Frieze Masters London
Review

Frieze Masters London
Review

Frieze Masters London
Review

Frieze Masters London
Review

Frieze Masters London
Review

Frieze opened to a crowd of expectant visitors and collectors on a bright autumnal day on Wednesday 4th October. After the summer pause in the hectic schedule of the art market, collectors and dealers alike were poised for the fair's offerings as well as the host of other works being presented at the Post-War & Contemporary auctions and satellite exhibitions held in conjunction with Frieze week. With this abundance of material being presented to the market and against global financial and political uncertainty, those in the trade and elsewhere were keen to note the progress of sales and the quality of the works on offer.

Frieze Masters is more historically focused than its sister fair, Frieze London, and typically has been more of a draw for collectors seeking 'the best of the best' from a wide selection of periods and collecting categories. In the sixth edition of Masters, 130 dealers once again brought together works ranging from pre-historic Inuit figurines to Andean textiles and modernist abstract art inspired by the theories of De Stijl. Walking through the fair, many of the stands compliment their neighbours with the aesthetic if not historical connections between one another; and indeed, this evident synergy led a number of galleries to collaborate with shared stands for the fair. A decision, we are led to believe, to provoke new interpretations and relationships between art and objects from across the centuries, rather than for the more practical objective of cost sharing.

Bowman Sculpture joined forces with Koetser Gallery to present a selection of 19th and early 20th Century bronzes alongside Old Master paintings, while modern and contemporary gallery, Hauser + Wirth teamed up once again with the Old Master dealers, Moretti Fine Art, to produce a stimulating and eclectic stand which combined décor and fine art to take the form of a fictional collector's living room. Meanwhile, other gallerists took to presenting unexpected juxtapositions within their own selections. Nahmad Contemporary brought together René Magritte's stark and strangely corporeal The Helmeted Sausage, 1929, alongside a fabulously ornate and figurative painting by the Symbolist artist, Gustave Moreau. Robilant + Voena, in a similar approach, placed Fontana's ruby-red slashed canvases alongside Old Master paintings, using colour rather than theme to provide the complementary thread between otherwise diverse subjects and periods.
In general, gallerists at this year's Frieze Masters, appeared to move away from the immersive, 'installation' format which caused such a such a stir in previous editions of the fair - most notably manifested in Helly Nahmad's construction of a fictional collector's apartment from the 1960s, and later his re-imagining of Jean-Dubuffet's sanatorium. This year Waddington Custot took up the baton by recreating a section of Peter Blake's West London Studio, displaying a plethora of found objects and ephemera collected by Blake himself alongside some of his most notable works. The installation certainly provided material for the hungry instagrammers, though dealers for the most part tended to focus their presentations on the eclectic tastes of collectors themselves; showing how art and objects from across the art historical spectrum can be elegantly and intelligently combined.

What was immediately evident in this edition of the fair was that dealers had sought to bring together works from a variety of price points, with a number of galleries featuring items mostly under £1 million, presumably in a bid to galvanise interest and decision making in a week of overwhelming volume. In a more circumspect market, dealers know all too well the difficulty of securing top prices for works which do not have 'masterpiece' quality and, with a scarcity of such material, endeavoured to reveal the excellence of lesser known artists or the virtues of works in conversation at more enticing asking prices.

Author
  1. Hannah Foster
    Author
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5814
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434

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