The 11 Best Booths at FIAC

Nate Freeman
Oct 18, 2018 3:19PM

On Wednesday, the 45th edition of the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) opened at the Grand Palais in Paris, where 195 galleries from 27 different countries revealed their booths to the VIP crowd of collectors, advisors, and art-world luminaries. (FIAC opens to the public Thursday.) The buzz of activity at the door indicated that there’s still a hunger for new work, despite the bonanza of Frieze London and the accompanying auctions just two weeks ago. Here are some of the best booths on offer at the most prestigious art fair in France.

Nahmad Contemporary

Grand Palais, Booth 0.C33

With works by Daniel Buren, César, Nicolas de Staël, Jean Dubuffet, Wade Guyton, Joan Miró, Albert Oehlen, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sigmar Polke, and Rudolf Stingel

Installation view of Nahmad Contemporary’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Courtesy of Nahmad Contemporary.

New York–based Nahmad Contemporary can be trusted to bring crates of masterworks to each fair, and at FIAC, it’s come through once again. The front walls of the booth are hung with multiple works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Jean Dubuffet. In the back is a haunting work by Francis Picabia, Mendica (1929–30), from his “Transparences” series, with the image of a woman’s head fading in and out at different spots within the composition. It’s a gorgeous painting that becomes more desirable in light of its provenance: For decades, it was in the collection of David Bowie. The late musician clearly had a fondness for the work; in 1998, he mentioned to the New York Times that Picabia, along with Marcel Duchamp, was the artist he would turn to when he was searching for a “cerebral moment.” Mandicasold during the “Bowie/Collector” sale at Sotheby’s in 2016 for £401,000 (approximately $498,483). Here, it’s selling for €850,000.

Gladstone Gallery

Grand Palais, Booth 0.A34

With works by Keith Haring and Philippe Parreno

One simple way to stand out among nearly 200 galleries is to plaster the outside of your booth with a bright, eye-catching wallpaper. At Gladstone Gallery, Philippe Parreno has done just that, wrapping its exterior with his 2018 Wallpaper Marilyn. The work, with its yellow floral patterning, was last seen at Parreno’s immersive show at the Gropius Bau; it’s an edition of 12, priced at €80,000. There are also editions of flickering glass lamps by Parreno, which, even though they’re in an edition of 50, possess slight, unique inconsistencies due to variances in the 3D-printing scheme. They also serve as a witty entranceway to the booth, which boasts a wonderful trio of black-on-white works by Keith Haring.

Galleria Continua

Grand Palais, Booth 0.C39

With works by Daniel Buren, Antony Gormley, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Pascale Marthine Tayou

Installation view of Galleria Continua’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Photo by Pierre Martinez. Courtesy of the artists and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana.


No outfit has quite the varied global footprint as Galleria Continua, which maintains spaces in the far-flung, somewhat random cities of San Gimignano, Italy; Beijing, China; Les Moulins, France; and Havana, Cuba. Its booth at FIAC represents that cosmopolitan identity, with works by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Antony Gormley, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Daniel Buren all represented. But the standout pieces are by Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou, who insisted that they be installed on sheets of woven wood, rather than the standard white booth walls. The works—a glass-blown figure; a swirly configuration of colored chalk; a sculpture topped with a plastic toy pizza—pop off against the raw backdrop.

Galerie Neu

Grand Palais, 0.B07

With works by Tom Burr and Claire Fontaine

Installation view of Galerie Neu’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Photo by Simon Vogel. Courtesy of Galerie Neu.

No one is shying away from the sexually and politically explicit here in Paris (take a look at Jeff Koons’s astoundingly graphicManet, Soft, 1991, smack dab on the outside of David Zwirner’s booth). Berlin’s Galerie Neu addresses geopolitical concerns directly, and gorgeously, with a Tom Burr sculpture of a dyed flag draped over a metal rod. That foregrounds a Claire Fontaine neon work proclaiming “MAY OUR ENEMIES NOT PROSPER,” and a sculpture, also by the French collective, composed of a gas pipe running out from a meter and along the wall. It might at first look like a Minimalist exercise or a ready-made, though its title—Recession Sculpture (GASAG) (2009–12)—gives it a subtle political edge.

Gagosian Gallery

Grand Palais, Booth 0.B33

With works by Katharina Grosse

Installation view of Gagosian’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.

Katharina Grosse has installed her large-scale, tie-dye–patterned sculptures at venues from the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas, to the Metrotech station in Brooklyn (part of a commission with New York’s Public Art Fund). But it is quite challenging to install one in an art fair, where it would seem no booth would be able to contain its dimensions. Tell that to Larry Gagosian. The gallery’s booth here in Paris featured not only a series of bold, abstract canvases by the German artist, but also Ingres Wood (2018), a real tree trunk covered in paint that, at 18 feet long, spills out of the booth and into the aisles. Instagram bait, sure, but there’s also a fascinating backstory: The tree itself was planted by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres while he was director of the Villa Medici.

Bonny Poon

Lafayette Sector, Booth 1.G20

With works by FPBJPC, Jim Joe, and Bonny Poon

Installation view of Bonny Poon’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Photo by Romain Darnaud. Courtesy of Bonny Poon.

