Art fairs aren't a part of mainstream entertainment, but they are certainly a spectacle for anyone who goes to buy or to look. This year's Frieze London (which is the biggest 7-day span of art market events in any European capital) is massive, containing Frieze, Frieze Masters, Frieze Projects, Frieze Talks, Frieze Film, Frieze Music, Frieze Sculpture Park, and Frieze Sounds. Bloomberg reports that the value of art on sale at this year's fair amounts to $2 billion, led by the five Jeff Koons works at Gagosian Gallery.
Out of the 152 galleries at Frieze and the 130 dealers at Frieze Masters, there is a seemingly endless amount of art to take in. Where does one even start?
Thankfully, VisitBritain and British Airways got us to the fair, where we saw it all. Sometimes, it's more about what you learned than what you like or dislike. This edition of Frieze brings the magic, and it's 100% a reflection of art as a market, educational, and as spectacle.
There is one more day to visit Frieze London, so buy tickets here or view a majority of the works at the fair on Artsy.
10 Things We Learned at Frieze London 2013
The art selfie is still/forever trending.
Don't know what an art selfie is? Let us humbly remind you. Any reflective, remotely shiny object or piece of glass at a fair may be an art piece, but it may also be an opportunity to look at or photograph yourself...this applies to wealthy billionaire art collectors and art school darlings alike. The art selfie is a serious topic of discussion on Art Twitter, and while it occurs at galleries and museums everywhere, there's something about the environment of an art fair that makes it all feel extra right. Plus, there are more of these selfie-ready pieces, because shiny is contemporary, polished, and sells well.
Jonathan Horowitz's Beyonce, Jeff Koons' Sacred Heart (Blue/Magenta), Jeppe Hein's Right Diagonal Cut, and Gavin Turk's Pistoletto's Waste were all popular art selfie vessels. Who doesn't want to picture themselves as Beyoncé or pose next to their significant other with a piece of trash? It's immediate fun, satisfaction, and occassional introspection, and it's what makes the functionality of art so powerfully diverse.
Observe the magic of Right Diagonal Cut below:
Artists want to talk about mobile technology.
When in doubt—jingle bells, rave doors, and paintball installations.
Frieze London is a wild place. You can have a Basquiat-esque Oscar Murillo piece chillin' near a barely noticeable Urs Fischer egg near a FULL-ON CHAIR MADE OUT OF JINGLE BELLS! It's spectacle. It's awesome. Haegue Yang won with Sonic Nickel Dance, in the same way that Vadim Fishkin won with The door (below).
One of the most exciting, talked-about pieces at Frieze is Ken Okiishi's paintball installation, where the viewer presses a button to trigger two paintball guns within an interior plexiglass space. It's loud, shocking, and beautiful, as colors spray around to create various abstract paintings. The public plays a part, has fun, and rethinks the acts of shooting, creation, and destruction.
Art loves rap. Rap loves art.
Yeah, Swizz Beatz is on Instagram tagging #artlife on every pic and Jay Z is dancing with Marina Abramovic at Pace Gallery as performance art, but pieces at Frieze London are giving the love right back to rap. It's not obvious, and maybe we're just making it up, but the mirror made by Ilja Karilampi at the Sandy Brown booth (which reads "Started From the Bottom") tipped us off to a fair of subtle rap love.
Cory Arcangel's Diddy/Lakes (below), as one of only a few pieces at team gallery's booth made the true fans think of Diddy's beloved jet dance. Meanwhile, Frances Stark's Behold Man! collage has a copy of XXL with 50 Cent on the cover.
Kanye West said that rap is the new rock 'n' roll, and apparently visual art's connection with it gets deeper and cooler with the works at Frieze London.
Art fairs can (and should be) for kids, too.
It's not all about art made in the last five years.
While Frieze Masters brought an abundance of more expensive works and Old Masters by dead artists, the main Frieze fair has its share of older works updated or re-created for the present. This is incredible for a number of reasons, one of which is to reveal a common thread of history and artistic identity to pieces that may be reduced to simply "new."
Hélio Oiticica and Neville D' Almeida's 1973 CC3 - MAILERYN and James Lee Byars' Four in a Dress are both pieces that brought the past to the present, emphasizing context and the power of re-contextualizing for a new audience. Between these works and Frieze Masters, viewers were treated to a much greater, richer art history lesson.
Less is more, and art fair fatigue is real.
Interacting with sculptures induces unparalleled euphoria if you let it.
This year's Frieze Sculpture Park was phenomenal as always, and the fair's indoor sculptures were, too. Jennifer Rubell's Portrait of the Artist pregnant body scan turned interactive-Instagram-ready-womb-receptacle has gotten everyone's attention, as has Dan Graham's Groovy Spiral at Lisson Gallery. On the "less is more" tip, Lisson Gallery only brought Graham's sculpture to their booth (so you know it's real). Those attending on Sunday will undoubtedly find themselves taking pics in these two pieces, and why not? Sculpture makes you happy—just let it happen.