Frieze has officially kicked off under its signature expansive white tents in London’s Regent’s Park. Now in its 15th iteration, the contemporary arm of the event, Frieze London, presents 160 galleries from over 30 different countries this year. Its tightly curated section on pioneering feminist art from the 1970s and ’80s, “Sex Work: Feminist Art and Radical Politics,” organized by New York- and Warsaw-based curator Alison Gingeras, as well as its strong Focus component—which highlights up-and-coming galleries and was co-curated by Ruba Katrib of New York’s SculptureCenter—suggest that the fair is certainly getting better with age.
Just a pleasant meander northward in the park is Frieze Masters, which showcases art made anytime before the new millennium, including Old Masters and ancient works. Now in it’s fifth year, Masters boasts 130 participating galleries. With so many booths to see, Observer whittled it down to 10 standouts from around the world, listed below in no particular order.
Richard Saltoun (London)
Frieze London, Sex Work Section, Booth S7
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Tomorrow at Frieze London: 'Alt-feminisms', a panel talk with Renate Bertlmann, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Marilyn Minter, chaired by Alison Gingeras, will take place in the auditorium at 12:30pm. • • Rebate Bertelsmann, Kaktus, 1999 Courtesy: the artist and @richardsaltoungallery • • #friezeweek #friezelondon #friezeartfair #feministart
This year’s Sex Work Section spotlights once-censored female artists who created sex-positive work in the ’70s and ’80s. Counted among them is Austrian artist Renate Bertlmann, whose works—which range from a series of small round cacti sculptures blooming with bright pink dildos to photographs of condoms inflated like balloons with their tips sensuously touching—are at once kitschy, cute, and critical.
Travesía Cuatro (Madrid and Guadalajara)
Frieze London, Main Section, Booth G25
It’s hard to miss Travesía Cuatro’s booth, with its expanse of Rococo-inspired stencilled koi-pond wallpaper by British artist Charlie Billingham, adorned by his paintings done in the style of 18th century political satirist William Hogarth. These were juxtaposed with bright but austere geometric sculptures and other works by big-name Latin American artists like Elena del Rivero, Mateo López and José Dávila.
VI, VII (Oslo)
Frieze London, Focus Section, Booth H4
British artist Than Hussein Clark turned his Oslo gallery’s booth into a fashion atelier inspired by the pioneering early 20th-century Irish-English female designer Eileen Gray. The booth’s interior, beset with mirrors, gowns, and bright pink walls, can be closed off from the public by a built-out door on the front of the space. This allows Clark to measure visitors who have a fitting appointment for a handmade gown from the artist’s new line, Jean Desert, to be fabricated in Rome after Frieze ends.
Mother’s Tankstation Limited (Dublin and London)
Frieze London, Main Section, Booth B19
The convergence of Maria Farrar and Hannah Levy in this booth—two young, emerging female artists—is unexpected but exceptionally fun. London-based painter Maria Farrar’s work largely depicts women in brushy, fluid dresses, reminiscent of fashion illustrations, yet faceless and almost abstracted. New York-based Levy’s floor-bound sculptures feature swatches of kitchen floor tile rendered in skin-colored silicone, draped over small cubes and linked by long silver chains to eerie lone vegetables such as asparagus, also rendered in fleshy plastic making them appear as dismembered body parts. Paired together, these two artists create a beautifully subtle yet macabre commentary on gender.
Jack Shainman Gallery (New York)
Frieze London, Main Section, Booth A19
For his Frieze debut, New York gallerist Jack Shainman brought works by Lynette Yiadom Boakye, a UK-based artist whose recent show at New York’s New Museum gained critical acclaim, and Carrie Mae Weems, a US-based artist whose seminal From Here I Saw What Happened photo series is currently on view at London’s Tate Modern. Alongside works by Kerry James Marshall, Barkley L. Hendricks, and Toyin Ojih Odutola, the booth provides a strong sampling of the best of the best on the gallery’s roster right now.
David Zwirner (London and New York)
Frieze Masters, Main Section, Booth F11
While the Zwirner booth as a whole presents pretty standard Minimalist fare this year, it boasts Dan Flavin’s first-ever fluorescent work from 1963, The diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brnacusi), making it a must-see.
Hauser and Wirth (Zurich, London, New York, Somerset, and Los Angeles)
Frieze London, Main Section, Booth D10
Hauser & Wirth is known for its themed booth installations, and this year it didn’t disappoint, creating a “forgotten” museum replete with old wooden doors and glass vitrines, under and around which visitors find bronze works by the likes of Louise Bourgeois and Subodh Gupta alongside bronze artifacts that are on loan from museums (like a Roman coin) or just sourced from eBay (such as a weird mortar and pestle). Further edified by research and input from University of Cambridge Classics professor Mary Beard, the booth, also like a museum, has a small gift shop where you can pick up commemorative items like pencils and erasers. The whole setup would be all in good fun were it not for the fact that this commercial powerhouse has grown to museum-sized already, a mega-gallery trend spurring the often lamented closure of many smaller spaces over the last few years, making this faux educational institution where everything has a price seem a bit too real.
Kukje Gallery has been a pivotal art hub in Seoul since it opened in 1982, routinely showing the best of the best of Korea’s contemporary artists. Minimalist artists of the 1970s Dansaekhwa movement continue to trend at auction lately, Kukje made sure to bring a strong smattering of both new and old works by Dansaekhwa artists like Lee Ufan and Park Seo-bo as well as mid-career Korean artists such as Haegue Yang and Gimhongsok, which pair great with the likes of the bright, poppy embroidered tapestries of Kyungah Ham from Tina Kim.
Waddington Custot (London)
Frieze Masters, Main Section, Booth G2
Recreations of artists’ studios have become de rigeur at art fairs these days, usually as a way of memorializing an artist long gone. But, make no mistake, British Pop artist Peter Blake is still very much alive—and present—in Waddington Custot’s recreation of his gallery, complete with cutting table, books, plants, and the artist’s favorite jazz records to listen to while working.
A joint booth by Cheim and Read and Thomas Dane Gallery presents over two decades of works by badass feminist artist Lynda Benglis, including her infamous Artforum self portrait—in which she poses naked, one arm akimbo, the other holding a dildo—and her seminal funny yet grotesque neon foam installation from 1968, Night Sherbet A.
Margaret Carrigan is a freelance writer and editor. She planned to go to law school but she did terribly on the LSAT, so she got a master’s in art history instead. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat, who is named after Alyssa Milano’s character from the early aughts CW smash hit series Charmed.
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