AT A REDUCED FRIEZE WEEK, A FOCUS ON BLACK ART. This year’s edition was less extensive because of the pandemic, but many shows reflected a new focal point in the art world.
By Scott Reyburn
LONDON — In the same way that Voltaire described the Holy Roman Empire as “neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire,” this year’s Frieze Week here didn’t really live up to its title…
Yet there was still plenty to see — at least for those who had booked online. The 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair went ahead, albeit scaled down. And although they might not have been staffing the usual Frieze booths in tents in Regent’s Park, London’s contemporary art dealers mounted an impressive array of selling shows in their galleries.
Works by female and Black artists predominated in these spaces, reflecting the current desire of both public museums and private collectors to diversify what they display.
Pilar Corrias, a gallery with a reputation for representing of-the-moment female artists, is showing nine large canvases painted during a pandemic lockdown by the Los Angeles-based artist Christina Quarles, who identifies as a queer woman. Born to a Black father and a white mother, Ms. Quarles makes multilayered, deeply ambiguous paintings that are equally admired by museum curators and market speculators. In July, one of her 2017 paintings sold at auction for $400,000, quadrupling the pre-sale estimate.
Ms. Corrias, the gallery’s director, could sell all of these new paintings several times over, but said in an interview that she was negotiating to place half of them in public museums and half in private collections that she is confident will not sell them on to turn a profit. Ms. Quarles’s latest paintings were priced from $90,000 to $200,000, the gallerist said.
“I’ve always represented artists who are very feminist, dealing with issues of race, sexuality and post-colonialism,” Ms. Corrias said. “It’s important these issues are addressed.”