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December 30 2011

October 15 2011

The best and worst of Frieze 2011 - review

Regent's Park, London

Frieze art fair has become a monster. A giddy, hilarious, silly-shoed one that looks slightly like a hedge-fund manager and slightly like a madcap genius and quite a lot like FUN. But still: a monster. After just eight years of existence, we now talk of "Frieze week": the seven days when, to coincide with Frieze's opening, London's galleries unleash their big guns.

The list of shows is staggering: Gerhard Richter at Tate Modern, with Tacita Dean in the Turbine Hall, Doug Aitken at Victoria Miro, Rebecca Warren at Mauren Paley, everyone and everything at the new White Cube. Tracey Emin, Jeremy Deller, Sarah Lucas, Ryan Gander, among others, have one-off works on show across London. And that's before you get to the big, white tents of Frieze in Regent's Park, packed with art art ART from all over the world.

Fine by me: I like being overstimulated and having too much to do. Plus, Frieze is amazing for people-watching: scruffy-bearded artists mingling with pink-chinoed money men, all sozzled and chatty. There are a lot of impressive women around: they stalk through the week, hard-boiled in Botox and Pantene. No matter what their age, their legs are slim and lovely.

On Tuesday, the day before Frieze opens, my art friend Louise sends me a list of parties and private views. We plan to hit the opening of White Cube Bermondsey, the Lisson Gallery party and finish off at the poolside shindig for Doug Aitken at Shoreditch House. But then Louise cries off with a cold, so I go to what I want instead. Which is: Charles Avery at Pilar Corrias and the Museum of Everything party. At the Charles Avery show – which builds on his Islanders project, with work including a utopian yet scary depiction of a shopping precinct – I bump into my artist friend Keith Wilson, plus Ian Dench, ex-EMF (who was an art student for one year, pop fact fans). We go to the pub for a bit with their mates. "Don't peak too early," I am advised. "It's like a massive wedding. There are parties all week."

Yes, but some of us have only one night out. So off to the Museum of Everything party I trot. Held in a derelict hotel behind Selfridges, also the site for the Judith Scott retrospective (runs until 25 Oct), this turns out to be a proper, old-school, warehouse knees-up: big queues for the portable lavatories, free booze and plenty of it. A brass band plays bonkers mariachi. People wear stupid hats. It's great.

The partygoers mingle between Scott's colourful wrapped pieces, which hang in groups from the ceiling. Judith Scott, who died in 2005 aged 61, was born deaf and with Down's syndrome. She was institutionalised until her 40s, when she started making art. I really recommend this exhibition: not just for the artwork, which is impressive, but also for the environment – it's so exciting to be in a big, rough space slap in the middle of London.

M of E also has a group show, displaying pieces made by artists with learning disabilities, held in a series of ram-a-jam rooms at the bottom of Selfridges (to 25 Oct). I found it very moving; there is some beautiful work. You're left with interesting questions, too: can a creation actually be art if its creator doesn't – or can't – classify it that way?

At Frieze proper, on Wednesday afternoon, we queue between barriers like we're at the log flume at Disneyland. Once in, the fair is bewilderingly big. I sit down to consult my map and see Matthew Slotover, Frieze's co-founder. He tells me that "you need to do your research before you come". All the artworks at Frieze are online and you can search for, say, "European photographers under 35". I've done no research at all. Still, I wander about and manage to clock the Chapman brothers' warped Virgin and child piece, Michael Landy's Heath Robinson machine, which chews up credit cards, and Pierre Huyghe's aquarium, one of Frieze's commissions. A hermit crab bobbles about, wearing a shell that looks like a Brancusi head, clacking its pincers, happy in its new home. The aquarium is in a darkened room, lovely and restful.

Slotover tells me that this year, although buyers are cautious, there isn't the panicky feeling that there was during Frieze 2008. Then, the fair came straight off the back of the collapse of Lehman Brothers "and no one was buying anything, not art, not property, nothing for about three months". He says that worries about the euro are holding some back – the majority of buyers at Frieze come from Europe and the US – but that Latin Americans are investing. "They buy more contemporary stuff, by living artists under 50. And they live with the work, rather than put it into storage. It's not a trophy or an investment." Unlike the Russians, apparently, who are still in search of blue-chip, high-end, modern works.

