Meat and Greet

Linda Yablonsky around the 42nd edition of FIAC

Left: Dealer Chantal Crousel. Right: Artist Sterling Ruby and designer Raf Simons. (All photos: Linda Yablonsky)

PARISIANS LOVE THEIR MEAT. Starting with the sliders and champagne served during last Sunday’s lunchtime preview of “Sterling Ruby: Paris,” in the Gagosian Gallery hangar at Le Bourget, some form of animal fat was on the menu at every meal related to the forty-second edition of FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain).

Paris is not for the cholesterol-averse. Then again, who goes to an art fair to slim down? The whole idea is to enrich one’s holdings and experience of art and its associations, be they educational, financial, or social. Though shrouded by a chilly gloom throughout the week, the City of Light laid a feast.

The French love fashion as much as they do art. At Le Bourget, where high-net-worth clients can pull up their private jets to Gagosian’s back door, the Ruby opening was only one sign of how seamlessly the two worlds mesh in Paris. Designers and models do not show up here just for photo ops. They work with artists, and call them friends.

Left: Artist Neïl Beloufa. Right: Artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and dealer Lisa Spellman.

Raf Simons has incorporated paintings by Ruby in fabrics for his eponymous menswear line, examples of which both artist and designer were wearing at the opening. “We’ll do it again,” said Ruby, clad head-to-toe in bleached Simons/Ruby denim. Huge Ruby tapestries hung on the walls. Instead of his signature sculptural ooze, big and black abstract hulks reminiscent of Matthew Barney’s smashed cars sat on the polished concrete floor. These were actually cut up and rearranged parts of a 1972 submarine that Ruby discovered going to rust in Long Beach, California. As art, it’s just as lethal.

The French also love film. Neïl Beloufa was one artist who incorporated its trappings, if not its stars, in “C’est la vie?,” the multifarious group show he was staging in his 5,700-square-foot, suburban Villejuif studio. Half the works on view were installed within the set of Hotel Occidental, a feature film that Beloufa recently shot there, and alluded to the artists’ transience through it. (Either they worked on the film or have rented workspace in the unheated, two-story complex.) “There are a lot of discoveries here,” said dealer Alex Hertling. They included Benjamin Fanni and actor Paul Hamy and the American-born French photographer Elizabeth Lennard. The whole funky enterprise had an unexpected energy—for Paris.

Warnings that I would be in for a sleepy time, at least compared to London or New York, now proved wide of the mark. I had to forgo Paula Cooper’s reception for Liz Glynn at the Petit Palais, on the other side of town, and just made it to the Centre Pompidou for a cocktail celebrating “Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, 1887–2058.” This time-traveling journey to inner space—via film, built environments, and sound—may be the ’90s art star’s most piercing, elaborate, and accessible exhibition yet.

In the reflecting pool on a fifth-floor terrace that offered panoramic views of Paris, Gonzalez-Foerster floated an homage to Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi. This reception did not attract fashionistas or filmmakers, but gathered the likes of MoMA curator Yasmil Raymond, Reina Sofía deputy director João Fernandes, and dealers Esther Schipper, Nicole Klagsbrun, and Lisa Spellman to the side of Pompidou curator Emma Lavigne. “Isn’t this great?” asked Spellman. So was the entirely diverting new hang of modern and contemporary art in the Pompidou’s spellbinding collection.

Left: Bernard Blistène, director of Musée National d'Art Moderne of the Centre Pompidou. Right: Designer Azzedine Alaïa with dealers Almine Rech and Chrissie Erpf.

A few minutes later, Julian Schnabel drew the esteemed Azzedine Alaïa to his opening at Galerie Almine Rech, where art and fashion people mixed with a few better known to film—namely Roman Polanski and Scarlett Johansson. On the walls, if one could focus on the walls, were four new paintings of the taxidermied goat that Schnabel keeps in his New York studio. Here, its image wore one of Mike Kelley’s stuffed animals like a floppy crown. Against a landscape from an eighteenth-century French wallpaper design, the symbolic goat stood at the edge of a steep abyss. “It’s supposed to be a self-portrait,” allowed Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, “but I see it as a portrait of all of us. At least, I can relate.” He didn’t say how.

Though fantasies of a sort, Schnabel painted his homage to Kelley quite differently than he did the ’90s abstractions—good ones—hanging in another room or the de Kooning–esque spray-painted canvases in an adjacent gallery. “People don’t give Julian half the credit he deserves,” said Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak. Had any of those people been here, they would have to shut up.

