Frieze London is 20: what to see at the Art Fair and beyond on its milestone edition

Highlights from the tent, satellite shows and site-specific pop-ups

It’s been two decades to the month since Concorde landed its last commercial flight, since Apple launched iTunes, and since The Spectator proclaimed ‘high-tech age spells doom’, asking: ‘Is this the end of painting?’

The London of 2003 was languishing in a post-YBA, pre-Post-Internet era, Banksy was still carefreely tagging on its streets; Grayson Perry had accepted the Turner Prize, and Olafur Eliasson was enveloping Tate Modern’s (shiny new) Turbine Hall with The Weather Project. And amongst all that noise, in October, the Frieze Art Fair opened its doors for the first time.

Now in its 20th iteration, Frieze embraces historical alongside contemporary art (with Frieze Masters now in its 11th edition) at fairs which reach New York, Los Angeles and Seoul. Faces a new and increasingly familiar deck in its hallowed halls, this year spanning 160 galleries from 46 countries, with 28 participants marking 20 consecutive years at the event.

Indeed, the numbers, not least the full tour of wider galleries, institutions and events, can be unwieldy, especially on this bumper anniversary year. Here, we offer a few suggestions of where to start.

Sadie Coles HQ at Frieze London

Sarah Lucas, Toilet and Urinal, 2003. © Sarah Lucas. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Beating the drum for the 20th anniversary year, Sadie Coles HQ presents a ‘then-and-now’ of Frieze London highlights, dividing artists according to their 2003 vintage (including John Currin and Sarah Lucas) and those who bring works from this decade as well as a couple who span both. Monster Chetwynd is in the company of nonagenarian Italian artist Isabella Ducrot’s Bella Terra landscapes and Yu Ji’s cement and iron Flesh in Stone – Anthropos I (2021).

Christo’s Early Works at Gagosian Open

Christo: Early Works; curated by Elena Geuna, 2023. Artwork © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation. Photography: Lucy Dawkins Courtesy Gagosian.

Veiled in plastic and fabric, bound with rope or twine, Christo’s early works from the 1960s and 1970s reveal him as a global itinerant – or self-proclaimed ‘l’étranger’ – collecting objects of everyday life as he relocated from Vienna to Geneva, Paris, and eventually to New York. For Frieze Week, a series of formative sculptures wind up at 4 Princelet Street, a Grade II–listed Georgian Spitalfields townhouse – part of the Gagosian Open series of projects curated by Elena Geuna. See more on the show.
6–22 October, 4 Princelet Street E1 6QH

The ‘Artist-to-Artist’ Section at Frieze London

Simonette Quamina, Swing: An Ode to Romanticism in Art, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Frieze.

Simonette Quamina’s mystical, densely layered collage works are just one chapter of the Frieze Artist-to-Artist programme, in which eight established artists pick a contemporary practitioner for a solo show. Amongst the other presentations include Vanessa Raw’s meditations in paint on the feminine body, chosen by Tracey Emin; the late Carlos Villa’s 1980s body-print series, proposed by Anthea Hamilton; and Wantanee Siripattananuntakul’s installation centred around an African grey parrot, nominated by Rirkrit Tiravanija (Gallery Ver).

Maren Hassinger ‘On Dangerous Ground’, Susan Inglett Gallery at Frieze Masters

Maren Hassinger, On Dangerous Ground (artist in studio), 1981. Courtesy: Susan Inglett Gallery. Photography: © Museum Associates/LACMA

In 1981, Maren Hassinger was the first Black Artist to receive a solo show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For Frieze Masters, Susan Inglett Gallery recreates and reexamines this original presentation, titled On Dangerous Ground, with Hassinger’s signature ‘wire bush’ sculptural works such as Splintering and Splintered Starburst (1981/2023). ‘Any ground can be dangerous if you’re going to put yourself at risk’, says Hassinger. ‘The material evokes my feeling of anxiety of being a newcomer—my trepidation towards a solo museum show. On Dangerous Ground means, I’m on Dangerous Ground, and by extension so are you.’