I wonder if anyone will buy Christian Jankowski's piece, which is all about art and money. He has bought a beautiful motorboat, made by a specialist boat builder, and is offering it for €500,000. Or €625,000 if Jankowski adds his name, in shiny letters, to it. The letters are scattered on the carpet, waiting. You can also commission a 65-metre super-yacht, via him, at €65m; €75m with his name plaque.

Jankowski is a cheerful bloke. We have a chat: he says he's trying to stop rich buyers just investing in a Picasso and then displaying it "with matching cushions in the colours of the Picasso". He wants to encourage them to be more imaginative. "Maybe they want a boat. With this, if they use the boat, and it's not an artwork, its value goes down. But if it's art, its value should go up." I can't believe that anyone will buy it, but he says he's had interest from one lady, who is bringing her husband to see him on Saturday.

Frame is my favourite section of Frieze. Established in 2008, it showcases smaller galleries, which are allowed to exhibit just one artist in their allotted space. The floor is uncarpeted, there's a rougher feel. Mostly, the work is made by younger people, though I was happy to see that Channa Horwitz, who's almost 80, is displaying her playful sequences at Aanant & Zoo. At Hunt Kastner, a gallery from Prague, I liked Eva Kot'átková's work: her collages of old books and photographs, as well as a slideshow, cluster and fold together. Apparently, she's exploring identity disorder, where troubled individuals create parallel personas to cope with their roles in society. We can all relate.

Outside Frame, in the main corridors, which increasingly resemble an out-of-town mall, or an insane asylum, I pop into Gavin Brown's enterprise, winner of the Stand prize. Bright canvases by Joe Bradley and poppy pieces by Martin Creed encircle an enormous golden, folded coat hanger by Mark Handforth. I dislike that one.

Still, at Frieze, as soon as you've seen something you hate, you fall over something you like. Casey Kaplan, a New York gallery, has given over its whole space to Matthew Brannon. There are handpainted posters, little railway station signs, a collection of coloured bottles. On the wall hang two coats: the detective's and the dentist's. Naughty ladies peek out from the coat pockets; a ribbon with "my fingers in your mouth" hangs from a collar. Brannon has written a murder mystery that takes place in several countries (there's an accompanying exhibition opening in New York) and his work offers clues to the story. The whole thing is entrancing: funny, detailed, confusing. I have found a new artist to follow.

Frieze is an overlit, overpeopled, overheated carnival of excess that has given me a couple of new images to mull over. I hold them close, to calm me down, and leave before my migraine kicks in.


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My Frieze week - in pictures

It's the biggest week in Britain's art calendar when thousands of visitors come to check out the fair and London's galleries unleash their big guns. Art-world figures, including artists Tracey Emin and Polly Morgan, pick their highlights from Frieze 2011 and the dozens of other shows across the capital



October 14 2011

Frieze's Neon lights the way to artistic appreciation

Zoe Williams falls in love with OH DEED I DO and Marxist Disco Cancelled but wonders if it's because they're like something someone would say on Twitter

Neon is huge at the Frieze art fair this year. Tracey Emin has a work in neon that says: "And I said I love you." I'm trying not to nitpick about tenses and punctuation here. It's hard, because if the second verb isn't going to match the first, it really needs some quote marks round it. Curses! It slipped out.

Glenn Ligon was showing a neon piece entitled Warm Broad Glow II, which said "negro sunshine". That's controverso-neon.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster was showing a neon sign that said After, so I looked around for a Before because they'd definitely want you to buy them both, but there wasn't one; so maybe this was apocalypto-neon. You think I'm making some lame point about how neon can be art, when clearly the artist just got it made by a neon-factory.

On the contrary, I understand the ready-made tradition because I heard a programme about it once: you don't have to make the object. You just have to choose the object, and then it is art, so long as you are an artist. This tradition is referenced and, if you like, defamiliarised in Claire Fontaine's work, THIS NEON SIGN WAS MADE BY VLADIMIR RUSTINOV FOR THE REMUNERATION OF ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-NINE THOUSAND RUBLES. I couldn't tell what was a bin and what was an installation.

The ready made idea hits its apotheosis though, not in neon, but in a boat: Christian Jankowski bought it for £60m as a boat, but is selling it as art for £75m. My first thought was that that's quite a wedge, since it's small; but I'm looking at the wrong one. The Aquariva Cento, showing here, is only €500,000 (£438,000) when it's a boat – as art, it's €625,000.

