LONDON — Quiet confidence was the prevailing mood among gallerists at London’s Frieze last week, where the Regent’s Park art fair took place against a buzzy backdrop of London happenings that tapped into the city’s artsy guise.
“There’s meant to be massive recession, but here are all these people,” noted Anthony Wilkinson of the London gallery Wilkinson, which represents artists such as Ged Quinn and Marcin Maciejowski. Indeed, the fair saw 60,000 visitors walk through its halls in five days. “There aren’t as many Americans here but there are lots of Europeans, and people are coming for the whole week — I’ve never seen London look so busy.”
Jacqueline B. Tran, director of New York’s Matthew Marks Gallery, which represents artists including Gary Hume and Nan Goldin, said English artists such as Hume do particularly well at the fair and collectors this year had appeared “very thoughtful, considered and engaged.”
Anna Helwing, associate director of Hauser & Wirth in Zurich, said the gallery’s pieces by Louise Bourgeois, Ellen Gallagher, Bharti Kher and Berlinde de Bruyckere had all attracted strong interest from collectors. Gallagher’s piece “Moon-Glo” sold for $300,000 on the fair’s opening day.
Damien Hirst proved that, even in ostensibly tough times, his work is still able to attract the big bucks. The highest price achieved for a work at this year’s Frieze was $5.6 million for Hirst’s sculpture of a glass cabinet stacked with fish in formaldehyde, called “The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths.” The piece was sold by London gallery White Cube.
But for those whose budgets might not stretch to a work by Hirst, his wife Maia Norman offered stylish types a more accessible way to dip their toe into the art market. The designer’s Mother of Pearl ready-to-wear collection, which she launched at Mayfair’s Haunch of Venison gallery Thursday, is adorned with prints designed by Jim Lambie. The designer splashed prints inspired by “Acid Perm” (2002) and Lambie’s “Found Flower Painting” series onto T-shirts, scarves, silk jersey track suits and silk dresses. In addition, there were nappa leather jackets and coats.
“I’ve been an admirer of his work for ages, and I finally summoned the courage to ask him — Sadie Coles put in a good word for me,” said Norman, referring to the London gallerist. “This collection is all about the prints, but don’t overlook the leathers — they’ve got a real buttery glam to them.” Next up for Norman is a prints collaboration for fall with Keith Tyson. “He’s got a crazy, scientific brain,” she said.
Also on Thursday night, Cartier, the associate sponsor of Frieze, held a dinner at Bar Boulud at Knightsbridge’s Mandarin Oriental hotel to celebrate the house’s involvement with the fair. Guests included Phoebe Philo, Juergen Teller, David Adjaye, Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst and Lady Helen Taylor. Simon Fujiwara, the Berlin-based, British-Japanese artist who received this year’s Cartier Award, was also in attendance. Fujiwara’s prize was the sponsorship of his installation at Frieze, entitled “Frozen,” which took the form of a series of archeological sites of a fictitious lost city set into the fair’s floor, which could be seen through glass panels.
The week also drew Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld from New York, to host an exhibition through his company Feedback Ltd. of artist Nicolas Pol’s work. The show, at the Dairy exhibition space in Bloomsbury, drew guests including Tom Ford, Dasha Zhukova and Camilla Al Fayed.