Frieze Seoul 2023: Key Trends & Sales

Following Frieze Seoul 2023, we look back on some of the highlights and top sales. 

12 September, 2023

Last week, the second edition of Frieze Seoul took place, featuring more than 120 galleries from around the world, Focus Asia and Frieze Masters. Naturally, there was a special emphasis on Korean artists, particularly as the fair took place alongside Kiaf SEOUL, which celebrated the capital’s creative communities through special collaborations and projects. Now that the fair has ended, we decided to look back on some of the highlights, including top sales. 

What were the key trends and highlights?

A noticeable trend at this year’s fair was the emphasis on solo presentations. Many galleries opted to shine a spotlight on just one artist at their booth. Such artists included Mary Weatherford, Chou Yu-Cheng, Andrea Marie Breiling and Lawrence Weiner.

Another main highlight was Frieze Film, which introduced 14 Korean artists whose video works would be activated at different non-profit sites around the city. Overall, the curated programme seemed to include more talks, music and film, and this extended beyond the fair with many art-related events, including KIAF and the 4th Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, having been simultaneously held around the city. There seemed to be an increased feeling of celebration around art week. 

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Chinese collectors were missing from the fair last year; however, this year, they were back with much enthusiasm. Chinese institutions present at the fair included Hong Kong’s M+ and the Pingshan Art Museum in Shenzhen.

At Kiaf, there seemed to be an amelioration in booth presentation, as observed by the Director of Gallery Hyundai, Jaesok Kim: ‘Booth presentations were more varied and a higher calibre’ (as cited in The Art Newspaper). Seoul-based dealer Jason Haam also observed an increase in quality, saying ‘Dozen of galleries are opening up in the city and they’re all professionalising. Commercial spaces now stage important shows throughout the year rather than just once. It’s very reassuring’ (as cited in The Art Newspaper).

What sold?

Overall, it can be said that sales were a bit more moderate than they had been during the inaugural edition of the fair. However, in view of the fact that the art market has cooled a bit, partly due to the current economic climate, sales dipped less than expected. For instance, by the end of the VIP preview, Hauser & Wirth had sold more than 13 works, including Rashid Johnson’s ‘Ship of Fools’ (2023) for USD 975,000 and George Condo’s ‘Internal Combustion’ (2023) for USD 800,000. Though, it must be said that these were still far from George Condo’s ‘Red Portrait Composition’ (2022), which they had sold for USD 2.8 million the previous year. 

George Condo, ‘Red Portrait Composition’, 2022

Additionally, Lehmann Maupin reportedly sold over 15 works, including Lee Bul’s ‘Perdu CLXXXII’ for USD 190,000. Senior Director, Emma Son, stated 'Within the first hours of the fair, we had placed all of Do Ho Suh’s works with local collections, plus sold multiple works by Lee Bul and Sung Neung Kyung… This signals a strong interest in Korean artists—both locally in Seoul and in the global market at large’ (as cited on Ocula). Another Korean gallery, Kukje, made a similar observation, selling a Park Seo-bo for approximately USD 490,000 and a Ha Chong-Hyun for between USD 223,000 and 268,000. 

Do Ho Suh, ScaledBehaviour_runOn(doorknob_11.4.1), 2023

Other key sales include a Joel Shapiro for USD 175,000 by Pace Gallery. It is also rumoured that they sold an Alexander Calder for around USD 2 million, but the price remains undisclosed. White Cube sold an Antony Gormley for USD 468,000, while Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery sold a Daniel Richter for the same price. Finally, David Zwirner sold several works by Katherine Bernhardt and a work by Swedish painter Mamma Andersson, who was also featured at the Gwangju Biennale this year, for USD 550,000. 

Sources:

https://www.frieze.com/article/peulijeu-seoulfrieze-seoul-2023-hailaiteu-gonggae

https://www.wallpaper.com/art/frieze-seoul-2023-guide

https://ocula.com/advisory/perspectives/what-sold-at-frieze-seoul-2023/

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2023/09/06/seoul-still-a-boomtown-solid-sales-at-frieze-and-kiaf-defy-market-dip

Aurelia Clavien

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