In honor of its upcoming 20th anniversary, Frieze London is shaking things up with a host of new initiatives scheduled for its October art fair. Artists like the renowned Tracey Emin, German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans and Olafur Eliasson, known for his large-scale installations, will oversee the selection of artists for solo presentations, as announced by Frieze today (June 22).
The one-off project, called “Artist-to-Artist,” will let eight artists propose subjects for solo shows in a continuation of “Frieze London’s longstanding tradition of artist-led programming,” according to the art fair. Emin has put forward Vanessa Raw, a former British triathlete turned artist; while Tillmans’ pick is Mark Barker, who creates figurative sculptures. Meanwhile, Eliasson selected Fabian Knecht, a German artist with a penchant for anti-authoritarian installations. Alvaro Barrington, Anthea Hamilton, Simone Leigh, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Haegue Yang—the other star artists invited to put forward feature presentation recommendations—chose Simonette Quamina, Carlos Villa, Deborah Anzinger, Wantanee Siripattananuntakul and Ayoung Kim respectively.
The 2023 edition of Frieze London is scheduled to be its most international yet, showcasing more than 160 galleries from 40 countries. Previous initiatives, such as a section consisting of galleries formed in 2011 and the offering of limited-edition works at affordable prices, will also be returning to the fair this fall.
Frieze Masters, which runs concurrently with Frieze London and focuses on art created before 1980, is also making changes. The 11-year-old event will introduce “Modern Women,” dedicated to solo exhibitions of artwork made by female artists between 1880 and 1990. The new initiative will include pieces by Faith Ringgold, Anna-Eva Bergman and Emilie Charmy, among others. Another project named “Studio,” which showcases artist studios through archival images and objects from their workrooms, will have its inaugural year at Frieze Masters.
How did the Frieze art fairs begin?
While Frieze London held its first iteration two decades ago, the beginnings of the organization can be traced back to the 1991 launch of frieze magazine, which focused on contemporary artwork and culture. Founded by Amanda Sharp, Matthew Slotover and Tom Gidley, the publication’s initial issue included the first-ever published interview with Damien Hirst, in addition to featuring one of the artist’s butterfly paintings.
Frieze has since expanded into an art world behemoth of events, physical spaces and publications, with annual fairs in London, Los Angeles, New York and Seoul. “We didn’t think of it as a business,” said Sharp in 2011. “We weren’t doing the magazine for audiences, but wanted to do something that answered our own questions about the art world.”
Its first fair, Frieze London, opened in 2003, attracting 27,000 visitors and £20 million ($25.4 million) in sales. While the fair no longer publishes sale figures, Frieze London and Frieze Masters have attracted 60,000 attendees annually in the past few years.