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OCTOBER 2009

ARTNET GOSSIP by Laura K. Jones

Now that the seventh edition of the Frieze Art Fair, Oct. 15-18, 2009, is over, I don’t know what to do with myself. The mini-world-in-a-tent in Regent’s Park in London, and all the myriad ancillary events that made up what I’d call Frieze Fortnight, have come to an end. The real world truly doth seem stale, flat and just a little unprofitable.

The weather during Frieze was supernaturally nice, with nearly every day bringing blazing sunshine. Out in the Frieze Sculpture Park, visitors basked in the sunlight, the rays of which bounced off Neha Choksi’s mirrored A Child’s Grove and Louise Bourgeois’ silver entwined The Couple, a work that hung from a tree like a caterpillar in a cocoon.

Iwan Wirth of Hauser & Wirth gallery reported selling The Couple to a European collection for $3.5 million. From the Sculpture Park, too, Wirth said that Paul McCarthy’s Henry Moore Bound to Fail was on hold. The gallery also reported selling everything by 79-year-old New Yorker Ida Applebroog in its booth. A monumental orange piece, Monalisa (2009), went for $350,000. A lot of galleries took a risk and showcased older artists to great success.

More than 160 top leading galleries from 30 countries showed up, a remarkable global reach. Twenty-nine galleries under six years old made up the fair’s new “Frame” section of solo shows by young artists, which was lively and very fresh. Here, London’s Seventeen Gallery sold everything it had by Susan Collis (b. 1956), whose works look at first like odds and ends from a building site but are in fact highly intricate sculptures made from gold, platinum leaf, diamonds, marquetry and intricate stitching.

A lot of buzz was registered for Erin Shirreff’s primal “Knives” photographs at Lower East Side dealer Lisa Cooley’s stand. By day one, Cooley had sold half of them at $3,000 apiece. New York’s Team gallery showed bloodthirsty paintings of bashed-up film stars by London artist Dawn Mellor. All of them had sold for £5,500 each by day three of the fair.

Jake Miller, director of London’s Approach gallery, immediately sold See-Thru (2009), a kind of polka-dotted möbius strip done with cigarette ash and gouache by London artist Alice Channer (b. 1977), to the Outset/Frieze Art Fair Fund, the £120,000 pot for new acquisitions for the Tate collection.

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Works by John Baldessari, whose retrospective “Pure Beauty” is at Tate Modern, were also found at Frieze. His Beethoven's Trumpet (with Ear) Opus 133 on the Sprüth Magers stand sold on Frieze Friday for $400,000. During a talk, the artist told White Columns director Matthew Higgs that he usually goes to bed by 9 pm.

One highlight of this year’s fair, too, was the artists’ projects. The Lisson gallery’s Ryan Gander set up an (almost) instant photo studio, titled We Are Constant, taking pictures of fair-goers all goggle-eyed looking at their favorite works. He immediately printed two copies out, gave one to the viewer and exhibited the other along the corridor of the entrance to the fair. I had mine taken looking at Phil Allen’s miniature painting Plumpthinking and Grumbled Realities (2009), which sold at the Approach gallery stand for £3,500. Gander and his team were only expecting 50 participants, but they got 135.

I got a photo of my derrière (clothed) from artist Tomomi Sayuda, who had rigged the seat of a rather comfy chair to work as a photocopier, at the booth of London art-radio Resonance 104.4 FM. Tomomi kept telling me, as I was sitting on her photocopier, “This is to make embarrassment.” Yes, indeed.

After a year of recession, the atmosphere at Frieze this year was without a doubt revivified, with gallery owners admitting astonishment at the strength of the recovery. Most dealers reported to me sales of between half and all of the works in their booths. Gone was the buying frenzy of earlier years. In its place were steady sales and a sense of genuine relief.

“It’s not flat out as it used to be but it’s a thousand times better than last year,” said Rodney Hill of Los Angeles gallery Marc Foxx on the second day of the fair. “Buyers are being more strategic; they’re taking a little longer to make a decision to purchase, but they’re definitely buying.”

LAURA K. JONES is artnet Magazine’s London correspondent. A longer version of this report appears in artnet Magazine.


Andy Warhol: Michael Jackson, 1984
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The 2009 Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park in London

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William Pope: L's reinvention of Allan Kaprow's Yard, 1961
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Paul McCarthy’s Henry Moore Bound to Fail, 2009 in the Frieze Art Fair Sculpture Park

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William Pope: L's reinvention of Allan Kaprow's Yard, 1961
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Dawn Mellor’s "Vile Affections," paintings of bloodied film stars, at the Team gallery booth at the Frieze Art Fair

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William Pope: L's reinvention of Allan Kaprow's Yard, 1961
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Alice Channer’s See-Thru, at the Approach

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William Pope: L's reinvention of Allan Kaprow's Yard, 1961
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John Baldessari in conversation with Matthew Higgs at the Frieze Art Fair

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