Modern art ends the Big Frieze

Masterpieces of 20th-century art to be seen in Britain for first time as art fair turns all eyes on the capital

Venice has had its turn. With the opening of Frieze Art Fair on Thursday, London takes over as the party venue for the world's super rich, film stars, and anyone who is anyone in the art world.

Unlike its glamorous rival event in Basel, Switzerland, however, which mixes the world's hottest new artists with the greatest names of the recent past, Frieze focuses only on contemporary art, ie, the work of living artists. As a result, London's premier annual art event has been considered one-sided by some big-pocketed collectors whose tastes bridge both the 20th and 21st centuries. But now international dealers have come together to fill the gap by launching Britain's first international fair for modern art (1860-1980) to coincide with Frieze. They will be showcasing rare works of some of the 20th century's greatest names – Picasso, Bacon, Léger, Modigliani, Matisse, Lichtenstein and Schiele – many of which have never been seen in Britain.

In only six years, the Frieze Art Fair in Regent's Park has established itself as an international must. Glamour, glitz and bulging wallets meet amid 150 stalls of new work from the likes of Jeff Koons, Tracey Emin and Takashi Murakami. But a new dimension is added on Wednesday when the Pavilion of Art and Design opens to the public in Berkeley Square, London.

The pavilion, where the 20th-century work will be sold, will also show contemporary jewellery designed by Marc Quinn, Sam Taylor-Wood and Anish Kapoor. Richard Cyzer, of the Cyzer Gallery in London, who is bringing a Lichtenstein worth £5m, says: "London lacks an international modern art fair. Frieze is a magnificent opportunity to have one. We have many art dealers bringing along magnificent work. There's nothing else like it."

Such is the pull of Frieze that the art world now orbits around it for a few days in October. Sotheby's and Christie's arrange their auctions to coincide with the fair; Art Review will this week publish its influential list of the 100 most powerful people in the arts, and an exhibition of Damien Hirst's first oil paintings opens at the Wallace Collection on Wednesday.

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