By Andrew M. Goldstein
Oct. 25, 2014
FIAC 2014 at Paris’s Grand Palais
Held in the impossibly stately Grand Palais, this year’s edition of FIAC presented two narratives. One was about art: the work on view was almost without exception of exceedingly high quality, with a pronounced Eurocentric focus convening art rich in elegance, art-historical interest, and cerebral taste. One was about culture: the brutal attack of the artist Paul McCarthy in the days before the fair—by an assailant who shouted that the artist was not French—and the subsequent vandalism of his 80-foot-tall inflatable Christmas tree/butt plug in the Place Vendôme set a pall over the proceedings, as did the resurgence of xenophobia and nationalism visible in marches around the city and chilling headlines.
It did not help, for instance, that the international edition of the New York Times blared “An Old Demon Stalks Europe” as the front-page headline the day before the vernissage for a story detailing a rise in attacks on Jews across France, quoting French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (who visited FIAC the following day) characterizing it as “the new anti-semitism.” Thousands of Jews have left France in recent months, and several Jewish dealers, advisors, and art professionals visiting the fair said the atmosphere, while not evidenced at the fair, was nonetheless palpable. “I can’t wait to fly out of here tomorrow,” one American dealer said at the vernissage. “It’s unnerving.”
But, back to the art. Here are a few of the most absorbing works on view at the fair.