London this Autumn will be buzzing with new exhibitions - including the Turner Prize 2012, Richard Hamilton's Late Works at the National Gallery, and a major show by Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery - but even more exciting is the number of contemporary art fairs coming up in September and October, hosting galleries and artists from around the world. Whether you love the fast-paced energy of Frieze Week or just want to slowly wander through one of the smaller venues in the East End, art fairs are multiplying across the city.
The biggest name in London's art fairs is Frieze: now in its tenth edition, it has grown into something of a behemoth. The days surrounding the fair in mid-October have been dubbed 'Frieze week' by the media: a term that indicates both its importance and the ripple-effect it causes in the art scene annually. Frieze has expanded further this year with two new additions: a sister fair, Frieze Masters, displaying old and ancient works, and a New York edition in May, which managed to attract protests by activist group Occupy Museums. Whether in protest to Frieze, like Occupy who hosted their own "Free Art for Fair Exchange", or whether riding on the tide of Frieze's 60,000 visitors, October offers no shortage of alternative fairs.
The Pavilion of Art and Design, running concurrently to Frieze, gives it some stiff competition. The PAD is geared more towards design and the decorative arts but it promises a variety of pieces ranging from masterpieces of German Expressionism to contemporary furniture and jewellery design. Another major fair this Autumn is The Affordable Art Fair, which hits Battersea Park at the end of October and moves to Hampstead Heath in November: it boasts a relaxed and browse-friendly atmosphere. Bring the family to this one - they've promised kids workshops and even a free creche. Of course, what you consider 'affordable' is entirely relative: the works range from £40 - £4,000 and buying prints is often a more reasonable option. Multiplied, now in its third edition, exhibits an even more affordable range of prints, photography and multiples from 41 international contemporary galleries - and also offers free admission.
Many fairs are getting in earlier than others, running in mid to late September: while the London Design Festival is in full swing, a range of art and design fairs are held concurrently. The 20/21 British Art Fair, a fine art fair now in its 25th year, is one such early-bird, with a mid-September run at the Royal College of Art. It's showcasing some pretty big names in 20th century British art, including many former RCA students - Bacon, Freud, Lowry, Hockney and Moore - alongside contemporary works by Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and prints by Banksy. Although it's not strictly an art fair, the London Art Book Fair at Whitechapel Gallery is definitely on my calendar for September - with free admission and a programme chock-full of talks and events including a discussion on women and the graphic novel and a talk with the gallery's Writer in Residence Ed Atkins. While you're in East London, the Geffrye Museum isn't far away, and Ceramics in the City from 21 - 23 September features 50 contemporary potters from across the UK.
For something a bit edgier and with less of the exhausting, mainstream frenzy, a few contemporary (and free) fairs held during Frieze Week worth checking out are Moniker, boldly billing itself "the alternative event for the contemporary art market" in Shoreditch; Sunday Fair, which is a more intimate gallery-led fair in the unusual space of a 14,000 sq. ft. hangar off Marylebone Road; and Parallax, which sets itself out as a refreshing alternative to big business and the commodification of the art world, offering a "direct art-to-consumer experience".
View all of our art fair listings here and see below for locations.
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