Frieze Week Descends on London ; Auctions, Exhibitions and Fringe Events Add Buzz around the Art Fair

By Reyburn, Scott | International New York Times, October 13, 2014 | Go to article overview

Frieze Week Descends on London ; Auctions, Exhibitions and Fringe Events Add Buzz around the Art Fair


Reyburn, Scott, International New York Times


With nine fairs, seven auctions, and more than 150 selling exhibitions in galleries, London's "Frieze Week," which starts Monday, is a hectic seven days in the art world.

With nine fairs, seven auctions, and more than 150 selling exhibitions in galleries, London's "Frieze Week," which starts Monday, is a hectic seven days in the art world. So many events jostle for attention, that it can be difficult for visiting collectors to decide where to spend their time, not to mention their money.

"It's almost too much for them to take on board," said Anthony McNerney, director of contemporary art at the London-based advisers Gurr Johns. "But clients feel they need to come. They'll go to Frieze to check prices and see if they can engage in something good and new."

The main focus of the week, the Frieze Art Fair itself, held, as usual, in a temporary structure in Regent's Park, opens its 12th edition to V.I.P.s on Tuesday, following Christie's evening auction in London of 44 contemporary works from the Essl Collection in Austria. The fair opens to the public on Wednesday, and runs through Saturday.

This year's cast list of 162 dealers from 25 countries has been freshened up by a new "Live" element, which will see performance- based installations (also on-trend at this year's Art Basel) scattered through the fair. Frieze's curated "Focus" section of younger galleries has expanded to 37.

Frieze has built its reputation on selling new art by younger artists -- the sector where investment-minded collectors can make spectacular returns on works bought for under 50,000 pounds, or about $80,000.

Prices tend to be higher at Frieze Masters, the fair's sister event in Regent's Park, whose third edition will also be previewing on Tuesday and runs through Sunday. Here, 127 dealers will be showing modern and historic material ranging across seven millennia.

"Contemporary art is easier. People feel more connected to it, but they are now looking at art from different ages," said the California- and Texas-based collector and heritage philanthropist Suzanne Deal Booth, who will be giving a talk about so-called "crossover" buying at Frieze Masters on Thursday.

Ms. Deal Booth is one of a select number of international collectors who are as confident buying art from the 16th century as they are from the 21st. "Crossover collecting is all about being impassioned about art and relying on one's own perceptions," she said.

So far, though, black-clad Friezanistas have been tentative about buying historic works at Masters. At last year's edition, the New York-based gallerist Otto Naumann sold just one painting, priced at $150,000. This year he will be asking $48.5 million for Rembrandt's 1658 "Portrait of a Man With Arms Akimbo," which he acquired privately from the American casino magnate Stephen A. Wynn after his divorce from his wife Elaine Wynn in 2010. "I just hope Roman Abramovich will get out of the other tent and come and have a look at it," Mr. Naumann said.

Other attractions for oligarchs and their ilk at Frieze Masters will include a monographic display of some 10 Francis Bacon works at the booth of Marlborough Fine Art -- including two figure paintings from the 1980s, each marked between $25 million to $30 million -- and the 1965 Pablo Picasso painting "Homme et Femme Nue," presented by the London dealer Faggionato at about $19 million.

Once the two Friezes have been ticked off the to-do list, where next for the courtesy BMW? Buyers and browsers at the upper end of the market will head to the boutique Pavilion of Art and Design fair, or PAD, in Berkeley Square, where the Zurich-based Galerie von Vertes is offering a 1985 Gerhard Richter abstract at Pounds 2. …

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