Frieze London 2012: Energetic Atmosphere Equals Strong Sales


At the close of the tenth edition of Frieze London, sponsored by Deutsche Bank, galleries report strong sales and high levels of energy in the contemporary market. The successful addition of Frieze Masters, the organisation’s first fair for historical art, which coincided with Frieze London’s tenth edition, has made London in October an international meeting point for the widest of art audiences.

Reports of a robust market were made by both established galleries and younger participants. 175 galleries from 35 territories made the tenth edition the most international event produced by the organisation to date. In the region of 55,000 visitors were welcomed to the fair during the five-day event, a number that ensured both visitors and galleries had the best possible experience.

Fair directors Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp were very pleased with the success of the fair: ‘It has been a great year for us, to be back in our Regent’s Park home after the success of Frieze New York has been a delight and the energy in London this week has been unparalleled. The quality and focus of the galleries’ presentations at Frieze London has been higher than ever and we’re very pleased that this has been rewarded by strong sales.’

Reported sales highlights included: Hauser and Wirth selling Paul McCarthy’s White Snow Head (2012) within minutes of opening for $1.3 million; White Cube placing Damien Hirst’s Destruction Dreamscape (2012) for £500,000; Andrew Kreps selling a multi-panelled installation of paintings by Ricci Albenda for $200,000; Sprüth Magers Berlin London selling Jenny Holzer’s installation Blast (2012) for $525,000 and George Condo’s Red Profile (2012) for $325,000; Victoria Miro Gallery had particular success with Yayoi Kusama, selling Universe RYKP (2012) in the region of $500,000. Newcomer to the fair Stevenson Gallery were rewarded by the acquisition of Nicholas Hlobo’s Balindile I (2012) by the The Outset/ Frieze Art Fair Fund to Benefit the Tate Collection. In the new section Focus, for galleries under ten years old, Galeria Plan B made sales within the first hours of the fair with works by Adrian Ghenie and Victor Man selling for €35,000 each. Frame, for galleries under six years old, remained a favourite for collectors and curators alike with a number of galleries selling out within the first day, including Take Ninagawa’s paintings by Yukiko Suto. Another draw in Frame was François Ghebaly Gallery, selling their Mike Kuchar drawings for $6,000 each.

Gallery Response

Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, Managing Director at Pace London commented, ‘This year has been particularly exceptional for Pace London. We were both present at Frieze and Frieze Masters and are pleased to confirm that sales have been robust. We notably sold to European, American, Middle Eastern, Russian and even Brazilian collectors.’

Stefan Ratibor, Director, Gagosian: ‘We had a terrific fair. Both Frieze and Frieze Masters were quite brilliant.’

Iwan Wirth of Hauser & Wirth was similarly enthusiastic: ‘Within minutes of the fair opening, we had sold McCarthy’s White Snow Head, and by the end of the first day, we had sold over 20 intimate reliefs by Hans Josephsohn. To add to all of this, we also had Anri Sala’s incredible Clocked Perspective and a group of Josephsohn’s sculptures on view at Frieze Sculpture Park, both of which looked amazing in Regent’s Park.’

Sprüth Magers Berlin London reported significant sales including Jenny Holzer’s installation Blast (2012) for $525,000 George Condo’s Red Profile (2012) for $325,000 and collage pieces by Sterling Ruby, priced between $135,000 – $175,000 all of which sold to European and Asian collectors. Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers commented: ‘We have had great success, selling works by George Condo, Cyprien Gaillard, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Jean-Luc Mylayne, Sterling Ruby, Cindy Sherman and Rosemarie Trockel. This is our tenth year at Frieze – it’s an important fair for us and we are impressed every year.’

David Kordansky was rewarded for a solo showing of Jonas Wood: ‘Frieze was an amazing experience for us this year. We were successful in introducing Jonas Wood’s work to new audiences from both the collecting and curatorial communities. The level of conversation was high as visitors were able to engage with the complete range of the artist’s work.’

Alex Zachary added, ‘Frieze London is an essential part of our programme. This year we have made many new contacts and sales have been excellent. It has been an energetic and lively fair, with the overall quality of works being exceptionally high. We are proud to be a part of Frieze.’

