Frieze Masters, London
October 6, 2019
Into the broad arena of the covered awnings of this enormous tented gathering of leading art dealers and the first gallery space is Aquavella, with a variety of exhibits; and come face-to-face with an absolutely spiteful acid green and fluorescent pink abstract by Keith Haring (1958-1990). It’s on canvas dated 1982 and signed lower left. The green is painted in a random ventilated grid over the hyper-intense pink with a bold line of a green stripe on the top edge of the work, which is encased in a glass vitrine. Next to this, Wayne Thiebaud, pop painter of the primary movement in the 1960s. Always a strongly composed small-scale panel shows an aerial view of a highway and sports arena. Its neighbor, a classic signature Thiebaud of an array of cakes and pastries, described in mouthwatering swirls of oil paint.
Jean Dubuffet figures frequently in the art fair; here is a piece dated 1963. Abstract expressionist slash marks of brown revealed through patches of pink, cream, and white in vigorous calligraphic swirls. A powerful and early Francis Bacon "Study for a Figure", 1950. An intensely felt statement, carrying the conviction of the post-war period before his vision became dandified, repetitive, and formulaic. The ground is charcoal grey in thinly washed vertical strokes. The male body emerges convulsively, a bulging tangle of pecs and biceps and hunched powerful shoulders. The figure is imprisoned in the familiar white outline cage, and there is a counterpoint thin red line identifying the lower edge of the canvas.