The main periods
We can distinguish three main periods in the evolution of Critical Figuration. The period from 1978 to 1994 was that of Mirabelle Dors as President and Rapin as Secretary and Treasurer. The exhibitions take place at the Grand Palais. It was the closure of the Grand Palace in 1994 that brought disorder to the group. The subsidies having disappeared, it is an important financial debt which freezes the continuation of the exposures during 2 years…
The period from 1988 to 1994 is the richest and most intense period. The number of exhibitors varies from 250 to 300. All the artists who marked this period and who could later be found in the main national galleries went through Figuration. We can cite among the most famous: Berszinski, Jean Rustin, but we could add the names of Ceytaire, Schmetz, Taillandier, Yak Rivais, Duranel, Jean Luc Juhel, Kleinmann, Pouchous, Merlier, Brennnen, Fontferrier, Kai Yuen Chan… and others.
This period was especially marked by the need to find an exhibition space in Paris, both large enough and not too expensive. The free Grand Palais is sorely lacking. And the main goal will be to balance the accounts of the Association, so that the exhibiting artists do not have too much money to spend. From 250/300 artists, the staff will gradually fall to stabilize around the sixties. A few exhibitions at the top of the Arche de la Défense will bring a happy transition, alas short-lived. We will soon have to make do with an exhibition space, either an old ginguette (Faubourg Saint Denis), or a fairly small cultural center (L’espace Kiron), until the Salon comes to install in the magnificent Design Bastille Center building, an old hardware store, still in its original form, with wooden pavers on the ground floor and in the basement, lockers and furniture dating from the 19th, and a magnificent mezzanine under a glass roof. The presidents who led this period (Jane Toussaint, Pascale Simonet and Alain Campello) had the extremely difficult task of constantly seeking new places, and managing to balance the accounts without compromising too much on quality.
With the arrival of Claude Duvauchelle to the Presidency, a particular effort is put on the quality of recruitment, thanks to his acute vigilance. Another effort is focused on the quality of communication thanks to the computer graphics work of Claude Lieber. Finally, another effort is focused on the organization of conferences, and tributes to prestigious artists of the past, under the leadership of Milo Dias. A new impetus is thus brought to the Fair thanks to this collective work, within the framework of a particularly warm and combative Committee of a dozen members, all determined to make the Fair of Critical Figuration a place of reference in the national artistic landscape, and even international, since the show regularly includes Spanish, Belgian, English and Russian artists, who come to join the group.