Andy Warhol, Barbara Hepworth, Alexander Calder and Louise Bourgeois all within two super-sized tents in Regent's Park. This can only be Frieze London and Frieze Masters — two enormous art fairs that come to Regent's Park every year for one weekend.
— Londonist (@Londonist) October 5, 2017
It's a massive spectacle with Frieze London featuring over 160 galleries from 31 countries and thousands of contemporary artists. At the other end of the park is Frieze Masters, which has over 130 galleries and spans the breadth of art history with ancient artefacts from 4000BC, sharing a marquee with the performance art of Marina Abramovic that was made only a few decades ago.
We've walked through it over the course of six hours and it's a feat of endurance to see it all. The ticket prices match the size, with admission to one of the fairs costing £35 upwards and a combined ticket to both at £55. Don't forget, it's also the last weekend to catch the sculpture park in Regent's Park, which is completely free to visit.
So whether you're thinking of going to the fair or think it's too steep a price and want to live it vicariously through us, here's what's been catching our eye over in Regent's Park.
Frieze London is the headliner and ultimately it's an art fair about selling art, so many booths are set up to display all their artists to generate interest from big collectors.
But we're here to see the more immersive and fantastical set ups and this year we've spotted some particularly special highlights.
Top billing has to go to Hauser & Wirth who have essentially created a fake museum in their booth, complete with fire extinguisher in the corner and an audio guide narrated by Mary Beard. They've loaned items from small museums and placed them in vitrines next to works by their own artists.
To complete the look there's also a gift shop where you can buy branded bookmarks, keyrings and coasters to help support these regional museums. It's clever, engaging and a lot of fun.
Timothy Taylor gallery has taken the colourful geometry in the work of abstract artist Eduardo Terrazas and extended it to criss cross across their booth. Marian Goodman is showcasing the work of Cristina Iglesias with what looks like a river appearing under the floor — we covered her work at the gallery two years ago.
If the general feel of the art fair ever gets too commercial then there is a section called Sex Work — an explicit collection looking at feminist art over the ages. It's a dense and heavy hitting section of the fair that comes with an academic air that you wouldn't expect to find here.
There's fun to be had in a section called Focus where emerging galleries can showcase their work and this year includes a bespoke fitting room, complete with dresses. Also check out London gallery Emalin, who run a raffle where you can enter for £20 and win an artwork as a prize.
Another fun element is the Antarctica passport office, where you register to be a citizen of the world and receive your own passport — while it won't solve Brexit it is a light hearted take on the world's problems today.
Over at the North end of the park is Masters and even though it's younger than Frieze London, we always think of it as the more sophisticated older sibling — never as busy and displaying works that have stood the test of time.
But this year is a bit disappointing as most booths have taken a rather conservative approach to displaying their art. The one exception is Waddington Custot who have recreated a Peter Blake studio so it's filled with ephemera such as puppets, model ships and lots of cut out figures.
Other strong showings are from Annely Juda and their stand full of the large industrial sculptures of Anthony Caro, and German Galerie Thomas who have a two person booth of Alexander Calder mobiles and Joan Miro paintings.
Overall Frieze London keeps its freshness but Masters could do with a bit more ambition.
For those visiting here are some practical tips we'll share with you:
- Wear comfy shoes. We can't stress this enough, there's a lot of walking involved and trainers are required to avoid blisters.
- Bring a bottle of water as it gets pretty hot and hours of wandering will build up a thirst.
- Take breaks as it's a lot to take in and 'art fatigue' is a real risk. Thankfully there are cafes and coffee points scattered throughout the fair.
- Avoid bringing large bags as they aren't allowed in the fair for security reasons. There is a place to leave them, but there's a £5 charge — though this does go to charity.
- Don't feel you have to see it all, as it's too much. Just let your eyes lead to you to what looks interesting.
That's it for our Frieze fair guide. Enjoy if you do make the trip to Regent's park, else follow it through our social media feeds.