For the first time, two of Britain’s largest contemporary art fairs are being held in London at the same time. Frieze week, aimed typically at rich people, and The Other Art Fair, aimed at a broader audience.
Contemporary art is becoming increasingly popular in London’s cultural scene. This weekend over 60.000 visitors attended Frieze week, the busiest and biggest international contemporary art festival of the year. Although the art festival is well attended, it is often portrayed as being part of a multi billion pound international market, which is driven by an exclusive global elite. The average price of an artwork at Frieze is no less than £20,000, which is more than a decent car. Buying is thus only for the seriously rich.
But as the art of the moment becomes more dominant, the audience is growing. Many alternative fairs open their doors during London Art’s Week and attempt to feature art that is more accessible for the general public.
One of the major satellite events of London’s Art Week is The Other Art Fair, which is the UK’s largest artist-led fair, attracting thousands of art buyers, collectors, journalists and galleries from across London. It is the first time the fair coincided with Frieze week.
The fifth edition of The Other Art Fair has not only changed its date but also moved to the prime location of the Old Truman Brewery in East London, a location recognised as the starting point for many artists. They share the venue with Moniker Art Fair, which has its roots in urban culture. All these developments have signified a new era for The Other Art Fair and support its position as the most prominent alternative fair of this year’s art week.
Founder and Fair Director Ryan Stanier, told me: “I tried to create a platform for unrepresented artists to meet galleries and at the same time give artists the opportunity to showcase their work directly to the public”.
Stanier notes that the fair is meant to complement rather than compete with Frieze: “I hope visitors, after enjoying the traditional, blue-chip art fairs, come to The Other Art Fair where they can actually buy a piece of art. Perhaps even from an artist who will be showcased at the very same traditional art fairs in the future.”
Contemporary art specialist at Christies, Koji Inoue, welcomes the satellite events: “I think it’s wonderful that there are more opportunities for collecting contemporary especially at affordable prices. Anything that engages the public to look, learn and dialog is a positive force for all art objects at any price!”
As contemporary art is growing, many more alternative fairs, such as Strata, Multiplied, Affordable Art Fair, Parallax and Sluice will open their doors in the coming weeks.