From Fontana’s glaring punctured canvases to Boetti’s conceptual maps, Italian Post-War Art stole the show at this year’s Frieze Art Fair
Art lovers and anyone who’s anyone in the art world stormed London from 3 to 6 October to attend the highlight of the art-world calendar, historic and contemporary art fairs Frieze London and Frieze Masters. More than 290 galleries brought a terrific selection of objects on sale to Regent’s Park spanning thousands of years of history of art, from antiquity to post-war global art, performance, and sculptures. ArtSquare.io’s Art Department was there and handpicked the most strikingly-curated booths from both fairs. Our highlights are all about curious surfaces, saturated palettes, and kinetic pieces.
1. Hauser & Wirth, Frieze Masters
For the fifth consecutive year at Frieze, art-market-giant Hauser & Wirth collaborated with gallery for Renaissance art Moretti Fine Art on the booth. Spread across six “rooms” divided by lush wooden walls, “Before and After, at the Same Time: Rome, Milan, and Fabio Mauri” was a sophisticated exploration of post-war contemporary Italian filtered through the philosophical lens of multi-disciplinary 20th-century artist Fabio Mauri. Works by Alberto Burri, Alighiero Boetti, Enrico Castellani, Lucio Fontana, Jannis Kounellis, Piero Manzoni, Mimmo Rotella and Mario Schifano—among others—were elegantly brought together with Old Masters paintings on the ground of both formal affinities and uncanny differences in terms of scale, meaning, and modes of visual delivery. The result was a dazzling visual journey through key moments and ideas of six centuries of Italian art.
Hauser & Wirth x Moretti Fine Art’s shared booth at Frieze Masters 2019, “Before or After, at the Same Time: Rome, Milan, and Fabio Mauri”. Image provided by the author.
Hauser & Wirth pulled out all the stops to steal the hearts of visitors and dealers at the fairs and succeeded magnificently. According to Artnet‘s report of sales and others, Mario Schifano’s Untitled from 1961 sold for the astonishing figure of $988,000 and Mimmo Rotella’s décollage on canvas from the same year for $511,000.
2. Tornabuoni Art, Frieze Masters
A dazzling horizontal mirror painting by Michelangelo Pistoletto placed center stage in the elegantly symmetrical booth of Tornabuoni Art acted as a magnet upon visitors at this year’s Frieze Masters. In the past ten years, the modern and contemporary art gallery increasingly specialized in post-war contemporary art from the 1960s, and the world-class selection of objects brought to the London’s fair this year is the peak of its research activity. Alighiero Boetti’s colorful and playful tapestries —a large Mappa and a word-embroidery— offered a dazzling counterpoint to the monochromatic pairing of Fontana’s six-time-gushed, pristine Spatial concept and Alberto Burri’s dreamily suspended Plastica. Bringing about an experience of space and matter as well as of pure vision in the encounter with the work of art, the cleverly-curated corner was undoubtedly our favorite from the whole fair.
Installation view of Tornabuoni Art’s booth at Frieze Masters 2019. From left to right: Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, Attese, 1965; Alberto Burri, Plastica, 1963. Image provided by the author.
3. Mazzoleni Art, Frieze Masters
Mazzoleni Art’s Celestial Bodies was also all about post-1960s Italian contemporary art. The booth brought together works that explore scientific ideas of the cosmos by Alberto Burri, Alexander Calder, Enrico Castellani, Lucio Fontana, Giulio Turcato, Victor Vasarely among others. Turcato’s lifelong exploration of form, texture, the limits of representation and of the visible world was made more acute by the moon landing in 1969. His Lunar Surfaces Painting are painted on rubber foam. In all their attractive roughness and enigmatic imagery, they marvel and challenge the viewer at the same time. Another showstopper was the juxtaposition of Calder’s mobile Little Red and Burri’s Red Plastic, an experiment in setting in motion form, color, and matter. A pretty unique Fontana—a glittered sparkling canvas slashed with a hole in the center— completed Mazzoleni’s all-star and astral array of objects.
4. Galleria Franco Noero, Frieze London
Turin’s Galleria Franco Noero drew a crowd at Frieze London with its minimalist set-up of sculptures, paintings, and installations by some of the most cutting-edge living artists. Lara Favaretto‘s BOOTH from 2017 with its eternally twirling car-wash brushes made it to thousands of Instagram profiles. It also caught the attention of Scottish super-collector and art patroness Nicky Wilson. During a curated shopping tour of the fair together with Artnet, Wilson’s collector eye was mesmerized by Favaretto’s swirling sculpture but was also more practically interested in how to maintain it. For those who were wondering: Favaretto’s work comes with replacement brushes.
Installation View of Galleria Franco Noero’s Booth at Frieze London 2019, Booth D16, with works by Laura Favaretto. Credits: Galleria Franco Noero.
5. Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Frieze London
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise’s booth came with a bespoke floor made by Turner Prize winner Martin Creed. The striped floor —a work in itself with the title Work No. 3383 (2019)—formed a mesmerising contrast with Joan Jonas’s multi-compounded installation Mirror Room (1968, 1994, 2004), a performance piece spanning four decades of the performance artist’s career, and flower paintings by Alex Katz and Arthur Jafa, all made in 2019. Blending large-scale figuration with eye-catching abstraction, the stand was picked by Artsy as one of the best of the fair.