Security is tight this week in Paris for the Milipol internal state security business fair at the Porte de Versailles, but it is likely to be even tighter still for the annual FIAC (Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain) event at the Grand Palais this weekend.
The event attracts a large portion of the world’s most prestigious private art galleries who come to display their offerings to curious visitors and - more importantly - potential clients. Make no mistake here, people are in town to do business, and art is the commodity.
In theory, the event is open to anyone, but with entrance fees set at €32 (or €55 with the catalogue!), there is a certain whiff of exclusivity. In its prestigious setting, it is a show in itself, perhaps a little like going to the Opéra, but it is unlikely to bring the world of contemporary art to the masses.
Perhaps this though is being a little unfair. The FIAC is not just one event, but also a series of smaller off events in a variety of locations around the city, with - for example - art installations in both the Jardin des Tuilleries and the Jardin des Plantes. It has also inspired a series of spin-offs and copies that attempt to profit from the presence in the city of the world's leading collectors, many of which are far more accessible to the less wealthy.
One of these events is the Chic Art Fair, being held this year further down the Seine in the Cité de la Mode et du Design, on the Quai D’Austerlitz. With entrance prices being a more reasonable 10 Euros, it could be a more democratic option. For those wishing to visit both events though, a BatoChic boat will also be running between the two sites over the weekend.
The Chic Art Fair also brings together a number of galleries seeking clients for the creations they have on display, but it may offer the opportunity to discover up and coming artists and make more affordable purchases. In an attempt to gain an edge over the FIAC, it also includes sections dedicated to photography (including the wonderful Les Douches La Galerie) and street art.
What remains to be seen now is whether Paris remains a AAA location for the modern art market.