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  • Jul 15, 2020

London’s Frieze Art Fairs Forced to Cancel

Exterior view of Frieze London in 2019.

The 2020 iterations of Frieze London and Frieze Masters are the latest art fairs to be canceled due to the ongoing travel restrictions and health risks brought about by the current pandemic. 

The announcement regarding the two events, originally scheduled to be held at London’s Regent’s Park from October 8 to 11, was publicized on July 14 via an email sent to exhibitors. In the collective statement, global director Victoria Siddall and artistic directors of Frieze London and Frieze Masters, Eva Langret and Nathan Clements-Gillespie, wrote: “Due to considerable logistical challenges regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), including continued restrictions placed on events and the complications around travel quarantine, we have no choice but to cancel.” At the moment the United Kingdom allows unrestricted travelling from several countries, but visitors from certain places, including the United States and Canada, are still required to undergo a 14-days quarantine upon arrival. 

Frieze has confirmed that it would fully refund booth fees paid by participants, and that the selection committee for the 2021 Frieze art fairs would look “favorably” on applicants previously chosen for the 2020 fairs, although the reapplication process will be mandatory for all. Much like this year’s canceled Frieze New York, both Frieze London and Frieze Masters will be replaced by an edition of Frieze’s online viewing rooms on the planned dates in October, allowing the more than 160 and 130 gallerists, respectively from each fair, to showcase and sell their works through the digital platform. The 2021 dates of the two fairs have not been announced. 

This news comes after the gradual reopening of cultural institutions in the UK, which is easing restrictive measures after months of lockdown protocols. The National Gallery in London was among the first to do so, opening its doors to visitors on July 8. London’s Tate Modern and Tate Britain plan to resume operations on July 27, under strict safety regulations and social distancing guidelines. 

Frieze London and Frieze Masters are just two of the several international art fairs that have been left with no option but to cancel or postpone their 2020 iterations on account of Covid-19. Earlier in the year, Art Basel Hong Kong, slated to occur in March, was among the first events to be called off. Art Basel also had to cancel its 50th edition in Basel, already pushed back once from June to September. Both fairs held a digital version in lieu of the in-person events.

Jae Lamb is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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