Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.
The 13th edition of Frieze London comes to a close today. With the economic forecast hazy, especially for increasingly important art market centers in Asia, worry was rife ahead of the London fair’s opening that 2015 would be a slow year for collecting. But despite sales not being the feeding frenzy that not so long ago characterized several fairs across the art market calendar, a steady stream of five- and six-figure acquisitions left Frieze dealers more than satiated as the week’s action wound down.
With Frieze London and Frieze Masters opening on the same day for the first time since Masters was introduced in 2012, new artistic director for the Americas and Asia Abby Bangser told Artsy, “Attendance on preview day of VIPs was record-breaking, and that’s continued throughout the rest of the week.” Exact opening day figures for Frieze London remain pending. However, the fair did report a whopping 260% increase in collectors and VIPs attendance to Frieze Masters on opening day, including Eli and Edythe Broad, Benedict Cumberbatch, Diana Picasso, and Budi Tek.
Installation view of David Zwirner’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.
And indeed, as is the norm, Tuesday’s sales led the pack where price was concerned. White Cube partner Daniela Gareh reported continued success with “two new bodies of paintings by Damien Hirst,” including the $1.2 million sale of Holbein (Artist’s Watercolours) (2015). (Bangser confirmed via telephone on Friday evening that such levels were representative of the high end of transactions reported to the fair thus far.) “Sales across the board were good throughout the week,” added Gareh on Saturday morning, noting further sales of works by Andreas Gursky, Tracey Emin, Theaster Gates, Imi Knoebel, Christian Marclay, Cerith Wyn Evans and Eddie Peake, among others.
David Zwirner placed Chris Ofili’s Midnight Cocktail (2015) in a collector’s hands for $750,000 on Tuesday. Among other sales, Kerry James Marshall’s Untitled (Toe Painter) (2015) also went on opening day for an unreported sum, ahead of a retrospective next April at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, which will then travel to the Met Breuer, and MOCA L.A.
Installation view of Sprüth Magers’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.
L.A., London, and Berlin’s Sprüth Magers placed Jenny Holzer’s LED sign sculpture All Fall (2012) in a U.S. collection for $500,000. The artist’s redaction painting TOP SECRET NOFORN 11 (2011) also sold, this for $250,000. The booth presents several mini-solo exhibitions, from which two works by Thomas Scheibitz—Portrait Marco Dente (2015) and GP 160 (2011)—found takers for €63,000 and €35,000, respectively; as did four pieces by Thea Djordjadze for between €24,000 and €28,000. The gallery also sold their striking selection of pieces by Ryan Trecartin, ranging from $18,000–45,000.
Lehmann Maupin had a banner start to the fair. The gallery sold no fewer than six works by YBA Tracey Emin (price: £15,000–225,000), a pair of panel paintings by Mickalene Thomas from $125,000–175,000, and Nicholas Hlobo’s Chwetha (To Poke) (2015) for $80,000–120,000 and Isilima sesinambuzane phezu kwechibi (2015) for $40,000–60,000, among others. Do Ho Suh was the star of the booth, however, with four of the artist’s thread works on paper and fabric installations finding takers. Hub, London Studio (2015) was the pinnacle of the group, selling on the range of $350,000–450,000.
Installation view of Victoria Miro’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.
Suh is also prominently showcased at Victoria Miro’s stand. This Frieze, the gallery presents just three artists: “We wanted to do a more focused presentation this year, going in-depth to give a much better sense about what each artist is up to,” said Oliver Miro, who described the response as “really fantastic.” Sculptures by the Royal Academy’s youngest artist, Conrad Shawcross, were a particular hit, priced at £30,000–70,000. Each of the gallery’s five monumental canvases on view by Spanish painter and rising star Secundino Hernández had sold, priced from £25,000–75,000. Several of those pieces went to museums, one in the U.K. and one “in the southern Hemisphere,” a discrete Miro offered.
Installation view of kamel mennour’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.
Paris’s kamel mennour saw huge success with works by Camille Henrot. “The show is sold out,” said the gallery’s Helena Mierzejewska on Friday afternoon. All eight editions of the booth’s central sculpture, Retreat From Investment, were spoken for, priced at €150,000 each. “It’s the first time she worked in such a big scale,” said Mierzejewska of the work, which is redolent of Henry Moore. Numerous watercolors on paper, mounted on dibond, ranged in price from €22,000 to €60,000. “They explore the everyday indignities that we encounter: nail biting, virtual sex, situations that remind us of our human side,” added Mierzejewska.
“There’s a real moment for Camille right now,” said KÖNIG GALERIE’s Sarah Miltenberger, who was also showing new works by Henrot. The French artist’s exhibition “The Pale Fox” runs through November 1st at KÖNIG, which sold both ceramics (now sold out at €45,000 apiece) and large-scale works on paper by Henrot from her 2014-2015 series, "The Tropics of Love." Kiki Kogelnik’s painting Woman and Scissors (1964) also sold for $82,000, building on momentum from her inclusion in Tate Modern’s current show “The World Goes Pop.” A number of pieces by Jeppe Hein, Jorinde Voigt, Alicja Kwade, and Katharina Grosse had also found their way into collectors’ hands by Friday afternoon.
mennour wasn’t the only gallery to sell out its booth. Shanghai’s Antenna Space, which presents a solo installation of Guan Xiao, quickly saw the three-part work Documentary: From National Geographic to BBC (2015) sell to the Zabludowicz Collection. “This is a sequel to the work shown at the New Museum Triennial,” said director Simon Wang. “This is the third edition. The others were collected by Adrian Cheng and another very prominent private Chinese collection,” out of their concurrent show of Guan at the gallery, Wang added. “But we wanted to place one into an influential European connection.” Price? On the range from €30,000–40,000.
Installation view of Koppe Astner’s booth in the Focus section at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.
Sales across the fair’s Focus section were a mixed bag, reflecting a current tendency away from very young, and thus potentially financially risky, work. Several gallerists cited that a lack of urgency in purchasing was indeed making itself felt. But nonetheless, works from many, such as High Art’s solo presentation of Pentti Monkkonen were finding their way to collectors. High Art co-founders Romain Chenais and Jason Hwang, and fellow galleries Crèvecoeur, Antoine Levi, High Art, Sultana, and Gregor Staiger, will launch their own fair next week—Paris Internationale, an event hotly anticipated among several of Frieze Focus’s hipper exhibitors. “It’s really going to be young, emerging art,” said Chenais. “We don’t know how people will react, whether they will just visit or if they will buy, but there is a lot of excitement around it at the moment.”
One imagines Frieze might be surprisingly pleased that a group of Focus exhibitors would be starting an art fair themselves. It’s one more event to add to the already nearly-300-line-long tally of fairs on the annual calendar. But the London fair’s lifeblood (at least where branding is concerned) and roots remain its unparalleled selection of young dealers and new practices. And that which contributes to the health of the emerging market will, ultimately, be to Frieze’s benefit.