 " says Véronique, a faithful visitor to the Fiac. Do you want to see life in pink? So grab a little pink at Georg Baselitz. The London gallery White Cube presents

Wir nehmen ein wenig Rosa

(2018), a monumental canvas by the German master of overturned heads. For the tidy sum of 950,000 euros, you can get in tune with the great



at the Center Pompidou-Paris.


Everything has already been sold

 ”. To buy the four luminous paintings on the decline of cinemas in Africa exhibited on the stand of the Cécile Fakhoury gallery, you have arrived too late. All of Cheikh Ndiaye's works hung on the walls of the stand found buyers before the official opening, 45,000 euros per piece. Luckily, as the gallery is opening a third branch in Paris after Abidjan and Dakar this Thursday, October 21, other paintings by the Senegalese artist are already waiting for you. Delphine Lopez, director of the gallery in Dakar: “ 

Cheikh Ndiaye's painting is very well received. People admire this realistic side of painting which gives off a strong emotion. They are very curious and ask a lot of questions.



The need for a direct aesthetic experience


This thirst of visitors to physically confront the works and discuss the paintings is also palpable at the Templon gallery. “ 

At one time, we talked a lot about digital, dematerialization… In reality, the public needs a direct aesthetic experience

 ”, explains Anne-Claudie Coric, the managing director. Alongside a new canvas (the color of which still seems fresh) by African-American star Kehinde Wiley for a few hundred thousand dollars, the Parisian gallery has honored the Senegalese painter Omar Ba, born as Wiley in 1977.

Dispersion before the dead end

(price: 115,000 euros) is a work as monumental as it is enigmatic, produced during the pandemic, specifies Anne-Claudie Coric.


He's very successful.

Omar Ba's painting is on the borderline between abstraction and figuration and it is always a reflection on the state of contemporary Africa.

This painting is a kind of self-portrait.

We see the masked artist, like an enormous butterfly which is blocked, which cannot fly away.

It speaks of those two very difficult years that we went through, of this feeling of not having moved forward.


Online art sales

Since the start of the pandemic, online art sales have increased significantly. According to the report by insurer Hiscox, the percentage of online purchases doubled in 2020 to reach 15.8% in 2020. And in the first half of 2021, online sales hit a record $ 6.8 billion. Even the Fiac kept its Online Viewing Rooms section, which enabled it to expand its clientele during the pandemic and which shows 42 exhibitors exclusively online. But what is striking about the gallery stands at the Grand Palais Éphémère is a certain return to the materiality of art and the physical beauty of works. A desire resulting in the presence of many paintings (often close to the figurative) and rather few installations or videos and the absence of crypto-art, the famous NFT.


For the moment, as it is not yet quite mainstream, we do not yet have artists who have embarked on NFT, but, why not,

notes Anne-Claudie Coric of the Templon gallery founded in 1966 and who exhibited the greatest, from Warhol to Basquiat…

We are there to support artists, and we follow them in all their experiments.


Lili Reynaud Dewar at FIAC

The French Lili Reynaud Dewar has just won the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize 2021. She is also one of the artists exhibited at the new Bourse de Commerce of the Pinault Foundation.

Fiac will further accelerate its rise in the art market.

The Austrian gallery Layr presents for 25,000 euros one of her videos which made her known and where she dances naked in an empty institution.

As for the Clearing gallery (New York, Brussels), it offers three plates (all already sold for 50,000 euros to private collections and an institution) of the winner's danced self-portraits on silk and presented under glass.

[Video] Lili Reynaud Dewar, Marcel Duchamp Prize 2021, in a word, a gesture and a silence

Lili Reynaud Dewar, winner of the 2021 Marcel Duchamp Prize for “Rome, November 1 and 2, 1975”.

© Siegfried Forster / RFI

After the trials of the pandemic, the New York artist Jim Hodges tries to reconcile with the materiality of our existence through a paradisiacal vision as silhouettes carved in gold leaf:

Between the flowers and the birds

( " 

Between the flowers and birds


A series created in 2020 and 2021 and shown by the American gallery Gladstone at the start of the tour under the vault of the Grand Palais Éphémère.

Annely Juda Fine Art suggests getting over our frustration at not having been able to buy the Arc de Triomphe packaged by Christo with a small supermarket cart packed by the famous artist in 1963. The value of the idea of ​​genius expressed by a tarpaulin in plastic (trolley included): 35,000 euros.

Sin Wai Kin and his wipes transformed into webs

The major risk of our time threatened by the pandemic, wars and the predicted climate catastrophe is clearly displayed by the Viennese gallery Krinzinger with a black and white work by Monica Bonvicini: “ 

die of a rage to live

 ”, in other words, “ 

die of the rage to live

 ”. And if you have fallen under the spell of the great retrospective of the Italian Giuseppe Penone at the National Library of France-François Mitterrand, the New York gallery Marian Goodman knows how to charm you with

Leaves of Grass

, an artistic variation on the imprint of his fingers celebrating the sacred bonds that connect humans to nature. A work of two by three meters, available for the modest sum of 950,000 euros.

The most tactile, fragile, intimate and sensual works come to us from Sin Wai Kin, exhibited at the English gallery Soft Opening.

The Canadian artist born in 1991 has been performing as a transvestite since arriving in London in 2012. After performances or films where she questions the body and human identities in the social body, she carefully prints the makeup of her face on a wipe thus transformed into a small canvas, then "framed" in a small acrylic box.

The result of this artistic “shroud” is as stunning as it is touching.

In an ingenious way, she gives a physical, even poetic and Christlike permanence to an otherwise ephemeral performance.

► Also to listen: 

La Fiac is back at the ephemeral Grand Palais in Paris for its 47th edition


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