Frieze reveals highlights, from £15mn Freud to stone-age axes

Dickinson will bring a late Lucian Freud portrait of billionaire property developer Pat Doherty to Frieze Masters, where it will be offered for about £15mn. “Profile Donegal Man” (2008) was on loan to the Irish Museum of Modern Art from 2016 to 2021, and was then shown at the recent Lucian Freud: New Perspectives exhibition, which started in London’s National Gallery before travelling to Madrid’s Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Doherty sat for about 300 hours over 85 sessions for the unflinching portrait, according to Milo Dickinson, managing director of the gallery. The work will be the highlight of Dickinson’s booth dedicated to “artists in Soho”, which will also include work by Thomas Lawrence, Edward Burne-Jones and Frank Auerbach. Doherty, who is selling the work through Dickinson, is known to have another portrait by Freud in his collection.

This week, Frieze announced some highlights of its London and Masters fairs, which take place in Regent’s Park between October 11 and 15. Some of these coincide with exhibitions in the city: Julianknxx, who is on view at the Barbican Centre, will be at Edel Assanti’s booth at Frieze London; El Anatsui, who opens in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall on October 10, will have a solo booth at Jack Shainman Gallery in Frieze Masters. Stretching back much earlier is a collection of 73 stone-age axes, brought by ArtAncient and priced from £500 to £250,000.

An iron, painted black, with row of 13 nails, heads glued to its underside
Man Ray’s ‘Cadeau’ (a 1958 replica of a 1921 original) © ©Scala/Dig. Image: MoMA, New York
A black metronome with a black-and-white image of an eye on its pendulum
Man Ray’s ‘Objet indestructible’ (1965) © Man Ray Trust; Artists Rights Society, New York; ADAGP, Paris

In New York, Luxembourg + Co gallery has opened an exhibition dedicated to works that don’t exist. Man Ray’s “Objects” were conceived by the artist between the 1910s and 1930s, but possibly never made. Instead he later made replicas of the “originals”, which he adjusted each time he made them. “Everyone understands Duchamp’s big revolution with his ready-mades. But Man Ray also made a radical gesture, to question our obsession with the original,” says Alma Luxembourg, partner at the gallery. “In the digital age, when we are constantly taking photos, such questions are even more relevant.”

Man Ray’s variations evolved over 50 years, Luxembourg notes. For example, the so-called “Cadeau” — a ready-made iron with a row of sharp nails, conceived in 1921 — developed alongside haberdashery technology. A photographed eye fixed to the needle of a metronome, now known as “Objet indestructible” (though this title also evolved), changed with the artist’s romantic affiliations.

The exhibition aims to chart such evolutions based on five objects and through about 25 works. A small number of pieces are for sale, priced between €80,000-€800,000 (until December 2).

Art Basel has beefed up its management with the hires of Hayley Romer as chief growth officer — a new role and a job title you don’t hear every day — and of Craig Hepburn as chief digital officer. Romer, who joins this month, was previously publisher and chief revenue officer of The Atlantic magazine, while Hepburn joins next month from European football body Uefa, where he was most recently head of digital.

Noah Horowitz, who became chief executive of Art Basel last year, explains that Romer’s role will be to focus on the growth of its brand outside of the fairs — such as through partnerships and marketing — while Vincenzo de Bellis, director of fairs and exhibition platforms and also appointed in 2022, will focus on the events themselves. Horowitz says Romer and Hepburn’s experience from outside of the art world is part of an exercise to “elevate all our competences with really talented individuals”.

Meanwhile, Marc Spiegler, previously global director of Art Basel, has joined the board of Superblue, a platform for immersive, experiential art. Spiegler, who is also advising the audio business Kef on its arts strategy and is a visiting professor at Milan’s Bocconi University, says he is “building a portfolio of projects”.

Anyone interested in the nuances of the art industry may wish to seek out Commercial Galleries: Bricks, Clicks and the Digital Future, the latest book in the Lund Humphries and Sotheby’s Institute of Art’s Hot Topics in the Art World series. (Disclosure: I have written a book in this series.) Written by Henry Little, an art adviser at the Fine Art Group and co-founder of the Breese Little gallery (now closed), the book gives insights into a sector that manages to be both rapidly changing and stubbornly still.

Digital advances during the pandemic have given artists and the industry around them a newfound popularity (plus plenty of data on current and potential buyers). Despite such progress, Little concludes that “expensive, complicated or intellectually rarefied art will always resist easy digital consumption . . . Without being wilfully conservative, we can safely assume that the commercial gallery model as it exists today, with all its digital intransigence, will endure.”

There are some memorable turns of phrase, not least likening the biggest few galleries to “swollen truffle pigs” when scouring for new artists, while I concur with Little that “we may even see a gallery on the Moon if the ultra-rich visit frequently enough.”

A skeleton of a dinosaur against a black background
‘Barry’ a five-metre-long iguanodon from 150mn years ago, is up for auction at €800,000-€1.2mn © Vincent Girier DuFournier

And finally, dinosaurs are back — at least on the art market. The craze paused for a while last year when a T-Rex, nicknamed Shen and estimated at $15mn-$25mn, was withdrawn from auction at Christie’s in Hong Kong, reportedly because concerns were raised that not enough of its bones were original.

Now we have Barry, a five-metre-long Jurassic iguanodon dated from about 150mn years ago, unearthed in Wyoming in 2000. It is up for sale at Giquello & Associés at Drouot, Paris, with a €800,000-€1.2mn estimate, on October 20. The auction house specialists emphasise that their specimen consists of a high percentage of original bone (more than 80 per cent), including more than 90 per cent of its skull.

In 2020, Christie’s made a record for a dinosaur skeleton when it sold Stan, a 12-metre-long T-Rex, for $31.8mn (with fees) to the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, due to be completed by the end of 2025.

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