What the FIAC? The Contemporary Art World Meets in Paris

What the FIAC? The Contemporary Art World Meets in Paris

Each year in October the smart set and the who’s who of the art world answer the unmissable call of the Foire International d’Art Contemporaine, known as FIAC, in Paris. What happens in FIAC doesn’t stay in FIAC, as the ‘off’ events held outside the walls of the hallowed halls of the Grand Palais are just as exciting as the official exhibition. A leading art fair is a great opportunity to see the work of the established artists of our time, and also to discover emerging talent. Plus there are dozens of satellite events and extramural art installations organized around FIAC, which makes it a must destination for both inveterate connoisseurs and dilettantes alike. Art galleries join in the excitement presenting special openings, and monumental art pieces are peppered around the city, ready to surprise, provoke and establish a dialogue with the public.


The 44th edition of the fair, chaired by Jennifer Flay, welcomes 192 international galleries hailing from 29 countries including 40 new exhibitors and 6 new countries: Egypt, Kosovo, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Tunisia. The 2017 fair also sees the triumphant return of design as a mainstream discipline, represented by five renown galleries with global reach.

Keep your eyes peeled

Walking around Paris during FIAC is a treasure hunt of art surprises. Over 70 major works are exhibited in public spaces as part of the Hors Les Murs show, in spots such as the Tuileries gardens or Winston Churchill Avenue, with works by Pablo Reinoso with his ‘spaghetti bench’ in front of the Grand Palais (pictured in the first image) or George Condo, Erik Dietman, Jim Dine, Folkert de Jong and Stefan Rinck, to name a few. Hors les Murs presents modernist and contemporary projects, artist’s houses and utopian conjecture, in what FIAC curators call a ‘fantasy urban village, a sort of contemporary madness’.



Not for sensitive dispositions

Every year there’s a little ‘scandal’ to enliven the polite art salon conversations. One such topic of controversy is the Domestikator installation by Dutch artist Joep Van Lieshout that, as reported by Le Figaro, was ‘too-hot-to-handle’ for the Louvre, and finally found a home in the piazza of the Centre Pompidou. The work features a shape that… ahem… is clearly engaged in a certain activity in a certain position. It addresses the issue of how man employs technology, and the ethical lines on the sand of artificial intelligence, genetic manipulation, robotics or industrial farming. The artist is setting up his studio inside the structure during the fair, so it’s a chance to witness the creative process first hand. Domestikator was exhibited in Germany without the bat of an eyelid, but Paris seems to have a more sensitive stomach for provocative pieces – some of you may still remember Paul McCarthy’s deflated ‘plug-gate‘ during the 2014 edition.


Many events around FIAC are one-of-a-kind, such as the Parades program in a longstanding collaboration with the Louvre Museum, offering beautiful performances of contemporary dance, music, theatre and poetry.

Trisha Brown, Rogues © Christopher Linday

FIAC Paris
October 19-22
Grand Palais and extramural venues


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Sylvia Edwards Davis is a writer and correspondent based in France with a focus on business and culture. A member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia scans the cultural landscape to bring you the most relevant highlights on current events, art exhibitions, museums and festivals.

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