Notwithstanding the star power here, the evening’s big blowout was a dinner and party at historic Cirque d’Hiver feting the thirty-fifth anniversary of Galerie Chantal Crousel. This was the winter quarters of the Cirque Bouglione, a traveling French big top that, Crousel confessed in her touching speech at dinner, transfixed her as a child on its annual arrival to her hometown. “Now we really are in a traveling circus!” quipped Artists Space director Stefan Kalmár, one among many on the fall art tour of Europe.

Left: Artists Wade Guyton and Anicka Yi. Right: François Pinault Foundation curator Caroline Bourgeois.

The French love their cirques, but this one’s red-on-red auditorium was now inhabited by 250 artists, collectors, dealers, and curators who have been associated with Crousel and Niklas Svennung, her son and business partner. Their devotion to art and each other was palpable during the two dealers’ toasts, before which a slideshow of the gallery’s exhibitions pretty well outlined the history of contemporary art since the 1970s. The turnout of artists—Thomas Hirshhorn, Danh Vō, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Anri Sala, Wade Guyton—was impressive for the level of testosterone alone. (For the record, Jennifer Allora was also present.)

While foie gras and veal shank were on the table for dinner, the afterparty fare in the center ring served an unbeatable, booty-shaking lineup of three artist–music makers. Uriel Barthélémi played an intense set on drums, followed by the can’t-sit-down DJing of Hassan Khan, who brought the whole crowd to its feet—even Tarek Atoui, whose air-pumping, twirling movements with Pinault Foundation curator Caroline Bourgeois foreshadowed his own propellant turn on the decks.

Late Monday morning, I woke just in time for a preview of a two-man show by Hauser & Wirth gallery mates Rashid Johnson and Matthew Day Jackson in the corporate environs of Studio des Acacias. Its current owner, Paul-Emmanuel Reiffers, a producer of couture shows, founded the Mazarine Group and now wants to showcase contemporary art. “Look for me tonight,” Johnson said. “I’m recreating an Allan Kaprow Happening in front of the Palais de Tokyo.”

Left: Artist Rashid Johnson with collector Paul-Emmanuel Reiffers and artist Matthew Day Jackson. Right: Designer Rick Owens.

That evening, the Palais de Tokyo flung open its doors to—I kid you not—an astonishing twelve thousand people. Once they got to the head of the line outside, visitors had to join another for entrance to “Ugo Rondinone—I Love John Giorno,” a spectacular and profound declaration of affection and respect from one artist to another.

Organized for the museum by independent curator Florence Ostende and designed by Rondinone, the show is a retrospective of Giorno’s career and a salute to each of the seventy-eight years of his life. It thrills from the start, with Rondinone’s multiscreen, black-and-white 2006 film of a formally dressed Giorno giving a spellbinding performance of “Thanks for Nothing,” a poem to his first lover, Andy Warhol. Sleep was playing in another gallery with Warhol’s other early films of Giorno, which were getting their first exhibition here.

The centerpiece, however, was Rondinone’s enthralling display of Giorno’s extensive archive—more than fifteen thousand documents and photos that comprise an unmatched cultural history of New York’s bohemia from the 1950s to 2005. How often do people at openings stop to thumb through nearly a hundred thick books? “This is amazing,” said Michael Stipe, whose own video portrait of Giorno was also in the show, as was another by Tiravanija. That installation appeared with perceptive portraits of the poet painted by Billy Sullivan, Verne Dawson, Judith Eisler, and Elizabeth Peyton. Another gallery, curated by White Columns director Matthew Higgs, included beanbag chairs by Angela Bullock and pristine photos of objects in the archive by Anne Collier. If there have been other exhibitions that express the generosity of spirit in this one, I haven’t seen them.

Unbelievably, the museum was opening two other head-turning shows—by Ragnar Kjartansson and Melanie Matranga—at the same time. Their galleries filled up just as Rondinone left for a swim before the dinner in his and Giorno’s honor at the fashion house of Céline, their show’s leading sponsor. Once again, the worlds of art and fashion snuggled in the same cradle. The showroom’s tiles, for example, replicated a Martin Creed floor so perfectly that one might have thought he had done it. “I worship Phoebe Philo,” gushed designer Rick Owens of his competitor, who was hosting the dinner. “This, obviously, is the cool table,” said dealer Sarah Gavlak, as she appraised Philo’s back-room placement with Owens, Michele Lamy, Kalmár, Higgs, Collier, Barbara Gladstone, and the two guests of honor. Eva Presenhuber, Rondinone’s primary dealer, was in another room.

