With artistic treasures from both the recent and distant past, Frieze Masters is a welter of incredibly diverse extraordinariness, with epochs, contexts, and mediums shifting dizzyingly from booth to both. It’s enough to make a visitor feel very cultivated and a little crazy at the same time, akin to day of art-historical speed dating.
But there is a through-line that collectors can cling to while navigating this cornucopia, and it’s a mercenary one: For about $750,000 (give or take $100,000 or so) you can walk away with pretty much any kind of world-class object you could want. Here are 10 works in that price range to covet like mad.
An artist with one of the most sensational—and controversial—biographies of the 19th century, Paul Gauguin created dreamlike evocations of the exotic sights he encountered in his travels, mixing fact and fiction to mesmerizing effect. Oftentimes, the facts and fictions that came alive in his paintings had their origins in his sketchbooks, which he used as a kind of conceptual palette, intermingling and matching visual ideas in the same way one mixes paints.
Coming from a notebook that Gauguin took on both of his famous trips to Tahiti, this page expresses both the artist’s biography and free-associative, hopscotching style of working. On the left, he has used brown ink and watercolor to vividly depict a pair of leopards that he had originally seen alongside Vincent van Gogh when a celebrated menagerie toured through Arles in 1888; to the right is a drawing of a young Tahitian woman that Gauguin created as a study for his 1891 painting The Loss of Virginity, which pairs the nude, uncannily, with a fox; on the back of the page is a sketchy self-portrait in profile of the artist, along with drawings of two women in Breton costumes that he had originally seen during his trip to Brittany in 1887. Evidently, he came back to this page again and again over time, creating a palimpsest of his experiences.
After Gauguin’s death, his sketchbooks gained some brief notoriety when the artist Paco Durrio—a devoted patron of the painter—exhibited them at Paris’s Société du Salon d’Automne, and thereafter this page entered a distinguished private collection in Portland, Oregon. Now at Frieze Masters, it offers a chance to vicariously accompany Gauguin on his legendary travels. Read more