AO is on site in London for this week’s Frieze Art Fair. With 173 galleries selling an estimated $350 million worth of art, a level of anxiety pervades as the week’s results will be indicative of the overall international contemporary art market. Works like Christian Jankowski’s droll The Finest Art on Water and Michael Landy’s Credit Card Destroying Machine directly comment on the world economic state, while the overall demeanor remains upbeat, with art world moguls and A-list celebrities enjoying the festivities.
Michael Landy’s Credit Card Destroying Machine (2011), Thomas Dane Gallery
More text and images after the jump…
Retired fashion designer Valentino was photographed on the smaller of two infamous Christian Jankowski boats. Priced at €65 million while simply a boat, the 204-foot yacht jumps to €75 million once deemed a piece of art—as approved (with certificate) by Jankowski. When the Guardian asked Jankowski how the global recession is impacting art, to which he replied, “I don’t see the effect. I’m not one of the people who ever made much money.” No buyer information has been released thus far.
The Financial Times reports that the Tate team has been buying with its £120,000 budget, seeking mostly familiar artists. Among others, they have acquired works by two important woman artists: the yellow Tumour (1969) by Alina Szapocznikow is a wall-based polyester sculpture in toxic yellow from Broadway 1602 of New York, and a portfolio of Portuguese artist Helena Almeida spans four decades of the artist’s drawings and photographs from Madrid’s Galeria Helga de Alvear.
Iwan Wirth, at Hauser and Wirth
Ida Applebroog Modern Olympia (after giotto) (1997-2001), Louise Bourgeois Untitled (2005) at Hauser and Wirth
Paul McCarthy at Hauser and Wirth
Other major sales include the purchase of Haus des Lehrers (2003) by Neo Rauch, sold by David Zwirner to an American collector for $1,350,000. Thomas Houseago has also been selling well, with his sculpture Hermaphrodite (2o11) reported at $425,000 and his Earth Mask II (2011) sold through Hauser & Wirth.
Artist Michael Landy with his Credit Card Destroying Machine (2011), Thomas Dane Gallery
Despite the platform of optimism and glamor, Thomas Dane’s presentation of Michael Landy’s latest work draws attention to the contradiction of this year’s fair. Credit Card Destroying Machine (2011) does what its name suggests: in order to make a drawing, Landy’s odd conglomeration of rickety wires and dead animal heads destroys a credit card. The work on paper is then given freely to the viewer who volunteered a now ruined credit card.
Landy supervised the showcase on Wednesday, telling onlookers that the machine is intentionally “very human”—sometimes it breaks, sometimes it gets caught on things. The analytical and journalistic consensus is that the work speaks to the underlying tension of Frieze this year: although upbeat and enthralling, the financial complications paired with human error are an undeniable, often unspoken presence at the fair. Landy’s work successfully targets the mixed emotions via disseminating sensationalism. The work is on reserve for $189,000.
Tom Dingle, Gallery Director at Thomas Dane of London, confirmed that spirits were high. “I feel no looming dread,” he told AO, “Frieze is always good fun and all our friends are here.”
Another popular work is Pierre Huyghe’s Recollection (2011). Crowds discussed the hermit crab living inside a Brancusi Muse replica (originally 1910) with adoration and fascination. The work is reminiscent of Brancusi’s work during Art Basel, which was juxtaposed with Richard Serra’s more contemporary black paintings at Fondation Beyeler.
Art dealer Jay Jopling at White Cube booth.
White Cube Bermondsey is the gallery’s third space in London at a very large 58,000 sq ft, with the full site totaling 1.7 acres (74,300 sq ft). Prior to its renovation, the building was a warehouse. Its inaugural exhibition, Structure & Absence, is on view through November 26th, which includes Chinese scholars’ rocks, and comments on the work of living artists Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst and Gary Hume, among others. At the new space, White Cube includes an auditorium to host lectures and other programs. Founding dealer Jay Jopling was on site at Regent’s Park, speaking animatedly near Damien Hirst’s fresh pastel dot paintings.
Hirst features heavily in this week’s contemporary auction sales, which thus far have proven successful. A standout example is art star Jacob Kassay, whose work exceeded its estimate at Phillips de Pury by $147,000, officially selling at $257,000. Just two years ago, Phillips de Pury had priced him at $8,000, surprising everyone with an actual selling bid of $86,500. Tomorrow at Christie’s, Gerhard Richter’s Kerze, or Candle (1982) has a high estimate of nine million pounds.
Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery
Although powerful gallerists traditionally dominate the crowd on site and by reputation, this year was one for the artist and activist. Correspondingly, Art Review announced the 100 most powerful people in the art world, and Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei ranked number one, with gallery tycoons Larry Gagosian and Ivan Wirth at numbers 4 and 8. Ai Weiwei’s designation follows his recent release from arrest and detainment by the Chinese government earlier this year.
Asian influence on the fair has been hotly debated by art critics and journalists. The Chinese economy has been largely accepted as a global powerhouse, and so too as an art market one. In 2011, White Cube and Lehmann Maupin both sought to open galleries in East Asia, and Galeri Perrotin and Lehman Maupin continue to seek space. Gagosian Gallery has a showroom in Hong Kong, as inaugurated by Damien Hirst’s diamond-covered baby skull in the Forgotten Promises exhibition. Many of the galleries at Frieze now also show at Art HK in Hong Kong, which was purchased by Art Basel Miami.
Along with the Asian presence, South America stood out as well with works such as Brazilian gallery A Gentil Carioca’s Visiting Portraiture by Laura Lama. For 50 pounds, visitors can purchase a professional ‘makeover’—a portrait of the visitor at a much older age.
Urs Fischer, Untitled (2003), Gagosian Gallery
In a crowd of friends and notables, celebrity sightings were numerous. Musician Gwen Stefani, and models Natalia Vodianova and Elle Macphearson were counted in the crowd alongside collectors like Princess of Sharjah Hoor al-Qasimi, Sir Nicholas Serota of Tate, and the Serpentine Gallery‘s power duo Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones (fresh from talks at Tuesday’s Bidoun Auction).
Ultimately, art, parties, and economic confidence largely diverge. Hesitations at the fair have yet to reveal booming sales results, and while the auction hammer prices are high, this does not fully quell fears. As the fair continues through the weekend, only time will tell.
Elmgreen & Dragset, The Fruit of Knowledge (2001), Victoria Miro Gallery
Art Dealer Thaddaeus Ropac at his booth.
Tony Cragg sculpture, Thaddaeus Ropac Booth
Antony Gormley at Thaddaeus Ropac
Bice Curiger, curator of the Venice Biennale
Artist Wim Delvoye
Pace Gallery’s Nicola Vassell
Chantal Crousel at her booth
Tacita Dean, More or Less (2011), Marian Goodman Gallery
Anri Sala, No Window No Cry (2010), Marian Goodman Gallery
Tara Donovan at Pace Gallery
Zhang Huan, Tara Donovan and Chuck Close at Pace Gallery
Jonathan Meese, Bortolami Gallery
Will Ryman, Rose (2011), Paul Kasmin Gallery
Jack and Dinos Chapman, The Milk of Human Weakness II and God Does Not Love You O.M.F.G., (both 2011), White Cube
Sadie Coles Gallery
Sarah Lucas, Something Changed Raymond (2000), Sadie Coles Gallery
Tracey Emin, Sex Drawing Syndey Three (2007), Lehmann Maupin
Do Ho Suh, Cause & Effect (2007), Lehmann Maupin
Josiah McElhecny, Crystalline Landscape after hablik and Luckhardt III (2011), Donald Yound Gallery
Donald Yound Gallery
Mark Handforth, Coat Hanger (2010), Gavin Brown’s Enterprise
Nate Van Woert, Not Yet Titled 7 (2011), Galerie Yvon Lambert
Lehmann Maupin Gallery
Tracey Emin, And I Said I Love You! (2010), Lehmann Maupin
François Ghebaly Gallery LA
Darren Lago, Mickey de Balzac (grand) (2009-2011)
Darren Almond, Perfect Time 8×7 (2011), Matthew Marks Gallery
AO On Site London: Frieze Art Fair Preview and News Summary [Art Observed]
In Pictures: Frieze Art Fair [BBC]
All’s Fair in London [WSJ]
White Cube Bermondsey open from 12 October 2011 [White Cube]
Frieze 2011: Portraits in Pictures [The Guardian]
Frieze Art Fair Sarah Lucas Video [The Guardian]
Frieze 2011: A Crab with a Head for a Heart [The Guardian]
Tate goes shopping at Frieze [Financial Times]
Frieze Art Fair, Regent’s Park, London [Financial Times]
Art world fears “big chill” as Frieze Week begins [Reuters]
Frieze Art Fair First Report [Art Info]
Frieze Tests the Strength of the Art Market [The Art Newspaper]
Through the Looking Glass: Behind Jacob Kassay’s meteoric rise [Art Info]