Left: Dealer Barbara Gladstone and artist Jane Kaplowitz. Right: Collector Bernard Ruiz-Picasso.

At another table, FIAC director Jennifer Flay brimmed with enthusiasm for her fair and its offshoot for smaller galleries, Officielle. The latter’s location, miles down the Seine from the Grand Palais, sent a less confident message, and I never made it. That was really because of the distracting Paris Internationale, a new Salon des Refusés, where the rejects were not artists but young dealers snubbed by FIAC.

The upstart, Independent-style fair opened on Tuesday in a grand but seedy hôtel particulier purportedly owned by a personage from “the Middle East.” Whatever. The air crackled with the electricity of developing art rubbing against the collectors swarming into presentations by the fair’s thirty-five galleries and seven nonprofits from thirteen countries, including Cluj, Romania. With Gregor Staiger, one of the five organizing dealers, was Marie Lusa, designer of his Zurich gallery’s publications as well as the Internationale’s Situationist-inspired graphics. “This whole fair started as a joke last May,” she said, “when we were so bored at Frieze New York that we asked ourselves what we could do to change things.”

New York’s Room East juxtaposed an unusual wallbound terra-cotta sculpture by Ettore Sottsass with freestanding sculptures by G. William Webb, one of which fell apart when the Greek collector Iasson Tsakonas tripped over it. (Fortunately, the artist was on hand to remake it.) Treize, a nonprofit in the Parisian neighborhood of Belleville, set up an artists’ record shop as an experiment in production and distribution that was doing brisk business.

Left: Artists John Giorno, Michael Stipe, and Ugo Rondinone. Right: FIAC director Jennifer Flay.

The evening was fairly quiet, out of deference to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris’s annual gala. Only Balice Hertling hosted an opening—in a parking garage under Place Vendôme, where artist Will Benedict was showing large drawings devoted to activists for environmental salvation.

FIAC opened to VIPs on Wednesday morning, the only one graced by sunshine all week. The Grand Palais, perhaps the world’s best setting for an art fair, also offered the worst food service, but never mind. Booths were spacious on the ground floor and the smaller spaces upstairs still offered something for every taste. “In this place, in this location, I feel rich and important,” said dealer Daniele Balice. In the Salon d’Honneur, which Flay characterized as “fantastic” without hyperbole, Andrew Kreps had a knockout retrospective installation by Marc Camille Chaimowicz that included lamps, screens, and two carpets.

Though Wu Tsang hung a one-ton chandelier of 250,000 Swarovski crystals and a million LED lights from the balcony, if the fair had a theme, it was carpets. Mehdi Chouakri had one, by Saâdane Afif, on his stand. Isabella Bortolozzi had one from 1982 that Aldo Mondino made of beans and seeds. Sylvia Kouvali, on the other hand, had a mosaic floor by Christodoulos Panayiotou, and Gavin Brown fronted his booth with a red curtain by Martin Creed that slowly opened to reveal a wild installation of Creed’s paintings. “It’s like the Moulin Rouge,” noted dealer Lucy Chadwick.

Artist Andrea Blum designed the stand for In Situ-Fabienne LeClerc. “I love a frame without the stuff in it,” she said. “It’s another kind of social space.” Kurimanzutto nailed a prized corner that once was the turf of Yvon Lambert. “People were killing for this space,” said José Kuri, who was still guarding it. And Rondinone killed it again with his installation of target paintings and a fat clown sculpture at Gladstone’s booth. “It’s all just me talking to myself alone in the studio,” he said, adding, “I do love a chubby.”

Left: Serpentine Gallery codirector Hans Ulrich Obrist with La Monnaie Paris program director Chiara Parisi and artist Daniel Spoerri. Right: Dealer Paul Schimmel.

