Contemporary art Fairs United Kingdom

Galleries might be young, but the art ain’t necessarily so

Frame and Focus feature work by established older artists and emerging young ones

Maisterravalbuena’s stand (G20) features Néstor Sanmiguel Diest’s “Armas de Saqueo” series, 1996-2006

Young galleries, which can be found in the Frame and Focus sections of Frieze London, have filled their booths with older artists this year. Galleries that traditionally bring work by emerging talent to fairs are showing established, but overlooked, artists. Madrid-based Maisterravalbuena (G20) is showing paintings by the 64-year-old Spanish artist Néstor Sanmiguel Diest, most of which were snapped up within hours of the fair’s VIP opening on Wednesday; they sold for between €750 and €15,000. Works by the 88-year-old Japanese artist Tsuruko Yamazaki, a founding member of the Gutai movement, are on show at Take Ninagawa (F21) of Tokyo, alongside large canvases by 58-year-old Shinro Ohtake. Berlin’s Aanant & Zoo (F37) is presenting works by the 62-year-old Croatian artist Vlado Martek. The German gallery sold nine pieces by the artist on the opening day, including Self-Portrait, 2001, which went for €4,000.

“Younger galleries are more keen to work with older artists than before. It seems to be a global trend that has its roots in the current re-evaluation of Modern art due to the new perspectives coming from Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America,” says Lukasz Gorczyca of Raster Gallery, Warsaw (F29). “Getting an ‘old big name’ in the gallery also helps to attract attention from institutions and provides an attractive option for clients,” Gorczyca says. This is partly a reaction to the buying frenzy that occurred before the economic crisis of 2008, which inflated prices for contemporary artists coming onto the market for the first time, he says.

Younger artists are still selling well at Frieze. Grey Noise gallery of Dubai (G21) is among those reporting strong sales for emerging artists on the fair’s opening day. Within two hours, it had sold almost all the work on show by 27-year-old Saudi-born, Pakistan-based Mehreen Murtaza (priced between £2,000 and £6,000). The Berlin gallery Sandy Brown (E25) sold three works by the Swedish artist Ilja Karilampi, with prices ranging from £2,000 to £3,000. Other dealers reported a slower start, however. “It was more about the big galleries [in the main section],” says

Hilary Crisp (F31). But the London dealer did sell a painting by Elodie Seguin—Untitled (dark blue/white), 2012—“from the iPad” rather than on a wall, for £4,000. Bruce Haines of London’s Ancient & Modern (E19) says that a break in the rain helped sales: a London-based private collector paid £25,000 for Subtraction as Addition, 2012, by the 35-year-old Swiss artist Raphael Hefti.

Space is limited in the Frame and Focus sections, with only a few galleries selected to participate each year. Many look back nostalgically at the Zoo Art Fair, the defunct satellite for young galleries that was staged at the nearby London Zoo from 2004 to 2007 before moving to the Royal Academy of Arts (2008) and then the East End (2009). They say there is a gap in the market for young galleries seeking to attract the international collectors who flock to London during Frieze. Of the 40 galleries in the Frame and Focus sections, only seven come from London. The same number come from Berlin.

“The problem is knowing what fair to do, since nothing currently equates to Zoo,” says Vishal Sumarria of Sumarria Lunn, a young gallery in London that is not taking part in any of the art fairs in the capital this week. He says that the satellites Moniker and the new Strarta fair are for “different segments of the market”. Sluice, in its second edition this year, is dedicated to spaces run by artists or curators, while Art14 London, which is due to open in late February, “has potential, but the timing is all wrong”, he says. The London Art Fair, which takes place in January, “[is] getting better but the footfall is not so great”, Sumarria says. The Sunday Art Fair, which takes place this week (until 20 October) and is now in its fourth year, partly fills the gap left by the closure of Zoo, but the fair’s invitation-only policy means that it is difficult for galleries to gain entry. Rebecca May Marston of the London gallery Limoncello (F20) co-organised the first three editions of the Sunday fair. She says: “Sunday could never be what Zoo was—[it] was always going to be a small invitational fair.” Vishal Sumarria says: “[Someone] needs to create a whole new fair for the younger London galleries. There would be no shortage of takers.”

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