Frieze week: the art world has touched down in London


If you thought that Fashion Weeks and Film Festivals were the only occasions to see a slightly overpowering invasion of glamorous people into a city for a short space of time, then think again: Frieze Week is upon us. Named after the Frieze London and Frieze Masters art fairs, which themselves take their name from Frieze Magazine, it’s the ‘must go’ event in London this week, for art lovers, professionals and anyone interested in a bit of people spotting and art.

Frieze London has become one of the leading art fairs for contemporary art with over 160 galleries from all around the world. Frieze Masters, slightly smaller at 130 galleries, concentrates on a range of art forms, from antiquities and tribal art to Impressionism, the avant-gardes and post-war art.

More than the fair itself, Frieze Week lends its name to museums, auctions houses and galleries, who all make a consolidated effort to put up the best exhibitions in town, thrusting London into the artistic spotlight, and further cementing its position as one of the most culturally stimulating cities in the world.

Italy’s rich artistic heritage is unsurprisingly ever-present, with numerous art galleries and auction houses hosting dedicated exhibitions and sales to Italian post-war art. Sotheby’s and Christie’s both hold their internationally renowned Italian Sales (on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th respectively) where the likes of Lucio Fontana, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Agostino Bonalumi, Fausto Melotti, Alberto Burri, Giorgio Morandi, and Alighiero Boetti become the focus of attention for collectors from all over the world wanting to put a piece of Italy’s finest in their homes or vaults.

In fact, such is the demand for Italian art that many Italian galleries have opened in London with permanent spaces. Mazzoleni Gallery, Tornabuoni Arte and M&L Fine Art just to quote the most recent ones, have all established themselves in London and curated spectacular shows featuring many of Fontana’s Concetti Spaziali, Pistoletto’s beautiful mirror works and Boetti’s intrinsic woven maps and alphabets.

The contemporary art scene also has whispers of Italian, with artists like Maurizio Cattelan, Ugo Rondinone and Francesco Vezzoli taking the lead. However, it is evident that the Italian contribution to art seems, with a few exceptions, to stop with our post-war artists. This is due to the little support that artists receive in Italy but above all to the lack of promotion from Italian institutions and art schools. One can only hope that either the galleries and institutions start scouting more young Italian artists or that there are enough Fontana’s in this planet.

Frieze London is on until Saturday 17th October

Frieze Masters is on until Sunday 18th October

Mazzoleni Gallery is showing Alberto Burri until Monday 30th November

Sadie Coles HQ is showing Ugo Rondinone: clouds + mountains + waterfalls from until Saturday 24th October

Tornabuoni London is showing Lucio Fontana until Saturday 5 December

M&L Fine Arts will be showing a range of Italian Modern artists, including Lucio Fontana, Agostino Bonalumi, and Enrico Castellani.


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