Frieze Masters 2014
However impressive and polished the gallery displays in the Frieze London tent are, Frieze Masters is undoubtedly the sophisticated sister event. Its dynamic is more scholarly and grown up, despite retaining the Frieze dedication to presenting a wide range of artists and mediums. Directed by Victoria Siddall, who incidentally will next year be taking on the role of director for both Frieze London and Frieze New York, Frieze Masters returns to Regents Park for a third year.
Perhaps it’s because of the specially edited and international treasure status of the work on display that there is decidedly more breathing space for both the art works and the visitors. What makes it unique from Frieze in the main is its cross-pollination of contemporary and historical art. With participating galleries exhibiting works from ancient eras through to the great profits of 20th century art there is a rich balance of major artwork.
The quantities of colourful and monochromatic work were markedly well balanced across the whole tent, enhancing the effect of individual pieces. One very striking curatorial choice made by Moretti Fine Art (D1) concerned two fiercely orange Gerhardt Richter studies flanking Antonio Vivarini’s St Catherine of Alexandria. The combination was slightly perverse, yet visually the colour from each enhanced its neighbour. The greys and muted neutrals on the walls gave a softer and more calming frame to the antique collections of both painting and statuesque marble sculptures and relics.
The breadth of painting territories represented was as broad and iconic as expected. The selection of abstract expressionist painting is astounding, with a number of galleries showcasing them as part of their proud collections. Gagosian gallery played homage to Helen Frankenthaler, De Kooning, Gorkey and Richard Green, featuring the electric colour triumph that is Patrick Heron’s Strata of Green and Scarlett Vermillion. Nicholas de Staël also appears at various intervals, offering punch with his weighty caked-on paint in both abstract and figurative compositions.
Guiseppe Panone’s Propagazione fine line painting has an incredible articulation of depth, which echoes in his finger print drawings from Marian Goodman gallery (B1). However, the crisp line, cool blue on pale grey marvel that is Giovanni Anselmo’s Oltramare granite, paint and cord sculpture has delicious solidity and balance – every bit worth seeing. Another knock-out sculpture was Anish Kappoor’s Orade: a sandstone form with a cavity of blue pigmented; the eye is completely disorientated and fooled into the apparent infinite depth of the blue cave.
Regarding photography, Frieze Masters has outdone itself regarding the quality and historical variety; from Ed Ruscha’s painterly aerial shots of parking lots to the ambiguous luxury in the black and white folds of flesh in photographs by Bill Brandt and Herb Ritts (D13). The fascinating Edward Steichen gum bichromate print from 1907 titled Black Canyon (A4) is just one example from the dramatic display at Hans P Krauss Jnr, which included negatives from Frederick H Evans and familial vignettes from Negre. Equally enthralling for their historical information were the maps presented by Daniel Crouch (B10), particularly the endearing John Rocques Magnificent Map of Early Georgian London from 1746.
The innovative installation titled The Collector took the shape of the staged domestic rooms of a man whose attempt to engage with the “agony and ecstasy” of life through his art collections. Cluttered with exhibition catalogues, books and prints, cleverly embedded in the belongings of the imaginary character are iconic paintings by the like of Morandi, Picasso and Fontana. Directly placing art in the context of a household setting, this piece designed by Robin Brown is surprisingly fitting for an art fair where the buying and dealing of art is still central.
Frieze Masters is a unique experience for lovers of art and art market participators alike. There are tour guides available for those in favour of a more structured experience, although the expertise of the gallery personnel is more than adequate for most questions. Get past the elitism and the ticket price and you’ve got a rare opportunity to see a high concentration of the best of the best the international gallery community has to offer.
Frieze Masters runs from 15th to 19th October 2014, for further information or to book visit here.