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Frieze Art Fair in London Adds Masters Show - NYTimes.com

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Art fairgoers at Frieze London, which runs through Sunday, and a work by Georg Baselitz. More Photos » By ROSLYN SULCAS Published: October 12, 2012

LONDON — Soon after the Frieze art fair opened its doors on Wednesday morning to those who are solemnly known as “serious collectors,” a man stood in the White Cube booth contemplating Damien Hirst’s silver and black “Destruction Dreamscape.” After a few moments he turned to his smartly garbed companion. She looked at him expectantly. “Shiny,” he said.

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Frieze Art Fair

He probably wasn’t the buyer who REPRINTS snapped up “Destruction Dreamscape” for $800,000, but his comment nicely summed up the glamour of the theatrical art world circus that is Frieze. There is much that is shiny — people, money and splashy art — at this annual contemporary-art fair in Regent’s Park, which has been a nonnegotiable must-do, must-see for art world insiders since it opened in 2003. But a decade on, it still

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Frieze Art Fair in London Adds Masters Show - NYTimes.com

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seems to have a coolness cachet that is all its own.

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“Frieze has a distinct point of view,” Thelma Golden, the director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, said on Wednesday. “You get a lot of information here, a real connection to what artists are doing, what’s out there.”

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But the big news at Frieze this year wasn’t really any particular artist, notable trend or spectacular sale, although business was brisk on the first day, with Paul McCarthy’s enormous Kleenex-pink “White Snow Head” selling for $1.3 million within 10 minutes of the opening. Instead the buzz was all about the previous day’s opening of Frieze Masters, a separate show across the park, exhibiting work made before 2000.

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It’s a clever expansion of the Frieze brand by the fair’s founders and directors, Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, capitalizing on the thousands of collectors, dealers, curators and art world personalities who arrive in London every October for Frieze week, a frenzied round of gallery openings, big museum exhibitions, auctions and parties. Go to Event Listings »

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In an interview a few days before the opening, Mr. Slotover and Ms. Sharp didn’t contest the commercial interest in cornering the rest of art history for Frieze, but they maintained that their inspiration was as much curatorial as market-driven. “Frieze has always been super-contemporary, art fresh from the studio,” Mr. Slotover said. “But we became very aware that our friends who are artists aren’t just looking at work made now but are inspired by work from the past. We thought a Masters show would contextualize the contemporary art and that we could do it in a Frieze-type way.” Victoria Siddall, the director of Frieze Masters, said that they were also very aware of the growing museum trend of juxtaposing contemporary and older work to show lineage and influence. “We were getting applications for the contemporary fair from all over the world,” she said. “For many of the galleries trying to show with us, it didn’t make sense, but it made us realize how much demand there was.” The Masters fair has certainly been organized in a Frieze-type way. With its 101 stands given a serenely modern, gray-and-white setting by the New York architect Annabelle Selldorf, it offers an intriguing juxtaposition of styles and aesthetics, as well as a tantalizing, kaleidoscopic view of art history. “It is the lineage of ideas throughout history that makes the present so relevant,” said RoseLee Goldberg, the director of the Performa festival in New York, who had come to London to see both Frieze fairs. “It was exciting to stand in front of a Lynda Benglis and a Louise Bourgeois and to see a 12th-century painted Madonna and Child nearby. The range from 200 or 300 B.C. to 2000 A.D. created a stunning panorama of ideas.” Although a few Frieze regulars expressed doubt that there would be a great deal of crossover between die-hard contemporary collectors and those with more eclectic historical tastes, there were buyers for big, blue-chip art as well as more obscure fare. Picasso’s 1969 “Buste d’Homme,” hanging next to “L’Ilyssus du Parthénon,” by Matisse, at Acquavella Galleries, sold for $9.5 million, while the London gallery Sam Fogg, which

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Frieze Art Fair in London Adds Masters Show - NYTimes.com

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specializes in medieval art and was exhibiting enormous stone gargoyles, among other things, sold several pieces “in the region of $50,000,” according to a gallery spokesman. There were real old masters (Poussin, Canaletto); an enormous Calder mobile, swaying to Brazilian music, at Helly Nahmad; and a trove of 16th- and 17th-century paintings at the David Koetser gallery from Zurich, notably Giovanni Stanchi’s gorgeously Baroque allegories of the seasons and Sebastien Stoskopff’s “Vanitas With a Vase of Theriac.” “There is a lot of interest; we already have reserves on several pieces,” a gallerist at Koetser said not long after the fair had opened. Several of the big-name galleries, like Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth and Victoria Miro, also had stands at Frieze London (as the contemporary tent is now called), and the overlap in content between the two fairs was sometimes surprising. “There’s a great deal of work here that could be at Masters, and vice versa,” said the New York art adviser Elisabeth Wingate, as she studied a bronze by the American feminist artist Hannah Wilke at the Alison Jacques Gallery. “You can still buy art by women that is so undervalued, compared to their male peers,” she added. Whether the fairs’ overlap becomes a problem for the Frieze identity remains to be seen; first impressions of Masters were generally positive, and there was certainly some of the collector crossover that the organizers were hoping for. On Wednesday the contemporary collector Beth Rudin DeWoody said she had bought “quite a few things” the previous day at Frieze Masters. “I found some really interesting pieces,” she said, “two John McLaughlins, a Hannah Wilke and a small Gavin Turk.” At Frieze London sales at the 175 stands were strong, if not quite reproducing the feeding frenzy of a few years ago that Frieze regulars recounted. “The people who come into the morning preview know what they want,” said Anna Gavazzi, a sales associate at the London gallery Sadie Coles HQ, where an eye-popping Sarah Lucas hanging chair, seemingly made up of breasts, was going for $150,000, and where less expensive work, “in the $20,000 range,” by the Turner Prize finalist Spartacus Chetwynd was exhibited. “We’ve sold almost everything,” she said late on Wednesday, as the party crowds poured in for the evening session. Alissa Friedman, a director of Salon 94 in New York, said her impression was that “there is a similar energy to previous years, but I think a lot of galleries have brought younger artists with lower price points.” “But then, that’s what this fair is for, living artists,” she said. A new section, Focus, for galleries established after 2001 (there is also Frame, for galleries under six years old), may well have added to that younger feel, with its vibrant solo presentations that included a video, “West Hinder,” by the Turner nominee Elizabeth Price, and Torsten Slama’s slightly sinister pencil drawings of empty buildings. Few gallerists were willing to admit that the European economic crisis was affecting business, although Andrew Silewicz at Sprueth Magers said he thought buyers were more cautious. “It’s all a bit more considered now,” he said.

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Frieze Art Fair in London Adds Masters Show - NYTimes.com

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Max Wigram, the director of the London gallery of that name, said works being shown by Luiz Zerbini and Jose Dáavila had sold well. He was emphatic about the strength of the art market. “Buying is strong, and there is a reason for that,” he said. “The center of the art market is rich people taking advice, collecting well. Most collectors are sophisticated people who invest in art as carefully as they invest in other areas. It’s not this crazy, booming, nutty thing in a parallel world.” Frieze London and Frieze Masters run through Sunday in Regent’s Park, London; friezelondon.com. A version of this article appeared in print on October 13, 2012, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Sibling for a Shiny Art Show in London. SAVE

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A Sibling for a Shiny Art Show in London  

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