Art Fair Diary: Frieze Week

Art | Oct 2015 | BY Philip Michael Wolfson

It’s the 13th edition of Frieze Art Fair, and the galleries have pulled out all the stops to create an exhibition that is night and day to last year’s show. This certainly is due to the new director, Victoria Siddall. Brilliant!

The architecture of the temporary fair tent is, as always, outstanding. The galleries—an exciting and international mix—bring inspiration to everyone visiting the fair. If only they could get the passageways a teeny bit wider, life would be perfect. As my interests and understanding tend to the architectural and sculptural, I focus on works that stood out on this basis. This year it seems to me that there is a strong referencing of a new or revised ‘archaeological’ interpretation seen in abstraction of materials and architectural ideas: less figurative, more object based in a recognizable adaptation.Cultured Magazine-Fall 2015-Frieze Art Fair-Michael Wolfson Frieze Diary-DeAndrea_02What makes London exciting is that, as always, the greats of the art world were present at the Frieze London fair—artwork, art galleries and the art patrons! And, I have to say, this mix became palpable earlier this week when I had the chance to attend a few Frieze Week openings.

Cultured Magazine-Fall 2015-Frieze Art Fair-Michael Wolfson Frieze DiaryNot the least of which was last night’s Contemporary & Italian Art Sale at Sotheby’s. Along with my friends, artist and writer Nathalie Hambro, (seen above), and photographer and philosopher Maxim Nilov, we made our way through the crowd and into what was meant to be a cross between Studio 54, The Dover Street Arts Club—and Hell. I could only imagine what someone who may have entered their prized painting into the sale, and happened to stop by this evening to see thousand of the International Young enjoying themselves—immensely—would have felt like. Nonetheless, the art was spectacular and all in all a memorable evening.

Simon de Pury takes a pause from the party.

Simon de Pury takes a pause from the party.

A piece by Thomas Hirschhorn, included in the sale.

A piece by Thomas Hirschhorn, included in the sale.

It was a much rowdier room than that of Saturday evening, when I attended the preview of international auctioneer/collector/bon vivant Simon De Pury’s first sale at his and his wife Michaela’s amazing new venue in Mayfair. The sale—more than 300 pieces from the collection of Baroness Marion Lambert and the interior master Jacques Grange—is being held in association with Christie’s, with estimates that range from $30 to $4.6 million. The exhibition design at the incredible circa-1700 Ely House (which is Mallett’s London headquarters), was done by Grange. This is a definite winner.

Patrick and Laurence Seguin

Patrick and Laurence Seguin

Then on Sunday, we stopped at the preview opening of the Seguin Gallery, which is a compact and efficient representation of the Prouvé pavilions—something I think Prouvé himself would approve of. This is Seguin’s first London branch, the opening of which we continued to celebrate in the evening at a stunning dinner at the Claridge’s Ballroom. Everyone in attendance was in a supremely celebratory mood: Liz Swig, art and commerce matchmaker; Arnold Chan, the amazing international lighting designer; Sam Keller, director of the Beyeler; Simon de Pury, gallerist Frank Elbaz and a host of other names of the art scene.

When art weeks take hold of a town, you find yourself encountering not just art, but the makers, dealers and other personalities that keep this world spinning. Fortunately for me, I noticed activity in the little gem Assouline boutique when I was leaving the Seguin preview on Sunday afternoon. There, I spotted both James Danziger of the Danziger Gallery in New York, and the man himself, Prosper Assouline, setting up the exhibition of wonderful period and contemporary black and white photographs from the Danziger Gallery. My own private preview!

James Danziger

James Danziger

 All photos by Maxim Nilov.

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