Frieze Art Fair 2017: Our Guide to Frieze Masters
If you visit Frieze Masters this year, you can take a whirlwind tour of art history from the ancient world up to the present day, via medieval sculptures, old master paintings, 20th-century greats and up-and-coming contemporary artists. Galleries with different nationalities and specialities are mixed up, meaning that visitors could be looking at a Calder sculpture one minute and an ancient Greek helmet the next, sometimes on the same booth.
Galleries are encouraged to collaborate, in an attempt to provide interesting juxtapositions. One striking example is Hauser and Wirth’s collaboration with Moretti (Booth D1), meaning that a skeletal Louise Bourgeois plaster torso is displayed alongside a 16th century Italian Renaissance painting. It encourages you to look at both artists in a new light; this is something that can only happen effectively at art fairs like this one.
The most interesting booths (if you’re not a collector) are the curated ones. Head to the “Spotlight” section for solo presentations of under-appreciated artists of art historical importance. In particular, BANK (Booth G17) is showing some fascinating woven sculptures by Bulgarian artist Maryn Varbanov. Although little known, Varbanov pioneered the genre of “soft sculpture” and was particularly influential on Chinese avant-garde art in the 1980s.
Another influential – and much better known – proponent of soft sculpture can be found at Castelli (Booth C13), who are showing a solo booth of work by Robert Morris. His huge pale felt pieces are particularly eye-catching and powerful. Morris’s contemporary and collaborator Lynda Benglis is also being celebrated with a joint booth by Thomas Dane and Cheim & Read (Booth F6). The presentation sheds new light on Benglis’s practice, from her infamous ArtForum advertisement photograph to her visceral poured sculptures, which seem to have flowed off the walls and onto the floor.
Sculpture is particularly well-represented this year, which is refreshing. It’s worth seeing the selection of large colourful works by Antony Caro on view at Annely Juda (Booth D4), as well as a presentation of mid-century sculptural greats at Marlborough Fine Art (Booth C8). The artists on show include Lynn Chadwick, Eduardo Paolozzi, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Victor Pasmore.
Finally, for something a bit more fun, visit Waddington Custot (Booth G2), where they have recreated the studio of Peter Blake (of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band fame). Gloriously messy among the other meticulous booths, it’s a chance to get up close and personal with one of Britain’s favourite artists.
Treasures abound at Frieze Masters this year, and with 130 participating galleries there is more to see than could ever be included in one guide. There is something exciting lurking round every corner, and the best technique for visiting is just to wander and be surprised.
Photo: Mark Blower
Frieze Masters 2017 is at Regent’s Park from 5th until 8th October 2017. For further information or to book visit the Frieze Art Fair website here.