Happy Monday

Linda Yablonsky at Frieze Art Fair Week

Left: Artist Rob Pruitt. Right: Collector Steve Cohen with dealer Monika Sprüth. (All photos: Linda Yablonsky)

FRIEZE LONDON (as opposed to Frieze Masters and Frieze New York) isn’t just an art fair with a split personality. It also has the UK capital itself, splendid museums, and galleries hither and yon. In some ways they are really the hosts of Frieze Week (or the “Frizzes,” as one cab driver put it). On Monday, October 14—ostensibly the week’s “quiet night”—a bunch of them threw out the welcome mat with a round of openings and dinners that brought out the special pleasures and anxieties of living simultaneously in past and present.

Historically minded visitors with VIP cards could dip into Whistler at Dulwich Picture Gallery or Paul Klee and Mira Schendel at Tate Modern. Those who like to season their legacy issues with a sprinkle of currency only had to scoot to Pace Gallery in Soho, for curator Nicolas Trembley’s exhibition of contemporary and modern artworks inspired by Mingei, the nineteenth-century Japanese arts and crafts movement. But the night belonged to those seeking tomorrow’s yesterday today, particularly in Mayfair, where three American artists—Jeff Elrod, Daniel Arsham, and Kehinde Wiley—were having UK solo debuts at Simon Lee, Pippy Houldsworth, and Stephen Friedman, respectively. Another, Rob Pruitt, produced paintings and sculpture at Massimo De Carlo that treated the subject of suicidal depression to a Popish optimism. This sanguine mien also turned up, with a tad more violence, in refreshing paintings of the 1960s and ’70s by the late Jerzy (“Jurry”) Zeiliński at Luxembourg & Dayan, while the French-born Cyprien Gaillard found a kindred spirit in Morris Louis at Sprüth Magers, where his folded National Geographic magazine collages made clever formalist connections to the painter’s ethereal waves and spills.

Left: Dealer Massimo De Carlo. Right: Dealer Daniel Buchholz, choreographer Michael Clark, and dealer Nicholas Svennung.

Due to traffic, time constraints, and jet lag, I missed Simon Lee’s celebration of Elrod but arrived at Pippy Houldsworth just as choreographer Jonah Bokaer began a ten-minute movement dialogue with Arsham’s glass and volcanic-ash sculptures. A world and a few minutes away at Friedman, Wiley’s smashing new portraits of smiling Jamaicans posed nineteenth-century British style against his signature William Morris–patterned grounds inspired an impromptu voguing session by Art Production Fund cofounders Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen. Standing beside his installation of pedestal cubes, Pruitt described his Color Field paintings as portals to the afterlife. “They’re Prozac ads with the text removed,” he said, before departing for a pass-along dinner in the charmingly shabby environs of a Portland Place townhouse—perfect for a veteran depressive.

Over at Simpsons-on-the-Strand, an old-timey British restaurant that came alive with a multinational crowd that included Hans Ulrich Obrist, Abdullah al-Turki and supercollector Steve Cohen, Gaillard pronounced Louis “a prophet” who made “veiled paintings” in Washington, DC, home of the veiled. Here, in the parallel universe of the art world, it was hard to remember that the American government was entering its third week of terminal dysfunction. Perhaps it could do with an art fair.

Left: Artist Wolfgang Tillmans. Right: Art Production Fund cofounders Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen.

Meanwhile, at St. John restaurant in the East End, dealer Maureen Paley toasted Wolfgang Tillman’s seventh solo show in twenty years with her gallery, characterizing his single-subject exhibition as “intimate and daring.” The crowd itself was a tribute to the artist. “I know!” Tillmans said, eyes wide. “Every museum director in town is here!” That was pretty close to true. The Tate’s Nicholas Serota and Chris Dercon were both on hand, as were the Whitechapel’s Iwona Blaswick, the Hayward’s Ralph Rugoff, and the ICA’s Gregor Muir. But so were Artists Space director Stefan Kalmár and White Columns director Matthew Higgs, a complement of artists who included Michael Craig-Martin and Gillian Wearing, collectors Maja Hoffmann and Phil and Shelley Fox Aarons, and dealers Nicky Verber, Jake Miller, Chantal Crousel, and Daniel Buchholz. There was some talk of a competition between the two Frieze fairs in London, whether or not there was really any crossover audience, and if even a reformatted Frieze could meet the challenge of Masters, its elegant sibling. “I’m doing both Masters and Frieze,” Buchholz told graphic designer Peter Saville. “How?” Saville asked. “I have a different dress for each,” Buchholz replied. “Polyester for Frieze, linen for Masters,” Saville advised. “Masters is very linen.”

Left: Artist Cyprien Gaillard. Right: Dealer Philomene Magers and Frieze Art Fair codirector Amanda Sharp.

Left: Artist Daniel Arsham. Right: Artists Kehinde Wiley and Jennifer Rubell.

Left: Dealers Amalia Dayan, Thaddeus Ropac, and Daniella Luxembourg. Right: Dealer Sylvia Kouvali.

Left: Artist Liam Gillick, Fiorucci Art Trust curator Milovan Farronato, and Chisenhale Gallery curator Polly Staple. Right: Hayward Gallery director Ralph Rugoff.

Left: Artist Jonathan Horowitz. Right: Dealer Gavin Brown.

Left: Artist Andreas Gursky with Serpentine Gallery codirector Hans Ulrich Obrist and artist Koo Jeong-A. Right: Collector Abdullah Al-Turki.

Left: White Columns director Matthew Higgs with dealers Nicky Verber and Jake Miller. Right: Artist Mark Bradford.

Left: Guggenheim Museum curator Pablo León de la Barra Right: Collector Maja Hoffmann and Frieze cofounder Matthew Slotover.

Left: Collector Shelley Fox Aarons, bookseller Lucy Moore, and collector Phil Aarons. Right: Thelma Golden and fashion designer Duro Olowu.

Left: ICA director Gregor Muir. Right: Dealer Corinna Durland with curator/consultant Rosario Nadal.