Sarah Thornton stalked the fair for the Economist. Her story is now up here with
Amanda Sharp, co-owner of the fair, explains, “The original thesis behind the fair was that we could have a critical mass of activity in London in October. London has a great artist community and great institutions. We wanted the whole city to get behind it.” This momentum will no doubt see the fair through to more ebullient times.
Museum endorsements encourage sales. At the fair, a mountain painting by Ruscha sold for just over a $1m, and Kapoor wall pieces sold for somewhere just under. Baldessari, one of the most important heirs to Duchamp and an influential proponent of Pop-Dada, has long been an “artist’s artist” and is now a connoisseur’s artist, but he’s never been an art market star. He was represented by a good range of work on several stands, including a large wall sculpture entitled “Beethoven’s Trumpet (With Ear) Opus #133” (2007), which sold to a European collector for $400,000. Baldessari, who is 78 years old, used to tell his students, “You have to make the new work to sell the old work.” Now, the old work lends more depth and allure to the new.
Dealers adopted a wide range of stand strategies. Some brought works on paper by name artists, which made for a safe combination of brand recognition and lower price points. Marianne Boesky, for example, sold out her display of 15 watercolours by Barnaby Furnas priced at under $35,000 a piece. Other dealers hung their stands sparsely with trophies that evoked the distinction of their gallery brand. Michael Werner Gallery, which was participating in Frieze for the first time this year, had a stand that included many works well above the fair’s average price point, including a $2m Sigmar Polke. “We’re feeling positive. We’ve met new collectors and curators. We’ve had good talks,” said Kadee Robbins, a Werner Gallery director.
A Fair Price (Economist)