Frieze London will take aim at male-dominated art market

Tracy (Chanel), 2017, by Sara Cwynar, dye sublimation print on aluminium mounted on Dibond
Tracy (Chanel), 2017, by Sara Cwynar, dye sublimation print on aluminium mounted on Dibond,
(Image credit: Courtesy of Cooper Cole, Toronto)

With the 16th instalment of Frieze Art Fair just three months away, the organisers have revealed a fresh line-up of 160 participating galleries and a new theme of ‘Social Work’.

Social Work builds on last year’s rousing topic of Sex Work. Coinciding with the centenary of women’s suffrage in the UK, it aims to highlight women artists of the 1980s who dared to confront the male-governed creative landscape, and began to imagine and forge a more fruitful future for their work.

A panel of leading female art historians and critics from UK institutions including Louisa Buck and Jennifer Higgie will choose a cluster of prominent female artists to dissect the themes of ‘identity, labour and visibility’. The panel will also shine the spotlight on artists who, by virtue of their ethnicity or gender, have slipped under the radar of recognition.

Social Work panel for Frieze London 2018

(Image credit: Tom Jamieson)

Standing from left to right: Frieze artistic director Jo Stella-Sawicka, Frieze editor Jennifer Higgie, Whitechapel Gallery chief curator Lydia Yee, Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick, Liverpool Biennial director Sally Tallant, and Frieze director Victoria Siddall. Seated, left to right: Iniva director Melanie Keen, Serpentine Galleries exhibitions curator Amira Gad, art critic Louisa Buck, Tate Modern curator international art Zoe Whitley, and DRAF director Fatos Ustek.

Diana Campbell Betancourt – artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit – has been recruited to mastermind Frieze Projects, a branch of the fair that extends beyond the traditional booth format. This will include the Frieze Live performances, installations and the Frieze Film Commission. Campbell Betancourt will work with Frieze Artist Award winner Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, who will create a much-anticipated performance that employs his distinctive ‘micro gestures’.

The 160 galleries hail from 31 countries, comprising fair veterans such as Hauser & Wirth and Salon 94, who have been presenting their most distinctive work at the fair since its inception in 2003, and younger galleries such as Blank and 47 Canal, alongside spirited newcomers including Xavier Hufkens and Galleri Nicolai Wallner.

Separately, Frieze Masters – now in its seventh year and with works spanning six millennia pre-2000 – will feature 130 international galleries. In the wake of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Louvre takeover, Old Master art has been thrust to the forefront of contemporary conversation, giving the fair more popular appeal than ever.


Frieze London runs 4 – 7 October at Regent’s Park. For more information, visit the Frieze website

Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.