Frieze Week: it has nothing to do with the weather getting colder. On the contrary, it's the moment in the London art world's calendar when everything hots up. The primary driver is the massive art fair Frieze London — one of the biggest of its kind anywhere — with international collectors from across the globe.
Because of this influx of influential people, the art world goes into overdrive, with several other fairs springing up across the city. Most commercial galleries put on a show with their signature artist(s), and some major galleries are opening up new spaces in Frieze Week too.
What is Frieze?
Frieze London, where artworks regularly sell for millions, sees over 160 galleries and 1,000 artists set up in Regent's Park. Frieze is now in its 14th year and displays purely contemporary art — that is, art by living artists.
For the last four years, Frieze London has been accompanied by Frieze Masters, a sister fair specialising in older work — from ancient Roman artefacts right through to pieces made as recently as 1980. It's designed to showcase work that has stood the test of time, while Frieze London is all about the hottest new art being made today. If Frieze London is the bold attention seeker, Frieze Masters is the refined older sibling.
But be warned: neither art fair is cheap to get into. Tickets are £35 for Frieze London alone and £52 if you'd also like to visit Frieze Masters. If that sounds too dear, there's a free Sculpture Park outside in Regent's Park. Frieze is for one week only, but the sculpture park will remain until January so there's plenty of time to catch it (to help navigate the sculptures we recommend the free Art Fund app).
Frieze's influence spreads far and wide, and if it isn't to your taste (or budget), other art fairs might be. These include African art in 1:54 at Somerset House, affordable emerging artists at The Other Art Fair and street art at Moniker Art Fair. Next door to these two will be a brand new fair called Crossroads while design fans can head to Mayfair for PAD.
Frieze Week also coincides with the big public institutions launching their autumn blockbusters. Some are already open such as Abstract Expressionism at Royal Academy of Arts, Turner Prize at Tate Britain, William Kentridge at Whitechapel Gallery and Georgia O'Keeffe at Tate Modern.
Others will be opening during Frieze Week including Picasso Portraits at National Portrait Gallery and Phillipe Parreno's new turbine hall commission at Tate Modern.
It's not just the major institutions where you'll find great art — some of the commercial galleries are pulling out the stops too. King's Cross gallery Gagosian has the monumental steel sculptures of Richard Serra, while the Mayfair branch will be opening a show of Ed Ruscha's work.
Victoria Miro is hosting a show themed around Protest, including a prison cell that seems to have been broken apart. White Cube in Bermondsey has some fantastic Antony Gormley sculptures and will be projecting Christian Marclay's work on to the side of the gallery during the evenings of Frieze Week.
As well as new shows there are several galleries opening up new premises in London during Frieze Week. Skarstedt Gallery has moved from Bond Street to a much larger gallery around the corner from The Ritz.
It's not just all art fairs and galleries. The car park in Cavendish Square will once again host a one week exhibition of young artists. Every year so far it's felt fresh and different.
If you'd rather be out there exploring London, MELT art week will be holding art performances, exhibitions and discussions at various locations around London. The ICA will also be hosting a week of performance, discussion, film and theatre on site.
Frieze Week is pure art overload and whatever your budget and taste in art, there is genuinely something for everyone to see this week.