Frieze Has the Art Fair Mastered: The British Brand Hits a Home Run With a New Event for Older Art

And there’s no use denying it: fairs are the art world’s new reality

Last week, London hosted three major art fairs and several smaller and younger ones, enough to make any sane person wonder: have we reached the point of art fair overkill? I’ve often thought—and written—that the art fair scene has gone overboard, and now I’m not alone. On his Facebook page New York magazine’s art critic Jerry Saltz recently lamented the explosion of art fairs and the new custom among hungry galleries to send out email blasts from them announcing how many works they’ve sold. “We’ve built a worm into the system,” Mr. Saltz wrote. “The system is self-supporting and draws its power from everyone.” The point is timely, because London’s annual Frieze art fair—the highlight of a week of art parties and hobnobbing in British style—has sprouted a second fair, Frieze Masters, for more “historical” artworks. I was there for the opening of Masters, and it forced me to change my tune. And so, in the words of the great Marcel Duchamp, I will now “force myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.”
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