Art+Auction's Guide to This Year's Frieze Week in London, Now With Old Masters

Frieze London 2011
(Courtesy of Graham Carlow/ Frieze)

On the heels of the Olympics, a stellar lineup of 175 blue-chip dealers descends on the British capital this month to compete for the eyes—and business—of an international band of collectors. But the Frieze Art Fair won’t be the only game in town. From October 11 through 14, the season’s premier contemporary event is joined by Frieze Masters, a new sister fair focusing on art made before 2000.


Far from being Frieze’s stodgy sibling, Frieze Masters is taking a decidedly postmodern, playlist-on-shuffle approach. Rather than presenting artworks chronologically or by genre, as is customary at museums and encyclopedic fairs like TEFAF Maastricht, “everything is mixed,” says director Victoria Siddall, who was previously Frieze’s development director. She hopes the heterogeneous display will? push collectors out of their comfort zone. While that might result in, say, a Lawrence Weiner word painting at Lisson Gallery’s display abutting a 15th-century altarpiece at Fabrizio Moretti’s booth, “if you bring up the quality, everything can be next to everything,” Moretti says. Nearly 100 galleries will assemble inside a bespoke tent by architect Annabelle Selldorf on Gloucester Green in Regent’s Park, a short stroll or shuttle ride from Frieze’s own Carmody Groarke-designed tent. Dealers will paint their booths from a palette of grays and whites selected by Selldorf, giving the entire fair a cohesive, modern look.

The art on view spans more than 4,000 years. London’s Rupert Wace Ancient Art offers a rough-hewn South Arabian male figure, carved from a block of granite and dating from the second or ?third millennium b.c. ($150,000). A first-century Roman marble urn, with carvings of griffins added by Giovanni Battista Piranesi in the 18th century, will anchor the booth at Daniel Katz Ltd., of London.

Down the aisle, New York’s Acquavella Galleries will present Man Drawing, a dreamy oil painting by Richard Diebenkorn from 1956 ($5-7 million). London’s Thomas Gibson Fine Art is mounting a largely nonselling solo presentation of Alberto Giacometti focusing on his realist period immediately following?World War II. The display includes a 1954 pencil drawing of the artist’s biographer James Lord ($325,000–475,000).

If the fair’s main stage is devoted to masters of all stripes, the Spotlight section, curated by Adriano Pedrosa and featuring solo presentations, seeks “to challenge the definition of the term master,” Siddall says. Expect to see works by lesser-known artists alongside lesser-known works by such names as Bruce Nauman, whose freestanding architectural installation Parallax Shell will be re-created at Sperone Westwater’s booth in one of only a handful of appearances since its 1971 debut. According to the New York gallery’s director, David Leiber, “One could say the Old Master dealers are more determined to connect to the contemporary market than vice versa, but we’ve found there is interesting potential there.” Dino Tomasso, of classical sculpture purveyors Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, notes, “Most people are shocked at the lower price of antique art compared to the price of contemporary art.”


The primary-market powerhouse will focus its attention on what it does best: presenting work fresh from the studio. This year, the fair boasts a strong contingent of solo presentations of work made expressly for the event. Casey Kaplan,? of New York, will feature surreal sculptures by Geoffrey Farmer, while London’s Stephen Friedman will fill its booth with intimate still lifes by Ged Quinn. David Kordansky, of Los Angeles, will feature bright paintings and drawings? of interiors by Jonas Wood ($12,500–50,000).

For those with a taste for nontraditional materials, Berlin’s Galerie Barbara Weiss has a spooky 2007 composition by Nicole Eisenman of a devil made out of foam and oil on wood panel ($40,000). New York’s Marianne Boesky Gallery will present salt and lead works by Pier Paolo Calzolari ($150–400,000).

After sticking to a stable platform for years, organizers Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover have added tiers for younger and emerging galleries. The Focus section, unveiled last May at the first Frieze New York, features galleries established after 2001 displaying work by up to three artists. The London edition includes Malmö’s Elastic Gallery, Antwerp’s Office Baroque Gallery, and Warsaw’s Raster, among others. Meanwhile Frame, devoted to galleries younger than six years old, will return with entrants from Istanbul, Dublin, Kolkata, and Los Angeles.


Frieze’s funkier alternative, housed in the bunkerlike Ambika P3, also October 11 through 14, features 20 galleries from New York to? New Zealand, and points in between. Among the first-timers setting up shop at the boothless fair are Berlin’s Kraupa-Tuskany, which will present the work of American duo aids-3d, and New York’s Lisa Cooley, showing resin and chromed-aluminum casts of women’s tights?by Alice Channer and oil paintings of window scenes by Cynthia Daignault.


In an effort to outflank Frieze at the lower end of the market, Multiplied returns to Christie’s South Kensington October 12 through 15. The auction house-run fair focuses exclusively on limited-edition works at budget-friendly prices (most are under $30,000).

To see highlights from the upcoming Frieze Week 2012, click on the slide show.

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Art+Auction.