Frieze art fair has now come and gone. As FT was a media sponsor, I collected my pass and trotted along, curious to see if the artworld would be hugely effected by the current economic meltdown and euro crisis. Into its ninth year, it is bigger than I've ever remembered it to be. With 173 leading contemporary art galleries, representing 33 countries, and presenting work by over 1000 artists. A friend had already warned me to 'get there early' or I won't be able see all of it.
For all that is happening in the world, reports from the exhibiting galleries suggest good news. There have been reports trickling in of robust sales and of some booths already selling out on entire stocks especially amongst those who opted for the more saleable works such as drawings or paintings. I definitely noticed more 2D work rather 3D or installation pieces. Maybe in these current climates, buyers are a little more cautious and sticking to investing in the more traditional art-form like paintings.
By the time I got to row G, I was exhausted already. A quick pit-stop at Gails bakery for some coffee and cake did the trick. I wasn't the only one with that idea, the make-shift cafe was heaving and doing brisk business.
Frieze is also amazing for people-watching: bespectacled tweed wearing arty types mingling with sharp suited, orange-chinoed money men, laughing and deep in discussion. The women were even more impressive: some wearing death defying heels, coiffed and Botox filled. This place would give any fashion week a run for its money! I chased this girl down an aisle to get a shot of her amazing heel-less shoe.
Amusingly, eventhough I was surrounded by today's best contemporary artworks, one thing did cross my mind. Maybe it was because I had peaked early and by then was 'art out' but I couldn't help noticing the table set up in each gallery booth. The one piece of furniture that was needed so each gallery owner and staff could run their business affairs, talk to potential buyers, rest, eat and work on for the duration of the art fair. Each one different, unique, reflecting the taste and personality of the enterprise. Anyone who has participated in expos would know that there are pockets of each day in which there is lot of hanging around and time killing.
These series of photos put side by side, really illustrates the mini-world from within each gallery and what goes on behind the scenes. From simple, tiny benches to massive marble tables with assorted flower arrangements, mini libraries and iMacs. Their expressions...priceless.