Julian Stallabrass


18 October 2013

Manifest Opulence

If you are going to the Frieze Art Fair, and you are not one of its guests or workers, you have just paid a hefty fee to visit a mall. Why? For the privilege of seeing, but probably not buying, the wilfully eccentric conversation pieces with which millionaires and billionaires decorate their rooms; perhaps for a chance to see the rich themselves, not so much the 1 per cent, as Andrea Fraser has pointed out, but the 0.1 per cent, though most of them will have fled following the collectors’ events or be confined to ‘VIP’ areas; or to glimpse other celebrities — the artists, buyers, curators and even dealers who feature in the gossip and lifestyle magazines. Or perhaps to take in the intellectual garnish which is laid lightly over the business of selling.