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Frieze 2009: The Fair

Francesca Gavin goes to the art supermarket to discover that big money is gone and instead there's a new focus on sculpture curation.

The art supermarket opened its white corridors to the public. Diving into the preview (with a horrible cold and sore throat), I noticed a change of atmosphere. Brash big money art isn’t hot. The Whitecube stall was no longer the celeb filled traffic jam of past years. A number of galleries seemed to have vanished. With notable exceptions, the whole art fair process felt a touch bland. Fine if you have a spare 20k but not that interesting otherwise.

What emerged was a new focus on curation. Although the Frieze projects were rather forgettable this year, the sculpture garden was not. Gems included Louis Bourgoise’s silver naked lovers hanging from the trees, Graham Hudson’s scaffolding gaffer tap mound and Erwin Wurm’s powerdery pink Pumpkin Head.

Inside, the Frame section was the real pull. Here lots of younger galleries were each given a booth to show the work of a single artist. Seventeen Gallery showcased Susan Collis’ tongue in cheek inlays in wood opposite Alan Kane’s display of his parents’ tacky objects at Ancient and Modern. The best was Athens’ AMP space with an awesome showcase of Joep van Liefland pieces about VHS and the demise of technology. Daniel Silver, Amanda Ross–Ho, Jack Strange and Cyprien Gaillard were among the other Frame projects. It all felt well curated and simply fresh.

As the hoards entered I legged it to Age of the Marvellous around the corner, the church at 1 Marylebone Road transformed into a crypt of gothic sculptural work. Dazed Digital have profiled participating artists Joe La Placa, Wolfe von Lenciewicz, Paul Fryer and Alastair Mackie.