Dealers Report a Flurry of Sales at Frieze London 2016
Despite Brexit-related concerns, dealers sold well in all sections of the fair.
The 14th edition of Frieze London previewed on Wednesday to what was described by most dealers as a “flurry of sales” and a much more dynamic first day than at the 2015 edition.
This was particularly evident for blue-chip galleries, those occupying the areas near the fair’s entrance, which this year—after yet another re-design by Universal Design Studio—has two different access points instead of just one, preventing the bottle-neck that used to clog the front aisles.
In the first hours, David Zwirner sold a new $1 million painting by Kerry James Marshall that will go to a major American museum, and another work by Marshall for $600,000 to a private collection. A new painting by Yayoi Kusama also sold for over $1 million, while a 2016 Bridget Riley painting worth £700,000 was bought by an Asian collector.
Additional sales at Zwirner included two new oil and charcoal on linen works by Chris Ofili, worth $380,000; two new sculptures by Carol Bove for $375,000 each; a Thomas Ruff photograph for €85,000; and a number of photographs by Wolfgang Tillmans ranging from $8,000 to $80,000, which also sold on day one.
Hauser & Wirth sold a number of works from its eye-catching and crowded (featuring a whopping 46 artists) “L’atelier d’artistes” booth, including sculptures by Fischli / Weiss and Thomas Houseago (for $75,000); a Rodney Graham lightbox; several works by Phyllida Barlow, including a small sculpture for £50,000; and a Jack Whitten work on canvas for $45,000, all of which changed hands on day one, alongside works by Henry Moore and Louise Bourgeois, among others.
“It was a great start to the opening,” Neil Wenman, senior director at Hauser & Wirth told artnet News on Thursday morning. “I think the thematic booth got a lot of attention which drew lots of people in, and we did make quite a lot of sales. The atmosphere is really different this year, it was really jovial, also because our booth had such a strong theme, and even music.”
Overall, this year’s edition felt more pared down and elegant, with more galleries choosing to show modern artists. Could this be influenced by Frieze London’s successful younger sibling, Frieze Masters, also evidenced in the higher number of curated booths and throwback presentations?
“I think so,” said Wenman. “I think The Nineties section was a great example of that cross-historical look. There’s definitely a sense of contemporary art galleries looking back, but questioning it through a modern lens.”
Contemporary works, however, were high in demand. Over at Timothy Taylor, the London-based gallery reported strong sales at its solo booth of work by Brooklyn-based artist Eddie Martinez, selling 14 sculptures on the first day for prices ranging from $12,000 to $15,000.
Maureen Paley sold a £150,000 sculpture by Rebecca Warren, dated 2005-2016, to a British collector, as well as an installation by Paulo Nimer Pjota, titled Vaporware, some samples (2016), to a New York-based collector for $24,000. On the first day, Wolfgang Tillmans’s photo Kleine Welle (2015) sold to a US collector for $120,000.
Victoria Miro reported strong sales in the very first hours, during which a number of works by Grayson Perry, including sculptures and tapestries changed hands for prices ranging from £50,000 to £450,000. A series of recent paintings by Yayoi Kusama (with prices ranging $400,000 to $1 million) were also a hit with collectors, as were a series of paintings by Chantal Joffe depicting strong Jewish women, including Betty Friedan, Hannah Arendt, Claude Cahun, and Gertrude Stein, with prices between £10,000 and £30,000, a number of which sold in the first morning.
Over at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, the first day brought sales of blue chip works by Robert Longo, Tony Cragg, Daniel Richter, Sigmar Polke, and two paintings by Georg Baselitz. Nearby, Berlin’s Peres Projects had sold all its paintings by Donna Huanca, priced between $17,000 and $22,500.
Pace Gallery sold a new LED light work by Leo Villareal entitled Radiant Wheel, (2015) for $100,000. The gallery also sold a new marble bust by Kevin Francis Gray for £80,000; a small minimalist painting made of copper wire and gesso by Prabhavathi Meppayil for $20,000; and two life size works by Kohei Nawa priced at $380,000 and $230,000.
Simon Lee sold works by Hans-Peter Feldmann between €50,000 and £90,000 on day one, and paintings by Paulina Olowska for around $80,000 on day two. Meanwhile, Berlin’s Esther Schipper reported a number of sales, including Ryan Gander’s bronze sculpture Elevator To Culturefield (2016) which sold for well over £80,000.
