By Elizabeth Kane Beracasa
LAHT Art & Society Editor
PARIS -- The latest edition of FIAC, the International Fair of Contemporary Art, held in the legendary glass domed Grand Palais in Paris was deemed a spectacular success, a mediocre event, a letdown and every possible characterization in between. It just depended on whom was asked and if they were in the mood to tell the truth and naturally which artists and pieces the gallery had to propose.
Personally I can attest that it was comprehensive, well attended and the fortunate beneficiary of primarily blue skies.
Landau Fine Art exhibited splendid works as they always do. I like to refer to Landau as the "museum gallery" featuring some of the finest artists of the early to mid twentieth century including Pablo Picasso, Kees Van Dongen, Marino Marini, Rene Magritte, Jean Dubuffet, among others on their star studded roster of preeminent masters.
Mr. Landau was kind enough to speak with me although he prefaced by stating he was not very happy with the press these days. "Join the club", I thought to myself and then asked why.
He relayed an interview in which he was bluntly asked "Which are your five most expensive paintings?"
This was not a profound or thought provoking inquiry to pose to Robert Landau. He found the reporter and the question quite crass, lacking any appreciation for the allure, elegance or motivation behind the exquisite works.
He remarked that if he wanted the most exorbitantly priced work of art he would simply raise the price of one or several works up to stratospheric numbers and suddenly the press would focus on the extreme numbers and this would generate more attention -- but it would be implausible that it would culminate in a sale. When Christie's tried to sell Francis Bacon's Study of Red Pope -- estimated at 58 million British Pounds or approximately $78 million -- they failed at the October auction in London.
Moral of the story: size matters and so does the price but pertinent inquiries and true curiosity should accompany the dollars and sense. As for the gallery's most expensive piece....... well let's not go there !Larry's Got Labels !!!
Labels are not the norm for Gagosian Gallery. At least not the type of labels that identify the artist's names adjacent to the art work exhibited but this year's FIAC was a departure. Contemplating Urs Fischer's "Chronical" 2017, it suddenly dawned on me that this information was provided just beside the piece. I inquired the price which was 1.4 million euros and it was already on "hold".
Fischer, Swiss born in 1973 and now based in New York began exhibiting in Europe in the 90's and has since produced a massive body of works including room-size installations, collages, drawings, and the ever popular candle sculptures including the wax couple exhibited by Gagosian at Art Basel, June 2017 which drew throngs to the booth for the entire show.
Mr. Gagosian has adhered to the concept that with nothing to identify the works on display visitors are encouraged to engage with the gallery. While this is true, there are an unknown number of people that may feel intimidated or uneducated if they need to inquire. Often times the booth is chock-a-block with visitors, therefore the noting of names eliminates a portion of non-essential chatter.
Labels or no labels the booth was generally brimming with art lovers and others admiring the aforementioned Urs Fischer as well as Picasso, Richard Prince, Andy Warhol and a great deal more.Claudio Parmiggiani - Smoke and Mirrors
Decidedly compelling was formation of a scene of library shelves and books containing neither of each. Parmiggiani employs a method of book burning under very controlled conditions whereby the soot, smoke and residue create the image that is flat yet appears mysteriously three dimensional. I would ordinarily abhor any type
of book burning however this case is granted exception and results in grace rather than destruction or sacrilege.
Parmiggiani nearly fixates on the themes of absence, space, the passage of time and space and silence. It is somehow evident that his creations are so deeply personal he seems to be in the space with you pondering his creation. The sensation of absence and presence prevailing simultaneously is somehow "ghostly" but never ghastly.
The work pictured here and exhibited by Messen De Clercq was comprised of twelve panels depicting the illusion of a library. Gallery owner, Olivier Meessen relayed to me that although the would hope to sell the work in its entirety at a price of 720,000 euros, the individual panels could be bought at 95,000 euros each. A nod to practicality I suppose. I hope they were able to place the contiuous piece as one. It is stunning yet subtle and peacefully mysterious.Elizabeth Kane de Beracasa, a noted philanthropist and haute collector, is Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Latin American Herald Tribune. She divides her time between Gstaad, Miami and Caracas. Her art and jewelry collections have been featured in newspapers, magazines and on television around the world.