More to Love

Linda Yablonsky at Frieze Masters and the Frieze Art Fair

Left: Singer Florence Welch and fashion designer Sarah Burton. Right: Frieze cofounders Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp. (All photos: Linda Yablonsky)

IF EVER A PERSON were to overdose on art, London during Frieze Week would be the place and time to do it. From the VIP opening of Frieze Masters last Tuesday afternoon to Sunday’s close of Frieze proper, the city’s galleries, museums, and fairmongers majorly turned it out, offering abundant opportunities for overindulgence in every quarter.

Off the Regent’s Park campus, the big news was Pablo Flack and David Waddington’s Hoi Polloi. At two weeks old, this serene bistrotheque in the Ace Hotel Shoreditch is already the best art clubhouse since 1980s Odeon in New York, or ’60s Max’s, though it’s much, much calmer and serves far better food.

Just as striking was the disparity between the two fairs. Frieze got smaller and, partly because several dealers defected from PAD in Berkeley Square, Masters got larger. One of the switcheroos was Per Skarstedt, who pronounced this hybrid show the coolest fair of all. With a tent designed by Annabelle Selldorf, low lighting, soft carpeting, and gray walls, it may also be the most refined. “I came last year and saw all my clients here,” said Old Dutch Master purveyor Johnny Van Haeften. “So I thought I better get a booth.” At its center, a large Breughel, The Census at Bethlehem, was getting its first public exposure since 1611. “Frieze is like the kids’ table compared to this,” said dealer Liz Mulholland, who was working the Andrew Kreps booths at both.

Left: Dealer Johnny van Haeften. Right: Dealer Per Skarstedt.

Another bald fact that Masters turned up is that there are no visionaries in art today, at least not compared to rule breakers like Carl Andre (at Sperone Westwater) and Gordon Matta-Clark (at Thomas Solomon). But we have to hope. The next genius could be incubating among the young, crossover brainiacs and wits from science, medicine, and technology that Hans Ulrich Obrist and Simon Castets picked for their “89plus” marathon in the Serpentine’s new Sackler Gallery.

Meanwhile, the nearly two dozen galleries selected by curator Adriano Pedrosa for the Spotlight aisle focused on still-underappreciated artists—women, mostly. A few (Liliana Porter, Nil Yalter, Judy Chicago) were on hand to claim their due. Still, it was hard to tell if Spotlight’s history lessons turned profits or if they simply added context to the contemporary fair, which has none.

That task was left to London’s galleries and museums. Getting to Mark Bradford’s Tuesday opening at White Cube Bermondsey meant moving quickly from Regent’s Park through London’s increasingly Mexico City–style gridlock and across the Thames—impossible at rush hour. More accessible, or at least closer by, was Sadie Coles’s champagne-and-buns reception for Ryan Sullivan at her stupendous new space in Picadilly. This was the feel-good event of the night, maybe of the whole week. That was because of the obvious respect paid to Coles by the many artists and dealers in the room. “Sadie’s kicked the big boys in the balls with this gallery,” said Rachel Lehmann, in a sistahs-are-doing-it-for themselves moment. Meanwhile, Norman Rosenthal looked at the five-figure paintings on the walls and cooed about a vase he’d purchased—for £5,000—at Masters. “It’s from the time of Plato,” he said, still awed by his triumph.

Left: Artist Ingar Dragset with V&A curator Louise Shannon. Right: Dealer Maureen Paley and Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota.

Over in Knightsbridge, the Victoria & Albert Museum was touting “Tomorrow,” an inspired, artists’-choice exhibition by Elmgreen & Dragset. Its opening drew hundreds of people—enough to convince Erik Dragset that his son Ingar was onto something with “this art thing.” Curator Louise Shannon wasn’t surprised. “I knew these artists would stir up the museum,” she said. Most emotional was Michael Elmgreen, who could hardly believe that filmmaker Mike Leigh had cut the ribbon on the show.

“We didn’t want someone you’d expect to see at this kind of thing, like Tilda Swinton,” Elmgreen said. That’s the reason Leigh stepped up—because no one in the art world ever asked him to do that kind of thing. It may happen again. The movie he’s working on now is a biopic of J. M. W. Turner. “He had a fascinating life,” Leigh said. If only the director could have heard Nicholas Logsdail’s reading of his artist roster at the Lisson Gallery’s Frieze dinner, which was just then taking place in the magisterial Banqueting House at Whitehall.

