Auspicious plane ride over to the Frieze Art Fair in London, Oct. 11-14, 2007. The Judd Apatow goof-ball comedy Knocked Up was the in-flight movie and I was laughing like a hyena. Maybe the lack of oxygen to my brain? Good preparation for an art fair.
Got to Frieze early on opening day and it was already starting to get packed. A helicopter overhead pulled a banner that said POP ART IS: GAGOSIAN -- this advertising a show at the gallery’s Britannia Street space.
Amusing buzz about Jake and Dinos Chapman, who were supposed to be somewhere defacing the Queen’s portrait on £20 notes, giving her a black eye, devil horns, etc. But that is a criminal offense, the Telegraph reported, and they were nowhere to be found.
Circling through the fair I couldn’t help but notice lots of woman artists on view everywhere. New York dealer Jeanne Greenberg brought works by Sylvie Fleury, Lorna Simpson (who’s no longer with Sean Kelly Gallery!) and Marilyn Minter along with Carter and David Hammons.
Fleury’s floor piece was great, a femme response to Carl Andre -- a grid of square floor tiles with a smashed compact of sparkly pink blush at one edge. The equation of Minimalism with make-up is brilliant.
Everyone seems to be going crazy over Marnie Weber, that Los Angeles artist who specializes in wild installations with mannequins, video and photographs, "a feminized variant of testosterone-driven West Coast installation art," according to Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. The mannequins, available at Emily Tsingou, go for about $30,000.
Stopped by the booth of the superhip Milan dealer Francesca Kauffman, who was showing Pae White’s amazing new tapestry, woven in Flanders to resemble a giant sheet of crumpled silver mylar, to collectors Adu and Ingrid Advaney. The Advaneys live in London but have their collection in the Hague. Some other good work by White caught my eye at China Art Objects.
Fell in love with a brilliant sculpture by Sarah Lucas from 2003 called Mr. Fuzzlewit. It’s a tailor’s dummy of a man in a suit all made of pub hand towels with beer logos: Miller, Guiness, etc., he’s got his left leg bent back resting on a rung of a stool. Sadie Coles told me it sold for £160,000.
Luhring Augustine’s whole booth was fitted out with crazy new mixed-media sculptures by the the Brazilian artist Tunga -- one included a 10-foot-tall gold mesh curtain, a six-foot-long silver nail, a dinosaur bone and a metallic mirror. Prices were $50,000-$200,000. One piece titled The Boudoir of Madame de Sade (2007). Very sexy.
I bumped into a friend, an art conservator for the Tate, who had come to Frieze to examine the Tate’s acquisitions, bought with the museum’s £150,000 "Outset" fund. New acquisitions include Polish artist Pawel Althamer’s installation of a traveling caravan with art and literature; grainy street photographs by the Brazilian Mauro Restiffe; a three-meter-tall windmill sculpture titled Moulin Rouge by Andreas Slominski, a German artist who shows at Metro Pictures in New York; Andrade Tudela’s Altered House, a slide projection featuring a layering of architectural exteriors and interiors; and a sculpture of a baby’s crib by Deimantas Narkevicius.
Tate chief Nick Serota said he set out to buy works by emerging Eastern European and Latin American artists and that Frieze was an opportunity to see the best of what’s emerging by young unknown artists. "We went in wanting another installation of Althamer but we came across the Slominski which felt exactly right for our collection. We don’t come to Frieze to buy works by artists who are already established. The purpose is to concentrate on emerging and international artists and I’m certain that someone like Althamer is one of the most important artists of this coming decade."
The Tate could have snapped up a very nice work on paper by Althamer at a benefit auction for Afterall Books held a few nights later at the Arts Club on Dover Street. Publisher Charles Esche was beaming, since the sale raised enough money to keep Afterall Books going. Matthew Higgs, the savvy artist and director of White Columns in New York, was the auctioneer. He added good back-story for quite a few of the lots.
Needless to say, things were selling like hotcakes at Frieze. Lots of German and Italian collectors had come over, and it was a Tower of Babel in the aisles. Patrick Painter was overheard quoting prices in Euros.
The Royal Academy has a major show of Georg Baselitz on now and Thaddaeus Ropac had a sculpture of a big rough-hewn wooden foot titled Pace Piece from 2003-04, priced at way more than $500,000, though they were quoting prices in pounds.
Design is "off the charts huge" in London. Went to a party the night after the Frieze preview given by Established & Sons to unveil a new showroom with pieces from the firm’s "Volume Production" collection, including Jasper Morrison’s replica of a wine crate and a beautiful table-bench by Future Systems/Amanda Levete, all done in Carrera marble. Alashdair Willis, one of the founders of E&S, is married to Stella McCartney, who was there with her sister, Mary and their father, Paul McCartney, the musician, whose picture was all over the London press that day for trying to settle his divorce for around $50 million. Doesn’t seem that much, when considered in light of contemporary art prices!
Tony Shafrazi, David LaChapelle, Peter Brant, Stephanie Seymour, David Furnish and some hot-stuff designers were there, as was that gorgeous British actress Thandie Newton. Just across the street was a preview of Christie’s upcoming sale of modern and contemporary art in New York. Didn’t go in -- it was packed -- but could see a rather amazing Amedeo Modigliani and a Jean-Michel Basquiat through the window.
Bumped into Andrew Richards, director of the Marian Goodman Gallery, at the Groucho Club with some of the staff for a post-Frieze quiet dinner. Andrew said he just wanted to sit his "bony ass down so he could go back the next day and do more damage."
Headed down the road to Conduit Street and popped into Sketch for the Haunch of Venison party. If you had a black ticket you got to cram in downstairs but if you had a white ticket you were given access to the room upstairs where HoV director Harry Blain had a smaller more intimate group to celebrate his 40th birthday. Blaine’s very good looking and really tall.
Champagne and canapes swirled with the most amazing DJ in a tuxedo spinning tunes from the 30’s-40’s. Super glam affair. I saw Richard Long, Keith Coventry, Rachel Howard, Hugh Allan, Frank Dunphy and his wife, and lots of other beautiful people. Left on the early side and swiped a few of the helium balloons on my way out for my host’s kids since she was game enough to put me up at her house during Frieze. The place is right off of Regent’s Park, a walk to the fair.
MARY BARONE photographs "OUT WITH MARY" for Artnet Magazine.