In Review: Frieze 2013

Frieze Art Fair

Frieze veteran Sarah Creed visits 2013′s iteration and finds some green shoots of change for the good…

2013 marked the 11th edition of the Frieze Art Fair in London. Containing 152 of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries, Regent’s Park is subject to an annual take-over by art collectors, the upper crust of the cultural world and far too many socialites looking to have their photograph taken next to a Jeff Koons.

This is my third year at Frieze. I have always been left slightly disheartened by the meat-market atmosphere it creates, with multiple stalls competing for the highest prices for their pieces, specially commissioned works that leave me uninspired and the outlandish turnout of New Yorkers who think nothing of dropping £100k on several statement paintings.

2013, however, brings with it a change; with fewer stalls the feel of the space is much lighter and more airy, with a designated food market and easily distinguishable areas making the fair more navigable – at least less like being trapped in a labyrinth!

“Frieze still leaves me with a slight sense of unease”

Architects Carmody Groarke (you may recall their work from the Bluecoat’s Galapagos exhibition last year) have once again excelled with the space’s interior design and architecture; but Frieze still leaves me with a slight sense of unease as I wander into the main tent to be greeted by thousands of visitors, all eager to source the next best thing (or at least a ‘bargain’).

Victoria Miro

That said, it’s not without its highlights, which, for me included New York’s Team (gallery inc.) showcasing the work of photographer Ryan McGinley; Maureen Paley (London) displaying new work by Wolfgang Tillmans, Victoria Miro Gallery (London), always a favourite of mine, were showcasing work by Idris Khan, with The Creation of the Creator, 2013 making a fine centrepiece of their stall and the Marian Goodman Gallery (New York/Paris) displaying photography by Rineke Dijkstra, one of which was taken in Liverpool’s Sefton Park.

“My favourite stall of the day was Galerie Perrotin”

Cabinet London won the Frieze Art Fair Stand Prize 2013 (and a cash award of £10,000) for most innovative stall; however I personally found it slightly underwhelming. My favourite stall of the day was Galerie Perrotin (New York/Hong Kong/Paris) who had a whole section of their area dedicated to an Elmgreen and Dragset installation.

I have loved the duo’s work since discovering it in Copenhagen this February, and thought the minimal approach the gallery took allowed their work to really stand-alone (Elmgreen and Dragset currently have an installation at the V&A museum entitled Tomorrow – I highly recommend it).

Galleries aside, my highlight of the entire fair was the presence of Allied Editions London. This conglomerate of galleries and artists come together to sell affordable art to the public, usually editions of prints, ceramics and textiles. I personally had never seen their presence at Frieze before, but it felt like a breath of fresh air to have affordable art work on sale – with prices starting at the relatively affordable £175!

I left Regent’s Park feeling exhausted, elated and in need of a stiff drink. Frieze is a marathon of modern art that really needs to be taken in over its three day run, not just in one visit. The change in layout, introduction of more affordable art, and the more playful nature of the artwork on show resulted in engaging me more successfully than in previous years, however, so perhaps third time really is the charm.

Sarah Creed

Images:  All rights reserved by Frieze London 

Posted on 01/11/2013 by thedoublenegative