Frieze Masters: You can’t beat a classic

The inaugural Frieze Masters is setting itself up to be one of the highlights of the cultural calendar this autumn, as more details emerge of the highly anticipated art fair.
Launching On October 11th to coincide with – and be in close proximity to – the much respected Frieze Art Fair, Masters was conceived as a way of offering contemporary approaches to pre-21st century art. It therefore seeks to present visitors with a distinctive observation of the special relationship between old and new works of art.
To deliver this unique expo, Frieze has gathered a brilliant and extensive ensemble of galleries. Over 90 leading international establishments will be contributing to the conversation by showcasing works of art that extend as far back as the ancient era, after which the old master and modernist pioneers are explored. Contemporary, therefore, is seen as everything from the year 2000.
“Frieze Masters will create fresh perspectives on historical art and interesting dialogues between periods, but most importantly will offer a world-class forum in London to leading international galleries showing pre-21st-century art,” explained Victoria Siddall, director of Frieze Masters.
Participating galleries include Galerie 1900-2000, Paris; Acquavella Galleries, New York; Colnaghi, London; Elvira Gonzales, Madrid; Galerie Meyer Oceanic Art, Paris; Moretti Fine Art London/Florence; Pace, London/New York; Van de Weghe Fine Art, New York; and Rupert Wace, London.
“The exhibitor list reflects the unique nature of the fair – they are all the best at what they do – and represents a diverse range of art throughout history and from all over the world,” Ms Siddall added. “The very positive response to Frieze Masters from galleries demonstrates the desire for a great international modern and historical art fair in London.”
One of the most interesting aspects of the fair is the programme of talks the organisers have arranged. Thematically, at the heart of the discussions between artists, critics and curators is the relationship between contemporary and historical art, where each will give their insights on the origins of art and where it is going.
Speaking to ARTINFO, the programme’s curator, Jasper Sharp, revealed that a lot of work which has been done was conducted behind the scenes in the run up to the event to help frame the numerous conversations.
For example, Mr Sharp invited contemporary artists to pick a historical museum that was of interest to them. The chief curators of the various institutions were then introduced to their corresponding artists, after which both individuals were encouraged to explore the galleries together.
“It’s an encounter of the unexpected from both sides — the artist presents a completely unexpected and original perspective on a certain work, and the curator can help the artist digest what they struggle with or never understood,” Mr Sharp said.
“Some of these senior curators in historical museums have never heard of these artists. It takes away any deference that so many people in the contemporary art world have.”
This brilliant juxtaposition can be seen in Cecily Brown in conversation with Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery in London; Luc Tuymans in conversation with Dominique de Font-Reaulx, senior curator at the Musee du Louvre; and Glenn Brown in conversation with Bice Curiger, curator of the Kunsthaus Zurich.
The excitement for such exchanges, and indeed the expo itself, is palpable to all within the art industry, regardless of what one’s leanings might be. Mr Penny, for example, believes that Masters has the potential to attract some of the world’s most imaginative and adventurous art collectors to the city, which suggests how significant the opening edition of this fair is going to be.
“The fair is designed to revolutionise the relationship between ancient and modern, old and new,” elaborated Mr Penny. “It should galvanise London’s art museums and galleries and help them to benefit from the occasion. The National Gallery – founded partly to inspire living artists – is delighted to support this venture.”
Any work of art, including music, literature or cinema, that is inherently poetic, powerful and provocative will endure. However, from time to time, even such pieces will, for the masses, be unheard of, as in rapture as we are with the latest present-day ideas.
Individuals will dip into history, now and again, but the experience remains very personal, while the rest of the world goes around and around, completely unaware.
No worry; today’s stars deserve their moment, their opportunity to cut a slice of their own history. Events like Frieze Masters helps to address that absence, bringing together these classics, and making them work in an environment that is fresh, current and now.
It reminds people that throughout the ages, artists astounded their contemporaries, so much so, that while they may have passed on into the magical unknown, their works of art stay and revel in immortality. We often forget how beautiful stars are, until, one random day, we look up and think wow, now isn’t that something. Frieze Masters is one of those moments.
Frieze Masters is at Regent’s Park from October 11th until October 14th.