I think it looks sinister and dangerous on its carpet covered mount, too expensive and shiny to survive on land, an apocalyptically costly accident just waiting to happen. But I think that when I see little boats on trailers going down the motorway. I should say that I'm impressed by the consistency of the markup. If it was 20% on the big boat and 10% on the little boat, that wouldn't be art; that would just be a scam.

This is the fanciest crowd in London, most of their hair is a work of art in its own right, and they all whisper, either out of respect or inhibition; the only people you can hear are the ones who are fighting.

The soundscape is like a conch, with the occasional explosion of "excuse me, I take exception to that" and "rubbish!" I approach a giant book, Michael Johnson's Slaying the Dragon, I guess pretty true to the original, except giant.

My sister told me once that I had to remake the parameters of my appreciation to take into account how ill-educated I was. "Relying on your own taste works in theory," she said, "but not if you don't have any."

In the spirit of remaking, I fall in love with a wonderful large canvas by Dan Colen that says OH DEED I DO, and a cool poster by Scott King that says Marxist Disco Cancelled, but I don't know that's just because they're like something someone would say on Twitter.

The French artist Marine Hugonnier appears in the show with a wall of front pages of the Guardian, some stories redacted in vivid primary colours, from the late 70s and early 80s. UN Calls on Iran to Free Hostages, reads one headline.

Labour Pushed Closer to the Brink by Owen, reads another. "Good old Guardian, still going on about the same old bollocks after all these years," I think is the message.

Someone approaches the gallerist and asks whether you can get them separately. No, you really need to keep all 17 of them together. Otherwise that's totally not funny.

I started off sounding a little bit like Richard Littlejohn ("my five-year-old could do better than that!"), and by the end, it's as if he's crawled into my head. But don't listen to me – it's pure envy, that other people can see things so feelingly. That's all it is.


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Frieze talks 2011: Do you speak Globish?

With its catchy phrases and light vocabulary, Globish is fast becoming the art world's dominant language. But is it changing the way we see art?

English is the main language of the art world – and not just in London and New York. Go to an exhibition opening in Berlin, Mexico City or Beijing, and you're sure to hear English spoken with a wide array of foreign accents. Artists, curators, gallerists – whatever their native tongues – no longer even ask if you speak English. Kosovan artist Jakup Ferri's confessional video – An Artist Who Cannot Speak English is No Artist (2003) – suggests artists should study English alongside drawing, sculpture and photography.

The French businessman Jean-Paul Nerrière argues that the art world doesn't speak English so much as Globish (short for Global English). It's how non-native English speakers communicate with each other. Nerrière wrote Don't Speak English … Parlez Globish! (2004) as both a manifesto and a guide to learning the new language with a lightweight vocabulary of only 1,500 words. There are trees but no species; there are vegetables but "potato" seems to be the only one.

To make up for the 600,000-plus words in the Oxford English Dictionary, Globish uses simpler yet longer formulations: "kitchen" becomes "the room where you cook". Niece, "the daughter of my brother". Native anglophones often have trouble communicating with globophones, who use a more inventive vocabulary. "We have an understandment," two globophones – one Swedish, the other German – once confided to me about their exchanges. Given these differences, could British schools soon be teaching Globish as a foreign language alongside French, Spanish or Chinese?

Globish seems to have filled the art world with a more specialised vocabulary. Fashionable terms such as transgression, dystopia and disobedience have bled into the titles of works while losing meaning for artists and audiences. That's what the Dutch artist Nicoline van Harskamp argues in her video The New Latin (2010). An artist's native tongue often becomes weighed down by English art jargon in the wall captions, press releases and magazine reviews which accompany their work.

It seems likely, then, that Globish has contributed to the rise of theory and concepts in contemporary art and criticism. What debate is complete without a nod to Michel Foucault's biopolitics, Jacques Rancière's aesthetic unconscious and everybody's "criticality"? The American literary scholar Jonathan Arac has made a similar argument about literary criticism in a global age. Theories and concepts lend themselves to abstractions which are easier to communicate than feelings and individual preferences.

