The director of Paris+ by Art Basel on his long-term vision for the inaugural fair and how it compares to Fiac

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The inaugural edition of Paris+ by Art Basel will bring together some 156 galleries at the Grand Palais Éphémère. Here, we chat with fair director Clément Delépine about what to expect for this long-awaited launch.

The Art Newspaper: What will the new fair look like?

Clement Delépine: He will present a friendly face and will be both familiar and new. For visitors who used to come to the Fiac, some of the ideas that the latter defended with intelligence and talent have been retained and will now have even more resources at their disposal.

The idea was not to start from scratch. We had nine months to prepare for the fair, which remains the flagship event of the week and the one on which we have decided to focus this year. This is why the links with fashion, design and cinema will be further developed in the next edition. We have a seven-year concession, which leaves enough time to explore these affinities. The Conversations series of talks, which had been put on hold during the pandemic, has been relaunched with curators Pierre-Alexandre Mateos and Charles Teyssou at the helm. Their guests will be academicians, curators and artists and the conferences will take place on a barge moored at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

We have also entered into a partnership with Move, a performance festival at the Center Pompidou and its curator Caroline Ferreira. And finally, as the role of students in art schools in art fairs is close to our hearts, we started to think about the question with Alexia Fabre, the new director of the Beaux-Arts de Paris, who accepted to lead a workshop with the students.

What percentage of the galleries will be French?

From the outset, we wanted to continue to respect the commitments we had made vis-à-vis the RMN-Grand Palais, in particular by retaining two-thirds of the Fiac selection committee. We also took into account the loyalty of former Fiac exhibitors when selecting galleries for Paris+. Of the 156 exhibiting galleries, 61 have a site in France. If we focus on those whose main gallery space is in Paris, there are 48 in total, or 30%, more than at the 2019 edition of the Fiac.

The largest contingent is made up of European galleries, which is understandable in the current circumstances with rising energy and transport costs, followed by American galleries. Twenty-two exhibitors, including the Parisian galleries Anne Barrault, christian berst art brut, Magnin-A, Salle Principale and We Don’t Work Alone, have never participated in an Art Basel fair.

Meanwhile, 16 emerging galleries, including Antenna Space from Shanghai and Instituto de Visión from Bogotá and New York, will hold solo presentations. Each has a 20 m² stand to present its shows and the stands themselves have been repositioned in the main area of ​​the show to increase their visibility. Thanks to a partnership with the Galeries Lafayette group, the galleries in question only pay half the usual price. The novelty is that the winning artist will receive funding to create a work that will be exhibited in the lobby of Lafayette Anticipations the following year. At the same time, Paris+ will reimburse the gallery’s exhibition costs.

Entrance prices for visitors to Art Basel in Basel are very expensive. is this the case here?

The entrance price remains the same as the Fiac, however we have increased the prices of the kiosks by 6%. One of the major assets of Art Basel is its extremely influential VIP network… The VIP team is made up of 35 people based all over the world. They are responsible for identifying new collectors and ensuring that existing collectors remain loyal to our events. VIPs are not a homogeneous group. It’s an ever-changing audience with young buyers and established collectors from around the world, each with their own habits and schedules. The reactions to this first edition were very enthusiastic, but it will be necessary to pay attention to the management of the flow of visitors to take into account the relatively restricted space of the Grand Palais Éphémère.

Is Paris in itself a “plus” for Art Basel?

Even if Paris+ does not create a new sequence, the situation makes all the difference compared to Basel in June. There is a more heritage aspect to the Basel fair; it has a long history and the whole city lives every year to the rhythm of the event. Paris has a cultural offer on a whole new level, as well as an exceptional choice of hotels and restaurants. Paris could almost be a distraction for Paris+ visitors!

What ambitions do you have for this inaugural edition?

I want this show to stand out and have its own identity. I don’t want people to say that “it’s like Miami or Basel”. I would like visitors to be able to see the artists who are currently in the spotlight, those who are represented by the most powerful galleries, while being able to discover more subversive works somewhere around the fair.

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