This weekend London’s greatest art fair is taking place across the city from 14-17 October. Every year, for the last four years, the fair has had over 60000 visitors in London and these visitors vary from artists, curators, critics, collectors and those with an interest in the art world. It is open to anyone and everyone. Some visit as first time collectors, whilst others treat it as an exhibition, enjoying a cultural day out in London.
Frieze London is one of the few fairs to focus only on contemporary art and living artists. The exhibiting galleries represent the most exciting contemporary galleries working today. The focus on living artists is also evident in the critically acclaimed Frieze Projects’ programme. The fair presents a curated programme of talks, artists’ commissions and film projects, many of which are interactive or performative and encourage visitors to engage with art and artists directly.
Unlike most other fairs, Frieze London is housed in a bespoke temporary structure, which is located in Regent’s Park and benefits from having a natural light source, avoiding the atmosphere of a trade show, thus making the fair both lively and energetic. London-based creative design consultancy Universal Design Studio are the appointed architectural team for Frieze London 2014. Since its first year Frieze London has also been fortunate enough to work with a series of talented architects: David Adjaye, Jamie Fobert and Caruso St John, who are well known for their work on museums and art galleries. The architects’ brief is to make the fair an inviting and unique experience. Each year there are eye-catching changes to the design, décor, entrance and spaces such as restaurants and cafes. The architects have the opportunity to experiment and this adds to the experience of the fair. Galleries host the fair with around 500 applying each year. Each year the application form is posted on the website in December, the application deadline is in February and the selection is made in April. There is then an appeals procedure in late April. The selection is made by a committee of gallerists who participate in the fair; the fair Directors chair the meeting but do not vote.
The fair is made up of three sections. The main section, Live and Focus. The main section is a commercial gallery of any age, representing an international programme of artists. Focus is for young galleries that host emerging artists whose work is specifically conceived for the fair. It has a more flexible fee and application process, really considering the galleries and their artists. Live, is live, active or performance based art, which provides an opportunity for galleries to present ambitious projects in an art fair context, placing the most experimental art at the heart of the fair.
Frieze Projects is a non-profit organisation, which was established the same year as the fair (2003). Curated by Nicola Less, Frieze Projects oversees: Frieze Talks, a programme of panel discussions and lectures during the four days of the fair; Frieze Projects, a curated programme of new, site-specific projects by artists in and around the fair; and the Frieze Artist Award, given to an international emerging artist. The winner of the Frieze Artist Award 2014 is Mélanie Matranga.
Each year Frieze publishes the Frieze London Catalogue, a guide to what is current in the world of contemporary art. The catalogue introduces over 300 artists from around the globe, with a critical text and colour illustration of their work. It also features interviews with Frieze Projects’ artists; provides details of all the galleries participating in Frieze London and has an index listing over 2000 artists. Frieze also published Frieze?Projects: Artists’ Commissions and Talks 2003-2005 as a record of the work of Frieze Foundation, featuring essays on the commissioned projects and texts from the lectures and panel discussions. The book serves as a valuable introduction to the critical debates in contemporary art. A second book in this series was published in 2009, entitled Frieze Projects and Frieze Talks 2006–2008, and features artists from Mike?Nelson to Richard Prince and speakers from Dave Hickey to Adrian Piper.
Food offerings are plenty with Caravan back for their third year running. Each year creating a bespoke menu they draw in the art-lovers for brunch, lunch and dinner. Dishes are creative and irreverent – such as the ‘Roasted cauliflower, harissa, pomegranate, yoghurt and sesame’ and ‘wild seabass, nori, daikon, pickled cucumber and moromi miso crème fraiche’. Excitingly, Caravan will be joined by other restaurant heavyweights such as Petersham Nurseries, Brunswick House and Pizza Pilgrims – which could make it the best one yet!
Hauser & Wirth, Pace and The White Cube are just a few of the hundreds of galleries taking part and they will inhabit the same space as newcomers like the Sunday Painter Gallery, part of the burgeoning Vauxhall art scene. At the latter, the rising British artist Samara Scott will exhibit her fascinating ‘water relief’ installation. She is one of seven artists exhibiting for the first time in the Frieze Focus space, so head here for the fresh work and emerging talent. Elsewhere, one to watch is the Paris-based artist Camille Henrot, whose installation Grosse Fatigue (2013) was awarded the Silver Lion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, and Jeff Wall’s Woman and Her Doctor (1980-81) photograph, for the eye-watering €1.4 million price tag.