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Ed Ruscha, 'Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights'
Ed Ruscha, 'Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights', 1962

Frieze 2009: The Build Up

Francesca Gavin checks out an Ed Ruscha talk, Jean Michel Basquiat photo show and the Museum of Everything before Freize has even begun.

Although Frieze doesn’t officially open til Wednesday (for VIPs and hardcore art blaggers), the build up kicked off on Monday. Ed Ruscha was giving a talk at the Purcell Room, which consisted of a slide show of things he liked. Ed went old school with the sound of changing slides. “A laundry list of influences” as he described included images of Mohammed Ali, Kurt Schwitters collage, Chris Burden sculptures and Liechtenstein. He seemed to be draw to subversive layering, where an artist would work on top of something and deface it - an interesting insight into his text pieces on images of magnificent mountain tops. Afterwards I went down to a rather odd posh dinner in honour of an aristo vanity publication, where I had the pleasure of hanging out with Javier Peres, curator Tom Morton, Tim Noble and Sue Webster til 2am…

Tuesday kicked off with Glenn Brown at the Gagosian on Britannia Street. A museum quality giant display of largely blue twisted paintings and thick plastered sculptures. Damien Hirst’s paintings at the Wallace Collection – also blue (the colour of the year) – weren’t quite as good. Hirst's talent is there, though he wears his love of Bacon on his sleeve. (The gold and silvers frames, however, were bad). Then off to Pavilion of Art and Design in Berkley Square, an off shoot event which is usually heavy on furniture. This year it was brimming in big fat 20th century artists. Like a pop up national gallery in some small European state.

After a much needed disco nap, I headed to Ed Ruscha’s show at the Hayward (chatting to artists Lewandowski and Levack, Jeremy Willett, Neil Hamon and Fiona Banner). The exhibition lived up to the hype – iconic, filmic, raw, polished perfection. Then off to the oh so cool Jean Michel Basquiat/Nicholas Taylor photo show at the St Martins Lane Hotel, which had the best cocktails of the night complete with plump lychees. The limited edition book of Taylor’s photos and memories was beautifully produced – as were the photographic T-shirts on sale at Dover Street Market printed with bleach. Jumped in cabs to the Royal Courts of Justice for the always fun Lisson party. The gothic vaulted interior was filled with organ music and autumnal trees. Last stop was James Brett’s newly opened Museum of Everything, a new permanent space in Primrose Hill with the best collection of “art made in private”. There was a room full of Henry Darger paintings. Nek Chand had a whole alcove. There was too much to mention. A truly awesome display that deserves pilgrimage from any one with even the slightest interest in art. We stumbled home with Jose Parla and an ominous sore throat…