The Casual Opulence of the Frieze Art Fair

The Casual Opulence of the Frieze Art Fair

Blur or Defocus abstract image of the lobby of a modern art centThe posh city of London is fuller than ever with celebrities, eccentric millionaires, and art collectors, who are gathering at this year’s Frieze Art Fair to get a piece of the action. On October 14, the event began strongly, with a 15-minute line snaking through the fair’s location at Regent’s Park.

Among the elite waiting to get in were billionaire Eli Broad, heiress Nicky Hilton Rothschild, and actor Benedict Cumberbatch. In London for his interpretation of Hamlet, Cumberbatch was accompanied by his wife, and was seen at the Gagosian Gallery perusing a $600,000 sculpture by British artist Glenn Brown.

Across from the event at Regent’s Park, Frieze Masters offers historic pieces by some 130-odd art dealers. The fine, historical art is an interesting juxtaposition to the contemporary art displayed alongside it.

But art dealer Richard Feigen feels that’s how it should be. For his booth, Feigen hired interior designer Juan Pablo Molyneux to give his space an old-world Italian palazzo feel, as Pablo Picasso and Renaissance paintings sit next to one another, as if they were meant to.

Some of Feigen’s first sales of the Fair was a $35,000 collage by Ray Johnson, and a solid gold trash can by James Rosenquist that sold for a modest $75,000.

While 71% of collectors say they purchase their art online, it is often hard to gauge the quality of pieces bought on the internet. The Frieze Art Fair provides a safe haven of sorts for collectors to peruse through paintings and sculptures that are guaranteed in quality and value.

“It’s a very safe place to go,” said Marianne Boesky, owner of Marianne Boesky Gallery. “You are buying quality, not something untested.”

And if quality is denoted by price tag, these works are absolutely top of the line. Take Huma Bhabha’s carved cork sculpture, for example, that sold for $195,000, or Damien Hirst’s sculpture of a pickled shark, that is priced around $10 million.

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