Life and times
Freize art fair’s director, Victoria Siddall
I AM JUST BACK IN LONDON after a family break in Los Angeles, a city that grows on me more each time I visit. Travelling around with my 18-monthold daughter was, however, a vastly different experience from my work trips there and required a change from my usual pace, with plenty of stops for meals and dips in the pool. And, as usual, I found that there were more great gallery and museum shows than I could possibly pack into a few days.
First stop was Lacma (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). On the way, my taxi driver told me that the iconic lamp-post sculptures outside had become the number-one selfie spot in the city. As we approached, I saw what he meant – people were draped all over this piece of art, some in full evening dress, photographing themselves and each other. While I saw the funny side (and perhaps Chris Burden, the late artist behind them, would have, too), it was also a reminder of the power of public art and its magnetic draw.
Next stop was Downtown LA – itself a revelation, as it has changed so much in recent years – and The Broad, an extraordinary new museum packed with works by artists from Jeff Koons to Julie Mehretu. One highlight was Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, a magical space of mirrors and lights that we entered one by one to spend a minute inside. When my turn came, I took my daughter in with me. She was entranced, almost more so than she had been by Disneyland… which was described to me by an LA gallery owner as an artwork in itself. ONE OF MY FAVOURITE things about returning home to London is the range of different experiences of art that you can have. Tate Modern is around the corner from me and I am able to visit as often as I like. I also love spending time at Studio Voltaire, a not-forprofit gallery and artists’ studio space in Clapham, where I chair the board of trustees.
On Saturday I visited its exhibition based on the writings of Cookie Mueller, an influential figure in New York’s avant-garde downtown scene in the 1980s. She be came known for her starring roles in the early films of John Waters, and published a book called
Putti’s Pudding with her partner, the artist Vittorio Scarpati; it’s an intimate portrayal of their relationship and their ghostly story of living with Aids, an illness that sadly claimed them both. Studio Voltaire has reimagined this as an exhibition through original felt-tip pen drawings and texts. It’s very moving. I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR, when we are building up to Frieze London (which shows contemporary art from around the world) and Frieze Masters (with treasures spanning the whole of art history). There is a familiar feeling of excitement and intense focus rippling through the team. The structures for the fairs are beginning to take shape in Regent ’s Park, and soon the magical moment will come when the crates open and everything we have worked on all year comes together.
I am always astonished by the art at Frieze Masters – works made thousands of years ago yet still in immaculate condition. This year, I’m looking forward to Frieze London’s Sex Work, a collection by feminist artists, many of whom were overlooked by museums when the works were made, as they are so radical and often explicit . Today, however, they feel very fresh and relevant. I think the collection will be eye-opening for even the most seasoned visitors.
There is a familiar feeling of excitement and intense focus rippling through the team