Frieze week is a term coined for the week of the famous Frieze art fair and also the other art fairs held at the same time. Frieze is major annual contemporary art fair, held in London, hosting a selection of works for sale by the leading worldwide contemporary galleries, specially commissioned artists’ projects, and a programme of talks, film and music. The 2013 edition (17-20 October) was the 11th Frieze and also the 2nd edition of Frieze Masters, a sister Frieze fair for art made before the year 2000, offering a “contemporary perspective on historical art”.
Artists, art lovers and collectors descend on London for the occasion and several leverage on the Frieze fair to host their events and own fairs. I knew of three other fairs during Frieze week: The Other Art Fair, Sluice Art Fair and 1:54. This year, I visited the Frieze, Frieze Masters and 1:54, the inaugural contemporary African art fair. I may take some time off next year to visit more fairs. But my Frieze week was eventful nevertheless, thanks to the Tate Patrons events line up:
Saturday 12 October: I went to the Open Heart Surgery launch party at the Moving Museum. A hipster crowd made me feel cool. More importantly, the Moving Museum runs a travelling programme of contemporary art exhibitions. Co-founder Simon Sakhai explained to us that the Moving Museum is a not-for-profit organization, which reinvests sponsorship and artworks sales proceeds in the artists’ practice. Each exhibition is made specifically for the city it is held in. It was first held in Dubai and the London edition (Open Heart Surgery) runs until 13 Dec. 2013.
Monday 14 October: This marked the official first day of the Frieze week and Tate Modern hosted the opening reception of Paul Klee: Making Visible, its major autumn show focusing on Klee’s intense abstract compositions. While most came for networking, I tried to look at the art but only saw eight rooms of 17. I gave up trying to see everything and will just go back to see the show on my own schedule. I haven’t managed to do so yet but stay tuned for my blog post.
Wednesday 16 October: I went to 1:54, the first contemporary African Art Fair, held at Somerset House in London. The very energetic 1:54 founder Touria El Glaoui kindly sat down with us and explained enthusiastically the two-year development of her inaugural fair, up to the last-minute delivery of the superbly crafted contemporary furniture from Botswana. The fair came from her personal love of African art and as a response to the lack of visitors to Africa. Art collectors are not flocking to Africa so bring the African art to them.
Friday 19 October: The Tate had its annual Frieze party, wonderfully hosted in Mayfair. I was slightly concerned that I hadn’t seen the Frieze yet whereas it would be the subject du jour of the happy few. But the crowd included a mix of artists, galleries, Tate people, and non-art professionals like me. We even had the pleasure of having Tate Modern director, singer Bjork and model Lily Cole attending! I had the opportunity to speak with and find more about Julien Isaac and his upcoming exhibition at Metro Pictures in NYC.
Saturday 20 October: Frieze here I come! It was my third Frieze and I was overall underwhelmed vs. the two other editions I saw. Of course, there were several artworks I liked and artists I’d like to see more of like Alex Katz, Adam Mc Ewen, Robert Longo and David Renggli. I was more impressed by the Turkish art galleries than some big names such as the Gagosian, which offered only a tacky show of Koons’ shiny sculptures, each with its own security guard. Conceptual art went too far with a piece by where the artwork is the title (forgive me, I have forgotten the artist and the title!)
Sunday 21 October: I returned to Regents Park and went to Frieze Masters for the first time. And oh was it nice, a refined and calm alternative to the Frieze, airy stands, grey walls, and leather chairs. I spent an enchanting hour and a half speaking with a passionate gallery rep [Sarti Gallery] about the mystery surrounding the Abduction of Ganymede painting and Renaissance in Siena. I saw beautiful works by Bonnard (Apres le dejeuner), Lowry, Magritte and several solarisation photographs by Man Ray, including one of Lee Miller. It can be intimidating to enter some fine art galleries so Frieze Masters is an opportunity to see art you may not see again.