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The Press on Frieze Masters and Frieze London


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“Must Do, Must See”
The Press on Frieze Masters and Frieze London

Since its founding in 2003, Frieze London has grown to become what is probably the most important fair for contemporary art worldwide. Deutsche Bank has cooperated with the London fair since 2004. To mark its 10th anniversary, the art fair is now on a mission to expand: Following Frieze New York, it is currently launching Frieze Masters, which shows art from antiquity to the 20th century from a contemporary perspective. The press was enthusiastic about the premiere of the new fair.

“Among the sort of people who know their Richters from their Rauschenbergs, you rarely hear the word “October” mentioned any more. For them the calendar runs “August, September, Frieze, November” in salute to the world’s hottest contemporary art fair which, in mid-October each year, pitches its pavilion in Regent’s Park in London.“ This is how the London Times sums up the status of the Frieze in the international art scene. It is an art fair which, in the words of the FAZ, “in the tenth year of its existence hasn’t lost any of its original dynamism.” The Frieze “has been a nonnegotiable must-do, must-see for art world insiders since it opened in 2003,” writes the New York Times. “But a decade on, it still seems to have a coolness cachet that is all its own.”

In addition to the 10th anniversary, the press reports focused on the premiere of Frieze Masters: “a promising debut” (Artinfo), “excellent fair of old and new art” (Guardian), “the presence of old art ennobles the more recent” (Monopol), “an intriguing juxtaposition of styles and aesthetics” (New York Times), “the finest non-contemporary art fair you'll find in the country” (Arts Desk), “from Alaskan dance masks to Zurbaran, the range is dizzying” (The Independent) – the media response to the Frieze Masters was extremely positive. In a preliminary report in the New York Times, Victoria Siddall, the director of the Frieze Masters, explains the fair’s concept: “Frieze has always been known for the most contemporary of the contemporary, but we now want to bring that modern feel to the world of the historic art fair.”

In the view of the FAZ, Frieze Masters lives up to this claim completely: “The exciting thing about this trade fair (…) is how the participants met this challenge: both in the selection of goods tailored to a modern view and in the presentation.” In addition, the newspaper praises “the confidently restrained tent that the New York architect Annabelle Selldorf designed for some one hundred international exhibitors.” For taz, the atmosphere is reminiscent of the “spacious apartment of a cool Parisian collector couple.” Welt am Sonntag describes it as “elegantly designed tent architecture.” “Art created before the year 2000 can breath and unfold here,” is the assessment of Art. Artinfo has a similar opinion: “The fair is so spacious, one could drive a Rolls Royce down the widely proportioned, naturally lit aisles.”

Like many other newspapers, Handelsblatt was particularly enthusiastic about the booth of Helly Nahmad, who showed Calder Mobiles and Miro paintings accompanied by a cool jazz soundtrack. “The London gallery owner and scion achieved a feat that only few have managed: presenting masterpieces in an outstanding solo exhibition and isolate them from the bustle of the fair.” The San Francisco Chronicle reported that on the very first day Pablo Picasso’s Homme et Femme au Bouquet (1970) sold for 8.5 million dollars. “Dealers and visitors agree,” writes Tagesspiegel, “that with its calm and wide hallways Frieze Masters is the best new trade fair for years and has made the London autumn more exciting than ever before.” And Artlyst declares: “It was a stroke of brilliance to extend the fair into the lucrative masters market, as it has now clearly put London back on the map as the leading centre of the art-world.” Frieze Masters and Frieze London welcomed in the region of 83,000 international visitors.

In contrast to the dignified atmosphere of Frieze Masters, Frieze London, as the fair for contemporary art is now called, was even more turbulent than it had been in the last nine years: “Never was the onslaught on the senses as great,” writes Handelsblatt. “Never was the fair tent with its 170 booths so lively. Never were the aisles so crowded, the art hung so densely and colorfully. The walk through the entrance tunnel with a psychedelic slipper pattern created by Thomas Bayrle is a claustrophobic experience.” Due to the omnipresence of the Frankfurt artist, who provided one of the most spectacular contributions to this year’s documenta and who is represented with numerous works in the Deutsche Bank Collection, the Welt describes the Frieze as a “Thomas Bayrle festival.”

At “London’s hippest art fair” (ORF), “works are being sold as though there was no worldwide financial crisis” (Art). Artlyst reports that “The fair recorded record attendance figures with people queuing for up to two hours to get a last peek at London's biggest and best art fair.” In the tents, the New York Times discovered “few showoff behemoth installations in favor of paintings, prints and sculptures on a more domestic scale.” And the Telegraph writes: “Bombast is out, and art on a domestic, thoughtful scale is in.” The Huffington Post registered an “upbeat mood,” and Artinfo saw “booths of a remarkable quality.” The FAZ sums up its impressions of the fair as follows: “With a keen sense of the zeitgeist and of clever packaging (…) the organizers shave succeeded in offering Frieze Art Fairs as one big performance in which everyone who is anyone in the art scene wants to participate and which provides fresh impetus going far beyond Regent’s Park.”

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