Spectacular art fairs and astonishing exhibitions, sensational events and champagne receptions are all waiting to be discovered during this year’s Frieze Week. While the art fairs feature hundreds of top galleries and internationally acclaimed artists, art venues across the capital try to outdo each other and present some of their most ambitious projects. It’s worth planning your time well in advance to explore London’s extraordinary art scene and seize the moment. We have shortlisted 10 unmissable events catalysing London’s most exciting week of the year.
The highlight of London’s art events brings together more than 160 galleries from 35 countries, representing the fair’s most international edition since its launch. This year’s Frieze London boasts a new roster of curatorial talent, including Cosmin Costinas (Executive Director/Curator, Para Site, Hong Kong) who has been in charge of the fair’s new themed section Woven, bringing together solo presentations by eight international artists who employ textiles, weaving and tapestry.
Galleries will also mount solo presentations of new and ambitious works by some of today’s most forward-thinking artists. Highlights include an exhibition by Kara Walker, coinciding with the American artist’s site-specific monumental commission for Tate’s Turbine Hall; an audacious installation by the German artist Jonathan Meese, inspired by the mythology of a 19th-century Western saloon; and Berlin-based artist Donna Huanca’s new and immersive installation comprising sculpture, painting, video, sound and scent, ahead of the artist’s exhibition at Copenhagen Contemporary. Showcasing the significance of art and creativity in the current moment, other artists presenting their work include Maria Anto, Maria Bartuszová, Neïl Beloufa, Martin Boyce, Mark Bradford, Sheila Hicks, Cui Jie, Kapwani Kiwanga, Jannis Kounellis, Jarosław Kozłowski, Jac Leirner, Natalia LL, Paul McCarthy, Anna Maria Maiolino, Jolanta Marcolla, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Oscar Murillo, Virginia Overton, Philippe Parreno, Joyce Pensato, Tabita Rezaire, Józef Robakowski, Robin Rhode, Sterling Ruby, Lorna Simpson, Nancy Spero, Angela Su, teamLab, Teresa Tyszkiewicz, and Krzysztof Wodiczko, among many others.
Curated gallery presentations will explore social and political questions, from gender, race, displacement and consumerism to technology, religion and architecture. Highlights include Techno-Shamanism: The Sacred and Ineffable around works by pioneering kinetic artist Takis whose solo exhibition recently opened at Tate Modern. The fair’s programme for time-based works and performance works is again taking places in between the booths, giving you a chance to see exceptional performances first hand. Looking into forces and instructions present across time that dictate how we move and what we feel, Frieze Live features performances and time-based works by Cecilia Bengolea, Shezad Dawood and Sophie Jung, among others.
Details: 3 – 6 October, Regent’s Park, Chester Rd, London NW1 4NR
Coinciding with Frieze London, the eight edition of Frieze Masters features six millennia of art history from across the world, including a strong representation of Old Masters galleries and Asian specialists. With over 130 of the world’s leading galleries, Frieze Masters offers an unparalleled opportunity to discover historic artwork from across the world.
The 2019 programme is shaped by international curators, who bring unique perspectives on art history and create an exceptional environment for quality and discovery. Eminent curators Laura Hoptman (The Drawing Center, New York) and Amin Jaffer have advised on gallery sections and programmes, opening up new perspectives and unexpected juxtapositions, in a contemporary environment designed by Annabelle Selldorf. Galleries, including Foksal Gallery Foundation, have staged ambitious and imaginative installations, paying tribute to pivotal moments, figures and movements in cultural history. Highlights include solos by ground-breaking women artists, including Susan Hiller, Rachel Whiteread, Louise Nevelson, and Gina Pane as well as further solo shows and two-artist presentations by major figures, including Nam June Paik, William Wegman, Kenneth Noland and Donald Judd. There is also a chance to listen to some art world starts during Frieze Masters Talks featuring Ai Weiwei, Elizabeth Peyton, Mark Bradford, Michael Craig-Martin, and Edmund de Waal.
Details: 3 – 6 October, Regent’s Park, Chester Rd, London NW1 4NR
Frieze Sculpture Park
London’s largest free display of outdoor art has returned. Featuring 23 international artists, the project has transformed the English Gardens of Regent’s Park into a museum without walls, making an unparalleled quality of work accessible to all visitors.
There are few sculptures which are sure to capture the public’s imagination. One of them is the massive ONE through ZERO in Corten steel by Robert Indiana, a monumental example of the iconic American artist’s fascination with the power of numbers. Others include a pure white 3-metre-high rendition of children’s storybook character My Melody, by New York-based sculptor Tom Sachs; and at over 4-metres-long, a bronze figure entitled When I Sleep that is both touching and perturbing, by seminal British artist Tracey Emin. A full-size reproduction of a 1973 Jaguar E-Type Matchbox toy car by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz is installed near Joanna Rajkowska’s The Hatchling, a 240cm-long replica of an egg of the blackbird, one of Britain’s most common birds. Emitting the sounds of hatching eggs, this surreal installation invites passersby to come close and listen carefully (or even hug the egg).
