WHEN the Frieze contemporary art fair was launched in London’s Regent’s Park almost a decade ago it was not to everyone’s taste, but it proved a sensation and straight away became an international destination.
At the beginning of last month Frieze was launched in Manhattan on Randall’s Island, a place unfamiliar even to some New Yorkers, and with the logistical problems of getting to it success was hardly assured.
But the organisers pulled it off proving Frieze is a formidable brand name.
A point reinforced some weeks ago when Frieze Masters, a multi-disciplined fair scheduled for October 11 to 14 within walking distance and coinciding with the original Frieze, announced participating galleries.
The list of 77 is stellar with many top international names: Colnaghi, Bernheimer, Gagosian, Daniel Katz, Richard Feigen, Sladmore, Axel Vervoordt, Entwistle,Tomasso Brothers and TEFAF chairman Ben Janssens are just a sample.
I asked noted Paris Oceanic art specialist Anthony Meyer why he is making his London debut at Frieze Masters (where he will show the pictured 18th/19th century master-carver’s adze from New Caledonia).
He said: “I have been thinking of going to London for two years, waiting for the right fair, then Frieze Masters came up. Frieze are contemporary organisers with a different way of doing things and with a different clientele.”
Mayfair antiquities dealer Rupert Wace is equally excited about joining. He told me: “I am impressed by the Frieze brand which is primarily aimed at people interested in contemporary art. Large numbers visit contemporary Frieze and I hope I will meet a different crowd. But it is a gamble.”
The potential of crossover business is what has galvanised so much interest in Frieze Masters and there is no doubt tribal art and antiquities, for example, have a contemporary appeal.
With four months to go this fixture has already made its mark.
Frieze Art Fair New York 2012—YouTube video