Friday, 26 October 2012

Frieze Masters

A couple of weeks on and I have just about put the 7 day party that is Frieze far enough behind me to start being able to focus my eyes and order my thoughts.


Much is written of Frieze proper, and I shan't add to that except to say (a) it was fun to bump into lots of friends and (b) I liked Cabinet's stand best.  It didn't have anything you could buy - more a conceptual pointer to work by John Knight somewhere else, which you also could not buy. Quite brave, and definitely apart from the crowd.

Frieze Masters

I loved Frieze Masters, of which the director Victoria Siddall was clearly very much completely in control.  I bumped into her on the third day of Frieze wandering around radiating a mixture of relief and satisfaction, I would say with perfect justification.  I'd gone there worried that the galleries would take literally the definition of "Masters" as more than 10 years old, and it would be full of tentative Damian Hirst pieces trying to circumvent the editing process of history.  But no, it was one of the best looking art fairs I have seen for a long time full of genuine modern, and ancient, masterpieces, all very enhanced by the relaxed grey and beige theme and the carpeting underfoot.  The galleries I talked to had sold quite a few pieces, and thought they would definitely return in future years. 

Even when it was full it didn't seem claustrophobic
The juxtaposition of the very old and the almost new was lovely, and presumably a more accurate representation of what most collectors’ houses actually look like than the synchronic displays at Frieze.  Some of the old was very tempting, I’ve always wanted an altarpiece: 

Sadly somewhat beyond my price range
Some very pretty and friendly girls in the Helly Nahmad stand wanted to sell me a $20m Calder mobile. I liked it, particularly the way it was rotating, but not $20m worth!

As with Frieze, it’s quite fun to wander round and see what all the galleries that are showing have in common.   Everyone seemed to have decided that Donald Judd was a safe bet – at least 5 of the galleries were showing Judd sculptures.  It’s either collusion or Zeitgeist.  But they do look very good next to the old masters.

Donald Judd was everywhere - Collusion? Or Zeitgeist?

Amazing to think one could buy this Yves Klein.  I wish…

Yves was here
I was quite taken by the fact you could buy a gargoyle from a cathedral; an Indian miniature from the 16th century;  a 2nd century BC Han dynasty pot; or a Picasso.  This one was rather remarkable, with very thick textured paint:

Pablo Picasso - Torero, 1970 

Finally, and one of the more modern things there, I did very much like James Rosenquit’s Trash Can, all of 36 years old:

Calyx Krater Trash Can (1976) 18 carat Gold and Soot
Verdict:  A great success.

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