The 11th edition of Frieze London, the contemporary art fair, kicked off on Wednesday morning in (unsurprisingly) harsh wind and rain.
Perhaps it was less horrific than the downpour that drenched Frieze New York last May -- but it was damp enough to make the Regent’s Park marquee, the site of the fair, seem like shelter from the storm. Collectors, dealers, connoisseurs—and all the A-listers of the art world—forgot the wretched London weather the moment they stepped inside the clean, white space of the huge, brightly lit tent.
There’s been a lot of talk about improvements made to the format of this year’s fair, now housed in a bespoke structure designed by architects Cormody Groarke, which featured a more welcoming entrance and wider aisles. The extra space, combined with a reduction in numbers (this year Frieze is host to 152 galleries as opposed to last year’s 180), makes the event seem more exclusive and curated.
In no particular order, our 15 things to see at Frieze London this weekend.
(Frieze London, in Regent’s Park, runs October 17-20.)
1. Rob Pruitt, Safety Cones (After Richard Serra), 23 Sculptures, 2013 (Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York)
A flock of fluorescent orange safety cones is the first thing to catch your eye: twenty-three anthropomorphized cones, with gawping googly eyes and punk hair-styles. They may be sculptures now, but they still stop traffic. The cones are almost crystal-ball-like, snapshots of what’s to come: some of them smile, some look shocked, some are glum, and some seem downright confused—a sample of the expressions you see on fairgoers as they exit the tent.
2. Ryan McGinley, You and My Friends 4, 48 c-prints, 2013 (team (gallery, inc.), New York)
In an appropriate pairing, more or less opposite to the comic orange coneheads, is a wall-full of headshots: 48 portraits of young people at play. Some are enjoying it, some are not -- and none of them looking into the camera. Four dozen faces and no eye contact is a little disconcerting, but liberating, too. Here is a brightly colored collection of boys and girls, smiling and unsmiling, mostly eager, with wet or dry hair, caked in makeup or not at all—vivid and clamouring for your attention.
3. Terry Adkins, Apple Pickers, Wood, glass, 2002 (Salon 94, New York)
Frieze isn’t just a fair for drawing, painting, and sculpture. There are apple pickers, too. These haunting items are functional—go ahead and put them to work in your orchard. But first admire the echoes of Giacometti and Brancusi. Then adjust the reach of your picker and reach for your fruit.
4. Jennifer Rubell, Portrait of the Artist, fibreglass, steel framework, 2013 (Stephen Friedman Gallery, London)
All alone and broadcasting an absence—a hollow belly where a baby might be— Jennifer Rubell’s self-portrait is high-risk (and the only item on display from the Stephen Friedman Gallery). Languidly stretched out across the entire booth, Rubell’s vast work is impossible to miss, despite the smooth white surface matching perfectly the minimalistic roof and walls of the marquee. Relaxed and defiant, this is a sculpture that could offend or provoke tears. It won’t be ignored.
5. Urs Fischer, Sunny side up, epoxy resin, fiberglass, expanded polystyrene foam, pigment, water-based oil paint, 2012 (Sadie Coles HQ, London)
Urs Fischer’s fried egg is a welcome change of pace, an injection of pure glee. Unless you can see a face in an egg sunny-side-up, we’re safely clear of humans, at last. Or maybe not—who else fries eggs?
6. Djordje Ozbolt, Made in Africa (Assembled in China), Dyed polyester resin, 2013 (Herald Street, London)
African tribal totems in primary colors, cast in resin—the primitive manufactured for our amusement, which peaks when you catch a glimpse of blithely modern fairgoers strolling behind these atavistic forms. Framed on the wall behind the totems is colorful, atomized bunting by Amilia Pica, another African artist, which adds pep to the celebration of the continent’s artistic prowess. (1:54, London’s new Contemporary African Art Fair, is currently on view at Somerset House.)
7. Dan Graham, Groovy Spiral, Two-way mirror cylinder, bisected by perforated stainless steel, 2013 (Lisson Gallery, London, Milan, New York)
The Lisson Gallery, like the Stephen Friedman Gallery, is exhibiting only one work at the fair this year: Groovy Spiral, which invites you to curl into its navel. Introspection might be your bag, or you might prefer to be a spectator. Either way, this installation of a complexly reflective glass spiral sculpture, raised on a wooden floorboard base, is all about looking. Frieze, after all, is a place to see and be seen—an art fair is by definition a spectacle.
