Earlier this year, as the pandemic upended life as we knew it, much of the art world was put on hold. Fairs and auctions moved to online platforms while others were cancelled or postponed, and galleries and museums turned to virtual experiences to make up for closed doors. Frieze was among the fairs that were affected, opting for an online version of its New York edition of the fair, and as of earlier this week, Frieze London and Frieze Masters have become the next to announce they will not go ahead with their fair as usual.
“Due to considerable logistical challenges regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), including continued restrictions placed on events and the complications around travel quarantine, we have no choice but to cancel,” read an email signed by Victoria Siddall (global director of Frieze Fairs), Eva Langret (artistic director of Frieze London), and Nathan Clements-Gillespie (artistic director of Frieze Masters) sent to fair exhibitors on July 14th. “We simply cannot ask you to participate in such uncertain conditions. Please accept our heartfelt apologies that we could not make this happen.”
Originally scheduled to run between October 8th and 11th, the London edition of Frieze typically makes its home in Regents Park. Organisers had hoped to follow through with both Frieze London and Masters in a pared-down fashion that would’ve meant thermal scanning, fewer visitors, and “reimagined public areas” to operate under safer conditions. Despite lockdown restrictions beginning to ease across the UK, both Frieze London and Frieze Masters will instead be moved to online viewing rooms similar to those used in May for Frieze New York. A spokesperson for Frieze stated that none of the galleries expected to participate in the fair had paid booth fees as of yet, but last month, fair organisers planned to give full refunds if the fair was cancelled. Ultimately, come October the Frieze Viewing Rooms will be back in operation and are expected to be improved after “significant developments” were conducted following their May launch.
Frieze is the latest in a string of fairs that have announced changes to their upcoming events. Among others making changes, Art Basel had hoped to follow through with their main show in Switzerland by moving it from June to September, but in the end the 2020 edition of the fair was scrapped.