London Art Week
Posted By Tom on January 4, 2012
Between Regent’s Park and Berkeley Square – Meller Merceux sees its interest in both contemporary artists and Modernist masterworks reflected between Frieze Art Fair and the Pavilion of Art and Design London. Dr John Roberts visits London Art Week…
For four days in mid-October the internationally renowned Frieze Art Fair once again dominated the London art world. This spectacular annual showcase of contemporary art returned to a new bespoke structure in Regent’s Park, where it has been located since its inception in 2002. Frieze Art Fair began life as an innovative affiliate to Frieze magazine – itself founded by the Fair’s directors Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp a decade earlier. It has attracted tremendous interest from a diverse audience ever since. In previous years Frieze has attracted audiences of over 60,000 people – a vibrant mix of leading international collectors, gallerists, artists, curators, critics and members of the public.
This year’s event continued the trend and also reflected the increasingly globalised nature of the commercial art world: 173 contemporary galleries from 33 countries convened in London to showcase the work of over 1000 emerging and established artists from all over the globe. Aside from its status as a unique commercial environment, Frieze Art Fair also functions as a significant cultural platform. The 2011 programme of events – curated by Sarah McCrory and supported by the not-for-profit Frieze Foundation – included a series of specially commissioned artist’s projects, as well as performances, panel discussions and educational courses. The design of the show is a creative endeavour in itself – as well as being an annual talking point – with this year’s Fair being overseen by the London-based architectural firm Carmody Groake.
During Frieze-week, a few miles across London in Berkeley Square, another major art event was taking place, this time with a slightly different focus and a more elegant atmosphere. Returning to Mayfair for the fourth year running, the 2011 Pavilion of Art and Design London (formerly known as DesignArt London) was the largest yet staged. The event brought together 57 prestigious exhibitors to showcase work in the Decorative Arts, Design, Photography, Jewellery and, for the first time, Tribal Art. Established in 1996 by Patrick Perrin and Stéphane Custot, as an annual Paris-based event associated with Société d’Organisation Culturelle (SOC), PAD London focuses exclusively on works of art and design produced between 1860 and the present day. This is a particularly rich period in art history and many of the pieces for sale at this year’s event reflected the emerging relationship between art and industry associated with the 19th Century. Other exhibits included works that surveyed events such as the founding of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the advent of post-war and contemporary design.
An overlapping distinction can be drawn between the focus of both Frieze Art Fair and PAD London – the exclusive emphasis on living artists in the former and the interest in a defined historical period in the latter. These differences echo the format and outlook of Meller Merceux Gallery, which encompasses the best of both worlds by presenting distinct yet concurrent exhibitions of work by contemporary artists and recognised masters such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
As well as the magnificent range and high quality of works on show at Frieze Art Fair and PAD London, it is the subtle contrasts in their respective approaches that make them essential viewing. Taken together they give an excellent picture of the latest trends in both art collecting and contemporary practice, as well as demonstrating the enduring appeal of individual artists associated with specific historical movements. Excitingly, the distinctions between these two events could potentially become more complex from 2012. Frieze has recently announced that two new Fairs are to be staged as part of their ten-year anniversary celebrations. First, there is Frieze New York, which will take place in May at Randall’s Island Park, just beyond the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Secondly, and perhaps most excitingly for Meller Merceux, there will be Frieze Masters, an event that will coincide with the existing October Fair to concentrate on bringing a contemporary perspective to historical art, emphasising, much like Meller Merceux Gallery, the shifting relationships and associations to be found between art old and new.