Being asked to wander around Frieze and Frieze Masters 2015 on an imaginary shopping excursion is great fun: until you remember that people around you are genuinely shopping. The annual double art fair in London’s Regent’s Park sees collectors, gallerists and big spenders swoop in from around the globe to get their hands on some of the most extraordinary art on the planet. It should be said that on the opening press day, if you’re not there to actually part with a monstrous amount of cash then you’re just in the way. My time spent happily snapping dream pieces of artwork to adorn the walls of my dream house was constantly interrupted by people dressed head to toe in Prada who were literally buying dream art for their dream house which, unlike mine, did not exist only in their brains.
It was very hard to pick ten. When you’re in Frieze London and confronted with some of the most exciting modern art of recent years you find yourself being drawn to enormous statement pieces, or photos by Ryan McGinley you recognise from a Tumblr you follow. Down the road at Frieze Masters the serene tent designed by Annabelle Selldorf is chock full of gems that you literally can’t see anywhere else. Galleries bring out the big guns for Frieze week: the hand painted 14th century books, the Annie Leibovitz photos you’ve never seen, the rare Bridget Rileys and the unfamiliar Lichtenstein’s are hiding politely around every corner.
So, as you can imagine, this was a hard task. But I’ve done it. Below are the ten things that, if money were no object (disclaimer: it is) I would put a red sticker next to it and arrange for my financier to acquire.
1. Elton John, Hollywood Wax Museum by Ed van der Elsken
Okay, so I’m starting with what is essentially two pieces of art in one, but you can’t deny that it would be a crime to split these two images up. Shown in Frieze at Amsterdam’s Annet Gelink Gallery these photos by Dutch photography and film legend Ed van der Elsken are pretty different to his largely monochromatic body of work and predate imagery we are so used to taken by the likes of Terry Richardson and pretty much everything in Vice magazine from 2005–2010. Brilliant.
2. Untitled, 2012 by Lawrence Weiner
Bearded wonder Lawrence Weiner has been creating text and language-inspired imagery since the 1960s, speaking openly about the construction of art and the philosophies that shape it. His most famous pieces of work are the enormous texts that sprawl across gallery walls, which is why this small piece by him is so exciting. Hung on a walkway in Frieze this “coloured pencil, marker and paper collage” poster is unmistakably Weiner and effortlessly brilliant.
3. English Magic II by Jeremy Deller
The thousands of pieces of art on display in Frieze London can weigh heavy on the brain, which is why a hilarious Day-Glo print of celebrity magician Paul Daniels cheekily offering you a pentagram is joyful, light relief. Of course, it’s by national treasure Jeremy Deller as part of his collaboration with Fraser Muggeridge. I’d say this is top of the shopping list so far.
4. Arnold Schwarzenegger by Annie Leibovitz
More light relief here from Annie Leibovitz whose portfolio ranges from poignant, legendary snaps of John Lennon and Yoko Ono to this lesser known gem of Arnie standing like a god on top of a snowy mountain looking like a sexy Bond villain. Annie, is there no end to your talent?
5. The Living Series by Jenny Holzer
This piece by Jenny Holzer has been displayed in numerous forms over the years including being chiseled into a massive granite bench. At Frieze Masters this piece, which seems to be an initial design sketch, hangs on a wall quietly proclaiming: “The smallest thing can make somebody sexually unappealing. A misplaced mole or a particular hair pattern can do it. There’s no reason for this but it’s just as well.” Well worth owning; reading this every day would genuinely improve your life.
6. Marlene in the Profile Room by Nan Goldin
When I think of Nan Goldin, I tend to picture gritty, real shots of women living on the outskirts of society. This image, of a transgender beauty called Marlene, is a stunning portrait of someone who clearly knows they are looking their very best. It’s radiant, awe-inspiring and showcases the kind of off-the-cuff, hard-hitting photography that Nan is capable of.
7. P.B GRAND PRIX_2 by Keiichi Tanaami
Sat at the Nanzuka gallery stand were two very cool young Japanese guys, arms and legs crossed, surrounded by enormous, psychedelic Keiichi Tanaami prints and books. Tanaami’s pop art work has inspired millions of people since he rose to his prime in the 1960s and this selection of prints shows why. Rather than dating his vivid graphic work has, if anything, become even more glorious. The fact that this piece is about the Grand Prix (something I personally find rather dull) is just another stabbing reminder that I am born in entirely the wrong era. Help!
8. Endangered Species (Ram) by Andy Warhol
When was the last time you saw an original Andy Warhol? Well, in Frieze Masters they are literally everywhere, so much so that you become complacent about them. This one, an enormous 60x60 inch rainbow ram’s head sits boldly in the corner of Van de Weghe Fine Art’s booth, smiling at passers by. Everyone should aspire to own an Andy Warhol, isn't that what he wanted?
9. THE HEAD AFLOAT ON TOP LEVELS OF THE HORIZON OF OUR THOUGHT by Gilbert & George
Just when you’re reaching the end of Frieze Masters and your brain is growing tired of looking at objects so incredible that you can’t even fathom them being in front of you, suddenly you catch a glimpse of something you recognise, a friendly face in the crowd. For me this was Gilbert & George, an instantly recognisable piece in charcoal which depicts the two of them standing in a forest. On the bottom right of the gargantuan bit of paper it says: “A twenty-three sheet Descriptive Work entitled THE GENERAL JUNGLE or Carry on Sculpting. Late Summer 1971. Art for All. 12 Fournier Street London E1 Tel: 2470161.” Might give them a bell later on.
10. The Book of Sydrac of Joan of France, Queen of Navarre
Because, why the hell not?