Frieze frame … Franz West’s Room in London on the roof of the ICA, with the Duke of York Column in the background. Photograph: ICA
“Frieze week” has come to mean a lot more than global galleries and minted collectors descending on the eponymous art fair’s tent in Regent’s Park. From momentous museum commissions – such as Tacita Dean‘s latest contribution to the Unilever Series in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall – to risky one-off projects by younger artists, it’s the signal for a London-wide explosion of standout shows. For art lovers, the choice on offer can be daunting. Here’s the breakdown.
The young guns
There’s a bit of rising art-star sparkle in all corners of the city. Topping the list is this year’s winner of the Silver Lion award for most promising youngster at the Venice Biennale. British sculptor Haroon Mirza‘s Camden Arts Centre show contains kinetic configurations of furniture, turntables and synths, doubling as hand-built techno soundscapes. Ed Atkins is another newbie picking up accolades and exhibition slots like lint. His high-definition video art pairs the messy workings of the body with the hard, shiny surface of material culture in a fever-dream of colour and music. You can’t get away from it this week. He’s got an Art Now Tate Britain show, new work in Frieze’s film programme and a collaboration with Mirza and James Richards being premiered at Chisenhale Gallery.
The ICA has wunderkind twentysomething Jacob Kassay‘s singed silver mirror paintings, which seemingly came from nowhere to reach shock auction prices last year. At the other end of the scale there’s Emma Hart at Matt’s Gallery. This young artist, known for her adventures stalking farm animals with her handheld video camera, makes work that crackles with low-fi ingenuity.
Gerhard Richter isn’t the only artist in town with his name in the history books. White Cube is opening its third space – a 1.7-acre converted warehouse in Bermondsey – with three shows featuring some very big names: Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky, Jeff Wall, Brice Marden and the Chapman brothers … the list goes on. Then there are Franz West‘s towering, gloopy sculptures on the roof of the ICA. And up the road, Haunch of Venison says goodbye to the ample rooms at the back of the Royal Academy with a survey of Frank Stella‘s output over the last 50 years – proving there’s a lot more to the minimalist master than stripe paintings. Meanwhile, a generation on from Stella, feminist figurehead Joan Jonas is at Wilkinson showing her 1994 video installation Volcano Saga, in which Tilda Swinton plays a medieval visionary, floating in a dreamland combining aspects of Iceland and New York.
London’s commercial galleries make the most of Frieze and there’s a slew of free shows by top-notch names to choose from. Steal a march on the major survey of George Condo’s exquisite, savage paintings of clowns, butlers, monster women and the Queen, opening at the Hayward next week, with his recent drawings at Sprueth Magers. Doug Aitken‘s latest video installation, Black Mirror, at Victoria Miro, injects more of his trademark big-screen gloss into video art, with indie queen and fashion it-girl Chloë Sevigny lost in an alienating world of endless travel.
The journey goes inward with Charles Avery’s latest giant drawing at Pilar Corrias, which moves further into the quizzical, quixotic terrain of “the Island”, his private world where philosophy, imagination and an isolated community’s eccentricity converge. Maureen Paley is showing new sculpture by Rebecca Warren, an artist who tackles the sexual overtones in work by a cabal of deified male artists from Giacometti to R Crumb with ribald wit. Meanwhile, Cory Arcangel‘s interest in outdated tech sees him making art with an automated pencil plotter machine (anyone remember them?) and a remixed basketball video game at Lisson.
Catch these fleeting events and shows while you can. Tracey Emin is creating a site-specific exhibition in a Georgian house on Fitzroy Square, which includes Picasso-inspired self-portraits and hand-woven tapestries. For her week-long artist’s residency at St John’s Hotel, Emin’s great friend and collaborator from Brit art’s glory days Sarah Lucas can be found in bed and at the bar. She’ll be shooting the breeze while making new work developing her earlier “Nuds” sculptures: lumpy hermaphrodite creations from old nude tights that suggest innards and men and women’s dangly bits.
Another Turner laureate, Jeremy Deller, has turned curator at the Fine Art Society. Well-known for his love of offbeat folk art, Deller puts out a selection of paintings here including work by such historical greats as Walter Sickert and Eric Ravilious, alongside two of Britain’s best-known contemporary stars, Peter Doig and Chris Ofili. You can listen in on what painters make of the challenges facing their medium as artist Michael Stubbs sits down with another two of contemporary art’s biggest names, Glenn Brown and Keith Tyson, for a debate at Laurent Delaye Gallery. And for those with stamina, the Serpentine’s Marathon art weekend is a non-stop relay of talks and performances. Taking its lead from the Piet Oudolf garden inside the current Peter Zumthor-designed gallery pavilion, the sixth instalment is themed around “the garden” and features over 50 artists, architects, scientists, musicians and more, including documentary maker Adam Curtis and sci-fi author Brian Aldiss.
The other art fairs
If you need a breather from all the contemporary art, the Pavilion of Art and Design is an alternative fair with galleries specialising in work by modern masters, tribal art, photography and leading design-as-art operations such as London’s Carpenters Workshop Gallery.
Finally, as the week draws to a close you can cool your heels at the Sunday art fair, a three-day congregation of young, small galleries with an underground indie flavour and a more laid-back approach. The on-site watering hole, Bryan’s Bar, has cocktails from arch-conceptualist Ryan Gander‘s recipe book and an art pub quiz hosted by Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams.
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