Sadie Coles was another person pleased: ‘Sarah Lucas has been a massive hit this year both with her sculpture and photographs for which we’ve had huge interest. Spartacus Chetwynd’s pieces have attracted everyone from small children to international collectors. Sam Durant’s mirror pieces always do well in this context too. This year has been particularly strong in terms of international visitors whom we’ve seen in large numbers.’

Lehmann Maupin commented: ‘We are always delighted to participate in Frieze as it never disappoints. Within hours of opening, we had placed major works by the gallery’s artists in important international collections. It was our first time presenting the work of Liu Wei, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the excitement his new paintings generated.’

Thomas Dane of Thomas Dane Gallery benefitted from an acquisition from the Outset/Frieze Art Fair Fund: ‘We have had another excellent year at Frieze and were very pleased to have taken part in the first ever Frieze Masters which has really changed the ecosystem of the fair. They have done a great job. Tate’s purchase of a Caragh Thuring via the Outset Fund/ Frieze Art Fair Fund was great news for us and for Caragh. Equally the strong interest in Jean-Luc Moulene, which is not easy work, has been hugely gratifying. We have been very committed to Frieze from the start and it gets better and better.’

Alison Jacques was rewarded by her considered display of works: ‘We took a different approach this year with a more focused displays on a few of our gallery artists, from the young – Saul Fletcher – to the mid-career – Fernanda Gomez – to Lygia Clark. Showing work in such a concentrated way really worked for us and it’s been a very successful fair; we’ve met many different people this year so it’s been fantastic for connections.’

Once again Frieze proved itself to be a place to see and discover the most exciting works.

Gordon Veneklasen of Michael Werner said: ‘We are very pleased that our first sale was a James Lee Byars performance from 1974 to a major foundation. The performance was first done in London in 1974. We also sold works of Per Kirkeby, Enrico David, Michael Williams, Sigmar Polke, and Aaron Curry.’

Contemporary Fine Arts: ‘It’s been really good as we’ve shown young Berlin artists who have sold really well. It’s the first time we’ve shown their work together like this and it’s been recognised by collectors – some of whom we knew already and others who are new contacts.’

Victoria Miro remarked, ‘I can only say positive things. We’ve had success with all our artists and the market has been surprisingly strong. The fair is truly contemporary with many cutting-edge pieces.’

Galleries in both Frame and new section Focus also received an energetic response. Frame is the section of the fair for galleries under six years old showing solo artist presentations. The Frame galleries selection is advised by curators Rodrigo Moura and Tim Saltarelli. Frame is sponsored by Cos. Focus is a new introduction this year having first debuted at Frieze New York and is open to galleries under ten years old showing up to three gallery artists.

Felipe Dmab of Mendes Wood commented: ‘It has been a great pleasure to be a part of this fair. Frame is an interesting opportunity to cultivate a dialogue around one artist and unusually enriching for a fair. It’s our first time here and has been beyond anything we imagined. The people we’ve met have ranged from curators, collectors, gallerists, museum directors. The way the whole fair operates is great; it’s an environment where everyone understands the importance of the event.’

Carlos Ishikawa’s Vanessa Carlos remarked, ‘Frieze is a place where you don’t have to compromise. Ed Fornieles’ project has received so much attention proving that Frame is an amazing platform for an artist unlike any other context. This fair is conducive to taking a risk – you don’t have to make a choice between the commercial and the experimental it’s possible to be both of these things at the same time. We’ve even had a real kiss on our stand!’

Take Ninagawa was another gallery who benefitted from the format of Frame: ‘It’s my second time in this section at the London fair and every time I have a really good experience. I sold everything immediately to buyers from all over the world: collectors from London, Switzerland, Belgium, Israel and Japan. Last year I showed a performance piece and as a result the artist was included in the Guangzhou Biennale earlier this year – you make connections here like nowhere else.’

Mother’s Tankstation’s Finola Jones commented: ‘What this fair can really offer like no other is that a young artist of serious ability can be noticed in a significant way.’