Frieze Sculpture is accompanied by a free audio tour by Clare Lilley, Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, in the new, freely downloadable Frieze Art Fairs App. Download the Frieze Art Fairs app from the App Store or Google Play to listen to the audio guide. Could a stroll between the fairs get any better?
Details: Until 6 October, Regent’s Park, Chester Rd, London NW1 4NR
How about exploring a unique fair presenting the best of art and design? The 13th edition of PAD London has opened its door to the public for an entire week. One of the world’s leading art and design fair hosts an impressive selection of 68 galleries from 14 countries juxtaposing contemporary, modern and historic design, modern and tribal art, antiquities and collectible jewellery. Attracted by the fair’s strong international clientele, unique location and cross-collecting spirit, 11 new exhibitors join the unparalleled roster of returning galleries. The fair surprises the most curious and discerning collectors with work across diverse disciplines.
PAD was founded by Patrick Perri in Paris in 1997, followed by PAD London in 2007. Last year, the fair expanded to Geneva in collaboration with artgenève, reinforcing its position as Europe’s leading cross-collecting fair group. This internationally acclaimed fair forges new alliances and brings to the fore an exciting array of up-and-coming designers pushing the boundaries of materials. PAD cultivates eclecticism, authenticity and connoisseurship with unparalleled passion and flair. Its refined setting is designed to inspire collectors, art consultants, museum experts, interiors specialists, design practitioners and the public, making PAD the only fair of its kind.
Details: Until 6 October, Berkeley Square, London W1
Other Spaces with United Visual Artists
This one takes you on a truly visceral journey. Other Spaces is a multi-sensory exploration of light and sound, staged in collaboration with Fondation Cartier Pour L’art Contemporain, Paris. The show brings together three large-scale installations visually translated, interpreted, and developed by the multi-disciplinary collective United Visual Artists.
While Our Time features newly composed music by Mira Calix as well as kinetic structures shining in and out of phase, Vanishing Point is an immersive laser installation that uses perspective as a way to reshape and redefine a space. Inspired by Renaissance drawings by Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo Da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, it features beams of white light that are projected into the space from an invisible vanishing point.
The Great Animal Orchestra, in turn, is inspired by the work of American musician and bio-acoustician Bernie Krause. For over 40 years Krause has collected around 5000 hours of sound recordings of natural habitats, both terrestrial and marine. His research lies at the heart of this installation offering visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves into a series of soundscapes of animal recordings. Krause worked as a musician and acoustician in the 1960s and 1970s collaborating with artists such as The Doors and Van Morrison. He also contributed to the creation of soundtracks to well-known films such as Rosemary’s Baby by Roman Polanski and Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola. United Visual Artists have installed a captivating three-dimensional electronic installation, especially commissioned for the exhibition, transposing data from Krause’s recordings into light particles.
Details: 2 October – 8 December 2019, 180 The Strand, London, WC2R 1EA
Kara Walker: Hyundai Turbine Hall Commission
Are you looking for a monumental piece of work? Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall Commission, which has hosted some of the world’s most memorable and acclaimed large-scale works of art, won’t disappoint you. Kara Walker, an African-American artist known for her exploration of race, stereotypes, gender, and identity throughout American history, has been commissioned to responded to this vast, former industrial space and transform public perceptions of contemporary art.
The artist is renowned for her candid explorations of race, sexuality and violence. She is best known for her use of black cut-paper silhouetted figures, referencing the history of slavery and the antebellum South in the US through provocative and elaborate installations. Her works, including drawings, sculptures, film and more recently large-scale installations, have featured prominently in exhibitions around the world since the mid-1990s. Walker has created a hugely ambitious commission, which once again sees the iconic Turbine Hall vastly transformed.
While at Tate Modern, it is also worth going to Blavatnik Building to experience Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life, the largest retrospective that the Danish-Icelandic artist has ever had. It leads you through mist, smoke, light and other captivating installations that make you become aware of your senses, people around and the world beyond. In Boiler House, in turn, Nam June Paik’s show is being installed. The retrospective will be the most comprehensive survey of the artist’s work ever staged in the UK, bringing together over 200 works – from early compositions and performance to video and large-scale television installations. This exhibition is schedule to open on 17th October though.
Details: Until 5 April 2020, Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
TRANSFORMER: A Rebirth of Wonder
The Store X The Vinyl Factory have staged one more exhibition at 180 The Strand. The title of this breathtaking show has been inspired by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s ‘I Am Waiting,’ which comments on the societal problems of contemporary America, and calls for a change of consciousness – the rebirth of a new wonder. As such, the exhibition explores ideas of identity, representation and self-image, while questioning how coming together to take action can help shape positive change.