Culinary taste offers a good comparison. You can probably name your favourite French wine, but try explaining – in French – its particular bouquet and why you love it. Like food, art has an impact on our bodily senses through colours, shapes and endless associations. By contrast, a theory can always be reduced to a one-liner: transgression, dystopia, disobedience.

Harskamp, however wary of jargon, embraces English. "[It] belongs to me as much as it belongs to an American," she says in her video. "Why not reclaim and co-opt the language that was imposed on us? And then celebrate it?"

I can only agree, as editor of the fully bilingual frieze d/e (d stands for Deutsch and e for English). A new publication of frieze, frieze d/e focuses on Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Those who read our German texts are native speakers, but the majority of our English readers are globophones, including many Germans. I try to cut down on the art jargon – not just words such as "criticality" but curiosities such as "spatial interventions" – while ensuring that the English remains accessible. To date, we've used more than 1,500 words. But we try to put them together in the most readable way.


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Frieze: art fair or fashion show?

Frieze art fair 2011 was awash with statement glasses, designer handbags and shoes worth thousands. Just the latest example of the art world getting it on with fashion

- See the Guardian's vox pops with the Frieze fashion crowd

As a Frieze virgin, I expected to see certain kinds of art on display: an installation featuring a loo seat perched on a stool here, yet another painting featuring testicles there. This is an event created with the purpose of showcasing new artists and, hopefully, selling their work. It is a modern art extravaganza. I also expected a splash of interesting fashions. But I don't think I was fully prepared for how much 'fashion' would be on show. As I approached Regents Park yesterday morning, it was immediately apparent, in the same way you can tell the location of a fashion show by the number of women standing outside in very high shoes, that I was in the presence of the art set. And without a pair of striking glasses, I felt as if I may as well have come to the thing totally bloody naked.

So what do the art set wear? Once inside, I was confronted by a smorgasbord of designer handbags. Once inside, it was a game of spot the Tracey Emin-esque neon light pieces and dodge the Hermès handbag. And if they weren't Hermès, then they were Chanel. The other unexpected sartorial spot was that for every woman sporting a sort of quirky, artsy hairdo or a slightly odd shoe, there were at least five pairs of ludicrously tall, over-the-top, fashion week friendly statement sandals.

I don't know why I was so surprised by all this designer clobber, art dealers and collectors obviously have cash to splash. This isn't the Affordable Art Fair, after all. Plus, the crossover of fashion with art is longstanding. In the past few years, Gavin Turk has worked with Stella McCartney, Tracey Emin has posed for Vivienne Westwood and Louis Vuitton on Bond Street hosts regular art bashes and has a permanent art book shop on it's first floor.

This season there are also various arty-fashion hook ups of note: Cindy Sherman appearing in a campaign for MAC cosmetics, Nan Goldin shooting for Jimmy Choo, Acne teaming up with artist Daniel Silver to create a range of clothes. This Saturday, Dazed & Confused and Converse will partner up to announce the winner of their Emerging Artists Award in association with Whitechapel Gallery.

For the second year in a row, the high-street store Cos has sponsored the Frieze's Frame section, an area dedicated to solo artist presentations. It's a partnership that makes total sense: the brand produce the kinds of simple, colourful, well-designed pieces that you can imagine a certain element of the art crowd loving. During yesterday's press launch brunch, brand director Marie Honda said that the team at Cos are always inspired by the arts and excited to see all the new talents at Frieze. "This morning walking through Regent Park it was great to see how people really dress up for this occasion," she said.

Other Frieze fashion related highlights: two incidents of gold corduroy in quick succession, one suit, one pair of slacks; a lot of jackets perched on shoulders; many fancy scarves draped elaborately around both men and women's necks; Nike trainers; smartly cut trouser suits on women; double-breasted jackets on men.

Special mention to Matias Faldbakken for his piece entitled Golfbag, which is essentially a golf bag full of concrete. This is very Prada spring/summer 2012- during their Milan menswear show models appeared on the catwalk wearing golf-style shoes and carting printed golf bags by their sides.


