FIAC parent company accused Grand Palais of attempting “hostile eviction attempt” from rival art fair

FIAC’s parent company accused the Grand Palais of orchestrating a concerted campaign to oust the art fair from its long-standing home by issuing a surprise call inviting competing bids for its usual fall time slot.

On December 8, the Grand Palais launched a call for applications to organize an unnamed “international contemporary art event” in October and a “photography event” in November, when the Parisian art fairs FIAC and Paris Photo usually take place every year, according to a report in The world. The call, which invited proposals to occupy the building for up to seven years, set a deadline of December 31, blind RX France, owner of the two salons.

RX France disputes the merits of the process, claiming to have received two written commitments on the fairs of the RMN-Grand Palais, the public establishment that owns the fine arts building, in 2019 and 2021. The FIAC should take place at the Grand Palais Éphémère, the temporary structure erected during the construction of the original building, from October 20 to 23, 2022, before Paris Photo from November 10 to 13.

RX France CEO Michel Vilair said he wrote to the French Culture Ministry to assert his prior rights. An angry Vilair accused the Grand Palais of having rigged the process “to meet the needs of a rival candidate, who clearly wants to take over the dates and the clientele of the FIAC and Paris Photo”.

Chris Dercon, director of the RMN-Grand Palais, told the French newspaper he had received “another competing expression of interest”, adding that he might have to “rethink new exhibits, be ambitious, curious and open to ‘spirit”.

The open call stipulates that the proposals will be judged on the quality, ambition, their links with the cultural ecosystem and the Parisian industries, as well as the quality of the artistic direction.

Given the tight deadline for proposals to be made before December 31, the deadline runs counter to RX France’s calls to review the process. The timing is even worse given that Paris Photo and FIAC are currently undergoing a restructuring process, which would see their management merge with RX to cut 235 jobs out of a total of 600.

“It is obvious that the third party in question has been preparing its hostile deportation attempt for many months,” said Michel Vilair. “Such a project cannot be prepared at the last moment… The call for projects from the RMN-Grand Palais leaves us only a few days before Christmas to build a project over seven years!

Anne-Claudie Coric, director of the Templon Gallery was shocked to read the call for candidatures in the press because, for her, the FIAC and the Grand Palais are intrinsically linked: “Over the past decade, the FIAC, the French merchants and the Parisian art scene like all have all played an active role in replacing Paris as the leading cultural capital in Europe, ”she told Artnet News by email. “We of course hope that the FIAC will stay at the Grand Palais. It is part of its DNA and the FIAC is part of the identity of the French art market and contemporary creation. It’s more than just a commercial art fair, ”she added.

A decision on all offers received must be made by January 10, 2022, leaving whoever wins just nine and a half months to set up an international art fair to compete with FIAC and Paris Photo. Artnet News did not immediately receive a response from some of the more obvious candidates; Endeavor, which runs Frieze London and Los Angeles, and MCH Group, which oversees the Art Basel franchise. Artnet News’ requests for comment from RX France and RMN-Grand Palais were not immediately returned.

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