The Frieze Art Fair is drawing the right kind of people this year, even if the art market is showing little more than hope (and even that's debatable). Roman Abramovich - billionaire, Francis Bacon fan - has been seen scoping out the merchandise. Gwyneth Paltrow is at the show, too. Both were at the VIP preview (separately), and David Ganek made an appearance as well. Ganek is a hedge fund manager and art collector, and his wife, Danielle wrote a god-awful novel about the art business in Manhattan.
The Frieze Art Fair runs through October 18 and occupies 70,000 square feet in Regent's Park. In attendance are 165 gallery owners from 30 countries, all eager to take advantage of collectors excited to be at Europe's largest art fair. But, they have their work cut out for them. Auction sales are down between 70 percent and 80 percent from last year, and that's usually a pretty good sign of how the art market as a whole is doing.
There is some action at Frieze this year. Artist Jim Hodges has an exhibition at the Pompidou Center in Paris that's captured the attention of a museum. Stefan Edlis, Jean Pigozzi and David Roberts - all prominent collectors - have been seen at the fair. Art dealer Marianne Boesky moved 13 paintings from a new series of 15 watercolors by Barnaby Furnas that depict the capture and execution of John Brown, the Civil War abolitionist. Prices ranged from $25,000 to $30,000.
After the dismal situation at Frieze in 2008, there's a collective desire for this year to be better. While wishing for an art market recovery probably won't make a difference, the sentiment itself is comforting.