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Tale of Two Cities. Frieze London | Frieze Masters | Paris+ par Art Basel

WORDS: Amanda Stuermer

Arts + Travel Editor

IMAGES: Maranda Pleasant

Paris+ par Art Basel 2022

When the summer tourist crowd slowly begins to subside, the art world starts to really come alive. This is the time to make plans for a pilgrimage to two of my favorite art meccas: London and Paris.

My quest for creative inspiration will begin in London with one of the world’s most influential art fairs. I am especially loving the artist-supporting-artist, fem-first attitude of Frieze London and Frieze Masters this year (October 11–15). Frieze London always focuses on living artists and contemporary art. The 2023 edition is the most international to date and will mark its 20th anniversary. To celebrate, they are launching a special Artist-to-Artist initiative, which invites eight world-renowned artists whose work has defined the contemporary art landscape over the past two decades, to each propose a counterpart for a solo exhibition at the fair. Each of the selectors—Alvaro Barrington, Olafur Eliasson, Tracey Emin CBE RA, Anthea Hamilton, Simone Leigh, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Haegue Yang—is well known for supporting other artists.

In conjunction with Frieze London, Frieze Masters brings together six millennia of art. Here you’ll see everything from rare antiquities to 20th-century masterpieces. It’s like stepping back into my Art History 101 course, minus the darkened lecture hall and tweed-bedecked professor. I’m most excited for the introduction of Modern Women, a new themed section steered by Camille Morineau (cofounder of nonprofit organization AWARE—Archive of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions). Modern Women will feature works created between 1880 and 1980, a pivotal period for women’s rights and feminism. Women will also be highlighted in a new section at Masters focusing on the artist’s studio. The themed section has an all-female lineup, including Maggi Hambling and Mona Hatoum.

Other notable fem-forward exhibits I plan to check out in London include Black Venus at Somerset House, RE/SISTERS at Barbican, and Marina Abramović at Royal Academy.

On to part deux of my pilgrimage: Paris. An impressive 154 galleries from 34 countries and territories will be exhibiting in the second edition of Paris+ par Art Basel (October 19–22). The fair is committed to showcasing the diversity of the current French and international art scenes, all in the heart of the French capital. I’m already looking forward to this year’s Conversations program hosted by and presented in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou and featuring debates on contemporary cultural discourse, including avant-garde pioneers Chantal Akerman and Antonin Artaud, the intersection of art collecting and fashion, and purveyors of contemporary myths, from Walt Disney to drag culture. Disney and drag? Ron DeSantis’s nightmare come true. Count me in. The Galeries Émergentes sector will focus on contemporary themes such as the perception of gender, our relationship to nature, and the increasing ubiquity of manipulated images.

It will feature work from artists like Elene Chantladze, a recently discovered septuagenarian artist from Georgia; photographer Mohamed Abdouni, who has documented the lives of transgender people in his native Lebanon; and Joey Holder, who explores queer ecology through immersive video installations.

I also plan to visit Défricheuses: féminismes, caméra au poing et archive en bandoulière at Cité internationale des arts. The exhibit promises to offer a vision of the struggle for the emancipation of women from the 1970s to the present day through a media history including the archives of the Simone de Beauvoir Audiovisual Center. I’ll make my way to the Musée du Luxembourg as well for a major exhibition exploring the friendship between two icons of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein. As Gertrude herself once claimed, “One must dare to be happy.” I intend to dare to be very happy while taking in all that London and Paris have to offer as they break free of their summer tourism cocoons and burst into full art world color again.

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