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Frieze art fair: vox pops with the fashion crowd

This year's Frieze art fair was packed to the rafters with fashion conscious art lovers. Sara Ilyas grabbed some time with a select few



Frieze art fair 2011: 'It's got remarkable vitality'

London's Frieze art fair attracts people from all corners of the art world. Starting with Tate director Nicholas Serota, they explore their fascination with some of this year's pieces



Turner prize, Frieze, Wilhelm Sasnal – the week in art

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Jonathan Jones's top shows to see this week

Turner prize 2011
This year the north-east plays host to the most controversial and influential art prize in the world. A promising shortlist boasts George Shaw (yeah!), Hilary Lloyd, Karla Black and Martin Boyce.
• At Baltic, Gateshead, from 21 October until 8 January 2012

George Condo
Crazy and to be honest, really fascinating American painter, schlocky and sensational, this show promises to one of the autumn's best surprises.
• At Hayward Gallery, London SE1, from 18 October until 8 January 2012

Wilhelm Sasnal
A powerful and haunting German modern painter – what, another? – exhibits eerily ambiguous works.
• At Whitechapel Gallery, London E1, from 14 October until 1 January 2012

Anri Sala
Sound and vision resonate in this show by the Albanian film and video artist.
• At Serpentine Gallery, London W2, until 20 November

Kerry Tribe
Ghosts and space travel are among the themes of Kerry Tribe's Dead Star Light. Obviously not the real themes – it's about memory and time and stuff like that.
• At Modern Art Oxford until 20 November

Up close: five artworks in detail

Rodin, The Thinker, first cast 1902
A massive figure rests head on hand in an image of melancholy that goes back to medieval carvings such as the Queen in the Lewis Chessmen. Rodin first created his Thinker as a pensive witness to the sufferings of the damned on his swarming Gates of Hell, a vision of Dante's Inferno. Later, large versions were cast and it became the modern world's icon of introspection.
• At Burrell Collection, Glasgow

William Blake, Milton, c1800-1803
Blake wrote that Milton was of the devil's party but did not know it. He believed the real energy of the 17th-century republican's poem Paradise Lost lies in the rebellion of Satan. His portrait of Milton is the visionary communication of one great mind with another.
• At Manchester Art Gallery

Goya, Interior of a Prison, c1810-14
All the clawing anxieties that shape the mad universe of Goya's darkest paintings pervade the sepulchral depths of a prison in this sublime painting. Here is a glaring example of how Britain's art collections can be overlooked: this vision of cruelty and suffering would grace any museum in the world ... how fantastic that it glowers in County Durham.
• At the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham

Rembrandt, Portrait of Titus, c1658
The art of Rembrandt is as enduring as his life was fragile. Rembrandt suffered so much, including many bereavements. His son, portrayed here with such love, died before him. But in art, young Titus will live forever.
• At Wallace Collection, London W1

Manet, The Execution of Maximilian, c1867-8
Manet takes traditional genres and makes them new. His idea of modern painting is to deliberately, and constantly, reveal how modern life disfigures and traduces the old nobilities, as expressed in artistic tradition. In this great, damaged work he turns to the genre of history painting to show the brutality and cynicism of modern politics.
• At National Gallery, London WC2

What we learned this week

Why Chloe Sevigny is encouraging us to "Never stagnate, never stop" – and perhaps to take up pole-dancing

Why a giant egg, peeking eyes, pecking pigeons and a Paramount Pictures peak have come together

How Adrian Searle and Sarah Lucas ended up in bed together

What David Hockney, Kristen Scott Thomas and Ed Vaizey's favourite artworks are

How a hermit crab made a Brâncuşi head his happy new home

Image of the week

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October 13 2011

Frieze sculpture park: a parallel art world

From a door to nowhere to a 30ft red rose, artists Gavin Turk, Thomas Houseago, Claudia Fontes and Will Ryman talk us through their creations



Fantasy art auction

Look at the artworks presented here – all from Frieze 2011 – and tell us what you would bid for each one. When you've finished, we'll tell you how closely your valuations match the real price tags



October 12 2011

Frieze 2011: A crab with a head for art

A goat posing as Rodin's Thinker, a crustacean in a cast, a peat-bog woman covered in semen: Adrian Searle gives his verdict on Frieze 2011

God, I feel old, traipsing around the ninth Frieze art fair. I feel like I have been here for almost a decade. It turns out I have. I have become a stranger to daylight. Someone said I looked like a B-boy in my patent hi-top trainers, but I had to ask a passing curator what a B-boy is. A very bad band was rapping about "Having sex with them" in LuckyPDF's spot, where the Peckham collective is making live recordings and daily TV broadcasts. Peckham is the new Shoreditch, I hear. Better get down there quick.

