Art Basel in, FIAC Out at Paris’s Grand Palais

January 27th, 2022

Art Basel today revealed that it will be launching a new art fair this October at the iconic Grand Palais, located in Paris’s posh 8th arrondissement. The as-yet-to-be-titled Parisian fair will be the fourth of its kind for Art Basel’s parent, MCH Group, which operates contemporary and modern art fairs in Miami Beach and Hong Kong as well as in the aforementioned Swiss city. It will also mean the displacement of premier French art fair FIAC, which since 1975 has laid claim to the historic glass-and-steel venue during that month.

The surprise upset came after Grand Palais president Chris Dercon in December issued an open call for competing bids for autumn fair dates. RX Global, which organizes both FIAC and Paris Photo, was able to secure its typical November dates at the Grand Palais for the photo fair but was unceremoniously booted from its usual October dates in favor of the moneyed Swiss art fair, whose international profile is undeniably higher.

The Grand Palais issued the unprecedented call for bids just a month after Art Basel officials expressed interest in the October dates. RX Global, which previously did not have a contract with the venue for either of its regular fairs, cast FIAC’s ousting as the result of a “hasty and flawed” decision on the part of Grand Palais officials, with RX France president Michel Filzi pointing to the long-running French fair’s success in “making Paris one of the world’s most important capitals for cultural and artistic life.” Art Basel for its part promised in a press release to “work closely with France’s gallery community and ensure their strong representation in the fair’s election committee.” Its operators further noted that “Art Basel intends to develop an identity and a brand specific to the Parisian fair.”

The Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais (Rmn-GP), which operates the Grand Palais, obtained seven-year commitments from both RX Global and MCH Group, to the reported tune of a minimum €10.6 million ($12 million) for the new Basel art fair and €7.5 million ($8.5 million) for Paris Photo. In a press release whose tone was similar to that of a parent separating two children battling over the use of a tricycle, Rmn-GP carefully cast both fairs as having “committed to highlighting the contemporary artistic creation of the Parisian and French ecosystem—especially its emerging new talents.”