Frieze Week Review 2018

Last week (1st – 7th October) was one of the busiest of London’s calendar as international galleries and collectors flocked to the Big Smoke. The main events were Frieze and Frieze Masters Art Fairs in Regent’s Park as well as the major Post-War and Contemporary sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

Both the Frieze fairs were very good; especially in comparison to the other events that pop up around them in the same week. The PAD fair in Berkley Square was a little irrelevant in light of the quality available in Regent’s Park. However, the general feeling amongst the trade was that Frieze Masters’ galleries were struggling to fill their booths with quite such high-quality offerings as they had managed in 2017. Highlights were as follows:

Olivier Malingue: a wonderful stand including a superb, gem-like, 1937 oil depicting Marie Therese Walter, a sensational Delvaux oil and a very cleanly worked, elegant Renoir portrait.

Acquavella: A sensational, if unusual, Wayne Thiebaud painting entitled ‘Office’ that was deftly painted and of real importance in comparison with his standard fare.

Gagosian: A huge exhibition of Man Ray from his esoteric paintings to his truly inventive sculpture it was a great treat to see it all in one setting.

Dickinson: The stand split opinion but I felt the effort in putting together the Hepworth-inspired St. Ives garden was outstanding. The works on show were also strong with a large ‘River Form’ (which was ‘reserved’ well before the fair) the lead sculpture amongst stringed pieces and wooden masterworks. On the back wall beneath a stuffed gull were some wonderful paintings too.

Spotlight: All the stands in the Spotlight section were well thought-out and provided an opportunity to see works of art from exotic parts of the world unbeknownst to any but the most intrepid collectors.

As to results I am not sure what the numbers were but none of the galleries seemed overly happy with results from the first few days. That said the majority of the sales take place on the last day or in the week after, so I shall keep my ear to the ground for any further news on market action.

The auctions were pretty mixed, but Sotheby’s had the better of the week despite the lesser numbers. Since Sotheby’s had had their major Contemporary sale in June there was no real pressure to add to their figures for the year. However, Christie’s had crazily decided to hold back on a June sale for this October and whilst the total figure of 148m GBP sounds impressive Sotheby’s have done 215m GBP in the same timeframe.

Sotheby’s sold a world-class Jenny Savile (exhibited in the 1997 ‘Sensation’ show: Charles Saatchi’s pioneering exhibition at the RA) for nearly 10m GBP which is a richly deserved figure for a giant of the YBA movement.