Frieze Masters: Edition Three Still Full Of Weighty Surprises In Every Corridor

The third edition of Frieze Masters opened its doors to the public yesterday and, unlike Frieze London which controversially closes on Saturday evening, will run until 6 pm on Sunday, 19. October.  

The fair hosts 127 of the world’s leading galleries showing art ranging from the ancient era including a 7,000 year old  Neolithic idol and a 1st century AD Torso of Aphrodite; Old Masters including Cranach the Younger, Rembrandt and Ruben; 19th century Masters such as Degas, Monet and Pissarro as well as numerous Modern Masters from the 20th and 21st centuries such as Picasso,  Miro, Giacometti, Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly, Henry Moore, Gerhard Richter and Richard Prince.

The fair is so much more open than Frieze London with wider aisles and less oppressive lighting.  However, considering the price of the exhibits and stands, the entrance is again far too bland in design for a fair of this the calibre. Once inside the fair structure becomes unimportant as you are faced with the weight of the art in front of you.   On your right as you enter there is a large 1988 Barbara Kruger text piece with white lettering on a red background from  Skarstedt,  New York/London while straight ahead is the Aquavella Gallery on one side with works by Picasso, Miro, Bonnard and Giacometti and Moretti on the other with works from the school of Botticelli.  So much to absorb in the first few minutes.

The list of great artists is endless and I will run out of superlatives long before I run out of listing great artworks. So I will just name the galleries and pieces that stood out.  Richard Green, London (one of the few galleries to actually display prices) has a William Scott abstract in blues and white for £875,000 and a Bridget Riley for £450,000; Cheim & Read has a Sean Scully that fills an entire wall; David Zwirner has a Donald Judd wall sculpture in purple plus a wall of Franz West reliefs; Pace has a couple of exquisite Richters while Galeria Elvira Gonzalez from Madrid has a very strong Adolph Gottlieb.  Two galleries that specialise in drawings really stand out: W&K Wienerroither & Kohlbacher from Vienna has exceptional drawings by The German Expressionists and the Viennese Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka and Stephen Ongpin, London has a Berthe Morisot portrait, a standing female nude by Matisse and a 1925 Paul Klee pen, blank ink and grey wash drawing – all works in their own right rather than mere studies.

 Some galleries have opted for solo exhibitions such as  Timothy Taylor with Antoni Tapies, Marlborough Gallery with Francis Bacon, Galerie Bastian with Joseph Beuys and Annely Juda, Mitchell-Inness & Nash with Leon Kossoff. This was separate from the Spotlight section of the fair dedicated to solo presentations of artists from throughout the world as advised by curator Adriano Pedrosa.  From this section, the work of Seung-take Lee with its arrangements of stone, string and ceramics that really stood out. 

The highlight of the fair was Helly Namud’s stand which presents an imaginary apartment of a collector in Paris in 1968. The installation highlights the obsessive nature of a collector, hoarding magazines, newspapers, postcards, objects and an impressive collection of paintings from Dubuffet to Morandi and Fontana. It is a refreshing statement on collecting art portraying a true passion for the subject and away from art as a commodity which arguably the rest of both Frieze fairs represent.

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