People said the French looked long and bought later, but sales were clearly taking place. “Thanks to the Americans,” observed nonparticipating dealer Cecile Panzieri, “we have a market!” Carol Greene was busy writing invoices for works by Rachel Harrison in her solo presentation, which featured an effigy of Donald Trump. Paul Schimmel designed an installation of politically minded art for Hauser & Wirth that included, in case anyone missed the point, a pile of Charlie Hebdos. Glasgow’s Modern Institute struck gold with one of Monica Sosnowska’s best group of sculptures yet and Franco Noero hit a conceptualist peak with folded and bound textile works by Jason Dodge. The artist had asked people in different lands around the globe to weave a string, twelve meters long—the distance from the earth to the troposphere—in traditional fabrics (silk, cotton, wool, linen, and so forth), resulting in folded blankets or scarves of sizes as wildly different as their cultures.

The evening brought me to Monnaie de Paris, the former mint, for a tour of “Take Me I’m Yours,” a collaborative 1990s exhibition that Hans Ulrich Obrist and Christian Boltanski were reprising. “It’s an evolution, not a remake,” Obrist told me, “with younger artists but also historic positions.”

This was the most fun of any show I saw in Paris. Artworks, replenished daily, were free for the asking. They included air-dispensing bubblegum machines by Yoko Ono, stencils by Lawrence Weiner, painstakingly wrought clay sculptures by Simone Fattal, badges by Gilbert & George that screamed phrases like “Ban Religion,” and a photo booth by Franco Vaccari, among many others. I came away with an armful of books, posters, and newspapers, as well as a gold candy in the shape of a winged penis that Daniel Spoerri, who had contributed an edible skeleton, had made for the following day. “It’s from Pompeii,” said the Monnaie’s imaginative program director, Chiara Parisi. “It’s marzipan,” Spoerri added. I saved it for later.

Left: Artist Julian Schnabel with Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak. Right: Artist Tarek Atoui.

First there was a dinner following yet another exhibition by Ruby—this time of paintings made with a broom—at the national hunting museum, of all places, where guests were greeted by a Walton Ford painting, part of the artist’s current show in this eccentric place. In the courtyard were four large, functional wood-burning stoves by Ruby. “What can I tell you?” he said. “I was raised on a farm, and that’s what we had for heat.”

He had also visited the museum four times on vacations with his wife, the artist Melanie Schiff. Inside, guests were greeted by stuffed tigers, polar bears, a giant alligator, and many firearms from centuries past. “What a hilarious venue for a dinner!” exclaimed dealer Stefan Ratibor. It was. How many historic museums would convert their underground garage to a nightclub, with antlered chandeliers? That’s where Simons hosted the afterparty of the week. We might have known something was up when he arrived with Bianca Quets-Luzi, the CEO of his own label, just hours before he sent shockwaves through the fashion business by resigning his post as creative director of Dior.

The art machine rolled on, unperturbed. The next day, bleary fairgoers started packing for Beirut, where collectors Tony and Elham Salamé would open their shopping-mall-in-a-private-museum, designed by David Adjaye. Flay was not only resigned to this overlapping event but gave it her support. “It’s cultural resistance,” she explained. “If we don’t support Lebanon, it’s not a good example for the rest of the world.”

That, like everything I missed while in Paris, remains to be seen, but the French do love their politics. Don’t they?

Left: Artist Andrea Blum. Right: Dealers Esther Schipper and Jan Mot.

Left: Artist Angela Bulloch and dealer Eva Presenhuber. Right: Artist Anne Collier.

Left: Art advisors Emmanuel Bourgerie and Muriel Eymery and curator Nicolas Tremblay. Right: Artist G. William Webb.

Left: Collector Charles Asprey and dealer Sylvia Kouvali. Right: Collectors Shelley Fox Aarons and Phil Aarons.

Left: Reina Sofía deputy director João Fernandes and MoMA curator Yasmil Raymond. Right: Guggenheim Museum deputy director Ari Wiseman and dealer Franco Noero.

Left: Artists Rirkrit Tiravanija and Ulrike Kasas. Right: Artist Judith Eisler and dealer Sarah Gavlak.

Left: Choreographer Michael Clark and collector Thea Westreich. Right: Centre Pompidou curator Emma Lavigne.

Left: Dealer Carol Greene. Right: Dealers Daniele Balice and Alexander Hertling.

Left: Dealer Emanuela Campoli. Right: Dealer Daniel Buchholz.

Left: Dealer Fabienne Stephan and artist Huma Bhabha. Right: Dealer Elisa Uematsu.

Left: Dealer Mehdi Chouakri. Right: Dealer Francesca Kaufmann with documentary filmmaker James Crump and film producer Ronnie Sassoon.

Left: Alejandra Cruzvillegas and artist Abraham Cruzvillegas. Right: Art advisor Artemis Baltoyanni.

