The Sunday art fair is just a five-minute walk down Marylebone Street from Frieze, but—as the saying goes—it feels like a world away. Frieze, for instance, opened yesterday to thrumming crowds that included Valentino and A$AP Rocky, but this afternoon, a few hours into its opening, Sunday had attracted a fairly modest number of people. “It’s crickets in here” is how one dealer put it.
Of course, raw numbers do not necessarily equal sales, and some devoted collectors and curators had apparently shown up early, including the seemingly indefatigable Beatrix Ruf, who was recently christened the director of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum.
Sunday fair, which is now in its fifth year, is located in a raw, cement warehouse space underneath the University of Westminster, near a few dumpsters. A number of people, including me, had a bit of trouble finding it. Other, generally well-informed people that I talked to throughout the week weren’t even quite certain the fair was happening this year.
But setting aside logistical gripes, Sunday is charming. There are just about two dozen exhibitors, a nice smattering of emerging galleries from North America and Europe—the sort of places that you really want to see when you visit their home city because they only rarely do art fairs, except for a NADA here, an Art Cologne there, maybe an emerging-art section of a blue-chip fair every once in a while.
Some highlights: The Apartment, of Vancouver, is offering up a pedestal of classic B. Wurtz sculptures made with bits of smooth, found wood and the odd metal can. High Art, of Paris, has three of those funky, funny paintings shaped like vans that Pentti Monkkonen has been making lately. Studio Voltaire, a hometown entry, has hung ambitious new works by Laura Aldridge from the walls and ceiling and, of all things, an overhead crane. Düsseldorf’s Off Vendome space has devoted its space to photographs of Berlin by Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff, cafe scenes and aerial views they shot from a rented biplane. Detroit’s What Pipeline, which is not yet two years old, has tasty new Will Benedicts and very strange assisted readymades by a Chicago artist named Puppies Puppies, including a plastic bottle of iced tea that the artist had emptied and peed into (after drinking a bunch of that tea, naturally, so that it has the original dark amber color).
You can see the whole fair very comfortably in an hour or two, then repair to the modest little cafe, called Lerryn’s, for coffee, pastries, a beer, and maybe a Bloody Mary, or visit the bookshop up top. Linger for a while. As I left, the pace of arrivals appeared to be picking up, but everyone enters, takes a look around, and immediately relaxes. All art fairs should be this size.
Even the dealers were kicking back. What Pipeline’s artist-proprietors, Alivia Zivich and Daniel Sperry, were mulling over how to complete a collaborative work that Puppies Puppies had suggested they make on-site in London—another urine sculpture made after some tea drinking. In a country so devoted to the beverage, there were a lot of opportunities for making a piece like that, and Sperry had been considering his options. “There’s a tea in the vending machine upstairs that might work,” he said.
More photographs from Sunday follow below.