Perhaps you were unaware. There is a massive art show featuring over 200+ galleries from all over the world exhibiting at the Grand Palais called FIAC. Artwork from some of the most renowned living artists and emerging artists represented by specially selected galleries by a committee. What a spectacle I attended with a close friend who has deep ties into the community. There are many reasons for going to this show, but I can think of a few reasons why you shouldn’t make this a tourist or casual art destination.
FIAC is a show to display and sell art. I suppose this is prime real estate used to find more collectors and future collectors, but the industry has in a way lost its grip. There aren’t a ton of new buyers coming into the art market. As the divide between rich and poor continue to widen, the art world at some point will suffer. The art industry needs to do a better job of increasing the number of art collectors in our society. However, this is a task difficult to conquer if people are intimidated to enter the gallery in the first place.
During the show, we quickly figured out that a simple hello goes a long way. The folks who work in the gallery are just folks who work in a gallery trying to make a living just like you. They are underpaid, but they genuinely enjoy what they are doing. Most of them probably don’t own a single art piece they are selling. Which is a problem in itself. However, why shouldn’t you attend this show?
If you are a casual art lover, you will grow and build an appreciation for the art over time. The show does not allow for non-casual art lovers to get the warm and cozy with a piece. You feel rushed, and people are pushing you, overhearing conversations in your ear while you are trying to focus on that particular piece. The exhibitors have limited space and can only display specific pieces. The set up is an organized maze in the sense that each booth has separated walls and corners with art tucked away. Unless you are confident enough to have a conversation with the dealer, you will not have a chance to see the real opportunities to buy accessible art.
Then the Grand Palais is an art piece in itself. The Palais is centered in the heart of Paris. For those of you who have never been to the Palais, it is a marvel. Unbelievable architecture that is the main attraction. Back to the art. There are times when I try to understand why certain pieces are selected for display. If this is your only chance to impress collectors amongst thousands of opportunities, well in my mind there were a lot of massive failures. Then I quickly received an education in the moment I saw pills. Yes, pills. At first sight, I thought this is awful; then a little birdie, my companion, whispered in my ear the meaning of the art piece and the artists who did it. General Idea is a trio of gay men that suffered from AIDS. They developed this fantastic series of pills on vinyl, the sculpture that brought awareness to the reality of that disease. After two of the founding members died from complications caused by AIDS, the creativity of this collective stopped. I was emotionally punched in the gut and immediately saw the piece in a completely different light. Why is it this story important.
When you go to an event like this with the overwhelming amount of art being showcased, you don’t get the “punch in the gut” if you don’t have a knowledgeable friend accompanying you at an event like this. You do not get to speak to the real experts and collectors to understand why certain pieces are important and why the price is set the way that it is. What you do get is pieces of art with a price attached to it. And believe me, the gallerists will know immediately if you are a serious buyer.
This is not to discourage you from going to FIAC; actually, it is the opposite. It is to prepare you for what to expect if you attend the show.