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The 31st installation of FIAC, Oct. 21-25, 2004, is turning out to be the most energetic in recent memory. With 214 galleries from 24 countries -- nearly a third of the dealers participating for the first time -- setting up at the Paris Expo-Porte de Versailles exhibition center, the Foire Internationale dArt Contemporain 2004 features a new section devoted to design and a section called "Future Quake," presenting "emerging international galleries." Credit goes to a youthful steering committee headed by Paris dealer Jennifer Flay.

Something had to be done to generate a bit of excitement -- the fall art-fair schedule is intensely competitive, with six major fairs in just two months (including Frieze in London during the preceding week, and Art Cologne coming up the following week).

Frances top contemporary art fair includes 15 galleries from the U.S., up from five in 2003: Volume Gallery and Art of This Century (both in the "editions" section of the fair); Michael Steinberg Fine Art, Susan Sheehan Gallery and Timothy Baum (in FIAC proper); Florence Lynch Gallery, 1-20 Gallery, Parkers Box and Slingshot Project (in the "perspectives" section); and Luxe Gallery, Priska C. Juschka Fine Art, Sixtyseven and Ziehersmith (in "Future Quake").

Compliments go to Galerie Karsten Greve for its mix of works by Wim Delvoye, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Jean-Jacques Aillagon (a former culture minister) and a monumental Cy Twombly work from 1962. Also notable is the booth of Galerie Christian Stein from Milan, which features works by Pistoletto and Claudio Parmiggiani. Three rusted giants by Thomas Schtte fill the stand of Galerie Nelson, while at Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont is a painted cast-iron sculpture of a Mother and Child by Keith Haring. At Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois is an astonishing installation by Gilles Barbier involving worms in a giant virgin forest.

Among the sales, according to an informal survey taken by Artnet Paris representative Peter Neerinckx, are a sculpture at Galerie Kamel Mennour by Jota Castro of U.S. president George W. Bush peeking out of an oil barrel painted with the stars and stripes. Serene ink drawings by Gao Xingjian are jumping off the wall at Galerie Claude Bernard, as are watercolor abstractions by Geer van Velde (1935-75) at Galerie Louis Carré & Cie.

Galerie Guy Bärtschi from Geneva found buyers ready for the delicate, almost scientific acrylic resin on wood works by Philippe Favier, hung like icons in the half-light. The Moscow gallery Orel Art Presenta, attending FIAC for the first time, sold pictures by Valery Koshlyakov of Pop icons -- Marilyn, Elvis Presley, the Girl with the Pearl Earring -- works made with colored tape. For more info, see

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