Frieze Masters Art Fair; 6th-9th October 2016: A Review

Over the past four years Frieze Masters has been a welcome addition to the Frieze week mania that sweeps the London art world every October. It is also, in its own way, a welcome respite from its esoteric sister fair on the other side of Regent’s Park: Frieze.

 

The Masters fair showed works of art from the top end of the secondary market, albeit with a significantly more contemporary lean compared to previous gatherings. There were fewer antiquities stands, fewer old masters stands and more than enough galleries selling 1950 and 1960s Post-War & Contemporary. This is the way the market is going given how little real quality we are seeing by the great artists of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. However, there were notable highlights and these were they:

 

Dickinson: A Surrealist stand of immense quality. Tanguy to Tchelitchew, Picabia to Ernst the whole gamut of the Surreal was shown. Yet the show stopper of the whole fair was a Magritte of the ‘Empire of Light’ series. The first, in fact, of the whole series dating from 1949. At around 25m USD it was priced for the mega collectors.

 

Green: Some sensational little exhibitions within the stand itself including a small Nicholson show and a booth of Moore’s work too. Green’s approach to selling Modern British art is similar to their command of the Post-Impressionist market: deal in few names but deal in the best of the best (albeit under 2m USD). Moore and Nicholson sum up the best of Mod Brit and thus the highest prices can be asked.

 

Applicat Prazan: Frank Prazan is the master of French dealers in post-war and he had a top stand. A very rare Freundlich and a stunning Magnelli were amongst several A+ paintings on his stand.

 

Acquavella: Nic Acquavella had a very good stand; including a great Bonnard for 6m USD that was bought at auction this Spring and a super little Freud too.

 

Overall Frieze Masters was an outstanding fair and offers so much more than most fairs in this country. I remain a huge fan but I do wish that there was more of an effort made to attract traditional Old Master galleries who are falling on hard times at present. It is well worth a visit in 2017 and I would recommend it even beyond Masterpiece whose efforts to compete as a London art-selling hub are going to be tested next year.

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