Interview with Cyril Schlesser, artistic director of Art o’Clock

The second edition of Art O’Clock will start on Thursday in Paris La Défense. As an official partner of the fair, Artsper will be an online starting point that will allow you to see the work featured at the fair, and will also give you the possibility to rediscover the artists shown, during and after the fair. We’ve met Cyril Schlesser, the founder of Art o’Clock, and he has shared with us his ambitions for the fair. The Artsper selection of artworks is available on our website.


Artsper: This is the 2nd edition of the Art O’ Clock fair; how would you present this event to your first-time visitors?
With this second edition that is larger and has more visibility, Art O’Clock becomes the most important event of the autumn with a very dynamic program: 40 galeries and 150 contemporary artists from all over the world, performances in partnership with le Générateur, discussions on various topics for our visitors, live shows on Radio Nova and a great party in honor of the Nouveaux commanditaires (New Patrons) of the Fondation de France sur l’art de la démocratie. Everything is done in order to create the best conditions for the public to meet the exhibitors and discover new and exciting art pieces.

A: Why did you choose such an unusual place as the Parvis de la Défense?
La Défense, the first business center in Europe, is truly an epicenter of the Greater Paris area. It is an impressive urban setting, through its human density and its architecture. There are 200 000 people who work there for more than 1 500 firms, and 400 000 people who go to La Défense every day. Our team knows the place very well and we know it has great potential for out exhibitors when it comes to the large public as well as to businesses that are our partners or just interested in art. Many of them take part in our event.

A: You have created the event-planning firm So101 with the goal of developing a meeting point between art and businesses. What is your offer to companies and what is their reaction to the idea of getting involved in contemporary art?
Art is a great vehicle of communication for a company, internally and externally. It allows very often to reveal the best that a company has to offer, especially concerning issues such as “living together” or “building together”. So101 develops all year long numerous events connected to contemporary art: art talks, exhibitions in company offices, creative workshops or guided visits. We also offer counseling for companies who wish to build up a collection or to do public commissions.

A: Let’s talk about the 2013 edition of d’Art O’Clock; what’s new in this year’s program?
There are many new things in our program… Especially the large street art square by the Berthéas gallery, the contemporary photography point by the galleries of Photo District Marais, the Caribbean square (especially Cuba) with a special Uprising program and the Tunisian collective Politiques, featured by the Talmart Gallery. This year we also present Emergence that gathers very promising young art dealers.

A: What is your vision for the fair on the long term? Do you wish to develop it in other business quarters?
The success of our fair in La Défense makes us want to develop it in other major business quarters in Europe. Right now, we’re thinking about Brussels, London, Frankfurt and Zurich. We are already in talks, but we work on rather long cycles because we need the support of local businesses, as it plays a vital role in the success of our events.

A: Are you a collector yourself?
I buy art quite often without really thinking of building up a personal collection. For the moment, I let this enterprise to my clients.

A: A show, an artist or an art piece you’ve discovered recently and you want us to know about?
No doubt an artist, Yannig Willmann, with whom we’ve started an important project, after a very powerful meeting. Yannig is, for me, the best digital artist there is today. He gave a face to our event through his monumental virtual pieces on the Parvis de La Défense and will propose a unique series during the fair. You should really get to know him!

A: What do you think of the Artsper project?
Art O’Clock and Artsper share the same objective, and that is offering to the professionals of the art world the opportunity to be more dynamic in their commercial approach of new audiences. By offering complete, centralized art sales services online, Artsper takes the position of a strategic commercial partner for art dealers, but also for art fairs directed to a large audience. Our partnership with Artsper allows us and our exhibitors to be present online during the event and after the fair, leaving more opportunities to our clients to buy artworks they have seen and loved at the fair.