Frieze Week: Free Art Fair

This is the third and final Free Art Fair, so of course, everyone with a vague to impassioned interest in art flocked to The Barbican to try their luck at winning one of 52 pieces from a range of emerging and established artists.

Marlene Dumas was obviously the big draw, but also on the agenda were artworks by Cathy Lomax, Douglas White, Matthew Stone, Josef Valentino and Free Art Fair founder Jasper Joffe.

Jasper Joffe

The artworks have been exhibited all week around The Barbican but the big show was the closing gala, with well over 1000 entrants.

Artist Jasper Joffe created the fair as a more democratic response to the extortionate cycle of demanding and paying ridiculous sums for art.  Everything is free, everyone can enter and anyone can win, although there was so underlying corruption.  Yes, one mean-spirited girl broke the rules and entered possibly a number of times and was rumbled when they drew her name twice in a row – what are the chances!  Amazingly, she wasn’t disqualified and probably picked up the Matthew Stone or Josef Valentino pieces I had my eye on…bitter, moi?

Matthew Stone

The fair’s volunteers drew names out of a barrel and the first 50 went downstairs to pick out their piece.  The chosen few are asked to name their first and second choice, but here’s the rubbish part, if your choices have already been taken, they move on to the next person!  It must have been crushing for the earlier ‘winners’ when after drawing 100 names, there were still 18 pieces up for grabs.

Free Art Fair

It seems to be pretty unfair, but at least it might keep the works from ending up on ebay, or someone living in a tiny studio being stuck with a giant concrete plinth.

So, the 150th person was called after a tedious wait and sadly neither Steven or I became new art owners, although his lucky art school tutor at Byam Shaw walked away with a piece.

Josef Valentino

Sadly, the Free Art Fair is now no more, but as Jasper said, there’s no reason why anyone can’t start their own free art fair.  Lets hope that a well-connected and well-organised art student steps up to the gauntlet, so I might just have a chance to replace those beyond bland IKEA pear prints above my bed – they came with the flat, honest!

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