FIAC, `Art in the World' Kick off Paris' Fall Art Season

Article excerpt

PARIS--The Paris art season got under way with a bang in mid-September with the opening of "Art in the World," a spectacular exhibition housed incredibly enough under the Pont Alexandre III.

The bridge, which spans the Seine not far from the Grand Palais--the site this Fall of an impressive retrospective of French masterworks devoted to the Mediterranean--was built in 1900 to coincide with the holding of the World's Fair that year in Paris. Over the years it has become an important historical landmark, indeed it plays a central role in the 1953 Bing Crosby masterpiece Little Boy Lost.

The importance of the site was not lost on Fabrice Bousteau, director of Beaux Arts Magazine and the founder and principal organizer of "Art in the World," who decided to move the premises of his exhibition there from the relatively inaccessible Passage de Retz. As Bousteau has said, "not only are we now nearer to the subway and the city's highways, but also to persons wishing to visit us by boat."

Which is perhaps one reason why Bousteau, who in 1998 was able to raise only 500,000 Francs ($70,000) with which to mount his show, managed to come up with six times as much ($400,000) for this year's edition and obtained much needed assistance from Paris City officials, as well as from a private sponsor, ABN-Amro.

"Art in the World" is based on the idea of having several of the world's principal arts magazines select the two or three artists most representative of the country they represent, then proceed to present a selection of each artist's work, and, most importantly, explain the context in which the work was produced.

"The idea proved to be an unqualified success when we first tried it out in 1998," said Bousteau. "Today it's even more successful, perhaps because more appropriate, as we are undoubtedly more representative than ever of artistic production around the world." Although "Art in the World's" first edition had 24 magazines selecting the work of 50 artists, this year 36 magazines have decided to take part, proposing the work of 100 artists from 50 countries. "With this year's edition," said Bousteau, "we've definitely become an exposition`d'un nouveau type' (of a new kind)."

And, in an exposition which already sports a number of unusual works, there is nevertheless one work which beats them all, setting the tone for this year's "Art in the World." The work is by Daniel Roth, and has the viewer push a red button to immediately see a large mirror replaced by a work of art. Then too, there are works already attracting attention by Jiri Cernicky, Peter Richards and Momoyo Torimitsu.

Bousteau's show is also "of a new type" in that it lasts all of eight weeks. …