Frieze London, 2015
As I was waiting in line watching the sophisticated line of people waiting to enter Frieze London, the contemporary art fair in the cool October morning in Regent’s Park, I asked my niece Mina, how many of these people here she thought read the magazine frieze before the contemporary art fair started in 2003. As Mina who has as masters in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art just noticed that the person standing right in front of her was Raf Simons, creative director of Dior (who has since left the position), she said she thought this crowd did but that it could be possible that many who would be coming to the fair in the following days might not. Which is in a way sad, but not really so: It is good that art is coming to them in a way. Even though you would not be buying anything per se, you have access to seeing it. This 11 AM crowd was in line for buying though, to have the first choice, which I have to add was quite different than say Art Basel Miami Beach, and seemed a more calm - and also different than from frieze New York for that matter, which is quite far from the city and is less international of course.
As I walked around I saw some people I knew, and some I didn’t but were popular figures: faces from around the world, collectors, curators, art dealers and advisers. While I got to see some beautiful works of art –and some not, the highlights of that day were when I talked to the fabulous Juana de Aizpuru, and then the fantastic Elba Benitez, both Madrid gallerists exhibiting here.
I noticed works by Abraham Cruzvillegas and Jimmie Durham available just as each had their own major museum exhibitions here in London, in Tate Modern and Serpentine Gallery respectively.
As part of Frieze Talks, I enjoyed critic Adrian Searle, moderating “The New Museums: Coming to a City Near You”, with Maria Balshaw of the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, Anton Belov of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Tobias Berger of the Central Police Station in Hong Kong, and Donna De Salvo of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. I enjoyed this talk greatly and will elaborate on it separately.
The 2015 Frieze Artist Award was won by Rachel Rose, who had an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery at the same time, and created a scale-model of the fair structure with “lighting and sound design (stimulating) the sonic and visual frequencies of the animals that live in Regent's Park” as part of the Frieze London not-for-profit section.
The Sculpture Park located in the English Gardens between Frieze London and Frieze Masters, with 16 works by artists including Richard Serra, William Turnbull and Anri Sala among others, were selected by Claire Lilley and as a whole was a delight in the beautiful park.
Seung-taek Lee, Earth Play, 1979-89
While Frieze London is all about contemporary art, this year’s Frieze Masters was quite eclectic and included works by contemporary artists too. Noticing my surprise at this Mina told me that all works exhibited were pre-2000, the cut-off date. While there were many objects from antiquities to African art, there were also works which were exhibited recently in museum exhibitions.
The antiquities were interesting. They made me wonder about their provenances, which were noted on their labels as simply private collections. The fact that they were available for sale, and in London, instead of say, New York, is quite meaningful. Now that there is a trend towards the eclectic it looks like a good time for these to get sold.
It seemed like everywhere I turned I saw works of Lucio Fontana’s cut canvases, and Günther Uecker’s works with nails.
Last but certainly not least, Frieze Masters was a must-see because of the brilliant exhibition booth of Helly Nahmad, converted partly into an Insane Asylum, which inspired Jean Dubuffet to create paintings as he was inspired by the Art Brut works he collected. Having been designed by Robin Brown with such precision and attention to detail, this booth was the most visited, and I am sure most photographed section of the fair. While on one side of the installation an asylum was viewed the other side of the wall displayed works by Dubuffet available for sale.
I saw red stickers on almost all works of art here.
This proves to me that narratives through design and background are becoming even more important in the art market than before. Constant exposure to art exhibitions through fair visits and online environments lead audiences seeking to learn more and listen to good stories. Hanging paintings like in a store does not satisfy anymore. There needs to be a common thread, a storyline that binds works together as who wouldn’t be part of a story instead of just one character.
For more information about Frieze, please see the website .
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