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"Breathtaking in Part" - The Press on Frieze London and Frieze Masters


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“Breathtaking in Part”
The Press on Frieze London and Frieze Masters

Around 70,000 visitors flocked to the white tents in Regent’s Park. Gallery owners praised the extraordinary dynamism of the two Frieze art fairs. As the main sponsor, Deutsche Bank was a partner of Frieze London for the tenth time and was also involved in Frieze Masters, which was initiated last year. The press was enthusiastic about the two art events. Particularly the solo exhibitions of artists such as Dan Graham met with a positive response, while the Koons show at Gagosian was the subject of great controversy.

“Every October, the Frieze Art Fair in London provides a week of high-level networking.” That is how the New York Times characterizes the art fair in Regent’s Park. “The Frieze,” writes Artlyst, “is an international merging of art, power, money and celebrity.” Jeff Koons is one of these celebrities. While the New York star artist was not on hand personally, his one-man show at Gagosian is one of the dominant topics discussed by journalists. Guardian columnist Nick Cohen harshly judges his works as “art for oligarchs,” while the Observer likes his “shiny, happy sculptures.” “I loathe Koons,” writes Jackie Wullschlager in the Financial Times,  “but as a statement of his role in conceptual sculpture’s history, Gagosian’s display is unassailable.” Tim Ackermann of Welt am Sonntag has a different view: “Gagosian’s Koons festival with four shimmering sculptures by the artist seems today like the bark of a top dog that wants to confirm its dominance of the market. In reality, however, the fun bling-bling period is over.” Ackermann finds the 11th edition of Frieze London “less shown, less interested in making a quick buck. The current rock-solid development of the art market is noticeable.”  

“In the ten years since the Frieze Art Fair first pitched its tent in Regent’s Park it has grown into arguably the most important contemporary art fair in the world,” writes The Week. The Financial Times has this to say: “For any cultural event, getting to be both cool and well-respected (not always the same) is one thing; and Frieze achieved it with remarkable speed. Staying that way, however, is quite another. It has been a question of innovation. For Frieze, last year was one of amazing new initiatives, as it launched not one but two new fairs – Frieze New York, which had its second edition in May, and Frieze Masters. (…) Both with the general public and for art-world insiders (…) Masters was a sure hit.” At the second edition of Frieze Masters, the newspaper was particularly impressed by the solo exhibitions of artists such as Richard Long in the Lisson Gallery and Alice Neel at Victoria Miro.

“Frieze Masters, which this year expanded to 130 booths, is now Europe’s most attractive and exclusive art fair,” writes Tagesspiegel. “At no other fair is so much curatorial work done. The ‘Spotlight’ section commemorates artists of the late 20th century who were pushed to the fringes of the art market.” For Art Newspaper, “Old has become the new new, as some contemporary art buyers channel their thirst for discovery back through time.” “The consensus was,” writes Wallpaper, “that Frieze Masters, now in its second year, is a triumph.”  “The offer is breathtaking in part,” writes Monopol. Neue Zürcher Zeitung has a similar opinion: “Many gallery owners spared no effort in the design of their stands. A few of the curated small exhibitions achieved a museum-like quality.”  
The success of the Masters has changed the “parent fair.” In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Tim Marlow, director of exhibitions at White Cube gallery, said: “Frieze Masters has in some ways redefined Frieze.” “The original Frieze seems to have mellowed,” asserts the New York Times, “with dealers bringing a selection of more conservative works by artists with a proven track record.” Die Zeit writes: “The focus on the ‘masters’ in the Masters tent affects the Frieze London, which is still devoted to the youngest art production. This time, the London gallery Lisson (…) is showing only a single large installation by Dan Graham.” ART magazine reports: “The success of Frieze Masters has had an impact on the main fair and that’s a good thing. Here too visitors now have more freedom of movement, everything is more generous and thus less hectic.” Vogue writes: “In spite of the fair’s large and wide-ranging offer, the new design by architect Carmody Groarke affords a clearly structured view of the works shown.” Euronews stresses the broad offer of Frieze London: “One innovation this year is the emergence of African artists, with two galleries displaying contemporary African works.” And journalists have found a new hot shot, Oscar Murillo, who, as the Guardian reports, just two years ago cleaned offices to get by. “To see the London-based Colombian, who is now being celebrated as the ‘new Basquiat’,” writes Tagesspiegel, “you have to be on the waiting list.” Whether they are interested in view works by the stars of tomorrow at Frieze London or in rediscovering past artists at Frieze Masters, curator Alistair Hicks from Deutsche Bank’s London art department gave fair visitors the following advice in an interview with the Internet art portal Artsy: “Be as open to new ideas as possible,” because “the most exciting thing is having one’s mind changed.”

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