Frieze Art Fair
Now in its 10th iteration, Frieze is more than your standard art fair – it’s a moment when the art world and associated glitterati descend on Regent’s Park in London and commercial galleries and institutions throughout the city step up their programming to welcome them. Frieze is an excellent way to take the current temperature of contemporary art globally since founders Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp have assembled 170 galleries they deem worthy from Berlin to Tokyo, New York to London. Successful from its inception, Frieze is now expanding its brand: earlier this year, the fair branched out to Randall’s Island in New York and coinciding with the upcoming London edition is their inaugural presentation of Frieze Masters which will present work from more than 90 galleries from antiquities to Old Masters through to works created in the 20th century.
Frieze requires more than one visit to take in – in previous years we’ve returned two or three times over its four day run to soak it all in and while there are new discoveries around every corner, some galleries have consistently engaging programming and booths. Although the nature of fairs means works are prone to change up to the last minute, when we spoke to Galerie Buchholz, which has outposts in Cologne and Berlin, they planned to show new works from their roster focusing on Nairy Baghramian, Isa Genzken, Simon Denny and Henrik Olesen. Galerie Buchholz will also feature a captivating new photograph, Market I, by Wolfgang Tillmans, an artist known for his diverse photographic practice which includes portraits, still lifes, sky photographs and landscapes bridging both aesthetic and political interests, and questioning claims to truth.
Jay Jopling’s White Cube is known for its heavy-hitting stable of artists, many of whose work will make an appearance at Frieze, including Damien Hirst, Mona Hatoum, Damian Ortega and Sarah Morris. Two Theaster Gates sculptures White Cube will present are compelling examples of the way he employs humble materials salvaged from derelict buildings formerly inhabited by African Americans to create minimalist structures infused with strong social content.
The conceptual bent to much of Lisson’s programming will be visible with their presentation of Rodney Graham’s large-scale illuminated lightbox, Canadian Humourist, a pitch-perfect image of the artist posturing as a 70s intellectual past his prime– Graham consistently manages to balance a rigorously intellectual practice with highly visually engaging works. Lisson is doing double duty, also showcasing works by Art & Language, Richard Wentworth and Lawrence Weiner.
Focus is a section dedicated to newer ventures, allowing them to present up to three gallery artists – this year there’s some Canadian content with Jessica Bradley Gallery who will feature the work of London-based artist Sara MacKillop and Toronto-based artists Derek Sullivan and Zin Taylor.
What’s particularly compelling about Frieze amongst the myriad of fair options is that true to their roots as publishers of the magazine of the same name, Slotover and Sharp use it as a forum to further dialogue around contemporary art by programming a dynamic array of talks, films screenings and commissioned works. Sharp stated in an interview “I was interested in setting up a model which could facilitate good things…It should be great art that people come and buy and live with – fantastic. But why not find a model that you can also make even more generative….you can provide a real agenda setting talks programs…you can allow this whole fair to become a site for production for artists….a place where curators, writers, artists want to come.” Sharp is not merely paying lip service – this year, the programming at Frieze includes prominent art world luminaries such as Kasper König (Director, Museum Ludwig) in conversation with Jochen Volz (Head of Programmes, Serpentine Gallery), Sturtevant (Paris-based artist) in conversation with the legendary John Waters (Film Director and Baltimore-based artist) as well as artists like Cecily Brown, Luc Tuymans and Glenn Brown delivering talks drawing relationships between contemporary and historical art in association with Frieze Masters. Curated projects will be unveiled on site and Frieze Film also presents artists commissioned to make new work to coincide with the fair – this year Bertrand Dezoteux, Patricia Esquivias, Jimmy Merris, John Smith and Wu Tsang & Nana Oforiatta-Ayim will screen new films. If you can score a VIP pass, the options open 100-fold with private viewings, studio visits and receptions that are any art-lovers dream – our last time brandishing a VIP pass at Frieze was such a whirlwind, we needed a full week to recover. With a plethora of stimulating galleries and thoughtful programming, Frieze promises an action-packed four days – and is well worth the trip to London.