LONDON — Art fairs are strange beasts and a lot of people view them with skeptical detachment, sometimes building works based on the naked consumerism of it all. We have to admit, though, there’s something seductive about the spectacle. Lorena Muñoz-Alonso and Rozalia Jovanovic of Artnet went to the most recent Frieze Fair London (October 6 – 9) and ranked what they thought were the top 15 booths.
Seeing their selections made us realize how difficult it must be to curate a booth at one of these fairs. You can see the competition in Artnet’s photographs. Just try looking away from a composition of bright pink dolls, hockey masks, ponies and sex toys. A short walk away is a booth full of expensive artwork piled almost haphazardly in the center of the room, like you wandered into an eccentric collector’s storage unit. Prices take center stage in the reporting, too— work that sells “like hotcakes” for $12,000 each, a $4.6 million Anish Kapoor sculpture that brings up associations to Versailles (how’d that story end again?). Moralize if you want, but all the same, it’s a sight you can’t see anywhere other than an art fair.
We pulled up entries from Artnet’s list that resonated with us. As always, we strongly reccommend you reward the writers with your clicks and read the full post. Our slider for this post comes from the inestimable Zemer Peled, who you can read more about here. Here are some selections from the critics:
New York’s P.P.O.W delights with its presentation of feminist art from the 1960s to today.
The centerpiece was undoubtedly Portia Munson’s Pink Project: Table, which she created for Marcia Tucker’s famous exhibition “Bad Girls,” staged in 1994 at the New Museum. From found dolls and hairbrushes to sex toys and masks, the installation explores how pink has been embedded in the female subjectivity by capitalism, often with ludicrous results. Crucially, everyone at the VIP seemed to be loving it, from groups of young girls to male collectors ready to support her message.
Perry’s sculptures and tapestry, with prices ranging from £50,000 to £450,000, were a big hit with collectors, as were Kusama’s recent paintings, including Infinity Nets [MLFTJ] (2016) and My Eternal Life (both from 2016, with prices ranging $400,000 to $1 million). A number of paintings by Chantal Joffe depicting strong Jewish women, including Betty Friedan, Hannah Arendt, Claude Cahun, and Gertrude Stein, had also sold in the morning, with prices ranging £10,000 to £30,000.
Also in pink and pastel hues (a strong color trend at the fair this year) is Francis Upritchard’s solo presentation at the booth of London dealer Kate MacGarry. The installation, a critique of museum displays featuring a series of pots, sculptures, and figurines—some dressed in contemporary clothes—is as stunning as it is humorous. But there’s more than beauty to the practice of this New Zealand-born, London-based artist, who is concerned with anthropology, craft, tribes, and archetypes.
Another recurring trend at the fair evidenced the ongoing interest of contemporary artists in interior design and domestic spaces. In that vein, the collaboration between Lucy McKenzie and Laurent Dupont at the booth the the Vienna-based gallery Meyer Kainer was one of the most significant. The works had shown previously, but they were a first for London.
Hauser & Wirth
This year, the gallery’s curated booth “L’Atelier d’Artistes” was again an early favorite, packed full of admirers at an early hour.
There is indeed much to see in this booth, a riff on the current trend of staging artist’s studios in museums and galleries. Under the conceit of being the studio of a mysterious and prolific artist, the booth is displaying a plethora of works from a number of modern and contemporary artists, including Rodney Graham, Hans Arp, Phyllida Barlow, Louise Bourgeois, Francis Picabia, Isa Genzken, and Martin Creed. It is the perfect booth to get lost in, if you have the time and inclination.
London’s Timothy Taylor convinced with an open booth dedicated to the painted bronzes of the Brooklyn-based artist Eddie Martinez, which strike a seductive balance between delicacy and exuberance. Martinez’s works, a beguiling mix of sculpture and painting, were selling like hot cakes, with six of them exchanging hands in the first hours (with prices ranging $12,000-16,000).
Do you love or loathe these works of (not quite all) contemporary ceramics? Let us know in the comments.