Art world fears "big chill" as Frieze Week begins

Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:27am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Will Chinese buyers ride to the rescue? Will the super-rich decide painting and sculpture is a better investment than volatile stocks or risky debt?

Those are the big questions on the art world's lips as hundreds of galleries and collectors descend on London for the annual post-war and contemporary frenzy centered around the October 13-16 Frieze Art Fair in Regent's Park.

The annual event held in a giant marquee has quickly become a key date for anyone wanting to acquire top works by modern and living painters.

It has spawned a merry-go-round of auctions, rival fairs like the Pavilion of Art & Design (PAD), major exhibitions, gallery openings including a new White Cube space and, of course, endless glitzy, champagne-fueled parties.

But after two years of strong growth in prices, particularly for top artists, global financial turmoil once again threatens to bring the chill of uncertainty to the week as it did in the wake of the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse.

Matthew Slotover, co-founder of Frieze who is considered one of the art world's most powerful figures, conceded that concerns over slow economic growth and Europe's debt crisis could weigh on the fair.

But he, like many others, argued that investors may prefer to put their money into a painting than a paper asset.

"It is something tangible and real," he told Reuters in a recent interview, stressing that personally he would not treat art as a financial investment alone.   Continued...