October 16th, 2014
Photography at London’s Frieze Art Fairs
Frieze London and Frieze Masters opened yesterday in London, with nearly three hundred booths spread out between two respective tents in stately Regent’s Park: the former focused on contemporary art, the latter on works ancient to modern. Large-scale photography dominated many booths, from Thomas Struth’s monumental scenes of museum gallery-goers to Andreas Gursky’s Superman diptych SHII (2014) at White Cube, or Anne Hardy’s sparkling, nearly abstracted installation scenes at Maureen Paley.
Other photographs popular among fair booths were portraits by Wolfgang Tillmans, including a large portrait of his former partner Isa Genzken, and still lifes and portraits by Christopher Williams, coming off the international attention given to his current MoMA retrospective.
Stylish, kitschy booths characterized this year’s edition: there was a faux collector’s living room at Helly Nahmad, while Salon 94’s booth was lemon-yellow and painted with smiley faces. A number of photo-works also acted as framing devices to differentiate the standard makeshift spaces—the set design technique used to grab the attention of over-traveled fairgoers has almost become an art form in itself. Esther Schipper Gallery, from Berlin, bedecked one side of their booth in floral wallpaper photographed by Thomas Demand, whose work was also on display at Sprüth Magers.
At Kate MacGarry, a black-and-white Goshka Macuga living room served as a backdrop while gallerists sat on lucite chairs shaped like her portrait subjects, as if populating the frame. Galleries with a strong roster of photographers such as New York’s 303 Gallery and Berlin’s Wien Lukatsch Gallery devoted most of their wall space to photo-works, from Jane and Louise Wilson to Stephen Shore to Florian Maier-Aichen.
Frieze Masters offered a historic look at the last century of photography: legs captured by Herb Ritts, a Man Ray bust, and Sally Mann were all on display at Edwynn Houk Gallery, while Sprüth Magers, for their Masters booth, highlighted multiple of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s solemn series of facades. Skartstedt showed untitled film stills by Cindy Sherman from 1980.
Cheim & Read dedicated their entire booth to William Eggleston’s “Troubled Waters” portfolio. In the fifteen dye-transfer prints taken in 1980, his subjects range from a dog hazily captured mid-stride to a brown-gold slice of field. But perhaps most attention-grabbing was the apt Freezer: on a frosty blue ledge, banal pastel foods look almost gemlike in their overflowing piles.