Related: Ryan Gander Talks Art, Curation, and Politics for His ‘Night in the Museum’ Exhibition
“The fair has been great to work with as every year and has managed to attract more collectors from Asia and Middle East than previous editions. First day sales have been very strong and I am particularly happy to present Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s historical work R.W.F. in The Nineties section,” Schipper told artnet News.
Meanwhile, Sprüth Magers sold two 2009 Craig Kauffman acrylic and glitter sculptures for $125,000 each on the first day, while the second day brought the sale of the seminal Sylvie Fleury at its booth over at The Nineties section, presented in collaboration with Salon 94 and Mehdi Chouakri.
New York galleries also did extremely well. Casey Kaplan sold out the majority of its stand in the first hours, including works by Kevin Beasley, Giorgio Griffa, Garth Weiser, N.Dash, and Sarah Crowner, while P.P.O.W. reported strong sales including several Betty Tompkins paintings for $3,000 to $3,500; photographs by Portia Munson at $15,000; and works by Martin Wong, ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.
David Kordansky Gallery sold the majority of its booth in the first hours, with most of the interest coming from non-British collectors. A new painting by Harold Ancart sold for $85,000 to an American collector. Mary Weatherford’s Spike Driver’s Moan (2016) sold to an Asian collector for $185,000, and Kathryn Andrews’s Black Bars (Dejeuner No. 1) from 2016 sold for $68,000 to an American institutional collector.
South Africa’s Goodman Gallery also reported a strong start, with early sales including William Kentridge’s drawing Observer (2016) for $450,0000; a Mikhael Subotzky photo from 2006 for $15,000; and a recent work by ruby onyinyechi amanze on graphite, ink, and photo transfers, for $8,000.
The top galleries from São Paulo couldn’t complain either. Galeria Fortes Vilaça sold two new works by Erika Verzutti, with prices ranging from $45,000 to $50,000; and two new works by Leda Catunda, for prices ranging from $25,000 to $60,000. Galeria Luisa Strina sold three works by Leonor Antunes, acquired through the Frieze Tate Fund to join the Tate collection, as well as works by Fernanda Gomes, Laura Lima, Marcius Galan, Tonico Lemos Auad, and two drawings by Anna Maria Maiolino.
Mendes Wood, also from São Paulo, sold works by Lucas Arruda, Sonia Gomez, Patricia Leite, Luiz Roque, Daniel Steegmann Mangrane, and Mariana Castillo Deball, while Galeria Vermelho sold a 2014 work by Dora Longo Bahia for $25,000.
The works by Leonor Antunes sold at Luisa Strina weren’t the only pieces that have been bought through the £150,000 Frieze Tate Fund, supported for the first time by WME | IMG. The six-person international jury, composed of four Tate curators and two guest curators, also selected six artworks by the Turkish artist Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, acquired from Rampa, Istanbul; and one work by the Malaysian artist Phillip Lai, acquired from Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London.
London’s Laura Bartlett sold a unique photograph by Elizabeth McAlpine for £15,000, as well as two works by Lydia Gifford for £6,200, a painting by Sol Calero for £11,000, and a wall-based work by Maria Lund for £5,200.
Younger galleries, those located more towards the back of the tent, also had an exciting start. Vienna’s Galerie Emanuel Layr sold a number of paintings by Nick Oberthaler, priced at €20,000. Athens’ The Breeder sold a brilliant installation by Angelo Plessas, who’s participating in the forthcoming Documenta 14, for $34,000 to a European collector; as well as a delicate bead curtain by Zoë Paul to a London-based collector, for $15,000.
So what about the dreaded Brexit and the depreciation of the pound? Has the uncertainty been harmful for the British art market at all, as speculators were quick to predict?
“I think it might have come out as a positive at the moment,” Neil Wenman, senior director at Hauser & Wirth, told artnet News. “Sales have been really strong at Frieze London but particularly strong at Frieze Masters this year, with some of the really high value works we’ve put on display selling, so perhaps this is a particularly strong time for works priced in pounds, as the currency is weak at the moment. If you are an international collector, the pound is weak, so things are cheaper. We’ve definitely seen a strong start to the season. It was a very long summer with lots of uncertainty, politically, with terrorism, Brexit… But now we are up and running, and we are excited,” he added.
Although it’s too early to say, judging by the excitement of dealers across the fair and the encouraging results of the London auctions this week, it might seem as if, after the doom and gloom of previous months, the market could be perking up again. All eyes will now be on the sales results at Paris’ FIAC and Art Basel Miami.
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