The formal, cathedral-like dining hall has ceiling frescoes by Rubens, an awfully elaborate setting for a gallery that has long staked a claim to austere Conceptualism. By dessert, when composer-DJ Hans Berg was spinning music for an animation by Nathalie Djurberg, Jay Jopling’s dinner for Bradford at Il Bottaccio was also winding down. The candlelit room had a heavy complement of serious curators, museum directors, and collectors—Paul Schimmel and Simon de Pury, Gary Garrels, Thelma Golden, Sherri Geldin, Eileen Harris—easing to the exit. At this point, the night wasn’t exactly young, but Victoria Miro’s party for Elmgreen & Dragset at Ognisko was still swinging. “Wasn’t Mike Leigh amazing?” Elmgreen said. “Wasn’t he great?”

Left: Artist Mark Bradford and curator Gary Garrels. Right: Dealer Angela Westwater and architect Annabelle Selldorf.

Despite all the revelry, VIPs filled the Frieze tent next morning from the 11 AM jump. They included an unusually high number of artists, whose presence somehow validated the whole crass enterprise, a necessary marketing component for galleries today and a boon to the social calendar too. No matter who they were, everyone needed a map. Fair directors Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp had moved every single dealer to a new location. There were also twenty-five fewer galleries, which meant wider aisles and larger booths. But the lights were still blinding, the acoustics still rotten, and, with the exception of Gagosian, whose all-Koons grandstanding seemed almost redemptive, dealer presentations borrowed more from the flea-market aesthetic than that of a saloniste. It didn’t matter.

“Everyone’s busy selling,” said former Swiss Institute director Gianni Jetzer at Frieze Projects, where early visitors were sparse. Unlike past years, when the projects were scattered throughout the tent, curator Nicola Lees’s first outing was isolated within a single, mazelike pavilion designed by architect Andreas Angelidakis. “It’s good to have a curated, critical entity in the fair,” said Artists Space director Stefan Kalmár, though it had stiff competition from its neighbors, a café and the VIP lounge. On the other hand, it also had paintball robots by Ken Okishii, a foaming bed by Lili Reynaud-Dewar, and “Temple of Play,” a modular daycare center by Angelo Plessas where one hundred kids a day could remake the room or practice meditation while their parents hunted art.

Back on the killing fields, Maureen Paley was deep in conversation with Tate director Nicholas Serota. Across the aisle, at Gisela Capitain and in the crowded White Cube and Sprüth Magers stands, serious business was definitely going on. “We’re having a super great day,” Marc Foxx told me. “I’ve sold everything.” At Michael Werner, Gordon Veneklasen livened up the booth by hiring four interns to reconstruct a 1968 James Lee Byars performance that required them all to wear a single black dress—together, all at once. It wasn’t the only stand to go for Masters-style secondary market works. Because they believe that Julian Schanbel is primed for a reassessment, Contemporary Fine Arts’s Bruno Brunnet and Nicole Hackert hung their walls with six Schnabel paintings dating from different years. Not everyone understood the strategy. As Brunnet reported, “One big collector came in and asked, ‘How much for that Oscar Murillo?’ ”

Left: Tate Modern director Chris Dercon. Right: White Columns director Matthew Higgs with Glasgow International director Sarah McCrory.

Overall, the art looked good, the people looked good, and the celebrity factor was low, unless you count artists like Jeremy Deller and curators like Lynda Morris. “I worked on the original ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ at the ICA,” Morris recalled, when dealer Toby Webster introduced us at the Modern Institute booth. “Afterward, the installers all became roadies for the Rolling Stones.”

The day’s Instagram op was at Stephen Friedman, where Jennifer Rubell had installed a giant, reclining white marble nude of herself with a cavelike “womb” at its center. People climbed in. Photos were taken. People moved on. Another attention getter was the tower of drums by Terry Adkins that set off the Salon 94 booth. It was one of four artworks acquired by the Outset Frieze Art Fund for the Tate, a partnership celebrated that evening with an especially cheerful cocktail party in Chelsea hosted by Nicoletta Fiorucci, upbeat founder of the Fiorucci Art Trust. Among the artists present was Goshka Macuga, who had orchestrated a live performance in an upstairs room that featured seminaked women whose scant clothing was partly painted on their bodies.

