Frieze Masters is an upscale art fair that happens in a large tent in Regent’s Park once a year. The tent contains three expensive restaurants, stylish toilets, an auditorium, a bookshop, and some 50 booths occupied by art dealers from across the world. We get in for free because Flo’s friend Phoebe works for one of the dealers and gets us tickets. Last year her gallery recreated the 19th century French lunatic asylum in which Jean Dubuffet created his art brut; it was an extraordinary investment of time and creativity for something that was wonderful and striking but lasted only three days. The gallery had some of his pictures for sale. This year they had just three huge late Picasso’s. Phoebe told us that the price of each was $20 million.
These for me are the wonders of Frieze Masters.
- The art itself and the fact that you can get so close. You can breathe onto a Greek vase that is 2500 years old. You can smell the paint of a Paula Rego, see the finger prints of Gustav Klimt.
- The juxtaposition of the ancient, the tribal, the classic, and the new. An Ancient Egyptian funerary object may be just a few yards from an Anselm Kiefer.
- The people. Many are extraordinary. Many are beautiful. Indeed, it seems that you can’t work for a gallery unless you are beautiful. And people dress up, some to the point of being able to walk straight into a fancy dress party. Even I dressed up, putting on my pink trousers, a dark shirt, and a linen jacket (bought, I ought to confess, in a charity shop.)