Last week at the Frieze Masters art fair, the Helly Nahmad gallery came up with a novel way of working with the little space it was given; instead of hanging works clinically on the walls, the whole gallery space was a recreation of a Parisian art collector’s apartment in 1968.
Each element had been recreated immaculately, from Brigitte Bardot films on the television and a half-smoked cigarette in an ashtray, to dirty dishes in the sink. The artworks seemed almost secondary to the gallery space itself as they blended into the clutter and revolutionary posters on the walls.
The gallery drew people into it with an almost magnetic force, probably because it resembled a massive game of I-Spy or Where’s Wally? I was desperate to find an anachronism amongst the magazines strewn about, but to no avail. Everything was meticulously created, right down to the life story of the fictional collector, who travelled from Italy to France collecting art he loved despite times of unrest.
I guess this could seem a bit self-indulgent, but the fact that it drew in crowds day after day goes to show what a good story, a dose of creativity and a lot of difference can do. It was no surprise that the Helly Nahmad booth was the most talked about gallery at the fair.
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