How to fill the hours on Thursday till the Frieze/Alexander McQueen dinner? Well. One option was the new 1:54 Contemporary African Art fair at Somerset House. Another was the Maja Hoffmann/Louisa Buck conversation in the Frieze VIP room. At the same time, there was a BFI Film Festival screening of About Sarah, a strangely banal documentary about an artist who isn’t, Sarah Lucas. She is also the subject of a career retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery that shows many of her rudest, ballsiest sculptures to distinct advantage. The Judith Hopf show at Studio Voltaire was calling then, and after a trek through a political demonstration in Trafalgar Square that snarled traffic for hours, I made it there and back in time to catch opening day of the independent, twenty-two-gallery SUNDAY fair several levels belowground on Marylebone Road.

Left: Dealer Victoria Miro. Right: Dealers Sadie Coles and Gavin Brown.

“This is my first time here,” said collector Richard Chang, who was looking for something new and different. At this relaxed, open-plan fair, the new and the strange are most likely to make an appearance. That was certainly the case at the Arcade Gallery space, which had an indescribable sculpture of expanding soft foam by John Wallbank, while Rob Tufnel offered an aquarium by Aaron Angell, who surrounded his stoneware with live, pink or black axolotls, Mexican walking fish that seemed as bewildered by the fair as visitors were with them.

As night fell, Victoria Miro opened a second gallery, in Mayfair, with a show of “infinity net” works by Yayoi Kusama, and the David Roberts Foundation cleared its block-long building for the swarm of young people who showed up for an evening of performances by artists who included the collaborating Rodney Graham and Kim Gordon. I’ll bet it was good but I don’t know, because I had to leave that firetrap for the Frieze/McQueen dinner in the eighteenth-century Christ Church Spitalfields. That sanctuary, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, was the site of McQueen’s historic “Dante” collection show in 1996, only Stuart Shave, who attended, said it was the breakout “Highland Rape” collection that first appeared here.

Whatever the backstory, this dinner was hands-down the glam event of the week. Guests were about evenly divided between art people and fashion people, with a few music people (Neil Tennant) and troublemakers (Otis Ferry) thrown in. Singer Florence Welch and McQueen creative director Sarah Burton wore the label’s clothes, naturally, as did Kate Moss, at whose feet Peter Saville, Stefan Kalmár and other male guests kneeled for private confabs. I wondered if there was a woman in the art world who could inspire, or even tolerate, such worship. Marina Abramović? But she wasn’t here and in this crowd she wasn’t missed.

Left: Curator Nicolas Trembley with collector Mera Rubell. Right: Artist Goschka Macuga with Fiorucci Art Trust curator Milovan Farronato.

Dinner was served family style at two oak tables that ran the length of the church, one dish after another delivered by white-gloved waiters. After a few courses, it became apparent that fashion people think art people are the only ones who understand them, so John Currin and Rachel Feintstein, Massimiliano Gioni and Cecilia Alemani, Tracey Emin, Cathy Opie, Elmgreen & Dragset, Tim Blum and Jeff Poe, Nicky Verber, Toby Webster, Tate Modern director Chris Dercon, MoMA curator Laura Hoptman, and the many other dealers and collectors on hand mixed well with fashion editors, writers, and models like Suzy Menkes, Sarah Mower, Penny Martin, and Annabelle Nielson. Before dessert, the black-robed London Community Gospel Choir performed a few numbers, starting with “You’ve Got the Love,” the 1986 Candi Staton hit since covered by Florence and the Machine. But it takes more than love to get through a be-on-your-best-behavior night like this. (Choose your poison.)

Moss, for example, left the church on her own steam, but she needed help to get down the steps to the street in her towering McQueen heels. Reaching out to grip the hands of two female companions, she squealed, “Look! We’re like a bunch of lezzers!”

By the end of a Frieze Week, aren’t we all.

Left: Artist Haroon Mirza. Right: Dealers Peter Currie and Daniel Buchholz.