I didn't know who was supposed to be having sex with whom, and the band all looked so studiedly youthful that I left, in search of a makeover. You can get one at A Gentil Carioca's stand. The gallery is from Rio de Janeiro. Your chair awaits, along with the lights, mirrors, jars of unguents and a real makeup artist. The trouble is the makeover: the scheme, in this project by Laura Lama, is to make you look older. I told the makeup artist I'd already had the treatment and was really only 16, but I don't think she believed me. Some of the collectors wandering about look a million years old, but I don't think they've been slathered, in latex and instant-wrinkle cream either.

You age by the minute in here. One alarming sculpture, by Romanian-born Andra Ursuta, is a lifesize body cast, showing the artist as an iron-age mummy, preserved by being buried for millennia in a northern European peat bog. I notice her hi-tops are still intact. She is also covered in a copious quantity of fake, glistening semen. This is not the sort of thing one can easily overlook. Ursuta's abject sculpture is actually one of the better examples of a kind of figurative sculpture that is always with us: by turns jokey, laughable, stupid and extreme, in a frequently pointless and tiresome way.

A monstrous, trudging god (like the last man to finish a gruelling marathon) has a patch of stinging nettles growing out of his back. This is by Folkert de Jong, and it's called the New Deal. It looks like a very old deal to me.

Better is the billy-goat costume that artist Paweł Althamer has travelled the world wearing, following the journeys of a Polish children's-book character. The goat is now taking a breather, sitting in the pose of Rodin's The Thinker, but looking a bit stunned. Elsewhere, Darren Lago has morphed Rodin's 1891 Monument to Balzac with Mickey Mouse. Why, I ask, but can't really be bothered to find out. I don't care that much. The fair is too big, and there isn't time. What collectors do with this stuff is a better question: stick it in the corner of the living room, frighten the kiddies with it?

Some of this art is for the birds. A flock of funny little bronze birds by Ugo Rondinone peck at an achingly white floor. A stuffed goose by Javier Téllez regards a little Brancusi-like tower of enormous golden eggs (this must be a metaphor about the art world); while a live hermit crab has taken a bronze cast of Brancusi's 1910 Sleeping Muse as its new home in Pierre Huyghe's aquarium, one of the better of this year's commissioned Frieze projects. This is odd and extremely beautiful. The art-encumbered crab clambers over the rocks, oblivious that the hollowed-out head it is wearing is art. Or perhaps it knows perfectly well who Brancusi is.

It is certainly a great deal more lively and lovely than Christian Jankowski's motor yacht, which punters can buy either as an expensive pleasure boat – or, for a bit more dosh, as an artwork. I find this a witless and trivial Duchampian gag. "Oh no," I imagine the proud new owner saying, "this isn't my expensive new yacht, this is an artwork for which I paid over the odds just so I can tell you about it and show off my extreme sophistication, my sense of humour and my utter lack of taste".

Bananas are in this year. I counted two, but there could be more. A stuffed chimp, teetering on a pile of heavy-duty art books reaches for one, dangling from on high in a work by Elmgreen and Dragset, and the other is spotlit, suspended on fishing line, like an indoor new moon, in a work by Urs Fischer. Work is perhaps not the word. (Neither are as good as the cameo-role banana in Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, which Harold Pinter refused to act with or, rather, eat.)

More poignantly, on an otherwise empty stand, Michael Sailstorfer beams in live webcam footage from a woodland in Germany. He has painted the ground around some trees black, and the ground is slowly getting covered in fallen leaves. I keep looking, hoping to see furtive goings-on, but so far it is just a dappled autumn afternoon. In my mind, I twin this work with just about the only memorable sculpture dotted about Regent's Park. It is just a battered old domestic door, standing ajar in its frame, and remade in bronze by Gavin Turk. A door on to nothing, a passage to nowhere.

At the entrance to the fair, Scottish artist Cara Tolmie dances and whinnies, walks and talks and spins in a revolving chair. Part banshee, part kookaburra, part diva and part lecturer, Tolmie creates a daily performance that ends with a lecture, weaving a narrative about space and territory, action and language. It is funny, self-deprecating, piling layer upon layer of talk, song and movement, only to deconstruct it all at the end.

