The third edition of Frieze Masters is a haven for the minimalist minded. Here a quiet abstract approach to art practice dominates the exhibitor landscape. In particular, four movements recognized for their restrained aesthetics were prominently represented, while louder, more energetic movements like pop and abstract expressionism were considerably less popular among galleries this year. By looking at four 20th-century movements—minimalism, Neo-Concretism, Spatialism, and Zero—a thread emerges that clarifies this observation.
American minimalism was overtly featured: Robert Ryman, Anne Truitt, and Brice Marden at Matthew Marks (New York); Agnes Martin at Franklin Parrasch Gallery (New York); Donald Judd at Anthony Meier (San Francisco); David Smith at Mnuchin Gallery (New York); Ad Reinhardt at David Zwirner; and Mary Corse at Almine Rech (Brussels, London, Paris), to name only a few. While the quality of these works is nothing to sneer at, the show stealer was the notable inclusion of minimalist works by Korean artists. Blum & Poe (Los Angeles) presented an outstanding roster, including exquisite works on paper by Kwon Young-Woo and Park Seobo, along with paintings by Chung Sang-Hwa and Ha Chong-Hyun. Over at Lisson Gallery (London, Milan, New York, Singapore) a 1975 mixed media painting and 1988 iron and stone plate sculpture by Lee Ufan (b.1936) commanded lots of interest and at the shared booth between Kukje Gallery (Soeul) and Tina Kim Gallery (New York), large-scale paintings by Chung Sang-Hwa (b.1932) mesmerized all. Certainly not to be missed is a solo presentation of the work of Seung-Taek Lee, organized by Gallery Hyundai (Seoul). Here a uniquely beautiful wall sculpture of suspended stones was cause for pause and, unsurprisingly, had already sold.
Lygia Clark was well represented between Dan Galeria (São Paulo, Brazil) and Galeria Graça Brandão (Lisbon, Portugal)—another nicely timed presentation of an artist enjoying a major museum show in New York (a survey of her work was shown at MOMA early this year). A flexible aluminum sculpture from 1961 and a hard-edge painting from 1955/57 was showcased by Dan Galeria. Galeria Graça Brandão devoted their entire booth to the artist, including drawings from the ‘60s and relief paintings from the ‘50s. Finally, a singular exhibition of the work of Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980) was presented by A Gentil Carioca (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).
Toujours, toujours, toujours Fontana. It seems no international art fair can be complete without a selection of Fontanas these days. Indeed, the market, both primary and secondary, remains supportive and hungry for works by the most founder of Spatialism, Lucio Fontana (1899–1968). However saturated his imagery may feel at the moment, I still find his work effective—they intensify those feelings that are difficult to harness to a name. For the best selection (and there are many), head to Robilant + Voena (London, Milan, St. Mortiz) for paintings executed in white, black, and gold. Here an excellent Spatialist painting—Intersuperifice curava bianca, 1965—is also found by Enrico Castellani (b.1930). Be sure not to miss the 1965 Fontana displayed at Helly Nahmad Gallery (London) in their innovative concept booth of an imaginary collector’s apartment set in Paris in 1968.
To coincide with the Guggenheim’s large-scale survey dedicated to Zero (1957–66), galleries Dominique Lévy (New York, London), David Zwirner (New York, London), and Hauser & Wirth (London, New York, Zurich), brought museum quality examples by Günther Uecker (b.1930), Jan Schoonhoven (1914–1994), and Jean Tinguely (1925-1991). Dominique Lévy showed two formidable examples by Günther Uecker: Eingedrungenes Rot, Reihung (Intruding Red, Sequence) from 1983 and Riss des Künstlerischen Genius (Rupture of the Artistic Genius) from 1987. Stendhal Syndrome sets in when standing in front of these masterful works, particularly the latter, lending the question of if its absence from the Guggenheim show was a matter of poor timing with the fair coinciding with the show. At David Zwirner a 1965 painting by Jan Schoonhoven made of painted cardboard captures the elegance and sophistication of restrained form through material simplicity, absence (of color), and repetition. Hauser & Wirth dedicated its booth to early works by Jean Tinguely, including an exceptional kinetic relief painting from 1955, entitled Blanc sur Blanc. An arresting work and overall a scholarly, detailed approach one has come to expect from Hauser & Wirth.
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