Left: Dealer Anton Kern and artist Jim Lambie. Right: Dealers David Kordansky and Stuart Krimko.

Left: Artist Jeremy Deller. Right: Dealers Alessandro Pasotti and Nicholas Logsdail.

Left: Collector Dasha Zukhova with consultant Carey Leitzes. Right: Collector Derek Wilson

Left: Curator Gianni Jetzer. Right: David Roberts Art Foundation director Vincent Honoré with collectors Indra Roberts and David Roberts.

Left: Tate Liverpool curator Gavin Delahunty and artist Ryan Sullivan. Right: Dealer Dominique Lévy with collector Ulla Dreyfus and dealer Stefan Ahrenberg.

Left: Artist Anthea Hamilton. Right: Art Cologne director Daniel Hug.

Left: Dealer Marc Foxx. Right: Collector Jennifer McSweeney and dealer Emilio Steinberger.

Left: Artist Eddie Peake. Right: Serpentine Gallery codirector Hans Ulrich Obrist, Swiss Institute curator Simon Castets, collector Maja Hoffmann, and artist Felix Melia.

Left: Dealer Janine Foeller with artists Justin Beal and Shannon Ebner. Right: Dealers Robbie Fitzpatrick and Alex Freedman.

Left: Artists Jayson Musson, Brendan Fowler, and Andrea Longacre-White. Right: Dealer Eva Presenhuber.

Left: Frieze cofounder Matthew Slotover with curator Emily King. Right: Artist Helen Marten and North Miami MoCA director Alex Gartenfeld.

Left: Architect Andreas Angelidakis with artist Pilvi Takala. Right: Dealer Javier Peres.

Left: Dealer Lucy Chadwick. Right: Tate Modern curator Catherine Wood with artist Silke Otto-Knapp.

Left: Dealer Andrew Kreps with art advisor Thea Westreich. Right: Collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo with Serpentine codirector Julia Peyton-Jones and collector Dakis Joannou.

Left: Artist Rodney Graham. Right: Filmmaker Mike Leigh with artist Michael Elmgreen.

Left: Dealer Laurel Gitlen. Right: Dealer Simone Subal.

Left: Artist Simon Fujiwara. Right: Artist Tracey Emin and musician Neil Tennant.

Left: Artist Pablo Bronstein and Studio Voltaire director Joe Schotland. Right: Artist Amalia Pica.

Left: Collector Richard Chang. Right: Artist Frances Upritchard.

Left: Artist Jack Pierson with documentary TV producer Miggi Hood. Right: Curator Abaseh Mirvali.

Left: Collectors David Stockman and Jennifer Stockman. Right: Curator–art historian Lynda Morris with dealer Toby Webster.

Left: Dealer Jeff Poe and Rosalie Benitez. Right: Collectors Elena Bowes and Frances Bowes with Sotheby's Anthony Grant and dealer Gordon Veneklasen.

Left: New Museum associate director Massimiliano Gioni and High Line Art curator Cecilia Alemani. Right: Artist Ryan Gander.

Left: Dealer Erin Manns with artist Sarah Sze and collector Laura Skoler. Right: Dealer Michele Maccarone.

Left: Artist Nick Mauss. Right: Dealer Monica Manzutto with film producer and sound designer Cristian Manzutto.

Left: Dealers Stefan Ratibor and Ken Maxwell. Right: Collector and private dealer Simon de Pury.

Left: Collector Nicoletta Fiorucci with Kunsthalle Basel president Martin Hatebur. Right: Stuart Comer, chief curator of media and performance at MoMA.

Left: Collector Marty Eisenberg with Jack Eisenberg and Roxana Marcoci, MoMA senior curator of photography. Right: Dealer Mara McCarthy.

Left: Artist Liliana Porter. Right: Artist Ken Okishii.

Left: Artist Christian Marclay and Lydia Yee. Right: Artist Angelo Plessas.

Left: Dealers Nicole Hackert and Bruno Brunnet with artist Sarah Lucas. Right: Mexican cultural attache to the UK Vanessa Arelle.

Left: Curator Gabriele Schor with artist Nil Yalter and Tate Modern curator Jessica Morgan. Right: Dealer Giò Marconi.