‘Living Memory’ at All Saints Chapel

Living Memory, installation view. All Saints Chapel, London. Photography: Richard Ivey

Offering a balm to weary art-going souls is the Living Memory exhibition at All Saints Chapel, uniting sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, canvases by Gideon Rubin, and a soundscape by Nicolas Godin. The 19th-century chapel itself was the first dedicated place of worship for the Society of All Saints Sisters of the Poor – an intriguing context for the haunting and contemplative contemporary works, even without the dramatic backdrop of Richard Clayton’s 1861 Crucifixion, whose attendant saints are all female.
Until 27 October, 82-83 Margaret Street W1W 8LH

Leliah Babirye – Stephen Friedman Gallery at Frieze London

Leliah Babirye, Stephen Friedman Gallery at Frieze London. Photography: Stephen Friedman Gallery

Leliah Babirye’s wooden and ceramic sculptures are not only woven, whittled, welded and burnished, but embellished with debris gleaned from the streets of New York. The artist’s use of discarded material is a conscious act, reclaiming the pejorative term for a gay person (‘abasiyazi’, meaning ‘sugarcane husk’) in the artist’s native Luganda language: ‘the part of the sugarcane you throw out’, she explains. Babirye’s Queer Identity Card series is presented as a solo show at Stephen Friedman Gallery at Frieze London, whilst her first bronze, ‘Gyagenda’ is part of Frieze Sculpture.

Zak Ové – The Mothership Connection at Frieze Sculpture

Zak Ové, The Mothership Connection, 2021. Frieze Sculpture Park. Photography: Gallery 1957

Looming large even amongst the London Planes of Regent’s Park, Zak Ové’s The Mothership Connection (2021) is a spectrum-stack of cultural history. Drawing on Pacific Northwest totem-making and vernacular architecture, it pays tribute both to artisanship and the contribution of slave labour therein. Look out also for Yinka Shonibare‘s Material IV (2023), amongst works by Ayşe Erkmen, Ghada Amer and Hank Willis Thomas, and all of which can enjoyed for free in the fresh air.
Regent’s Park until 29 October 2023

Charlotte Colbert’s ‘Dreamland Sirens’ at Fitzrovia Chapel

Charlotte Colbert, Dreamland Sirens, Fitzrovia Chapel. Image: Charlotte Colbert.

‘Which dreams and utopias can we Magick into the world?’ asks artist and filmmaker Charlotte Colbert. For Dreamland Sirens, curated by Simon De Pury alongside UTA Artist Space Director Zuzanna Ciolek, Colbert riffs on 20th-century ideas of the occult as well as Lewis Carrol dreamscapes for an immersive presentation at Fitzrovia Chapel. Sound by acclaimed composer Isobel Waller-Bridge is sure to add additional atmosphere to the large-scale sculptural works. ‘There is a power in imagining and what we imagine becomes tomorrow,’ says Colbert.
11-21 October, Fitzrovia Chapel, W1 3BF

Maria Lai’s ‘The Bread Encyclopaedia’ at Frieze Masters

Maria Lai, Telaio, 1971. Courtesy of the artist and M77 Gallery

The 1880s and the following century were vital in the fight for women’s rights and feminism, say the organisers of ‘Modern Women’, a new themed section at Frieze Masters (led by Camille Morineau, co-founder of the non-profit organisation AWARE). Amongst the solo shows of women artists include Maria Lai with M77 gallery, who sets the scene with a table of the artist’s iconic bread-clad book sculptures from the 1960s titled L’Enciclopedia di Pane (The Bread Encyclopaedia). Even if it wasn’t for their alluring manufacture in terracotta, paper and fabric, any mention of baked goods was bound to have us come running.

Sophie von Hellermann’s ‘Dreamland’ at Frieze London

Sophie von Hellermann, Merry Go Round, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias

For all the earnestness at the fair, there is also free-wheeling hedonism, in artistic form at least. Specifically from Sophie von Hellermann, who brings us via Pilar Corrias gallery an iconic ‘Pleasure Garden’: that irresistible spectacle of frivolity enjoyed by 19th century Londoners. Her own is inspired by Margate’s Dreamland (where she lives), with carousels, Ferris wheels and soothsayers seeking to reclaim seaside smut and grubby grandeur on their own terms.

Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2023 runs until 15 October 2023

Gucci Cosmos and UVA ‘Synchronicity’ at 180 The Strand

Courtesy Gucci

180 The Strand is hosting not one but two bumper shows to coincide with the opening of Frieze London within its Brutalist confines. First up is a spectacular deep dive into the history of luxe fashion house Gucci, with its travelling show, Gucci Cosmos. The elaborate exhibition is designed by award-winning artist and designer Es Devlin, who’s put a site-specific spin on the London iteration, paying homage to Gucci’s long ties to the city via Savoy-inspired rooms, including its iconic Red Lift.

Photography: Jack Hems

After refreshing at the ground floor Gucci Café, head to the building’s subterranean spaces for a dazzling light show courtesy of United Visual Artists and 180 Studios. Synchronicity celebrates the arts collective’s 20th anniversary and brings together eight new immersive installations that push the limits of human perception.
Both shows run into December and are ticketed events – see more information

Read next: Gucci Cosmos at 180 Studios delves into the fashion house’s connection to London



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