Frieze Trends Point To The Death Of The White Cube
Super architects Caruso St John are enjoying a ton of publicity at the moment, with the dual opening of the shiny new Hirst gallery in Newport Street (gushed over by me last week) and now the new Gagosian gallery branch in Grosvenor Hill, where Russian money flows. Such fabulous architecture commissioned by Larry Gagosian demonstrates the continuing success of this extremely canny dealer; though I cringed at a joint interview with himself and Koons in which he described the latter as some kind of genius scientist, his sole purpose – genuine or not – was perpetuating the Koons myth and as such, promoting his own business. It is fitting, then, that the new gallery opens with a huge display of Cy Twomblys, the ultimate in marketable but ultimately empty art. I never bought that lecture at university demonstrating the classicising influences in Twombly’s art, but then I’m not the one buying – figuratively and literally – into his legend like the affluent Mayfair clientele. The new building is lovely though.
More exciting this week is Frieze, slowly becoming surpassed by its sister exhibition, Frieze Masters, which seeks to showcase galleries selling art from antiquity to the contemporary. Sir Norman Rosenthal has been responsible for its mini Collections project encouraging collaboration between disciplines, some of which are new to the fair: Maiolica – a type of Italian glazedware popular during the Renaissance – will sit with David Bailey photos, for example. Elsewhere, there’s a handful of love-ins between galleries specialising in different periods collaborating on shared stands: Hauser & Wirth with Moretti Fine Art, and Tomasso Bros with Karsten Schubert. This all masks a worrying decline in more ancient art being shown, with some notable absences this year.
I must declare an interest here: I worked on last year’s Helly Nahmad installation, and did again this year for Robin Brown Design who were responsible for the installation. It continues a trend for more conceptual exhibition making and curating, and walking around Frieze Masters while everybody was still setting up, it is that it’s now terribly unfashionable to have bare white walls as more galleries are getting creative with their displays.