Thursday, 15 October 2009

Frieze Art Fair, Regent's Park

It would be quite easy to describe the Frieze Art Fair as an awkward arrangement of the hoi polloi and art dealer super-savvy - all one needed to do was to look at the fleet of extremely new, official Mercedes-Benz taxis parked next to a horribly mismanaged scrum of ticket holders trying to get in at the beginning of this, the first day.

Indeed for all that post-YBA art in this country has been a fully democratised culture, the phenomenal success that it has shored up means that there's always two strata of punter at the sales end: the wacky/impecunious artiste and the dealer/impressario.

I'm neither, although I occupy the first subset by default as I'm not super-rich or particularly knowledgeable. But here's where the Frieze Art Fair becomes rather good value. That doesn't really matter. You pay your money and step into a large, unsegregated tent with everyone else. If you're really sharp-eyed, you might catch sight of members of the royal family working the floor.

We spent an hour and a half in the tent (hangar?) which was about a quarter of the time needed to truly absorb it all. Never fear, Miranda Sawyer was there with a BBC crew filming an edition of The Culture Show, so there'll be an edition to help you catch up with the bits you skim over.

We came across a great deal of dross and nonsense - there's a fair bit of imitation in any artform but when you see installation art reproduced it seems particularly flat. There were one or two sparky ideas - ktischy collages from Farhad Moshiri and modern hardware meltdown by Aristarkh Chernyshev.

In the centre of the tent there are a number of more familiar, names - dealers as well as artists - and I felt my heart beat a bit faster to see a pair of Gary Hume paintings (including Four Ponytails) and works by Anish Kapoor and Bridget Riley.

Still, it's nice to know that there's also tat available, albeit from the big names. Here's a Tracey Emin deck chair, a snip at £100.

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