Artist Banks Violette’s massive graphite and gloss canvas at Team Gallery’s Frieze Art Fair booth says, “I would rather be killing my family.” But Valentino, Elle Macpherson, Gwen Stefani, Daphne Guinness, Tom Ford, Courtney Love, and the other attendees at the opening of the ninth Frieze seemed happy to mingle and peruse the art instead.
Even though sales are steadily increasing after the recession, frugality has replaced fashion as a dominant theme for the work on view. There are fewer references to pop culture and luxury, and a more low-tech crafty feel from work like LuckyPDF’s live radio broadcasts, Franz West’s enormous, roughly knotted phallus sculpture at Gagosian, and Dan Colen’s massive chewing gum canvas at Peres Projects Berlin. Mark Hix’s packed on-site canteen contained “credit crunch ice cream,” a conceptually rich dessert of vanilla and chocolate scoops mixed with gold honeycomb and topped with chocolate sauce, half the price of other puddings at just £4.50.
The fair’s most popular participant, however, was an industrious red hermit crab who dutifully carried a replica of Constantin Brancusi’s serene Sleeping Muse sculpture on its back, while navigating through Pierre Huyghe’s aquarium in the Frieze Projects section. The delight this recontextualization of iconic art gave viewers was reflected in Lily Cole’s summation of the Frieze experience while at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise stand, “Fairs or galleries, I really care less about the context,” she said. “I just love looking at lots and lots of good art.”