5 years, 10 months ago
What do you get when you bring a thousand of the world’s leading artists together in Regent’s Park? Well, apart from the potential for a lot of money to be made (and spent) you get a unique art festival experience, also known as Frieze London. In its tenth year now, Frieze London is considered the contemporary art event of the year – but don’t let this prestigious and potentially pretentious title put you off. Here’s our guide to how you can enjoy Frieze in London.
About London Frieze
Frieze London is an offshoot of the magazine frieze, which was established in 1991. It has become a leading voice on contemporary art and culture with eye-popping covers and eye-opening articles and features. Two of the founders of frieze, Mathew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, launched the first Frieze Art Fair in 2003 and during the festival’s three day run over £20 million worth of sales were conducted in Regent’s Park. A decade later, Frieze London will welcome 152 galleries from all over the world occupying space in the sprawling square metres of a specially commissioned marquee, designed to showcase some of the most interesting, fascinating and downright weird offerings of modern art.
According to Bloomberg, this year saw about $2 billion worth of art on display during the festival. Frieze London also put a spotlight on new and emerging artists with the non-profit Frieze foundation supported Emdash Award 2013 aiming to acknowledge work by unknown creatives from outside the UK. (It’s well worth watching these videos with children explaining the award – and how they’d spend the prize money!)
Over the years it has gained considerable media attention and the most talked about artists have used the event to launch their works including Tracy Emin who released her book Strangeland there in 2005. The event has already gathered a bit of talk thanks to Gagosian Gallery confirming they will be displaying five new pieces by Jeff Koons. Koons is famous for his over-sized interpretations of seemingly “ordinary” objects, like super-sized balloon animals – which was recently “imitated” at Frieze New York by another controversial figure in modern art, Paul McCarthy.
But let’s not get bogged down with contemporary art controversies – of which there are many that us normal people couldn’t care less about anyway – let’s focus on what’s in it for you.
What’s on at Frieze London
While the event sounds and may appear fairly exclusive – and yes, there is a ticket price; £32 for adults, £20 for 13-18 year olds and £23 for students – once you are safely inside the unique and temporary space, the festival is designed to cater as much for the 80% of visitors who are spectators as it is for the big spenders. It’s important to remember, firstly, that contemporary art isn’t just paintings; it’s sculpture, audio, visual, digital and often interactive. So don’t dismiss it as a 2D affair – seek out the unusual.
Secondly, in addition to strolling around the many galleries, you can attend a wide range of talks, lectures and workshops led by experts in the field talking about modern art trends and industry. There were also five specially commissioned films showing as part of Frieze Film, and Frieze Music saw an impressive line up of live music led by American composer Meredith Monk.
A short stumble away from the regal greenery of Regent’s Park there was Frieze Masters, the event’s sister festival which was back for its second year. Its aim is the opposite to Frieze London, as it is a home for a fine collection of work by the “Masters”. With over 2000 items from the ancient world to the 20th century you need a separate ticket to visit Frieze Masters at Gloucester Green, or alternatively you can buy a combination ticket.
And if you want to preview what was on show at Frieze London 2013 – or you want to imagine you have the budget to buy something – you can search by value, gallery or origin and preview what’s going to be on display on this website.
Top Tips for Going to Frieze London
* Wear comfortable shoes so you can explore the vast area Frieze London covers in comfort.
* Don’t be put off by the price tags and pretentiousness – Frieze is very active through both the Frieze Foundation and Tate Modern at trying to make modern art more accessible.
* Watch out for celebrities – it’s become a haven for A-list spotting!
* Bring your spending money – no, not for the artwork but for the art bookshop there – a treasure trove of coffee table tomes.
* Go for dinner in Camden afterwards. While many will head south from Regent’s Park to find something to eat, if you walk through or around the park to Camden you’ll find a range of restaurants catering to all budgets and tastes in one of London’s most loved areas.
Have you ever been to Frieze London or another art festival? What are your tips for getting the most out of it?
Featured image by Edvvc