Laure Prouvost's signs dotted about give you pause. "Ideally in this room would be a busy African market," says one. Another: "The fifth floor is wonderful." Obviously, there is no fifth floor – but there is a market, stuffed with stuff.

You have to work at Frieze to get much out of it. Fairs may be the worst places in the world for looking at art, but you have to thank Frieze for giving a little shock therapy to the gallery schedules. This autumn sees more great shows than I can remember: Gerhard Richter, Tacita Dean, Pipilotti Rist, Wilhelm Sasnal.

Inside the fair, it's hard to remember the recession, but somehow gestures like Jankowski's boat begin to look obscene in the light of it, however critical his intentions. Even Pierre Huyghe's crab starts to have a decadent, underwater air. I think I'll have a banana.


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Peter Duggan's Artoons – Frieze art fair

In this week's send-up of the art world, cartoonist Peter Duggan looks ahead to the Frieze art fair 2011, which kicks off on 13 October in Regent's Park, London



October 11 2011

Frieze week 2011: the best of the rest

Beyond the fair's epicentre in London's Regent's Park, there are tonnes of art events happening in venues around the capital

"Frieze week" has come to mean a lot more than global galleries and minted collectors descending on the eponymous art fair's tent in Regent's Park. From momentous museum commissions – such as Tacita Dean's latest contribution to the Unilever Series in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall – to risky one-off projects by younger artists, it's the signal for a London-wide explosion of standout shows. For art lovers, the choice on offer can be daunting. Here's the breakdown.

The young guns

There's a bit of rising art-star sparkle in all corners of the city. Topping the list is this year's winner of the Silver Lion award for most promising youngster at the Venice Biennale. British sculptor Haroon Mirza's Camden Arts Centre show contains kinetic configurations of furniture, turntables and synths, doubling as hand-built techno soundscapes. Ed Atkins is another newbie picking up accolades and exhibition slots like lint. His high-definition video art pairs the messy workings of the body with the hard, shiny surface of material culture in a fever-dream of colour and music. You can't get away from it this week. He's got an Art Now Tate Britain show, new work in Frieze's film programme and a collaboration with Mirza and James Richards being premiered at Chisenhale Gallery.

The ICA has wunderkind twentysomething Jacob Kassay's singed silver mirror paintings, which seemingly came from nowhere to reach shock auction prices last year. At the other end of the scale there's Emma Hart at Matt's Gallery. This young artist, known for her adventures stalking farm animals with her handheld video camera, makes work that crackles with low-fi ingenuity.

The legends

Gerhard Richter isn't the only artist in town with his name in the history books. White Cube is opening its third space – a 1.7-acre converted warehouse in Bermondsey – with three shows featuring some very big names: Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky, Jeff Wall, Brice Marden and the Chapman brothers … the list goes on. Then there are Franz West's towering, gloopy sculptures on the roof of the ICA. And up the road, Haunch of Venison says goodbye to the ample rooms at the back of the Royal Academy with a survey of Frank Stella's output over the last 50 years – proving there's a lot more to the minimalist master than stripe paintings. Meanwhile, a generation on from Stella, feminist figurehead Joan Jonas is at Wilkinson showing her 1994 video installation Volcano Saga, in which Tilda Swinton plays a medieval visionary, floating in a dreamland combining aspects of Iceland and New York.

The cream

London's commercial galleries make the most of Frieze and there's a slew of free shows by top-notch names to choose from. Steal a march on the major survey of George Condo's exquisite, savage paintings of clowns, butlers, monster women and the Queen, opening at the Hayward next week, with his recent drawings at Sprueth Magers. Doug Aitken's latest video installation, Black Mirror, at Victoria Miro, injects more of his trademark big-screen gloss into video art, with indie queen and fashion it-girl Chloë Sevigny lost in an alienating world of endless travel.

The journey goes inward with Charles Avery's latest giant drawing at Pilar Corrias, which moves further into the quizzical, quixotic terrain of "the Island", his private world where philosophy, imagination and an isolated community's eccentricity converge. Maureen Paley is showing new sculpture by Rebecca Warren, an artist who tackles the sexual overtones in work by a cabal of deified male artists from Giacometti to R Crumb with ribald wit. Meanwhile, Cory Arcangel's interest in outdated tech sees him making art with an automated pencil plotter machine (anyone remember them?) and a remixed basketball video game at Lisson.

