Modern art’s most glamorous patrons combed the 150 galleries of London's Frieze Art Fair in search of the next Damien Hirst and Chapman Brothers last weekend. And of course, when they weren’t looking at the art, they were attending the countless events held to coincide with the fair.
From a small affair five years ago, Frieze has turned into ‘the start of the season’ for the art world, according to Amanda Schneider of the Jablonka Galerie, whose highlight was a stunningly erotic David LaChapelle photomural. Set in London’s beautiful Regent’s Park in a custom-built marquee of over 20,000 square meters, the galleries came from nearly 30 countries, representing over a thousand artists.
Galleries, which had been at Frieze last year, reported a definite upturn in attendance and business this time around. The Gagosian Gallery, one of modern art’s powerhouses, sold out its edition of Tracey Emin’s neon sculpture 'I could have really loved you' in a few hours. Indeed, everywhere you went, countless tiny orange dots indicated that work had been snapped up.
Photographer and ASW member Hugo Tillman, whose work was shown by Nohra Haime at the Bridge Art Fair, got to the major Frieze event this year – the party that followed Saturday’s Phillips de Pury & Co auction. “It was the place to see and be seen,” said Tillman. “Everybody was there but the mood was very serious due to the lack of alcohol for the first half of the party.” In the art world, this is a serious complaint.
The celeb art fans were certainly out in force for the first two days of the fair. Dennis Hopper was seen pacing the aisles and regular Friezer, Claudia Schiffer, prowled the booths. One of the Olsen twins put in an appearance while Kate Moss and Hugh Grant were also spotted at the fair.
When you were worn out from all the art – and with 150 galleries, it did get exhausting – Frieze laid on the most luxurious facilities for VIPs and patrons. Mark Hix, legendary chef of The Ivy and Le Caprice in London, brought his kitchen to the fair, while the VIP lounge was luxury defined, with its glamorous denizens – ASWers certainly among them – and fabulous furnishings.
Some galleries reported that they did most of their business in the first couple of days of the fair. Others noted that there were far fewer Americans present compared to previous years because of the weak dollar. Still, judging by the number of people present from across the world, Frieze is firmly on the art world’s calendar.