Frieze Masters 2017 has wrapped, and with nearly 150 dealers offering works spanning 7000 years of art history, the fair offers the perfect opportunity to gauge the overall strength of the art market. Our conclusion: money is flowing at every price level, but buyers are more savvy and selective than ever.
As early as Vernissage night, dealers were buzzing about brisk traffic. David Zwirner and Thaddaeus Ropac both reported multiple, early 7-digit sales of museum quality works by Rauschenberg, Albers, McCracken, Baselitz and Polke. Notably, Zwirner offered the first-ever fluorescent work by Dan Flavin, The diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi) (1963), on behalf of the estate of the artist, at an undisclosed price “in a range appropriate for an institution.”
Many dealers noted the increased number of art advisors at the show this year, more evidence that collectors are laser-focused on finding the “right works.” That selectivity was also underscored by the fact that multiple Italian galleries are broadcasting their Frieze Masters success in the Italian press, despite relatively slow sales of Italian works at auction last week. The takeaway for dealers heading to fairs this year: make good curatorial choices, and do not be afraid to edit. Your success may hinge entirely on whether you bring the right works to the show.
Image caption: Frieze Masters 2017
Photography by Benjamin Westoby. Courtesy of Benjamin Westoby/Frieze.