If it wasn’t already evident that it’s Frieze Week in London, a stroll down New Bond Street would probably tip you off, as there are collectors on nearly every corner talking to dealers with binders, with iPads, and making the sounds of work being sold. There are also long lines at the ATMs in the HSBC branch here on one of Mayfair’s toniest streets, but let’s not think about the plummeting pound and head on into some galleries, shall we?
Sotheby’s New Bond Street headquarters had hanging in its showrooms the works that will be sold later this week, at the Italian Sale and the Contemporary Art Evening Sale, both on Friday. At the headquarters, after dodging clusters of men in Saville Row suits, and scaling the spiral staircase to the top cupola, there was to behold a few of the primo lots of the contemporary sale. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Hannibal (1982) occupied its own wall, the canvas stretched between raw planks of wood. That’s estimated to sell for £3.5 million to £4.5 million, or when converted, $4.6 million to $5.9 million (though these numbers are dropping fast!). And next to it, on a gigantic wall, there’s an absolute explosion of color, some sunlight in this usually dreary-looking town. There are two neon-washed works by Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (1986) and Garten (1982), priced at £1 million to £1.5 million, and £3 million to £4 million, respectively.
Toward the end of my spin through the galleries, a Sotheby’s staffer came up to me and said, “How did you sneak in here!” despite the fact that this was a public viewing. Maybe the warm welcome was because of a certain long story about the auction house I wrote for this magazine, or maybe it was because I was wearing jeans.
Anyhow, off to Gagosian Gallery’s Davies Street branch (Larry Gagosian has three outposts in London) to see some Richard Serra drawings, and then to David Zwirner Gallery, on Grafton Street, where Zwirner himself was standing at the entrance, greeting those who came in.
“If you want to see something really wild, check out Marcel’s show with Raymond,” Zwirner said to a group of stodgy-looking guys in suits walking in.
He was referring to Marcel Dzama’s show with Raymond Pettibon, “Let Us Compare Mythologies,” which opens tonight. The second collaboration between the two Zwirner artists (the first was in New York earlier this year) came out of a process wherein they would improvise on each other’s work, building upon ideas until the work is a seamless blend of their two distinct styles.
And they are still building upon those ideas.
“As of last night, Raymond was still painting on the drawings,” said a Zwirner rep to a few visitors. “And I was like, ‘No! Raymond! Stop!”
The people in the gallery weren’t sure how to react, so the guy emitted a little laugh.
“It’s like, you know,” he said. “We already photographed them!”