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Among the various contemporary art fairs that take place across the globe, Frieze has definitely earned it’s right as the forerunner. Now in its 11th year in London, the gargantuan fair has returned even better, and more eccentric, than before.
Harshly lit and often overcrowded, the drive behind the fair is evidently to sell, with collectors scrambling to get their hands on the next big thing. What sets Frieze apart from its competitors, however, are not the ostentatious clientele but the fair’s curatorial feats, compelling talks program, and roll call of contemporary art’s megastars.
With so many galleries occupying the booths this year we’ve selected some of the highlights from the market’s key players:
2013 has been a big year for Jeff Koons, and so it’s no surprise that Larry Gagosian chose to overshadow every other booth at the fair by dedicating his space entirely to the American artist. For better or worse, the record-breaking sales of Koons’ pop-tastic sculptures have altered the face of the art market irrevocably and so it would be imprudent not to include him. Whether the bombastic Cat on a Clothes Line (Yellow) and iconic Lobster balloon leave visitors incredulous or not, we challenge you to walk past Gagosian and not pause for thought.
White Cube’s booth reads as a who’s who of Jay Jopling’s leading artists, with Damien Ortega, Antony Gormley, and Damien Hirst all on show. The highlights, however, are two stellar pieces from the Chicago-based multidisciplinary artist Theaster Gates. Gates is fast becoming one of the gallery’s biggest sellers, and his 2013 abstract Brown Roofing Exercise With High Road sold within the first hour of Frieze opening.
Right in the middle of Sadie Coles’ booth is an oversized, impeccably fried egg by Urs Fischer. Known for making large-scale works of simple, everyday objects, Fischer’s Sunny Side Up is just the ticket. Surreal and comic, it’s the perfect antidote to the stark walls of the white cube.
BLUM & POE
The Los Angeles gallery is a new addition to Frieze this year, not that it mattered; Blum & Poe made ten sales within the first few hours of the fair’s exclusive VIP preview. The booth has done well in striking a balance between sales driven work and an intelligent curatorial effort, with a trademark Takashi Murakami taking the spotlight. Our favorite? Friedrich Kunath’s madcap Honey I’m Home (Cheese and Matchstick), which is a giant pair of penny loafers filled with objects as surreal as the title suggests.
Lisson boldly chose to bring only one work to the fair: Dan Graham’s sweeping Groovy Spiral. Inviting visitors to traverse their way through a curving, plexiglass corridor, the installation is a brief respite from the frenetic fair. Expect to become both the viewer and the viewed.
David Shrigley delivered his usual batch of dark humor at the Anton Kern booth, with a selection of drawings accompanied by two bronze sculptures: The Burden, depicting a man holding a head in his hand and Lady Taking a Poop, which is, well, exactly that. The Turner Prize nominee has always had a considerable disregard for art world pomp and the works selected by the gallery do not disappoint.
The Parisian dealer has built a reputation out of his gallery’s sheer dynamism and innovative thinking. This year, he’s selected three Elmgreen & Dragset pieces to occupy a darkened corner of his booth. While the sliver lacquered He glimmers majestically, Second Chance, a morbid noose with a frayed rope lying beneath it, prompts you to take a second look. The Scandinavian duo are everywhere at the fair – from the VIP door at the Sculpture Park to the acclaimed Powerless Structures at Victoria Miro – but Perrotin’s booth has the edge.
There were high expectations for Zwirner’s booth this year due to Columbian, London-based artist Oscar Murillo recently joining the gallery. At just 27, Murillo has been lauded as the next Basquiat and is already breaking sales records. His piece social anomalies from a factory (2013) at the Sculpture Park, and his new works over at the main fair, prove Murillo is more than just hype.
PSM deserves a mention solely for the colossal boulder suspended within their booth. TEORIA (Theory, 2013) by Eduardo T. Basualdo dabbles with the apocalyptic as it dangles unsettling over punters. Basualdo’s work tends to confront geographical landscapes, nature, and the earth’s autonomous forces. However, when standing underneath TEORIA its presence feels more like the autonomous potency of the contemporary art fair.
GAVIN BROWN’S ENTERPRISE
Alex Katz’s meditative nocturnal cityscapes are interrupted by a hoard of 23 fluorescent traffic cones that sprawl across Gavin Brown’s space. A work by maverick artist Rob Pruitt, Safety Cones (After Richard Serra) is completely off the wall, equipped with googly eyes, crazy glasses, and erratic hairstyles. The complete antithesis to Serra’s monolithic sculptures of which it pays tribute to, Pruitt’s piece is utterly befitting of the fair’s upbeat mood this year.