Who Shops at Frieze London? We Buttonholed Rose McGowan, Bob Rennie, and Other Power Players at the Fair

Rose McGowan was among the discerning VIPs at the preview day.

Photo by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.

It’s Frieze Week in London, which means visitors from all around the world have poured into the city to revel in the cornucopia of exhibitions and parties—and of course to visit the contemporary art fair that gives the week its name.

Everyone who’s anyone in the art scene descends on Frieze for its preview days to be seen before they let the rabble in on Friday. Here, six-inch heels keep pace with limited-edition sneakers as serious collectors mingle with VIPs, artists, and opportunists—some of whom come for the art, others just to witness the parade of fashion and influence.

Many collectors are laser focused on securing the best deal, and hopeful gallerists can deal out a glare frostier than the champagne that’s popping in the back room if you interrupt a potential sale. Still, we braved the gauntlet to buttonhole a few fairgoers to find out about their strategies, tastes, and acquisitions.


Rose McGowan

Rose McGowan with artist Mary Kelly. Photo by Kate Brown.

Rose McGowan with artist Mary Kelly. Photo by Kate Brown.

Have you been to Frieze before?

It’s my first time at Frieze London.

Can you comment on a highlight from what you have seen today?

Mary Kelly’s work is so substantial. This particular body of work [Corpus] is helping me be less scared and less afraid. You can see that nothing has changed, but that everything has also changed. It’s very powerful.

Do you collect art?

I do. But I am acquiring a place to live first and then I’ll get to acquiring art for that place to live. My sister works at Hauser & Wirth and my father is a fine artist, so I have been very steeped in the art world since I was a child.


Bob Rennie

Collector Bob Rennie (left) with dealer Dorian Bergen from ACA Galleries. Photo by Kate Brown.

Collector Bob Rennie (left) with dealer Dorian Bergen from ACA Galleries. Photo by Kate Brown.

Is this your first time at Frieze?

We’ve been coming since 2006. We’ve been here eight hours and we have seen only one and a half aisles!

Did you buy something today?

We just acquired 13 photographs by Christopher Williams from 1993 from Gisela Capitain. We don’t come here to buy, but when you see something that fills in a gap within a trajectory of an artist, you have no choice.

Did you discover any artists today?

No… But we did commit to falling in love with Lubaina Himid. We brought a painting into the collection and now we’re looking at her 98 ceramic pieces from 2007 and keeping them together. It’s something that we might not have found had we not had breakfast with Lisa Panting from Hollybush Gardens.


Raimund Berthold, Belinda Scriven, Paul Ettlinger

Raimund Berthold, Belinda Scriven, and Paul Ettlinger. Photo by Naomi Rea.

Raimund Berthold, Belinda Scriven, and Paul Ettlinger. Photo by Naomi Rea.

What do you do?

Raimund: I’m a fashion designer and an art collector.

Belinda: I’m a nutritionist and exercise consultant for celebrity clientele, but I’m not a collector. Paul won’t tell you this, but he’s one of the most respected private GPs in London, and his client list is the top of the top!

What do you collect?

Raimund: We collect a lot of contemporary art, including Isa Genzken, Sarah Lucas, Franz West, and Klara Lidén…

Paul: Jordan Wolfson, Ian Cheng—I actually bought a work from the show at the Serpentine earlier this year.

Have you bought anything at Frieze yet?

Paul: We just sealed the deal on a work by the Bolivian-American artist Donna Huanca at Peres Projects. We saw her work at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna and loved it!

What fairs do you go to?

Paul: We come to Frieze London every year, we also do Art Basel and Art Basel Miami, and we are looking forward to seeing what Frieze LA has to offer.


Ochuko Ojiri

Ochuko Ojiri. Photo by Naomi Rea.

Ochuko Ojiri. Photo by Naomi Rea.

What do you do?

I guess you could say I’m a full-time collector.

What do you collect?

Mainly contemporary work, like Josh Sperling, Nina Chanel Abney, that sort of thing.

How long have you been collecting?

A few years.

Is there a theme that ties your collection together?

There isn’t really an over-arching theme, but I like abstract work, things that are humorous, and work that is culturally relevant.

Have you bought anything at Frieze London yet?

No, but I’m working on it!


Frédéric de Goldschmidt

Frédéric de Goldschmidt. Photo by Naomi Rea.

Frédéric de Goldschmidt. Photo by Naomi Rea.

What do you think of the fair this year so far?

So far so good. I arrived at around 11. Frieze in not my favorite fair and it’s probably the fair where I have bought the least amount of works. But it’s always stimulating for the eyes, and it’s always a fair where I enjoy meeting people, speaking to people, probably more than buying. And I can’t really explain why, because I’ve seen a lot of works that I’ve liked, but so far I haven’t bought anything!

Why do you come over from Brussels for Frieze London?

I come to London, probably, because everybody is coming to London and there are some really good shows and galleries. I saw an excellent show at Blain|Southern yesterday, from Sean Scully, and I’m in discussions for a potential acquisition of a work, so it is all connected to Frieze somehow!

What is your favorite fair?

I think that my favorite is Artissima in Torino, and I would say that my second favorite is FIAC, because there are so many interesting things that happen in Torino and in Paris, in the same way as London. If you compare it to London, Artissima has a much more laid back attitude, people take more time. FIAC is similar to London in that there is a kind of frenzy.

Is it true that there is a lot of pre-fair buying at Frieze?

I would say it’s something that many people in London like to play with a little bit. The only work I inquired about was already on reserve at ten past eleven. I don’t know if it’s true or if that’s a strategy for the gallery to call me at three and say, “Oh after all it is available,” or if they have a lot of interest and are trying to find the best collector to place it with. I do have the advantage of regularly showing my collection and that’s something that galleries like, rather than a collector who never shows the work.

What has been your favorite booth so far?

There is one that I thought was really wonderful, it’s the booth by Otobong Nkanga, Contained Measures of Shifting States. It’s this really cool installation of ice melting and then of water turning into vapor, so it’s a really soft booth in the middle of the fair.


Cataldo Colella

Cataldo Collela in front of Leo Fitzmaurice at Sunday Painter. Photo by Naomi Rea.

Cataldo Colella in front of Leo Fitzmaurice at Sunday Painter. Photo by Naomi Rea.

Do you like this piece by Leo Fitzmaurice?

Yes, it’s very interesting for me because I am interested in adding neon works to my collection.

What is your strategy for the fair?

First I visit the young galleries. That’s the most important for me because there is new talent. Later, I will go to Frieze Masters. 

What else have you seen that you like?

The stand of Lisson Gallery, and Galleria Lorcan O’Neill, because of the neon with Tracey Emin! The fair is very important for me.

Do you go to a lot of art fairs?:

Yes—but I prefer London, because of the people!

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics