And so, the art whirlwind that is Frieze Art Fair (October 6-9) and the many satellite exhibitions and events it spawns begins again in London. This year, the Royal Academy’s blockbuster show of American art Abstract Expressionism (until January 2) – the first to be held in Britain for over 50 years – has inspired galleries showing at the Fair and those around London to champion both Americana and abstract art.
Most prominent are Claes Oldenburg’s giant sculpture of a cigarette stub, FagendStudy (about £2m at Luxembourg & Dayan) stationed in Regent’s Park; Mike Kelley’s kitschy installations trumpeting American subcultures at Hauser & Wirth (which are on loan and not for sale); Peter Saul’s aggressively cartoonish paintings at Michael Werner ($85,000-$150,000) and – perhaps surprisingly for those who thought all works by the major colour field painters of the 1950s were in museums or bank vaults – Robert Motherwell’s masterfully fluent, splattered canvases ($100,000-$7,500,000) such as Elegy to the Spanish Republic No 60 (first picture) at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery.
Abstract art from other countries features strongly too, with Italy represented by Alighiero Boetti’s flamboyantly coloured embroideries (€80,000-€10m plus) at the Tornabuoni Gallery and Lucio Fontana’s punctured canvases (£170,000-£4m plus) such as Concetto Spaziale 1962 (second picture) at Mazzoleni London. German-born Paul Feiler’s numinous Perspex reliefs and paintings (£8,000-£45,000) such as Janicon XCV (third picture) at Jessica Carlisle contrast with the sinuous physicality of sculptures by that British master of reinvention, Tony Cragg, who has pushed his boundaries anew in a range of serpentine glass, wood and white onyx sculptures (£200,000-£1,000,000) at Lisson Gallery.
Yinka Shonibare MBE is the standout figurative artist, departing from his usual sculptures, made of Dutch wax batik textiles, to explore classical art and religious iconography in a series of wall paintings (£50,000-£125,000) at the Stephen Friedman gallery, while Celia Paul’s seascapes and mournful self-portraits (£8,000-£32,000) make up a haunting show at Victoria Miro. Tristan Hoare is selling a range of silver prints (£3,000 each) such as From Medina to Jordan Border (fourth picture) by photographer Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, portraying the bleak beauty of stations along an Ottoman railroad built in the Saudi Arabian desert.
A stone’s throw from Regent’s Park, fine art advisers The House of the Nobleman has furnished six luxury apartments at 10 Park Crescent to look like the homes of art connoisseurs. Each apartment has a different art historical focus and is showing a mix of substantial and relatively unknown works (£2,000-£3.5m) by Chagall, Miró, Dalí, Calder, Kusama, Vassarely, Warhol, Polke, Rauschenberg and Hirst.
One of the delights of Frieze Week is meandering around the city discovering little-known artists – or little-known works by well-known ones. Fledgling collectors should head for the Other Art Fair in Brick Lane, where the majority of the artists not yet represented by galleries sell their work for between £50 and £10,000. And try the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House, where prices are between £1,000 and £90,000. A wander into Shepherd Market will reveal a mini-Times Square, decked with Chris Bracey and his sons Matthew and Marcus’s neon signs, or you could recline in Gabriel Orozco and 6a Architects’ newly created art garden at the South London Gallery; these are wonders that need cost nothing but your time.