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FRIEZE ART FAIR

[16/10/2012]

 

While Art Basel and the FIAC have each been going for 38 and 42 years respectively, the much younger Frieze Art Fair has quickly established itself as a key event on the international agenda.This year the Frieze received some 55,000 visitors to discover nearly 175 galleries from all over the world: Argentina, China, Hungary, Colombia, India, South Africa, Brazil… more than 30 countries. Frieze has no reason to envy its older sisters and was not mean with resources to celebrate its 10th anniversary and confirm its rise. As early as May 2012, the organizers Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover announced the news: the launch of a New York edition in 2013 and the birth of the Frieze Masters to complement the highly Contemporary Frieze London!

Frieze London
As every year, the giants of the Contemporary art market were present: Hauser & Wirth, Stephen Friedman, Pace, the Gagosian, Emanuel Perrotin, David Zwirmer, the Lisson Gallery, White Cube, Yvon Lambert… and all complied with the specifications by focusing on fresh and original work.
The quality of the works proposed for this 10th edition was once again impressive. Gallery Hauser & Wirth created a sensation thanks to Paul MCCARTHY’s huge silicon bust sculpture Snow White Head. Increasingly coveted, Paul McCarthy is one of the artists who generated a new record during the 2011/2012 period (see Artprice’s Contemporary Art Market report) when his Tomato Head (Green) fetched $4m on 8 November 2011 at Christie’s New York.
Still in the sculpture domain, the works of Tony CRAGG, who signed two new records in 2011 and 2012 (Divide which sold for $675,000 at Sotheby’s New York on 11 May 2011 and The Fanatics which fetched more than $280,000 at Christie’s London on 28 June 2012) were presented on the stands of the Thaddaeus Ropac and Konrad Fischer galleries.
The Lisson Gallery decided to promote Anish KAPOOR and profited from London’s artistic effervescence during the Fair to open a simultaneous solo exhibition of the artist’s work in its historic Bell Street gallery.
The White Cube took the opportunity to present a huge and sublime double portrait by ZHANG Huan, similar to his Young Mother, which fetched nearly $320,000 in June 2011 at Christie’s London.
Once again, the Frieze has kicked off the new season with panache and dynamism, and it has set the bar high in terms of the quantity and quality of its participants. And… as the Frieze Masters event clearly shows, Old Masters clearly have the wind in their sails.

Frieze Masters
For visitors who expected a Frieze “off” excluding Contemporary art, this new event has proposed a new perspective by comparing Contemporary art created before 2000 with the Old Masters. By no means new, this type of exercise has been regularly presented since the early 2000s in various different artistic events. Such a trans-period vision of art was, in fact, first proposed by museums like the Tate London, Boijmans van Beuningen (Rotterdam), the Louvre Museum with its Countrepoints and the Musée d’Orsay with its Correspondances. Of the ninety six galleries at the Frieze Masters, twenty two were nevertheless specialists in 20th century art. Many of these 20th specialists century actually had a stands in both events, such as the Lisson Gallery, the Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirmer, amongst others.
Despite an occasional lack of coherence, some stands were indeed museum quality.
Among them we should mention the Helly Nahmad Gallery in London which used a unique V-shaped scenography with an entrance flanked on both sides by platforms to present three enormous and superb Alexander CALDER mobiles turned freely to the sound of Samba (emitted by speakers embedded in the floor). A fabulous Joan MIRO painting was hung on the back wall behind Calder’s magnificent mobiles (Calder recently signed a new auction record with Lily of Force which fetched $16.5m on 8 May 2012 at Christie’s New York). The staging revealed a perfectly measured alchemy between the two artists. Like Calder, Joan Miro has received plenty of attention in 2012, setting a new auction record at Sotheby’s London on 19 June 2012 with his Peinture (Etoile Bleue) which sold for nearly $33m. In short, the ultra high end of the market was well represented at the event.
In fact, Frieze Masters was very much focused on museum-quality art, such as the works presented by the Christophe Van de Weghe Gallery which featured a unique Pablo PICASSO portrait entitled Femme au Bouquet. The painting immediately sold for several million pounds as soon as the event’s opening began. Picasso is of course no stranger to multi-million results, and in February 2011 his La Lecture generated more than $36m at Sotheby’s London.

By bringing together ninety of the most prestigious art dealers, Frieze Masters has successfully planted a new high-quality event on the art market’s calendar. More generally, the affluence and extravagance with which the 10th anniversary of the Frieze Art Fair was organised has given fans plenty to look forward to when the Fair opens its New York version!

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