The format is always roughly the same: a maze of booths, each housing a gallery selling its best wares. Each October, two colossal tents take over Regent's Park, one housing Frieze London, the other housing Frieze Masters. Frieze London brings together over 160 of the world’s leading contemporary galleries from New York to Berlin and Shanghai to São Paulo, while Frieze Masters brings together more than 130 leading modern and old master galleries. Both fairs showcase works by the art world's most respected names.
Always attracting the heavyweights of the art world, as well as the cream of the emerging talent crop, it is the place to be for buyers, sellers, or anyone with an eye for compelling new art. Despite Frieze drawing considerable crowds and a touch of stress, you can still have all the fun, not just at Frieze itself but all over London as the city's artistic side comes to life in celebration of the occasion.
Frieze London: The highlights
A Gentil Carioca, Frieze London 2016. Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.
This year, the fair will be split into three main sections: the central hub of commercial galleries, Focus, and Sex Work: Feminist Art & Radical Politics.
The main section plays host to commercial galleries representing internationally renowned contemporary artists including Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, and Henry Moore. Each year, the gallery booths and exhibitions are bigger and glitzier than the year before. This year, we are particularly looking forward to Alicja Kwade’s new installation with Kamel Mennour Galerie, Thomas Ruff’s solo presentation of photography with Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, and Hauser & Wirth's exhibition BRONZE AGE c. 3500 BC – AD 2017. Organised in collaboration with classicist Mary Beard, Hauser & Wirth will bring a fantasy museum of ancient objects and significant bronze sculptures by artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Paul McCarthy, and Rashid Johnson to Frieze. We bet this will be the most Instagrammed both at the fair.
Focus will showcase galleries aged 12 years or younger as well as the emerging artists they represent. Berlin-based artist Anna Uddenberg, represented by Kraupa- Tuskany Zeidler, is one to look out for.
Finally, the section all about SEX. Sex Work will feature nine solo presentations of women artists working at the extreme edges of feminist practice during the 1970s and ‘80s. The collection, featuring seminal works by Betty Tompkins and Judith Bernstein, will be curated by independent scholar Alison M. Gingeras and is sure to be one of the fair's major talking points this year.
Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze
As well as the extensive selection of galleries and contemporary artworks on display, the Frieze non-profit programme includes Frieze Projects and the Frieze Artist Award which presents new, site-specific works by contemporary artists. There’s also Frieze Film, which showcases film commissions premiered at the fair, Frieze Music, the fair's off-site music programme, Frieze Live: performance and participation, which will feature four ambitious artworks by international artists, including Neha Choksi (Project88, Mumbai) and Mark Fell (Southfirst, New York), and, last but not least, Frieze Talks.
The Frieze Talks are undoubtedly a highlight of the Frieze agenda. Comprising a series of panel discussions, conversations and keynote lectures, they will explore, above all, how – in an age of ‘fake news' – art’s capacity to destabilise conventional notions of ‘the real’ can take on new meanings. Access to Frieze Talks is included in the Frieze London admission ticket. Click here, for the full programme of talks.
Buy your Frieze London tickets here.
Frieze Masters: The highlights
Dickinson Gallery, Frieze Masters 2016. Photograph by Mark Blower. Courtesy of Mark Blower/Frieze
Frieze Masters showcases six thousand years of art by bringing together more than 130 leading modern and old master galleries, and a showcase of museum-quality presentations. This year, like Frieze London, Frieze Masters is split into three major sections: the main hub of commercial galleries, Spotlight and Collections.
The range of disciplines on display is always breathtaking, so set aside a good amount of time to take it all in. This year, we are most looking forward to the solo and curated shows of major 20th-century figures. A two-artist show of works by Modernists Alexander Calder and Joan Miró with Galerie Thomas is sure to be exceptional as is Simon Dickinson's survey of Expressionism in Europe. Get ready to see masterpieces from the movement's inspirations Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele, as well as seminal Expressionists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde and Franz Marc.
To see work by extraordinary, under-recognised female artist figures including Eleanor Antin and Maryn Varbanov, head to Spotlight and to see new mediums and types of objects spanning thousands of years head to Collections.
Frieze Masters will also present a series of panel discussions, conversations and keynote lectures exploring the aesthetics of display – juxtaposing contemporary and historical art. Frieze Masters Talks will be hosted in the auditorium and are included in your ticket price. Seats can be reserved from 11am on the day of each talk at the auditorium. Click here, for the full programme of talks.
Buy your Frieze Masters tickets here.
Every year, Frieze also selects a number of sculptural works to be displayed outside of the tents as part of their sculpture garden. Freed from the claustrophobic and overwhelming interior of the tents, the artworks are allowed to breathe. You wander through the English Gardens in Regent's park, dodging joggers, and are surprised by sculpture behind a corner, or hiding underneath a tree.
