Say what you will about art fairs being gigantic supermarkets where lasting quality and mere buzz intermingle in a saturnalia of the most conspicuous consumption — that's true, but they are also the best way to get a sweeping look at the work that artists are making around the world, and, especially useful for some, to take measure of the psychology of the art market.
When this year's Frieze Art Fair opens for VIPs tomorrow night, will Europe's largest contemporary art souk display an increase in confidence, with dealers taking hints from mounting auction tallies and growing numbers of international collectors to bring back the blingy, in-your-face art of the boom? Or will the more modest, curated approach of recent fairs, playing to the tastes of connoisseur buyers rather than speculators, continue? The fact that an estimated $375 million of art will be on display may provide a clue.
Some art-world players — notoriously, dealer Philippe Ségalot — have a way of sneaking into the fairgrounds early to take an advance reading. Here at ARTINFO, we like to democratize the process somewhat. For a preview of what international dealers will be bringing to their stands, click the accompanying slide show. And for a helpful guide to navigating through the week's many festivities, see ARTINFO UK's guide here.