The one-offs

Catch these fleeting events and shows while you can. Tracey Emin is creating a site-specific exhibition in a Georgian house on Fitzroy Square, which includes Picasso-inspired self-portraits and hand-woven tapestries. For her week-long artist's residency at St John's Hotel, Emin's great friend and collaborator from Brit art's glory days Sarah Lucas can be found in bed and at the bar. She'll be shooting the breeze while making new work developing her earlier "Nuds" sculptures: lumpy hermaphrodite creations from old nude tights that suggest innards and men and women's dangly bits.

Another Turner laureate, Jeremy Deller, has turned curator at the Fine Art Society. Well-known for his love of offbeat folk art, Deller puts out a selection of paintings here including work by such historical greats as Walter Sickert and Eric Ravilious, alongside two of Britain's best-known contemporary stars, Peter Doig and Chris Ofili. You can listen in on what painters make of the challenges facing their medium as artist Michael Stubbs sits down with another two of contemporary art's biggest names, Glenn Brown and Keith Tyson, for a debate at Laurent Delaye Gallery. And for those with stamina, the Serpentine's Marathon art weekend is a non-stop relay of talks and performances. Taking its lead from the Piet Oudolf garden inside the current Peter Zumthor-designed gallery pavilion, the sixth instalment is themed around "the garden" and features over 50 artists, architects, scientists, musicians and more, including documentary maker Adam Curtis and sci-fi author Brian Aldiss.

The other art fairs

If you need a breather from all the contemporary art, the Pavilion of Art and Design is an alternative fair with galleries specialising in work by modern masters, tribal art, photography and leading design-as-art operations such as London's Carpenters Workshop Gallery.

Finally, as the week draws to a close you can cool your heels at the Sunday art fair, a three-day congregation of young, small galleries with an underground indie flavour and a more laid-back approach. The on-site watering hole, Bryan's Bar, has cocktails from arch-conceptualist Ryan Gander's recipe book and an art pub quiz hosted by Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams.


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The fine art of making money

As autumn's art fairs begin, the art market gets wealthier. Is it because the financial elite who buy it continue to prosper?

The financial value of art is one of the mysteries of the modern world. If a painting called Salvator Mundi that appears in this autumn's Leonardo da Vinci exhibition is indeed universally accepted as a Leonardo, and then put on sale, it might fetch about £120m – a tidy sum, but as it is a Leonardo, scarcely out of proportion to the mad prices art now commands. If a Hirst auction can raise £70.5m, surely a painting by Leonardo should logically be worth a lot more than £120m.

But none of this is very rational. The Frieze art fair and all the commercial gallery openings that constellate around it will once again confirm that London is a hub of the contemporary art market. But why has this market fizzed on so relentlessly when the rest of the economy spluttered and slowed?

The financial crash in 2008 was predicted to hit the art market hard – at least that's how it looked in the brief period when bankers were scared for their livelihoods. At the Frieze art fair that autumn, a leading artist worried that her new show coincided with the crash. That winter, artists (like other people) were planning for tougher times. But for the gallery and auction house world the times have not turned out too tough.

To see how art prices have continued to increase since 2008, consider the case of Andy Warhol. Art Market Monitor points out that seven of the top 10 prices ever paid for Warhol paintings have been recorded since 2008. But Picasso has been the biggest beneficiary of the continuing art boom: in 2010 his 1932 painting Nude, Green Leaves and Bust sold at auction for £70m.

The reasons for the enduring, and gobsmacking, wealth of the art world are not hard to see. The money that funded the art boom before 2008 came from the financial sector. Hedge-fund star Steve Cohen bought Damien Hirst's shark for $8m in one feted episode.

What happened to Cohen in 2008? He did fine – Forbes ranks him today at the 35th richest man in America. And that is the obvious point. The financial elite whose irresponsible dealings and in some cases manifest incompetence did so much to cause the 2008 crisis did not, themselves, come crashing down – they continued to prosper. Now they speculate against the governments that stepped in to save the City and Wall Street. Will the ongoing second crisis bring down this elite? Want to bet on it?

So – wealth sails on, and so do the art fairs and dealers who cater to it with art, the ultimate luxury. Good thing or bad thing?


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