Frieze Art Fair

  • London
  • United Kingdom
  • 2005-10-21

The Frieze Art Fair — held annually in Regent’s Park, London — is one of the biggest showcases of contemporary art in the world today. Over 160 of the most dynamic and influential galleries in the world exhibit work, and it brings together people connected to the art world from all over. The people being the main thing that makes this fair what it is: interesting, new, exciting, contemporary; yet it’s also pompous, snobby, money orientated and arrogant. Yes, there is a lot, and I mean a lot, of art on show — too much really to take in and to be critical about; it would take more than a week to look at each piece of work individually. So having given up on the art, I turned to the people. The artists at Frieze don suits with trainers and have slightly scruffy hair; the gallery owners have suits with shoes and neater hair; the buyers have suits with shiny shoes and perfect hair. It’s a strange world out there. Everyone is here to impress someone, and there is also a strange conformability in the air.

…and the so named artist is almost definitely the next Damien Hirst

Celebrities are at large, trying to keep up with what is “hip”, “cool” and “new” — Kate Moss and Jarvis Cocker being regular attendees. Artists are desperate for someone filthy rich to be turned on by their bunch of plastic bottles hanging from a clothes line — so that they can make a quick dollar. Gallery owners are frantically trying to convince buyers that their dollars need to be given to an artist from within their gallery, because it’s guaranteed to double its value in ten years and the so named artist is almost definitely the next Damien Hirst. It’s sad, and almost pathetic. There is desperation in the air to impress, and all this time the actual art is forgotten. Its like being at a used car auction and being told that this is the car of your dreams, when you haven’t even seen it and you know that it’s probably got no engine and will only last until the end of the week before the doors fall off.

…but nobody cares at Frieze as long as they are making money

The substance of the show is ignored — the art. And there are some fantastic artists on show. The old guard of David Hockney, Antony Gormley, Anselm Keifer, Patrick Heron and Barbara Hepworth are all showing, and their work being bought because of their name, and for no other reason. Then new artists such as Darren Almond (Turner Prize nominee), Jonathan Monk, Francis Alys, Erwin Wurm and Jim Lambie (another Turner Prize nominee) are all having work purchased purely on the fact that some rich guy has been told it will double its worth in time. It is a real shame, because if people actually took the time to look at the work they would realise that in 2005 the art world is at a very healthy point; a wide range of artists are producing work of a very high standard regularly — but nobody cares at Frieze as long as they are making money. “Stuff the art, let’s make money…”

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