If you plan on doing both Frieze fairs, I recommend seeing Masters second. Frieze London’s intensity can be exhausting; its relentless heralding of the new can rise to a cacophony. Which makes a visit to Frieze Masters soothing. Yes, it’s an art fair, but it’s the closest these events get to the pleasure of seeing art in a museum.
Its strongest quality is the potential to cross-pollinate your looking. Within a short period, I was immersed in 18th-century samurai armour at Jean-Christophe Charbonnier; the Renaissance-period books of hours on the stand of Dr Jörn Gunther; a beautiful little cluster of works by Bauhaus linchpins Josef and Anni Albers at David Zwirner; and a stunning display of Indian miniature paintings in the booth of Francesca Galloway. The latter’s luminous gems include an image of Shiva and his family preparing bhang, a form of edible cannabis, against a dramatic backdrop of lakes and mountains.
The Dickinson gallery’s recreation of Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture garden in Cornwall is unintentionally kitschy and hilarious, despite the great work, River Form, at its heart. But it’s often curated and solo-artist booths that are the most satisfying.
Adam Pendleton’s selection for Pace’s stand reflects the sharpness of an artist’s eye: all in black and white, it features sculptures by the minimalist Sol LeWitt and a marvellous abstract with hole-punch dots by Howardena Pindell, among others. There’s a superb display of Richard Diebenkorn works, mostly works on paper, at Van Doren Waxter — some philanthropic soul should buy one for the Tate, which scandalously still doesn’t have a unique work by the Californian master. And Amanda Wilkinson features paintings filled with righteous anger by Derek Jarman: made amid the Aids crisis, these visceral protests against tabloid prejudices remain apt.
– Ben Luke