Issue Number: 120
As Frieze Art Fair returns to Regent’s Park, Ben Luke picks the best contemporary shows around town, while Aindrea Emelife sees the stirrings of a ‘Frieze Masters week’
It is a decade since the first Frieze Art Fair changed the landscape of London’s contemporary art scene overnight. It attracts the international art world to the city each October and prompts an avalanche of top quality contemporary shows to be scheduled to coincide with the fair. This year’s ‘Frieze week’ is typically rich.
Sarah Lucas, 'Nice Tits', 2011, at the Whitechapel Gallery. © the artist/courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Among the highlights is the Whitechapel Gallery’s Sarah Lucas retrospective (2 Oct–15 Dec), which covers two decades of this linchpin of the Young British Artists. Lucas uses everyday materials such as coat hangers, vegetables and tights in ribald combinations that have tough underlying themes such as gender politics and national stereotypes. She made her mark with early works such as Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab (1992), in which the food in the title is presented on a table in a bawdy reference to breasts and genitals. Her recent ‘Nuds’ series featuring stuffed tights evoking bodily forms shows Lucas to be among the most consistently creative sculptors of her generation.
One of the autumn’s most ambitious projects is Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s Tomorrow (2013), a site-specific installation in which the Danish-Norwegian duo transform five galleries at the V&A into the imagined apartment of a disillusioned architect (1 Oct–2 Jan 2014). They have selected over 100 items from the V&A’s collections, as well as objects from antiques markets, to create a series of rooms, and visitors are encouraged to participate, acting as uninvited guests, lounging on the furniture and reading the books.
George Grosz, 'Down with Liebknecht', 1918, at Richard Nagy. Courtesy of Richard Nagy Ltd, London. Two new commercial galleries arrive on the RA’s doorstep in time for Frieze. Victoria Miro gallery was based on Cork Street before moving to Hoxton in east London in 2000, but from October it returns to Mayfair, adding a gallery on the corner of St George and Maddox Streets. The first exhibition features Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s latest densely patterned ‘Infinity Net Paintings’ (1 Oct–9 Nov). Meanwhile, Sadie Coles opens a new 6,000 sq ft space in Kingly Street in September with a show of the young New York abstract painter Ryan Sullivan (11 Sep–26 Oct).
Frieze Art Fair itself is also being revamped. Inspired by the open spaces of their recently inaugurated fairs Frieze Masters and Frieze New York, the organisers have commissioned a new layout for the Regent’s Park site that includes a stage for performances running throughout the day. Despite increased demand by galleries, Frieze has reduced the number taking part in order to create a more intimate atmosphere; the quota of public tickets available has also been cut by a quarter: it might be wise to book ahead.
Just a stone’s throw away in Regent’s Park from Frieze London, Frieze Masters returns for its second edition this autumn to present pre-21st-century works in a contemporary context.
The fair has grown in size from its successful inaugural year with a third more dealers joining the ranks, including Old Masters specialist Otto Naumann, Brazilian modernism expert Dan Galeria and 20th-century British art dealers Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert. Frieze Masters looks like it is galvanizing our capital’s commercial art galleries in the same way as Frieze London, judging by the dazzling selection of exhibitions coinciding with what might also be coined ‘Frieze Masters Week’.
Rembrandt, 'Portrait of Dr. Ephraïm Bueno' (detail), 1645-47, at Ordovas. Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum. Those with a love of the unusual should head to Colnaghi gallery to see ‘Art of the Curious’ (2–20 Oct). From Dutch vanitas to Chinese porcelain, this exhibition draws inspiration from the cabinets of curiosities of Enlightenment collectors and scholars.
At Ordovas, Frieze’s characteristic juxtaposition of old and new is echoed in a show that examines the pivotal influence on Frank Auerbach of Rembrandt (4 Oct–3 Dec). The British artist selects a small group of Rembrandt’s paintings and etchings from Amsterdam’s newly renovated Rijksmuseum to display alongside his works.
Hauser & Wirth dedicates its Savile Row and Piccadilly galleries to the modern masters assembled by German collector Reinhard Onnasch, which include some of the greats of post-war American art such as Clyfford Still, Andy Warhol and Carl Andre (20 Sep–14 Dec). Meanwhile, it’s all prostitutes, profiteers and politicians on Old Bond Street, at Richard Nagy’s ‘George Grosz’s Berlin’ (28 Sep–2 Nov), the first major show of his nightmarish visions of German life after the First World War since the RA’s 1997 exhibition.