The youngest and formerly wildest child of important global art fairs went this year in its 8th edition. It seems, the kid is getting finally out of puberty and its excessive party days have faded towards a 'business-as-usual-attitude'.
This year, the dealers report good sales. However, the times of exorbitant high prices seem to be gone. Now, there are many works in the 4 to 5 digit price range. Some dealers present new talents for the first time at this fair: Kargl Gallery presented the London based painter Richard Zeiss and Emanuel Perrotin Gallery showed the large neon work 'Butterfly' of 2007 by the French artist Daniel Firman.
Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, attracted a lot of attention by showing a an instalation and a large number of small-scale drawings on paper by David Shrigley. Prices were starting below GBP 2,000.
As I remember Frieze in 2008, the average price of a traded work of art was a lot higher and that attracted many speculators, who were willing to 'hold' a work only to auction it off 2 years later with a substantial profit. There is nothing wrong with a profit, but this kind of speculation was without substance.
It is also quite evident, that some dealers of this recent boom time have difficulties to adapt to these 'back-to-normal-times,' when art was sold to collectors and museums only. However, White Cube Gallery reported the sale of the 2006 Damien Hirst installation 'The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths' for GBP 3,500,000. I think this is one of Damien's good works - and a lot better than his terrible recent oil paintings.
Even more than in Basel earlier this year, many dealers show art that is made from 'poor' materials and assembled in a seemingly careless way. This is a similar reaction of the art world after the boom of the 1980s, when post-minimal (like Gabriel Orozco's art) gained its popularity. I think this is again a counter-reaction of some artists and an increasing number of dealers against the shiny glamour of the recent art boom years.
There is also the simple mechanism, that the art market follows the financial success of a region's economy: This is the reason, why there is now a new interest for art from South-America. This year there was the great retrospective of Gabriel Orozco at the MoMA in New York. Tate will feature this show in a few months too. Here on Frieze art fair, there are for the first time eight galleries from South and Middle America.
As you could also see in Rivane Neuenschwander's great show at the New Museum in NYC, there is great art from this region. I am just somewhat tired about these simple relations after the trends for art from China, India, Middle East, Russia and now South America.
This year's winner of the Cartier award was Simon Fujiwara: For his 'Frozen City' installation, he created archeological digging sites of a fake ancient Roman city under the floor of the art fair's tent in Regent Park.
I think it is a great metaphor for the art world's current search for a new direction.
Frieze Art Fair 2010, Regent Partk, London, UK.
Through 17 October 2010