This Thursday had some great events and openings, but I ignored all of them to go to the Olympia for the Art14 private view. Art14 launched last year as Art13 trying to carve itself a place in the competitive London art fair market, and I have to say it’s doing a great job.
I knew the evening will be busy because every gallery and art business in the city got a stack of complimentary tickets and private view invites, and some universities and art businesses were handing out VIP cards to their alumni and employees. Thus when I got to the fair, the VIP queue was three times longer than that for people with the regular private view invitations, and the same thing went for the VIP bars.
Inside the fair was buzzing, I was with friends who, in one way or another, are in the arts and we all kept bumping into friends or acquaintances. It seemed everyone was there, I even bumped into friends who were in the creative industry but not the arts, who had given up on looking at art and were just people watching.
…stuck between mediocrity and tackiness…
The first circle around the fair took us ages with all the stopping and chatting and looking. The selection of galleries and works is exceptional. There are a few exceptions, such as the gallery that sold screens with CG butterflies, and jungle scenes, stuck between mediocrity and tackiness: if it had embraced the tackiness it would have been fabulous kitsch, but it did not. Apart from this mishap the selection is great: the works from both the primary and the secondary market are awesome, and it was great to see so many foreign galleries.
I would place the fair somewhere in between Frieze London and the London Art Fair: the quality of works presented is far better than the London Art Fair and not as expensive as at Frieze London. The majority of works are priced between £100 and £10,000 which makes them affordable to most professionals with disposable income; if you live in London it’s not as if you will ever be able to afford a flat and you don’t need a car, so why not invest in art? Having said this, it seemed the only businesses actually making money at the fair were the bars, because neither the fair nor the galleries bothered to provide complimentary booze.
…print out signs and stick them to the building…
Another shortcoming of the fair is that there is no signage around the building, at all! So if you don’t know where the Fair entrance is, you will spend a good 30 minutes running around like a headless chicken. Please, Art14, print out signs and stick them to the building!
If you are considering going to Art14, stop thinking – it’s brilliant, go! If you are thinking of paying for your ticket, think again and search Twitter: loads of galleries and art businesses are offering complimentary tickets.