Focus participant Bruce Haines of Ancient and Modern remarked upon the quality of visitors to the fair: ‘Every day I met interesting people, right through the weekend too. In terms of people and connections it has been our best Frieze.’

Mihaela Lutea of Plan B was delighted by the new section: ‘The positioning of Focus has been really very good in cultivating positive reactions. This section gives us the possibility of building our profile in the perfect context. We wanted to introduce artists that may not be so well known and have sold most of the work we brought with us.’

Andreiana Mihail was also positive: ‘People here have been interesting not only in buying but also supporting Romanian artists, I’ve met very important museums and institutions with a real intellectual interest. At Frieze London I have been pleased that Ion Grigorescu has received full recognition of his practice. Focus is a great platform and allows galleries like us to participate in a sustainable way.’

Frieze London 2012 Stand Prize

Winner of the Frieze London Stand Prize were Vitamin Creative Space. Zhang Wei was delighted by the recognition that the Prize brings with it: ‘It was a surprise as we are not a big gallery; Frieze is a place that rewards us for exploring what can be done in a commercial context. We think of the fair not just as a place to sell but as a platform to connect with the global art community. Frieze gives the right context for experimentation.’

For the fourth year Champagne Pommery have sponsored the Stand Prize. The following international curators and critics selected the winning stand; Alex Farquharson, Director, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, November Paynter, Associate Director of Research and Programs, SALT, Istanbul, and Doryun Chong, Associate Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA, NY.

Outset/Frieze Art Fair Fund to Benefit the Tate Collection

The Fund, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary, enables Tate to acquire works for the national collection from London’s Frieze London. This year the following works have been acquired: Hideko Fukushima, Ko 8 (1963) from Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo; Nicholas Hlobo Balindile I (2012) from Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg; Caragh Thuring, Arthur Kennedy (2012) from Thomas Dane Gallery, London; and Jack Whitten Epsilon Group II (1977) from Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Collector response

Luiz Augusto Teixeira de Freitas remarked: ‘Once more Frieze exceeded my expectations. The amazing concentration of galleries with a high-quality of artists is always the main reason to come back every year. Of course also the quality of shows around London during the fair makes it an unmissable event.’

Sascha Bauer was particularly appreciative of some the younger galleries: ‘Frieze was energetic with solid presentations of artists in the Frame section. There was an exciting mix of established galleries and new names. Alex Zachary and Peter Currie had a dynamic booth and Algus Greenspon did a brilliant job combining historic and younger artists. I must say that it was also nice to be at a fair and have one of the best meals of my life at the Rochelle Canteen!’


Anita Zabludowicz said, ‘As always Frieze outdid themselves this year, the contemporary fair continues to be one of the foremost fairs where collectors, curators, artists and the public can see and buy some of the best art in the world. We added one significant installation and several new works to the collection from local and international artists and are consistently impressed by the professionalism and quality of Frieze.’

Tony Salame was another person pleased: ‘This year Frieze was a truly extraordinary event. The fairs were overhelming and even though I spent  four days at the fair I felt that it wasn’t enough and I could have stayed longer. The whole London experience was memorable with so many great shows, such a lively art scene and so many wonderful events.’

Nadia & Rajeeb Samdani said of the event: ‘Frieze in London is our favourite fair and it is not just a fair but also a reunion for collectors from all over the world and this time Frieze Masters was an absolute treat too.’

Bob Rennie and Carey Fouks noted, ‘Frieze Masters was a very civil experience. Then you walk over to the unbridled energy of Frieze London, this year one plus one did equal three!’

Gastone & Maria Teresa Chelini added, ‘Since 2003 we have not missed a single edition of Frieze and we are glad to be at the tenth fair. Frieze has dramatically changed our approach to art and has given us the opportunity to acquire great artworks and discover new artists. It will be always be an unmissable event on our agenda!’

Ulrich Köstlin commented: ‘Frieze delivered on its promise of fresh and contemporary. I discovered some great new artists for myself and enjoyed the generous and relaxed atmosphere in the tents and in the park.’


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