One of the youngest galleries in the fair’s Lafayette Sector is Bonny Poon, the Paris space that Poon, an artist, opened a year ago and runs alongside Nathaniel Monjaret. Walk into the booth and enter the world of the secretive collective FPBJPC (which stands for, among other things, Franco Polish Black Jeans Porn Club). They asked New York graffiti artist Jim Joe to collaborate with them on a car sculpture—they gave him a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta, and let him have free reign. The tricky thing was getting it from downtown Manhattan to Paris, and Poon said that it had to be shipped over in a boat, and then chopped up in ordered to get it inside the Grand Palais to install.

Overduin & Co.

Grand Palais, Booth 1.J07

With works by Susan Cianciolo and Eliza Douglas

Installation view of Susan Cianciolo, Run 12: God is a Jacket, Overduin & Co.’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Courtesy of Overduin & Co.

Los Angeles gallery Overduin & Co. brings together two female artists of different generations—the young painter Eliza Douglas, and Susan Cianciolo, whose practice includes sculpture, performance, and fashion—to deliriously great effect. Douglas’s paintings utilize an impossibly vibrant color palette, but applied with restraint. A keel-billed toucan (otherwise known as a rainbow toucan) flies across a white canvas, with hues dribbling off the bird, staining the composition. The razor-sharp precision of Douglas’s line looks even better with the messy run-off. Meanwhile, Cianciolo’s dresses are installed as textile sculptures (the booth also includes collage works by the artist). Douglas and Cianciolo may not sound like a natural duo, but the work hangs excellently together.

Galerie Gmurzynska

Grand Palais, Booth 0.C24

With works by Alexandre de Betak, Yves Klein, and Johnny Pigozzi

Installation view of Galerie Gmurzynska’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Courtesy of Galerie Gmurzynska.

No, the distinctively red metal hut you see here is not a miniature fire station, on hand in case a blaze breaks out at the Grand Palais. It’s the site for Galerie Gmurzynska’s FIAC presentation, an ambitious investigation into just how radically a fair booth can depart from the norm. The Zurich-based gallery asked Alexandre de Betak, who is known for conjuring up heady vibes by designing sets for haute couture shows, to create an installation to hold the work on view. Appropriately, all the featured pieces have something to do with fire burning, whether it’s a Johnny Pigozzi photo of supermodels sucking down cigs or a early, rare Yves Klein “Fire Painting,” which the gallery was offering for €750,000.


Grand Palais, Booth 1.J03

With works by Will Boone and Alex Da Corte

Installation view of Karma’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Courtesy of Karma.

Installation view of Karma’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Courtesy of Karma.

Many of those who made it to the just-opened 57th edition of the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh—the oldest art exhibition of contemporary art in North America—were talking about Alex Da Corte, who presented there a neon-lined house that was among the more raved about works in the exhibition. At FIAC, Da Corte pops up in the booth of New York gallery Karma, with a work that adds a large set of lips and oversized cigarette atop the iconic album art for Andrew W.K.’s I Get Wet. Elsewhere in the booth are two works by Will Boone, an artist with one of the week’s most hotly anticipated gallery shows in Paris, set to open Thursday at Galerie Patrick Seguin. One Boone work is an engorged, mixed-media painting—incorporating enamel, resin, and parts of a nylon flag—with the Gulf Oil logo slapped at the bottom. The other is a strange sculpture so small it looks like a maquette: a doll-sized graveyard with the Chevrolet logo looming overhead like a UFO.

Air de Paris

Grand Palais, Booth 0.B14

With works by Guy de Cointet, Carsten Höller, and Philippe Parreno

Installation view of Air de Paris’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Courtesy of Air de Paris.

The light at FIAC is spectacular, streaming down through the glass overhead and making all the man-made lighting in other fairs’ tents and convention centers seem a bit cheap. It seems like this encourages a playful vibe when it comes to how galleries program their booths, and the pastel-colored works at the booth of Air de Paris just sing: A sherbet-orange chair by Guy de Cointet sits in front of a Jef Guys “painting” that’s actually just a red-and-white picnic table covering repurposed as a kind of readymade. And don’t be alarmed by the bright-yellow signs on the floor alerting passersby to a slippery puddle: They’re actually a work by Adriana Lara.


Grand Palais, Booth 0.A30

With works by Thilo Heinzmann

Installation view of Neugerriemschneider’s booth at FIAC, 2018. Courtesy of Neugerriemschneider.

Of the several stand-out solo presentations at the fair—including Grayson Perry at Victoria Miro and Robert Colescott at Blum & Poe—perhaps the most ethereal is the suite of Thilo Heinzmann works at the booth of Berlin’s Neugerriemschneider. The booth itself has plenty of breathing room, with quietly stunning works hung on its three walls, each featuring a shard of colored glass tucked into a square pad of Styrofoam, topped with a slab of acrylic glass. They glistened during the day; as the sun went down, they looked even better under the slight cover of darkness.

Nate Freeman

Corrections: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of Jef Geys as Jeff Guys, and his work is a real tablecloth, not a painting. Additionally, the bright-yellow signs installation is by Adriana Lara, not Carsten Höller and Philippe Parreno.