The essential guide to Frieze Week 2021

Zoe Gunn

8 October 2021

The capital’s biggest art event is back. Here’s what to see and where to be seen…

8 October 2021 | Zoe Gunn

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he second week of October has long been a highlight in the calendars of artist, art lovers and art galleries, as giant tents are erected in Regent's Park to house the annual Frieze London and Frieze Masters art fairs. Having been cancelled due to Covid-19 in 2020, this year both fairs are back and, as ever, will be accompanied by a host of satellite events and pop-ups promising to sate the creative thirst of London’s vibrant artistic scene.

But, with so much going on, where do you start? Allow us to provide you with the essential pocket guide to Frieze Week 2021.

Frieze London

The cool, younger sibling to Frieze Masters, Frieze London is your go-to for the freshest, most exciting contemporary pieces on the global art scene. Expect established names, including Hauser & Wirth, David Zwirner and Sadie Coles HQ, alongside emerging galleries representing up-and-coming talent.

New this year is Editions, a section dedicated to showcasing the world’s leading publishers of numbered and limited-edition works, including multiples by artists such as Paula Rego, Frank Bowling and Yinka Shonibare. Also, be sure to look out for works curated by Palais de Tokyo’s Cedriq Fauq as part of Unworlding, a site-wide selection of pieces by artists whose practices explore the notion of undoing the world around us. Unmissable highlights include monumental new pieces by Nora Turato and Natacha Donzé.

Date: 13-17 October 2021
Location: Regent's Park
Visit: frieze.com

Frieze Masters

Does your taste run more towards Boticelli than Banksy? Frieze Masters is the fair for you. Here, you’ll find art and antiquities dating back more than 6,000 years rubbing shoulders with works by Old Masters and prominent artists of the early 20th Century. Some of the world’s most famed galleries, including Marian Goodman Gallery, Perrotin and Kukje Gallery, will be in attendance – making this your opportunity to pick up a piece of real artistic significance.

Even if your pockets don’t run quite that deep, Frieze Masters is still worth a visit for Stand Out – a special exhibition curated by Luke Syson, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum. Based on the premise of removing the value ascribed to some artistic mediums over others, Stand Out reconsiders items often considered merely decorative or functional through a lens of pure creativity and beauty, highlighting them as great works of design in their own right.

Date: 13-17 October 2021
Location: Regent's Park
Visit: frieze.com

Frieze Focus & Frieze Talks

Running alongside Frieze London, Frieze Focus puts the spotlight on galleries that have been founded in the past 12 years, thus supporting the work of some of the globe’s most exciting new artists. A total of 35 galleries from around the world are scheduled to take part in this year’s Focus, with must-sees including Emalin presenting two new works by Sung Tieu (the 2021 Frieze Artist Award winner) and a new series of works by Sin Wai Kin, inspired by queer joy and based around music videos and boyband ephemera.

This year's 2021’s Frieze Talks programmes, meanwhile, have been overseen by Jeppe Ugelvig (Frieze London) and Dr Nicholas Cullinen (Frieze Masters) with a focus on artistic collaborations and the relationship between historical works and contemporary practice, respectively. The talks will this year take place at Frieze’s new pop-up space at No. 9 Cork Street, as well as being streamed online, with highlights including discussions between figures including Dries van Noten, Erdem Moralioglu, Frieze-founder Matthew Slotover and emerging artist Rindon Johnson.

Date: 13-17 October 2021
Location: No. 9 Cork Street, W1S 3LL
Visit: frieze.com

David Shrigley x Ruinart x Nobu

The Ruinart champagne house has a long and extensive history with Frieze and, thanks to its annual Carte Blanche commissions, its Art Bar has become one of the most immersive and exciting destinations at Frieze London. Having previously enlisted artists including Liu Bolin and David Horvitz to design the space, this year irreverent British artist David Shrigley has been enlisted to create a series of interactive pieces based both on his own instantly-recognisable motifs and the theme of ‘Unconventional Bubbles’.

The Ruinart Art Bar installations will be taken from a wider body of 42 pieces, while a further five Shrigley works will be on display at Nobu Portman Square’s White Box gallery. The collaboration will also see the hotel offer a special Frieze London Ruinart Champagne Package, which includes an overnight stay, a bottle of in-room Ruinart upon arrival and two VIP tickets for Frieze London with a glass of champagne at the Ruinart bar. Want to take a piece of the action home with you? Limited-edition bottles of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and Ruinart Rosé with second skin labels designed by Shrigley will be available to pre-order throughout the duration of Frieze London.

Date: 13-17 October 2021 (Nobu exhibition from 11-18 October 2021)
Location: Regent's Park and Nobu Portman Square
Visit: ruinart.com; nobuhotels.com

Folie

Whether you’re looking to wine and dine important clients or need a pitstop among the masterpieces, Frieze’s pop-up restaurants have long been a key draw of the fair. This year, elegant Soho restaurant Folie will be opening a temporary eatery inside the Frieze Masters' tent, serving a special menu of modern Mediterranean fare created by executive chef Christophe Marleix. Stand-out dishes include mushroom fregola Sarda risotto, and steamed cod, celeriac and caviar beurre blanc, served alongside top-notch cocktails and a wine list specialising in bottles from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone Valley.

Date: 13-17 October 2021
Location: Regent's Park
Visit: frieze.com; folie.london

Artsy x W1 Curates

Sahara Longe
Adébayo Bolaji

While both Frieze fairs are ticketed, their renown makes Frieze Week the perfect time for satellite events to bring art to the wider world. With this in mind, online marketplace Artsy has teamed up with public art platform W1 Curates to transform the exterior of Flannels on Oxford Street with works by young Black British artists.

Also presented to coincide with Black History Month, among the pieces included will be a series of theatrical canvases by recent Ruskin School of Art graduate Lee Simmonds, Sahara Longe’s racial reimagining of classic Old Master tableaus and works by multidisciplinary artist Adébayo Bolaji, whose pieces interrogate themes including religion, history and pop culture. Each artist is also represented by a leading London gallery, while works from each will be available to purchase on Artsy.

Date: 11-17 October 2021
Location: Flannels Oxford Street
Visit: artsy.net; w1curates.com

All The Good Things by Nancy Cadogan

Many of London’s five-star hotels are capitalising on Frieze Week by hosting art exhibitions of their own. The Cadogan, a Belmond Hotel, for example, will be showcasing a new body of work by British-American figurative painter Nancy Cadogan. Running throughout October and free to view for the public, the 12 paintings in the exhibition have been installed throughout the hotel’s ground floor and reflect on the way the pandemic fostered a deeper connection between us and nature, and the way it forced us to appreciate life’s smaller moments. 

Date: 13-31 October 2021
Location: The Cadogan, a Belmond Hotel, SW1X 9SG
Visit: nancycadogan.com

Read more: Brilliant things to do in London in October 2021