Another successful year for Frieze London at beginning of October, with its 17th annual display of the best of international contemporary art from thousands to millions on show by galleries from all around the world.
If you are a gallery, it must be difficult to decide what to show as, after all, your aim is to sell art and make money. Do you show a variety of works, a unique installation or focus on one or two artists? It has to be said that, for the visitor, a focused display is far more interesting with London galleries having the advantage that they can link to their current exhibitions. Having said that, the end of Fair report from Frieze is that the fair was a great financial success for the galleries there who sold works from $5,000 to £5,000,000, so it obviously worked. The aim for a gallery is not to take any art home, but to ship it immediately to the buyers, whether they be individual collectors or museums and galleries, including two major acquisition initiatives, the Frieze Tate Fund supported by Endeavor and the Contemporary Art Society’s Collections Fund at Frieze.
Frieze is not all about major international artists; it also supports new and emerging artists and galleries through initiatives such as the Camden Arts Centre Emerging Artist Prize, in its second year, and special curated initiatives showing innovative international artists such as ‘Woven’ exploring indigenous traditions and colonial legacies, ‘LIVE’ with art performances including the art of afternoon tea and ‘Focus’ with imaginative projects by galleries under 15 years old. One of the highlights drawing attention was Jonathan Meese’s installation creating a unique saloon bar as a commentary on John Wayne and American culture
A week later, London was brought to a standstill by Extinction Rebellion, channelling the frustration that many people feel about apparent lack of action as regards climate change and the environment. Frieze needs to up its ante for the 18th edition. Frieze Sculpture is a great initiative, its restaurant partner had no single-use plastics, but too much packaging, and the art-designed water bottle initiative by Arto LIFEWTR was welcomed, but were those bottles sustainable? Perhaps they were – its just wasn’t obvious.
Many artists are capturing the mood in their work – it would be good to see Frieze promote its environmental credentials more openly at the 18th edition. Come on Frieze!