Frieze Art Fair Sharp And Slotover Awarded OBE

Founders Honoured On New Years List For Services To The Visual Arts

Frieze Art Fair founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover are among those receiving OBEs in this years New Years Honours list. They were prominent on the 2011 ArtLyst Alternative Power 100 List this year and are expected to climb next year.

Frieze had humble origins and since its launch eight years ago has grown to become one of the most influential Contemporary art Fairs on the international calendar. In 1991, – on the eve of the YBA revolution – Amanda Sharp, Matthew Slotover, and artist Tom Gidley founded Frieze magazine, with Sharp and Slotover serving as editors. According to Slotover, the impetus for founding Frieze was simple – to provide an alternative to ‘the [available] art mags [that] were badly designed and badly written … [and] even more full of jargon than they are now … [with] a lot of French philosopher name-dropping’.
And, at first, there were no plans for world domination. ‘We didn’t think of it as a business’, Sharp explained; instead, ‘It gave us an extraordinary life of the mind. [And] It was a privilege to watch the art world grow.’ Slotover confirms this sentiment: ‘We weren’t doing the magazine for audiences, but we wanted to do something that answered our own questions about the art world’.
Sharp and Slotover were excited by the work of the YBAs and were keen to undertake the business of promotion, especially for fear that the emerging artists might be ignored by the established art press. Fittingly, Damien Hirst would grace the front cover of the very first issue. This would be the start of a long relationship between Frieze and the artist that would culminate at last year’s fair with Hirst selling a work for £3.5 million.
In 2003, the first year of Frieze Art Fair, Sharp and Slotover assumed the positions of Directors, having ceased direct editorial involvement in the magazine since 2001, and the two directors gathered together international blue-chip contemporary art galleries to exhibit in London’s Regent’s Park. The fair’s debut, with the help of a secret gig by Jarvis Cocker and free bags designed by Jeremy Deller, attracted 27,700 visitors and made around £20 million in sales. This went way beyond expectations, the organizers explain; ‘We were amazed. It wasn’t just the art world that came, it was creative London. It had this fantastic energy of the city and that made it a platform in a way we never expected.’
Further Frieze Art Fair 2012 information can be found here.
Despite perennial lambasting from some critics, Frieze has gone from strength to strength. This year, hosted within a 20000 metre squared tent designed by Carmody Groark, 175 exhibitors peddling their wares to international art collectors, alongside a curated programme of talks, artists’ commissions and film projects. First-time participants this year included Berlin’s Johnen Galerie, Paris’s Yvon Lambert, and New York’s Pace Gallery.

Frieze art fair is set to hit America for the very first time in 2012, boasting 160 international galleries from 28 countries, including Brazil, China, India, Korea, Mexico, Romania, Israel, and South Africa. It will take place in May (4-7) at Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan. Co-directors Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover are confident with the selection, believing that ‘The number and quality of applications to our first American fair, matched our ambition in ensuring this was a leading international fair from the beginning’.