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Villepin, at FIAC, Pledges Support for Contemporary Art

The main talking point at the Paris Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain, or FIAC (Oct. 6-10), was the visit, on the final day, of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. He announced several measures designed to boost France’s ailing contemporary art market.

PARIS—The main talking point at the Paris Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain, or FIAC (Oct. 6-10), was the visit, on the final day, of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. He announced several measures designed to boost France’s ailing contemporary art market.

These include a reduction of the value-added tax (VAT) on videos and installations from 19.6 percent to 5.5 percent, tax rebates for young artists for the first five years of their careers, and the promise that the Grand Palais will host a major exhibition devoted to French contemporary artists in 2006. But, even though Villepin spoke of making France a “vibrant hotbed of contemporary art,” some of his proposals were essentially ideas still in an early stage—such as aligning France’s position on droit de suite (artists’ resale rights) with that of the U.K., or calling for the construction of a Center of Contemporary Creation (combining exhibition space, artists’ studios and art-study facilities) on Ile Séguin, near Paris—the site formerly earmarked for collector and Christie’s owner François Pinault’s contemporary foundation (see ANL, 4/28/05 and 5/24/05).

Villepin’s visit coincided with news that the French state, via its National Contemporary Art Fund (established in 1976), had bought works at FIAC for the first time—spending €420,000 ($500,000) on more than 30 works by both French and other artists. Among them: Daniel Firman’s sculpture Super pôle position fell for an undisclosed sum at Alain Gutharc; Pascal Pinaud’s Canevas went for €14,000 ($16,800) at Nathalie Obadia; and an Adel Abdessemed sculpture (one from an edition of six) made €10,000 ($12,000) at Kamel Mennour. La cible giante, by Wilfried Mille and Ida Tursic, brought €14,000 ($16,800) at Pietro Spartà; and Manfred Pernice’s installation Köln/Bonn 05 fetched €37,000 ($44,400) from Nächst St. Stephan-Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Vienna.

SIMON HEWITT

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