8. Ron Mueck, Woman with Shopping, Mixed media, 2013 (Hauser & Wirth, London, New York, Zurich)
Ron Mueck’s sitter – who is clad in her frumpy coat, failsafe jeans and comfortable flats while carrying two orange shopping bags bursting to the rim with groceries -- sports a different look from that of the fairgoers. The 11th edition of Frieze London, sponsored by Deutsche Bank for the 10th consecutive year, is also supported by Alexander McQueen. There has always been a cozy link between art and fashion, and at Frieze (especially on VIP day) that relationship takes centre stage. Mueck’s Woman with Shopping, brings us crashing back to earth. Tucked into the woman’s coat is a baby, looking up at her mother, asking the question every baby asks: what next?
9. Daniel Arsham, Thinking Glass Figure, Broken glass, resin, 2012 (Galerie Perrotin, New York, Paris, Hong Kong)
Daniel Arsham’s Thinking Glass Figure inspires a moment of respite and contemplation amidst the frenzy that is Frieze. It makes you feel the need to sit down next to him; at the same time, though, you hope not to feel so fragile.
10. Jeff Koons, Lobster, Stainless steel, 1994-2007 (Gagosian Gallery, London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, Geneva, Hong Kong, Athens)
The Gagosian Gallery proudly flaunts five large-scale works by megastar Jeff Koons, including Sacred Heart, which make up part of the artist’s Celebration series. Everyone knows Koons—you either love him or you hate him. In this case, it’s a prime example of how a gallery can put the “Fun Fair” feeling into the fair. Here, a trio of Tweetie Pies perch on a tyre swing and a giant blue heart balloon with a magenta bow stands as if suspended in mid air. There’s also an inflatable-looking red lobster, and a cat in a sock (not a hat). Big, bold, and bright, if you have a kiddie or two in tow, and even if not, this display is one to make you smile.
11. Kon Trubkovich, Crazy Me. Crazy You., Oil on linen, 2013 (Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York)
The New York-based Marianne Boesky Gallery is another that has chosen to focus on just one artist in a bid to counter that famous fair fatigue. Five works by Russian-born artist Kon Trubkovich decorate its booth. Trubkovich uses VHS as a primary source of images for his paintings; he uses the motif of a moving image interrupted by bars of static interference to observe the way in which subjects shift over time. The results are blurry and eerie, but bound to catch your eye.
12. Kathryn Andrews, Umbrella Stand, Chrome-plated aluminium and steel, stainless steel, dye-sublimated prints on nylon; polyester, vinyl, 2013 (David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles)
Kathryn Andrews’ Umbrella Stand will brighten up the day of any bedraggled beholder—as it did for anyone coming out of that wet and windy weather on Wednesday morning of VIP day.
13. Hélio Oiticica & Neville D’Almeida, Maileryn (from the series, Cosmococa), slide projections, soundtrack and tactile elements, 1973 (A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro)
“The idea is to cover Marilyn with cocaine,” announced the gallery assistant. Artist Hélio Oiticica, who moved from his native Brazil to New York in 1970, created the body of work, Cosmococa, of which Maileryn is a part, in collaboration with the filmmaker Neville D’Almeida. The duo augmented images from popular culture, such as this one of Marilyn Monroe, with curling lines of cocaine, and projected them onto gallery walls. As you step into the room in which the installation is housed, you find yourself treading on a sand floor (cautiously if you’re one of the many stiletto-wearers at the fair), and wading through a collection of yellow and orange balloons (again, caution—we don’t want any balloons to burst). A soundtrack of Peruvian Opera singer Ima Sumack plays in the background, and a movie of 36 photos of the blonde-bombshell herself, covered in a not-so-kosher coat of white, projects onto the ceiling and the four surrounding walls. The effect is that of a quasi-cinema. And it certainly generated a number of comments and questions: One buyer facetiously asked, “And do you have a very small collage to sell?” Another: “Will you be replacing the balloons?” One customer was a little easier to please: “It makes me happy.” We hope he was referring to the balloons, not to the cocaine.
14. Sam Keogh, Mop, floor vinyl, sculpture, found objects, and photographs, 2013 (Kerlin Gallery, Dublin)
This colourful mixed-media collage is based on the character of Oscar the Grouch, Sesame Street’s star. Oscar is, as the Kerlin Gallery’s catalogue informs us, “messy, contradictory and antagonistic … everything cast off as useless or undesirable in the world of Sesame Street is nominated by Oscar as important.” Mop is made up of a large, graphic vinyl, an array of found objects, and a selection of images. At first, you might look upon it as little more than a mess; adopt Oscar’s approach, and you’ll see the mess, even the dirt, with eyes of sheer delight.
15. Friedrich Kunath, Honey, I’m Home (Cheese and Matchstick), Loafers (enamel on shaped foam and aqua resin), Matchstick (Paper on candle), Cheese (acrylic on shaped foam and aqua resin), Sand, 2012 (Blum and Poe, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo)
Have you ever wondered what smelly shoes might look like? Friedrich Kunath provides you with a graphic demonstration.