Strike It Rich

Kate Sutton around FIAC

Left: Artist Laurent Grasso. (Except where noted, all photos: Kate Sutton) Right: The crowd at Le Baron. (Photo: Chi Chi Menendez)

IF FRANCE’S RECENT nationwide strikes and faltering Eurostar service inspired anxiety among those on the Frieze–FIAC socializing spree, the reality was that the blazing barricades plastering the cover of the New York Times were nowhere to be seen around the taxi lines outside Le Meurice. “Actually, the reduced traffic has made cabs a hell of a lot more affordable,” one collector quipped, affecting that ironic obliviousness best served with Bellinis.

Aside from the strikes, last week’s FIAC tour was all about spaces: Gagosian’s new one, Chantal Crousel’s second one, Perrotin’s expanded one—and every day a dinner or private view at the apartment of one dealer or another, from carlier | gebauer’s exhibition in a converted church to private views of Eva Presenhuber’s pied-à-terre, whose unusual decor was “all original 1980s,” the handsome gallery assistant assured me, as he negotiated a Martin Boyce.

Tuesday afternoon, I shuffled through the masses—mainly collectors, judging from the creative eyewear—waiting outside the opening of Cour Carrée, FIAC’s younger fair. There I ran into curator Nicolas Bourriaud (who was—confoundingly, but perhaps characteristically?—forging against the crowd) and artist Laurent Grasso, who was kind enough to remind me of our standing lunch date at Nomiya, his restaurant project atop Palais de Tokyo. Slipping down a side aisle, I made my way to the fair’s center, where Prix Duchamp laureate Cyprien Gaillard had colonized one corner of the café, kicking back with a table of artists (painter Nick Delveraux, for one) and soigné entourage.

Left: Gagosian directors Stefan Ratibor, Victoria Gelfand and Sam Orlofsky. Right: Collector Mera Rubell with dealer Frank Elbaz.

As was to be expected, there was a fair share of noise, but Cour Carrée also had its moments. Most of these were concentrated in the “Lafayette” section, with its eighteen solo projects by emerging galleries, including Susanne Winterling at Silverman Gallery and Alan Michael at Hotel. On my way out, I caught the Rubell clan making an appreciative perusal of “Ferus in Paris,” Galerie Frank Elbaz and Nyehaus’s tribute to the pivotal LA gallery. “First time I’ve seen these artists in Paris, that’s for sure,” Don laughed, shaking his head in wonder.

Next stop was the debut of the new Gagosian space on Rue de Ponthieu, where five new paintings by Cy Twombly anchored the upstairs “project room,” which featured architectural ephemera of Jean Prouvé, curated by Patrick Seguin. The space was immaculate, of course, as was its public (less about eyewear here; more about shoes), but I took secret delight in the fact that one could still catch whiffs of fresh paint in the stairwell.

From there, it was a short cab ride to Palais de Tokyo for Adam McEwen’s “Fresh Hell,” the latest in the museum’s artist-curated “Carte Blanche” series. The exhibition itself ws a rousing but welcome mix, sampling everything from H. C. Westermann’s woodcuts to Gino de Dominicis’s Icarus-tinged video meditations to Jessica Diamond’s playfully plaintive wall piece Is That All There Is? The crowd was a similarly enjoyable shuffle: dealers Thomas Dane and Gavin Brown; artists Rob Pruitt and Gillian Wearing; collectors Carl Kostyal and Alastair Cookson; and, of course, the peripatetic Sam Keller and Marc Spiegler. Alas, “Fresh Hell” posed too convenient a description for the opening-day party upstairs, so we opted for more grown-up cocktails at Le Meurice, where the crowd was mainly recovering from Gagosian’s opening fête.

On Wednesday, the Grand Palais, the main site of FIAC, was, as always, unrepentantly drafty. VIPs put off by the long lines of tourist types outside were relieved to discover that the crowds were mostly gathering for the blockbuster Monet exhibition next door. (Dealer Graham Steele looked shocked when I turned down two tickets for a coveted 6 PM view: “You do realize these tickets are like gold dust in this town, don’t you?”)

Left: Curator Nicolas Bourriaud. Right: Artist Michel François with dealer Kamel Mennour.

Trading polite aisleway nods with Alfred Pacquement, Subodh Gupta, and Walead Beshty, I tried to stick to the sunny spots while perusing the fair. I made an exception to duck into the dark room at Perrotin, where an eerily lit armoire contained several pieces by ceramic artist Klara Kristalova. Down the hall at Zwirner, Adel Abdessemed’s charred cube of taxidermied animals stared across the aisle at Gagosian’s themed booth (whose wall label—“Gagosian WOMEN”—might as well have been a sign stolen from Rue Saint-Honoré), itself around the corner from Gladstone’s solo presentation of Alighiero Boetti. “Looks like everyone is trying to impress the French this year,” one collector sighed, wistfully following the very naughty pink curves of a Condo nude at Simon Lee. “I just wish I had come at 11 AM and not 3 PM.”

That evening, I arrived on the early side for the Kamel Mennour dinner at the Ritz honoring Sigalit Landau, who has been selected for the Israeli pavilion in Venice. Escorted into the lush “Parlor of Venus,” I found myself stunned by the gilded mirrors and intricate tapestries. “These carpets are killer for heels, though,” lamented artist Latifa Echakhch, who seemed to be managing gloriously, as was radiant actress Kristin Scott Thomas, standing nearby. I turned to the kindly Belgian collector beside me and weakly joked, “Just imagine if you lived here.” A charming Continental curator cut in: “Clearly, you haven’t seen his house!”

