Frieze London 2015 Final Sales Report
Women artists sold well, and everyone's into glazed pottery now.
Walking down the entrance corridor to Frieze, transformed by artist Lutz Bacher to resemble the set of a gory comic-horror B-movie complete with black paint, black rubber butcher’s curtains, iron rings mounted on distressed wooden benches, and the ominous “Welcome to Purgatory” sign, I shrugged. A comment on the business of art fairs, edgy though it may be, becomes metabolized by the art crowds’ hunger for clever, “subversive” entertainment quicker than you can say “Jake and Dinos Chapman.”
However, this year’s edition of Frieze didn’t quite have the “London Dungeon” feel that Bacher had set up, albeit the media hype around the return of Damien Hirst. Maybe it was because I couldn’t spot a single Jeff Koons on site. Or anything by the Chapman Brothers for that matter. When the most visible work at the fair is a massive Felix the Cat balloon by Mark Leckey, slouching underneath the tent’s ceiling at the booth of Galerie Buchholz as it’s not fully pumped with air, there’s a crisp sense of cool to the whole affair. Some of the happy Instagrammers hugging the cat’s paws and smiling to the camera may have even spotted, edgewise, the photograph by Wolfgang Tillmans mounted opposite, showing the crotch of a man clad in red sports shorts, and a hand reaching between his hairy legs, grabbing underneath the stretched fabric.
That’s not to say that the the flurry of collectors didn’t descend on the fair with the expected art buying frenzy and cleaned up some booths on day 1. And there were some definite favorites: Galerie Kamel Mennour’s booth of works by Camille Henrot was completely sold out by Friday (prices ranged from $46,000 – $230,000); other dealers offering works by the French sensation, such as Berlin’s König Galerie, also reported good sales.
Thomas Dane Gallery sold all the works by Cecily Brown on the booth within the first hour of the VIP Preview, with drawings and paintings ranging from $50,000 – $375,000. It’s certainly premature to make a general observation on how well artworks by women artists fared, but some of the bigger sales for 303 gallery, for example, were a painting by Karen Kilimnik, for $200,000, and one by Mary Heilmann, for $150,000. Viennese Galerie Meyer Kainer also sold a Heilmann for a similar price range, and did well with works by Kerstin Brätsch, Annette Kelm, and Rachel Harrison as well. Salon 94 had a booth dedicated to Huma Bhabha, and sold a cork sculpture for $195,000 and a totemic bronze piece for $275,000. Peres Projects sold paintings by the two latest additions to the gallery’s roster, Donna Huanca and Melike Kara, for prices ranging from €15,000 – €20,000. Adding to their sales from preview day, Sprüth Magers also sold Jenny Holzer’s All Fall (2012), an array of 5 double-sided LED signs with stainless steel housings for $500,000 to a US collection.
Contemporary Fine Arts sold Marianne Vitale sculptures of repurposed rail tracks for $50,000. The Berlin gallery also sold a new painting by Daniel Richter, who currently has a comprehensive show at Frankfurt’s Schirn Kunsthalle, for €175,000, as well as a new woodcut by Gert and Uwe Tobias for €32,000, and works by Christian Rosa and Borden Capalino.
Perusing the aisles, certain trends could be easily discerned: Cartoonish paintings are in, as if an entire school spawned by Peter Saul is now being embraced by late bloomers. Swiss artist Vittorio Brodmann at L.A. gallery Freedman Fitzpatrick stood out at the Focus section of the fair, as well as Mira Dancy at Night Gallery, also from L.A. and also at Focus, which had a lot more of works in this vain on view.
Also, everyone is into glazed ceramics now, not only ones who’ve worked with it before like Aaron Angell (spotted at Rob Tufnell), but also Trisha Baga, showing ceramic objects at Vilma Gold, similar to the ones on view at her recent show at Greene Naftali in New York. Alas, only a few artists manage to mold some kind of a signature take into the medium, so the effect is a lot of sameness.
Many sculptures at the fair, however, managed to delight with their uniqueness. Luigi Ontani’s enigmatic totem at Galleria Lorcan O’Neill stole the show, even when surrounded by sculptures by much younger, hipper artists such as Prem Sahib. Sadie Coles showed a fantastically puzzling work by Darren Bader, Sculpture #1, which was bought by Hong Kong collector for $90,000.
Mexican gallery Kurimanzutto added to their sales from the first day a work by Gabriel Orozco, which sold for $900,000 by Friday, while at Timothy Taylor, works by Eddie Martinez, who had a sold out show with the gallery last year during Frieze week, sold out completely at the fair, too, with works on paper going for $2,500 and paintings for $75,000. A Kiki Smith wall sculpture sold for $65,000, the toxic green painting, Hulk 2, by Armen Eloyan sold for €50,000.
But, despite all the new trends that could be discerned this year—including the long-awaited disappearance of some empty tropes associated with “post-internet” art and the sad resurgence of a worn out foible for using children in performances—by the end of the weekend, the most expensive work sold was still the new piece by Damien Hirst Holbein (Artist’s Watercolours), at White Cube, which went for over $1.2 million within the first hour of the VIP preview on Tuesday.
For more on Frieze Week, see What Sold on Day One at Frieze London, 15 Artists to Watch at Frieze London 2015, Helly Nahmad Stages a Mental Asylum with Jean Dubuffet Art Brut Works at Frieze Masters, Insider’s Guide to the Best and Worst of London’s Frieze Week 2015 and be sure to make use of artnet News’ 5 Tips for Every Art Fairgoer. Also, see photos from Ken Kagami’s saucy fair intervention, as well as the top booths at Frieze Masters and the Scoop on What’s Selling At Frieze Masters 2015. Also, read about how Amalia Ulman Stripped Visitors of Shoes and Phones At Frieze London.
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