‘Frieze Masters’ has acquired further gravitas following its successful launch last year by signing up several new heavyweight exhibitors for the 2013 event from October 17-20 in London’s Regent’s Park.
Directed by Victoria Siddall, Frieze Masters was started by the team behind the Contemporary art juggernaut Frieze London, founded by Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp and now in its 11th year. The new venture is dedicated to art from the Ancient to Modern - essentially any 2D and 3D art produced pre-2000, but excluding furniture and design.
The cool 'shades of grey' interior designed by Annabelle Selldorf acted as an effective blank canvas in which dealers could mix genres and periods to encourage buyers to look at purchasing across disciplines rather than confining themselves to one collecting field.
This approach proved popular with many of the exhibitors and with a number of visiting dealers who had decided to see how the event fared in its first year before applying to stand.
This year's event has around 120 exhibitors from 15 countries, with new galleries including: Dan Galeria (São Paulo); Dickinson (London); Dominique Lévy Gallery (New York); Galerie Malingue (Paris); Galerie Sanct Lucas (Vienna); Johnny Van Haeften (London); Landau Fine Art (Montreal); Mitchell-Innes & Nash (New York); Mnuchin Gallery (New York); Otto Naumann (New York); Richard Gray Gallery (Chicago); Richard Green Gallery, (London); and Skarstedt Fine Art (New York).
The concept of Frieze Masters certainly had its naysayers, not least some of the dealers who will this year join the event.
One was Johnny Van Haeften, the St James's-based specialist in Dutch and Flemish Old Master paintings.
"I decided to apply for a stand when I visited the fair last year and found half of my clients there, who had not had time (or maybe the inclination!) to visit the gallery," he told ATG.
"I always said that after the demise of Grosvenor House, which was sad, I would never do another fair in London and would concentrate on Maastricht. Although I like and enjoy Masterpiece, which is a great fair, I didn't feel I had to do it, as it coincided with Master Paintings Week, in which we have a modest role.
"But Frieze Masters was an entirely new and innovative concept, which underlined the necessity of moving with the times, bringing Old Masters into the ambit of modern, young collectors, who thought perhaps that Old Masters were unattainable both in terms of price and availability.
"I made a huge mistake (not uncommon) in eschewing the first fair, despite a splendid lunch with Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, and mea culpa thought it might not work. I'm the first to admit I was completely wrong, and my reservations totally unfounded! I couldn't wait to put myself down on the waiting list."
Van Haeften added that the timing for him is good, as being separated by six months from TEFAF Maastricht in March, it gives him time to replenish stock.
The final Grosvenor House in 2009 was also the last London fair at which another Frieze Masters newcomer, Richard Green, exhibited.
Explaining the gallery's decision to take part in the new fair, Jonathan Green said: "We were very interested when Frieze Masters began and I thought it was beautifully presented last year. Obviously we realised, as did the fair organisers, that we were a completely natural fit because of our simultaneous specialisations in Old Masters and international Modern art, which are the twin parameters of the fair.
"The fair invites us to look across the broad scope of our collection, which covers about 400 years of art history, and look for resonances and juxtapositions between artists from different eras and countries. This is what many collectors do too," he continued.
"We buy only the best quality and value we can find, so we are not buying with Frieze Masters in mind particularly. But I think you can be sure that some surprising contrasts will appear between the Old Masters and modern artists that we select. Artists we are likely to include are Ambrosius Bosschaert the elder, Jan Brueghel the elder, Pablo Picasso, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Josef Albers."
James Roundell, director of Dickinson and chairman of The Society of London Art Dealers (SLAD), also told ATG of Dickinson's decision to apply to Frieze Masters.
"We had exhibited at the Pavilion of Art & Design London for several years and so felt a loyalty to them. But we could only show our 20th century department works at PAD, where we did particularly well with Modern British works. So we decided to see how Frieze Masters arranged itself at first and if it was going to become an accepted part of the London art market.
"When we visited, we were really excited by it and impressed by the range and quality of exhibits - we felt we belonged there. At Frieze Masters we can show the whole range of our gallery, Old Masters through Modern to classic Contemporary. It should be a perfect fit.
"We have wished Frieze Masters well from the start and think the organisation is very efficient, and their marketing reach excellent, which will hopefully enable us to meet new clients. Dickinson are delighted to be accepted and hope the fair will be a success again this year."
Mr Roundell continued that, in his role as chairman of SLAD, he has had a longer association with the fair, as SLAD approached Frieze after the closure of Grosvenor House with the suggestion that they organised a pre-Contemporary art fair as a replacement.