A digest of the Financial Times’s Collecting supplement, specially published for Frieze week
Museum-quality rare objects
In ‘Fantasy in a Cold Climate’, Susan Moore talks to returning Frieze Masters exhibitor Donald Ellis about his upcoming curated presentation at the fair, Two Thousand Years of Inuit Art, which will feature “the most important prehistoric Inuit ivory in existence” and an unique Yup’ik mask:
In pride of place — and accorded its own room — is the Yup’ik mask of about 1890-1905, which belonged to the Italian-American Surrealist painter and sculptor Enrico Donati (1909-2008). Arguably the most arresting and important example remaining in private hands, it is certainly the most valuable. This museum-quality rarity, complete with a wide grin of pointed teeth, appended hands, fibres and feathers, belongs to a group of 12 shamanic “weather” masks evidently made by two distinct hands.
Arts Editor Jan Dalley foregrounds the Sex Work section, curated by Alison M. Gingeras at Frieze London (‘In Praise of Older Women Artists’), and featured artists Judith Bernstein, Renate Bertlmann, Mary Beth Edelson, Marilyn Minter, Penny Slinger and Betty Tompkins:
Sex Work [...] brings together the work of radical and feminist artists who choose to make art that is not just frank and fearless about sex and bodily depiction, but positively transgressive. [...] There are nine women artists under the Sex Work umbrella, shown in the fair by a dozen galleries (Marilyn Minter is exhibited by no fewer than three). Often these galleries have supported their artists through thick and thin over the years, and Gingeras is keen to pay them tribute for a steadfastness that is, sadly, not too common in the art world.
Melanie Gerlis finds fair exhibitors like Gagosian, Luxembourg & Dayan, Hauser & Wirth and Waddington Custot (with a recreation of Peter Blake’s studio) are utilising special environments and creating narratives in their fair presentations (We Want to Tell a Story):
There is even more than the usual creative spirit in the London air. Luxembourg & Dayan, no stranger to inventive booths, is rebuilding the home of Italian artist Enrico Baj, including a scruffy sofa shipped from the outskirts of Milan to Regent’s Park for its Frieze Masters booth. Gagosian gallery is turning its Masters booth into a version of a room at the 1989 Bilderstreit exhibition in Cologne’s Ludwig Museum for the unlikely pairing of Georg Baselitz and Roy Lichtenstein, including Lichtenstein’s “Paintings: Oriental Still Life” (1984), which was in the original show. Waddington Custot plans to recreate the living space and studio of British Pop artist Peter Blake. “Hanging a bunch of paintings on a wall is not enough, we want to tell a story,” says Stefan Ratibor, director of Gagosian.
A once-in-a-decade performance
At Frieze London this week, Starr will put on her first work in the capital in almost a decade as part of Frieze Projects. “Androgynous Egg” is a 20-minute presentation — a dreamlike sequence of strange happenings performed by five dancer-vocalists and a singer whose head appears to be sitting, decapitated, on a table. It’s about initiation, says Starr: “There is an idea of rebirth, there’s also this very particular education element to it — learning a new way to communicate through breathing and poems and gesture.”
Ralph Rugoff tells Peter Aspden how art can engage with a “post-truth” era, and some of the highlights of Frieze Talks 2017, including “Alt-feminisms”, the conversation between Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Philippe Parreno and singing session with Nástio Mosquito and Mx Justin Vivian Bond (‘A Matter of Facts’):
The programme, not finalised at the time of writing, includes a panel on “Alt-feminisms”; a “performance-conversation” between artists Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Philippe Parreno; and a session of “sung lectures”. The message is clear: at a time when truth is crumbling in the public sphere, under the pressure of internet misbehaviour and outright demagoguery, art must continue to challenge itself by taking on new forms.
The programme looks, at the very least, highly entertaining: the “sung lectures” will feature the Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito in dialogue with the transgender cabaret artist Mx Justin Vivian Bond. Mosquito, says Rugoff, is “one-third stand-up comic, one-third pop singer and one-third critical thinker, giving a lecture”, while Bond is able “to sing mainstream show tunes in time-honoured tradition but then to twist them in a way that takes them to a whole other dimension”.
Range and juxtapositions
Emma Crichton-Miller explores the growing diversity of offering at Frieze Masters (‘Cabinets and Curiosities’), including the range and quality of items included in Collections with exhibitors Ulrich Fiedler, The Gallery of Everything, Benjamin Spademan, Martin Doustar and Paul Hughes:
Fine decorative objects — whether an Ancient Egyptian mummified falcon at Rupert Wace Gallery, Byzantine finger-rings at Les Enluminures, 13th-century Ethiopian crosses at Sam Fogg or early Ptolemy atlases from Daniel Crouch Rare Books, from periods when all fine making was art and all art purposeful — are increasingly on view. This eclecticism is particularly evident in the Collections section of the fair […] with objects ranging from a carved idol of the Bactrian culture, third millennium BC (€30,000) to an early Bauhaus tea pot by Theodor Bogler (£125,000).
Collections curator Sir Norman Rosenthal tells Crichton-Miller: “I always say to the dealers, ‘Please, this is not stock.’ I want a focus.” He even resists using the term “collections”. “For me, each booth is an idea, a germ for a larger institutional show.”
Other stories: ‘Sex and the Art of Radical Feminism’ by Julie L. Belcove in the FT Weekend Magazine, featuring Frieze Artistic Director Jo Stella-Sawicka, fair exhibitor Richard Saltoun, Alison M. Gingeras and Sex Work artists Penny Slinger, Judith Bernstein and Betty Tompkins; a preview of Brice Marden’s Frieze week show at Gagosian; and a feature on recent a project by London-based patron Delfina Entrecenales...
Tickets for Frieze London and Frieze Masters are avaialble here