Curated by Jefferson Hack, Dazed Media co-founder, TRANSFORMER features newly commissioned and debut works by: Doug Aitken, Sophia Al-Maria & Victoria Sin, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Donna Huanca, Juliana Huxtable, Evan Ifekoya, Dozie Kanu, Quentin Lacombe, and many others. As Hack says: “The artists in TRANSFORMER look deeply into the present and see the future. Each artist is a powerful mediator of their community and culture, using storytelling, poetics, and ritual to author new narratives and expand our field of vision. They are world-makers, inviting us to access altered states of consciousness as we step beyond reality into a series of highly authored, staged environments.” The exhibition is accompanied by Alchemical Realms, a programme of performances, talks, workshops and community-based actions by collectives and artists.
Details: 2 October – 8 December 2019, 180 The Strand, London, WC2R 1EA
From the British coastline to the rooftops of Manhattan, Antony Gormley’s sculptures are recognised across the world. With work from his 45-year career alongside major new installations created for the immersive show visitors are given a chance to explore artist’s most ambitious exhibition in more than ten years.
The show is centred around a series of works that test the scale and light of the Royal Academy’s architecture and explore Gormley’s wide-ranging use of organic, industrial and elemental materials over the years, including iron, steel, hand-beaten lead, seawater and clay. The exhibition also brings to light rarely-seen early works from the 1970s and 1980s, some of which led to Gormley using his own body as a tool to create work, as well as a selection of his pocket sketchbooks and drawings.
There are experiential installations on view that invite visitors to slow down and become aware of their own bodies. Highlights include Clearing VII, a walkable ‘drawing in space’ made from kilometres of coiled, flexible metal which visitors find their own path through, and Lost Horizon I, 24 life-size cast iron figures set at different orientations on the walls, floor and ceiling – challenging our perception of which way is up.
Details: Until 3 December, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, London W1J 0BD
FOOD: Bigger than the plate
Who doesn’t want to grab a bite while seeing so many art shows and venues? How about doing it while actually visiting an exhibition? Featuring over 70 experimental and contemporary projects, FOOD: Bigger than the plate is a unique exhibition that explores some of the biggest issues we face globally – from climate change and sustainability to workers’ rights – stemming from the way we produce and consume food.
This tasty show (event the ticket is edible) is a multi-sensory experience exploring the food chain, from compost to table. Highlights include glasses made from non-food-grade industrial potato waste, Koen Vanmechelen’s ongoing Metropolitan Chicken Project, edible water bottles, mushrooms growing form waste coffee grounds, and The Human Trace Tableware by Ewa Klekot and Arkadiusz Szwed.
While at the V&A, there are also other exhibitions worth taking a look at. Mary Quant is a great fashion show which investigates how the designer launched a fashion revolution on the British high street: from miniskirts and hot pants to vibrant tights and makeup. You can discover over 200 garments and accessories, including unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive. Conran/Quant: Swinging London – A Lifestyle Revolution, an informative and stylish book has also been published. It narrates the history of that era and pays homage to ‘the Chelsea Set,’ a bohemian, progressive clique that would change the course of sixties contemporary design, with a focus on Mary Quant and Terence Conran.
You can also immersive yourself in the extraordinary creative process of one of the world’s most inventive photographers. Through Tim Walker’s pictures, films, photographic sets, and special installations, including ten new series of photographs influenced by the V&A’s collections, this spectacular exhibition lets you dive into the imagination of the acclaimed creative photographer.
Details: Until 20 October, Victoria & Albert Museum, London SW7 2RL
O’ Magic Power of Bleakness is an ambitious new exhibition by Mark Leckey. Returning to Tate Britain for the first time since he won the Turner Prize in 2008, Leckey presents an immersive installation combining new and existing works which unfold over time to create a mesmerising riot of light and sound. The artist has filled the entire gallery space with a life-sized replica of a M53 section, a motorway flyover close to his childhood home where he used to play with his friend. The bridge acts as a theatrical set activated by video projections and a 19th-century illusionist technique known as Pepper’s Ghost. The motorway intersects the gallery as though the M53 runs directly through Tate Britain. Inside this unique environment, Leckey premieres a new audio-visual installation Under Under In, inspired by a supernatural encounter he believed he had under the bridge as a child.
There is also a William Blake’s show on view at the gallery. A painter, printmaker and poet, the artist created some of the most iconic images in British art and has remained an inspiration to artists, musicians, writers and performers worldwide. With over 300 remarkable and rarely seen works, including watercolours, painting and prints, this blockbuster show illuminates Blake’s life and career and lets wider audiences rediscover Blake as a radical and rebellious artist for the 21st century.
Details: Until 5 January 2020, Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG