FIAC (international trade fair of contemporary art), the largest art fair in the world, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
„I don’t want to disappoint you, but there will soon be a serious and long-term crisis of contemporary art. I don’t know when it will come, whether tomorrow or in ten years, but the the public will be fed up with the number of contemporary art exhibitions, with these worthless works.“ So wrote Auguste Renoir in 1908 to his art dealer, who else but Paul Durand-Ruel.
How often since then have we heard such prophecies about contemporary art, in the value of which only few people believe. Was there a crisis after Renoir? Not really. There was only a war, the First World War, and after it a certain revision of art and rearrangement of values, to which art quickly became accustomed.
So, is there a crisis in art during the current economic crisis? Not at all and perhaps even the opposite. Why do people crowd exhibitions of contemporary art? Because it‘s in fashion? Perhaps. Fashion is a luxury and fashion houses and fashion brands readily associate themselves with art. Parisian Lanvin shows César sculptures in their displays at Faubourg St. Honoré and jeweler Boucheron at the Vendome square showcases the photography of Japanese photographer, Hiroshi Sugimito, next to their watches.
And there is another reason, besides the fashion phenomenon. Art is a reflection of its times and artists hope to analyze the times and provide keys to them. Artists talk about their times much like scientists or philosophers, but they speak their own language and, thanks to visual presentation, they are closer to people. They show the consequences of war terrors, with irony the possible result of ecologic disasters, provoke our minds and thoughts about our present and future, some with humor, others poetically and yet others drastically.
In any case, art always brings about new visions and feelings. Art can be interesting, strange, provocative, playful, absurd, comical or simply harmonious and beautiful, but it always awakens feelings in us. Of course, contemporary art in its volume and meaning is often inflated and triggers many lively discussions and only time will sort out the quality, allowing the unimportant to disappear. Additionally, troubled times are always fertile ground for art. Some let art inspire them, others use it to escape reality and some may see it as a good investment in times of crisis.
Parisian FIAC was never this prosperous. Over 200 galleries are crammed one next to the other under the gigantic cupola of the Grand Palais. New York, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Seoul have never been represented as copiously as today. There are over 50 other events outside the palace, running concurrently for four days across the entire city. The stars of contemporary art, Julio Le Parc, John Chamberlain, Ai Weiwei, Martial Raysse, Anish Kapoor, Nikki de Saint Phalle, Richard Jackson, Doug Aitken, Georg Baselitz or Damien Hirst, shine side by side the modernists such as Soulage, Jean Tinguely, Yves Klein, Poliakoff, Miro or Kupka.
Among the well established values, new artists peek out in the first gallery. Among them, for examply, Czech artist Eva Koťátková, the recent laureate of the Chalupecký prize, who brings something new to the world stage of young artist with her exceptional intimate approach to expressing family values and ordinary life. Contemporary art is certainly attempting to bring answers to new questions and poses new questions to new problems, which the current course of life fails to answer at this point.
Author: Iva DREBITKO
Photos: archive of the author
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