The next night, I found myself with Tilda Swinton, Dan Colen, and Beatrix Ruf at the opening for Jim Lambie’s exhibition presented by Sadie Coles at Galerie Patrick Seguin. Dealer Max Falkenstein leaned in to greet Lambie, motioning toward a new wall piece: “Black and white, huh? Very sexy.” “I know, wouldn’t they be perfect for a kebab stand?” Lambie grinned, eliciting blank stares all around. “I have this dream where I can trade a work for, like, kebabs-for-life!” The blank stares turned to baffled smiles (and some quiet mental math).

Left: Dealer Patrick Seguin, artist Jim Lambie, and dealer Sadie Coles. Right: Artist Thomas Hirschhorn.

After a lively dinner at neighborhood staple Chez Paul, and an appearance at Maxime for the Thaddaeus Ropac party, our little contingent set off for Baron, where we stumbled into what turned out to be a “Uniform” theme party for the club’s sixth anniversary. What we may have lacked in costumes, we made up for in enthusiasm: Within minutes, dealer Isabella Bortolozzi had started up an ice cube fight with Johann König, dipping into scattered champagne buckets for ammo. Dodging doctors, nurses, GIs, and a giant yellow furry monster (?!), we eventually made our way to Chez Moune, where the costumes are more internalized.

At Hotel Amour on Friday, over a brunch of smoked salmon, cigarettes, and intense squinting, we plotted what remained of our afternoon. After dropping by the Pompidou for “Fun Palace” and Espace Fondation for the show “Rehab,” we made our way to the Young International Artists fair, which invites dealers to present work by a single emerging artist. The galleries—including Yvon Lambert and Perrotin—were in evidence only via a tiny floor tag, giving the lofted space the feel of a very chill club. There was no time for the beer and mini quiche, however, as I still had to get to Maison Rouge to catch the latest installment of “Investigations of a Dog,” put on by FACE, the European collaboration of nonprofits. The exhibition has been traveling works by Thomas Hirschhorn, Paul McCarthy, and Kara Walker. As Hirschhorn explained, “My piece is a Swiss army knife. You get that, right? It solves all your problems. Except if you’re Swiss, you don’t have any.”

Saturday, the old man with the accordion an inch from my face failed to enhance the drizzly morning metro trek to Palais de Tokyo for lunch at Nomiya. The mood shifted slightly as I was escorted through the rooftop garden and up to the glass penthouse, where a meal for ten would be served in the presence of the artist. While my fellow diners bemoaned the view, I thought it actually a nice complement to the soundtrack of “Blue Velvet” and champagne. As the bottles circulated (wine, as well as “Evian by Issey Miyake”), the fact that Grasso’s project has been a real commercial success struck me as less Gordon Matta-Clark or Rikrit Tiravanija, and more Andrea Fraser—strictly wining and dining, merci beaucoup.

Left: Dealer Tim Nye with collector Don Rubell. Right: Artist Xavier Veilhan.

After three hours of red wine I made my way to the Marais to catch Grasso’s new The Silent Movie at Chez Valentin as well as Pierre Huyghe’s installation at Marian Goodman and Abraham Cruzvillegas at Chantal Crousel. Later that night, at a dinner hosted at Crousel’s house, the artist was busy snapping pictures and refilling wineglasses. “Just doing everyone’s job, aren’t you?” my colleague laughed. Afterward, the crowds migrated from the Kaleidoscope party at Pom Pom to the obligatory stop at Baron before hitting the already mythologized Rick Owens party at Champs du Mars. (Before dinner I had already received five direct address requests and four insinuated ones.)

Lacking the stamina for Sunday morning’s Murakami brunch at Versailles, I kept it within walking distance for the last official event of my week, a breakfast at the plucky Kadist Art Foundation. Artist Christoph Keller, dealer Sylvia Kouvali, and I caught up over gratifyingly strong coffee, each of us casting wary eyes at the passing champagne flutes. As Kouvali and I regaled each other with accounts of the week’s social insanity and who was more exhausted, Keller shrugged. “I only flew in yesterday, actually, so I guess I missed all the craziness. You see, I’ve been in this drum circle in Marrakech . . . ” And with that, I folded my hand, grateful for the reminder that the most thrilling experiences usually don’t require an RSVP.

Left: Artist Sigalit Landau and curator Jean de Loisy. Right: Dealer Nicole Klagsbrun.

Left: Kunsthalle Zürich director Beatrix Ruf (left). Right: Artist Adam McEwen.

Left: Dealer Jessica Silverman. Right: Dealers Raphaelle Bischoff and Magnus Edensvard.

Left: Karma International's Niels Olsen and Marina Leuenberger. Right: Artists Gillian Wearing and Michael Landy.

Left: FIAC guest curator Chris Fitzpatrick and artist Pablo Pijnappel. Right: William Pope.L performance at Mitchell, Innes & Nash at FIAC's Grand Palais.

Left: Artist Abraham Cruzvillegas. Right: Labor Gallery's Pamela Echeverria and Yasmine Dubois.