Left: Art historian Elisabeth Lebovici and Botin Foundation director Benjamin Weill. Right: Artist Radu Comsa with dealers Daria D. Pervaim and Andra Balsam, and artist Sefano Calligaro.

Left: Artist-dealer Emily Sundblad and dealer Eva Svennung. Right: Artists John Armleder and Mai-Thu Perret.

Left: Artists Matthias Sohr and Willem de Rooij. Right: Artist-dealer John Kelsey and dealer Christopher Schwartz.

Left: Artist Seher Shah and dealer Peter Nagy. Right: Artist Melanie Schiff and collector Grazka Taylor.

Left: Artist Tatiana Trouvé and dealer Pepi Marchetti Franchi. Right: Artist Will Benedict.

Left: Artists Wolfgang Tillmans and Anders Clausen. Right: Collector Charlotte Ford.

Left: Collector Lauren Taschen. Right: Collector David Simkins.

Left: Collector Frank Moore and dealer Sadie Coles. Right: Palais de Tokyo curator Julien Fronsacq.

Left: Collector Frédéric de Goldschmidt. Right: Collector Karen Boros.

Left: Collectors Martin Hatebur and Mary Connelly. Right: Collector Peter Brant, art and fashion blogger Colby Jordan, and collector-dealer Alberto Mugrabi.

Left: Curator Florence Derrieux. Right: Crash magazine editor in chief Armelle Leturcq and fashion photographer Frank Perrin.

Left: Curator Rob Hendrickson. Right: Curator Stéphanie Moisdon.

Left: Curator Sylvia Chivaratanond and art advisor Patricia Marshall. Right: Dallas Contemporary director Peter Doroshenko.

Left: Dealer and Independent fair cofounder Elizabeth Dee. Right: Dealer Fabien Villon.

Left: Dealer Fernando Mesta and artist Jennifer Allora. Right: Dealer Gerard Faggionato.

Left: Dealer Isabella Bortolozzi. Right: Dealer Jean-Claude Freyman-Guth.

Left: Dealer Karolina Danków. Right: Dealer Philippe Joppin, High Art.

Left: Dealer Kendall Kopp. Right: Dealer Lisa Overduin.

Left: Dealer Marc Payot. Right: Dealer Miguel Abreu.

Left: Dealer Nicole Russo. Right: Dealer Amadeo Tuskany.

Left: Dealer Paola Capata. Right: Dealer Robbie Fitzpatrick.

Left: Dealer Stefan Simchowitz. Right: Dealer Photios Giovanis.

Left: Dealer Stefania Bortolami. Right: Dealer Steve Pulimood.

Left: Dealer Thilo Wermke. Right: Dealer Vanessa Caruso.

Left: Dealers Alex Schroeder and Niklas Svennung. Right: Dealers Andrew Kreps and Liz Mulholland.

Left: Dealers Borkur Anarson, Auder Jorundsdottir, and Cecile Panzieri. Right: Dealers Cristian Alexa, Lisa Spellman, and Thomas Arsac.

Left: Dealers Catherine Bastide and Gió Marconi. Right: Dealers Guillaume Sultana and Pamela Echeverria.

Left: Dealers Markus Rischgasser, Taro Nasu and Masako Hosoi. Right: Dealers Meredith Rosen and Allegra LaViola.

Left: Dealers Pierpaolo Falone and Michaela de Pury. Right: Dealers Ludovico Corsini and Olivier Babin.

Left: Dealers Steffen Hândykker and Jenny Kinge. Right: Designer Michele Lamy.

Left: Dealers Toby Webster and Andrew Hamilton. Right: Fondazione Carriero director Olimpia Piccolomini Clementini Adami.

Left: Frieze projects curator Nicola Lees and artist Ed Forneiles. Right: Graphic designer Marie Lusa, Young Kim, and dealer Gregor Staiger.

Left: Fundación Botin director Benjamin Weil. Right: Fashion publicist Karla Otto with Kreëmart founder Raphael Castoriano.

Left: ICA London director Gregor Muir with collector Fatima Maleki. Right: Hayward Gallery director Ralph Rugoff.

Left: Jewelry designer Gaia Repossi and French Vogue fashion director Suzanne Koller. Right: Palais de Tokyo program coordinator Myriam Ben Salah.

Left: Dealer Micky Schubert. Right: Dealer Mark Dickenson.