The Vintage Magazine’s International Art Editor, Terence Rodrigues shares his experience of The Frieze Art Fair:-
Contemporary art – smoke and mirrors?
For months before, people are planning their flights, their diaries and, of course, their wardrobes. It’s the place to be seen. All other invitations, whether in New York, Paris, Moscow or Beijing, have to be declined. London is abuzz and never looks so lively, sexy, cool or international. It is Frieze Week.
Frieze Art Fair in London’s Regent’s Park has become the largest, most eagerly awaited, most talked-about and most successful contemporary art fair in the world. It attracts not only collectors, but museum directors, curators, academics, gallerists, art press, art students and young people and, increasingly as contemporary art has become increasingly hip, movie stars, rock stars and ‘celebs’, jetting in from all over the world. Millions of pounds change hands. How many millions exactly, we never know, as organizers and dealers are proverbially secretive and given to hype.
However, many, if not most, traditionalists and lovers of Old Master paintings can’t stand it and consider most of the art absurd and intellectually nugatory. The Evening Standard’s luddite but persuasively eloquent art critic, Brian Sewell, has repeatedly made his views clear – the title of his new book, Naked Emperors, pithily enshrines his opinion.
However, the thousands who would kill for a VIP pass or an invitation to “Collectors Day”, the day before the fair opens to the hoi-polloi, or who join the long queues to get in on the hoi-polloi days, love it. They love it – partly to celeb-spot or just people-spot or fashion-spot, partly for the festive atmosphere, partly to retain credibility and visibility amongst art world professionals and, yes, partly to see the latest – and arguably the best – cutting-edge art in the world. And part of the fun is tittering over some of the more mind-boggling, mind-stretching and, yes, absurd art in the world…Few are bold enough to ask the prices but, when they do, they are even more dumbfounded.
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