Curated by Clare Lilley, the Director of Programme, Yorkshire Sculptue Park, Frieze Sculpture presents 23 new and significant works by 20th-century masters and leading contemporary artists from around the world including Rasheed Araeen, Sir Anthony Caro, and KAWS.
As part of this exhibition, Frieze commissions an artist to respond to Frieze Sculpture in a Special Artist's Project. This year, photographer Sarah Jones responds to the exhibited sculptures in a specially commissioned project of photographs; photographs from this series will be available to buy at Anton Kern Gallery and Maureen Paley.
Please note that the Frieze Sculpture Park is open 5 July - 8 October and is free to attend.
Now for the....
Remember: it's quality over quantity. You really, really can't see everything; the layout's a maze and the whole thing is fairly exhausting. Before tackling Frieze or Frieze Masters, bear in mind these essential tips.
1) Arrive as early as you can, before the crowds
2) Bring a coat for the sculpture garden and wear comfortable shoes, but also...
3) Dress to kill – it's a fashion parade after all
4) Take pictures – not just for Instagram, but so that you can remember what you saw, if buying or dreaming of buying is on your agenda
5) Don't get too drunk and spend all your money on a sculpture made of coat-hangers and chicken-bones, or a giant inflatable Felix the Cat
Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.
The lowdown on the crowd
Frieze is to the art world what LFW is to the fashion industry. It's a place to see and be seen. This is a no-messing-around kind of affair. It's the one time of the year when scholars, connoisseurs, dealers and big-time collectors mingle, hob-knob and party with A-list actors, models and It girls.
Last year, alongside the good and the great from the art world (Grayson Perry; Sir Nicholas Andrew Serota; Hans-Ulrich Obrist) actor Benedict Cumberbatch was spotted with his wife, as was Princess Eugenie, who is an associate director at contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth (if you can believe it).
But it's not just the art world heavyweights who look forward to Frieze. The leading annual art fair in the world also pulls fashionistas from across the globe. Don’t be surprised to see Eva Cavalli, Valentino Garavani, Lulu Guinness or Bianca Jagger.
Socialite name-dropping aside, Frieze is the most respected (and anticipated) fair in the art world calendar. With this in mind, do look at the art on the walls as well as the people swishing down the aisles.
Where you should eat
Social Wine and Tapas, Frieze London 2017
At Frieze London, a range of high-end gastronomy and slightly more accessible pop-ups will be on offer. Look out for newcomers Ahi Poké and Social Wine and Tapas, or head to fair veterans GAIL’s, Pizza Pilgrims, and Petersham Nurseries. This year, Frieze Masters will host outposts of Locanda Locatelli and Umu, both of which are Michelin-starred. For booking info, head to our Where to Eat at Frieze 2017 feature.
The Vital info
Frieze London is located in the south of The Regent’s Park, with the entrance off Park Square West. The postcode is NW1 4NR.
Frieze London opening hours:
Friday 6 October, 12 – 7pm
Saturday 7 October, 12 – 7pm
Sunday 8 October, 12 – 6pm
Friday 6 October, 11 – 7pm
Saturday 7 October, 11 – 7pm
Sunday 8 October, 11 – 6pm
Tickets for Frieze London and Masters are available here.
London beyond Frieze
Sophie Ryder_Upside-Down Kneeling ©Tania Dolvers
Frieze is not just about the Regent's Park shenanigans. Far from it. Glittering parties, openings and stellar exhibitions are all scheduled during the week to coincide with powerful collectors and art world aficionados jetting into town.
One of our favourites has to be the recently opened Jasper Johns: 'Something Resembling Truth' exhibition at the Royal Academy, which bubbles over with energy. The very intimate exhibition of new sculptures by British sculptor Sophie Ryder at Mayfair's Hignell Gallery is on our to-do list as is the titillating – literally titillating – exhibition of paintings depicting sex shops by Tal R at Victoria Miro and Gagosian's exhibition of erotic works by Tom Wesselmann. It really does seem that Frieze Week 2017 is all about sex.
Of course, it would be remiss of us not to mention PAD. Coinciding with Frieze, the renowned art and design fair will once again be pitching its famous black tent in chic Berkeley Square, Mayfair. The six-day fair offers an eclectic mix of fine art and contemporary craftsmanship, making this the perfect event for any design connoisseur, even during Frieze.
If you've still got the energy after all that – Frieze Fatigue is a well-known art world syndrome in the days leading up to the fair – it's time to prep the outfit, book a table ahead of time and start dreaming about buying the Picassos, Monets and Damien Hirsts you will most likely never in a million years be able to afford.
|What||Frieze and Frieze Masters, Regent's Park|
|Where||Taste of London, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4NR | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Regent's Park (underground)|
05 Oct 17 – 08 Oct 17, 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
|Price||£45, Premium Combined Frieze and Frieze Masters 65|
|Website||Click here for more information|