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The Annual Paris Artistic Sensory Overload

Attending the FIAC has been a tradition since long before moving to Paris. The FIAC is the “Foire International d’Art Contemporain,” although you will NEVER see its name in full on any signage or in any of its materials. It’s simply come to be known as “the FIAC,” the annual International Contemporary Art Fair in Paris.

Every year it seems to grow and take on new shape. This 35th edition ran from October 23rd through the 26th in two locations — the Grand Palais and the Louvre, welcoming more than 70,000 visitors, at the not so inexpensive entry of 25€. The exhibitors are galleries from all over the world, hoping to sell their paintings, photos, sculptures and other works of art.

The Grand Palais as a venue is perfectly stunning. The natural light from the elaborate iron and glass roof could not be better for showing the work at its best. Sunday afternoon was likely the worst time to attend — the queue to buy tickets and enter was down the block and spilling onto the street, but the weather was mild and the ‘die-hards’ where determined to get in.

I had the good fortune of attending with a friend who has dealt in art much of her life and was quite familiar with most of the artists whose work was shown. She could spot an artist’s work from down the aisle and then relate a bit of history about each one. It was like having a walking “Wikipedia” to narrate and enlighten with each step.

It was surprising that of the mix of works on display there weren’t more photography, in light of the upcoming “Mois de la Photo” and “Paris Photo” fair just around the corner. There was also quite an unusual ‘come-back’ of “op-art” works popular in the ’60s. We noticed that the quality of the works on display were outstandingly high — but what I would term “low risk” — meaning tried and true artists whose work is more likely to sell than lesser known artists. Still, not many ‘red dots’ noting a piece as ‘sold’ were visible.

We wondered how today’s economic crisis would affect the sales — would people turn to art as an alternative to stocks, bonds and mutual funds, as possible investments? I’d always learned that one must not collect art for investment, but for pleasure. However, if the collector’s pleasure was keen, the investment could prove to be quite profitable. Still, one must be willing to part with the work — easier for the dealer than the collector, no doubt.

People watching is a pleasurable benefit of the fair. The attendees range from artists to dealers to collectors to simply art lovers. Either way, there is certain bohemian chic about them, at all ages and nationalities. The dealers sit in their booths looking bored to tears, yet stylish and anxious to visit the city, instead.

Cameras were snapping at every turn. No wonder. There was lots of ‘eye candy’ and an overwhelming amount of artistic sensory overload.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. .S. Normally the Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group would be closed on the holiday, Saturday, November 1st (Toussaint, All Saints Day), however, we will exceptionally be open! Welcome all French and English speakers who wish to practice speaking. Visit for more information.

P.P.S. Mark your calendar to do more than just vote on November 4th! Join us at Parler Paris Après Midi (one week early due to the November 11th holiday) and celebrate the U.S. Presidential election…then plan on joining me later in the evening at the City Hall of the 3rd arrondissement for “La Nuit Américaine” (The American Night) when our French neighbors “explore and understand the United States”:

“La Nuit Américaine” (The American Night)

November 4th, the presidential election day in the U.S., is the center of a special event organized by the City Hall of the 3rd Arrondissement to “explore and understand the United States,” as their publicity states…its history, its society, its political system, and of course, to follow the election results!

* 7 p.m.: Exhibition of photos by Jean-Robert Dantou titled “Paysage de Campagne 2008” presented by a representative of the American Embassy Paris and Mayor Pierre Aidenbaum
* 7:30 p.m.: Discussion — “La situation politique et sociale actuelles aux Etats-Unis”
* 11 p.m.: Discussion — “Enjeux du scrutins”
* 9:30 p.m. Film: “Little Miss Sunshine”
* 12:30 a.m. (November 5) Film: “Crash”
* 2:30 a.m. (November 5) Film: “Vertigo”
* 5:00 a.m. (November 5) Breakfast

Entry is free
Mairie de 3ème
Salle Odette Pilpoul
2 rue Eugène Spuller
75003 PARIS
Tél: 01 53 01 75 03

Visit for more information.

P.P.P.S. This is your chance for your 15 minutes of fame!…Take part Wednesday evening in a filming by German TV station ARD TV of Americans taking part in the Straw Vote at Harry’s Bar — a tradition since 1924!

6 p.m. Wednesday October 29, 2008
Harry’s New York Bar
5, Rue Daunou
75002 Paris
01 42 61 71 14


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