Not Yours! WHAT? A report on Frieze and the Contemporary Art Auctions

The Gagosian Gallery kicked off the week on Saturday October 10th at its new white box in sleepy Grosvenor Hill, inaugurated with a powerful, collector-friendly exhibition of works by Cy Twombly. The artist’s visually strong, but slightly redundant, Bacchus paintings were overshadowed in my opinion by his exciting Bolsena pictures, crisp and meticulously executed. An engineer friend spent a good hour staring at them, repeatedly readjusting his glasses. Later at the Savile Club, Larry’s striking large white head presided over a luscious banquet that brought together a highbrow crowd, from the curator of the Museum Brandhorst’s recent exhibition CY TWOMBLY IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANZ WEST to the self-effacing and charming Anish Kapoor. A few more twenty-something pretty young things would have certainly livened up the empty dance floor.

Sotheby’s certainly did not miss the memo and its galleries were teeming with dancing things of every kind the following Monday for its phenomenal Contemporary Art Party, Tommy Hilfiger beaming as he greeted guests in front of a true standout piece from Lucio Fontana; the blackest most stirring Fine di Dio I have ever seen. Sotheby’s had high hopes and at £15 million it underperformed – Tornabuoni Gallery’s exceptional white work from the same series might have something to do with it. As the Florentine gallerist ominously anticipated at Frieze Masters on Tuesday, forse gli daremo un po’ fastidio, maybe we’ll trouble them a bit. In its polished spaces the New Bond Street institution brandished a number of blue-chip works, modern and impressionist, though the highly affected hang looked better suited to a department store than an auction house. I’m sure poor Taubman wouldn’t have minded the reference.

Frieze is the place to go for the good, the bad, and the ugly. This year seems to have been rather mean to the Deutsche sponsored fair, with a fascist restriction on VIP cars and the usual five-hundred page catalogue replaced by an amateurish booklet titled something to the effect of ‘the London Frieze week guide.’ Some of the good included Thomas Bayrie’s I-PHONE MEETS CARAVAGGIO, a true-to-the-original rendition of Caravaggio’s St. Matthew and the Angel made by a stylized collaging of puzzle pieces which upon closer inspection revealed themselves to be iPhone 3s’. Also remarkable was Doug Aitken’s 2015 Earth Plane at 303 Gallery New York, an eloquent and mysterious light box that pushes the medium of photography intelligently and powerfully. Quite charming were Francis Alÿs’ studies for Don’t Cross the Bridge Before you Get to the River at David Zwirner, and Tacita Dean’s photographs for the Frith Street Gallery, which had already sold minutes into the coveted 11 o-clock preview time.