Victoria Siddall sees things with fresh eyes

Victoria Siddall, director of the Frieze art fairs, on her love of making new discoveries.

Hendrik Lakeberg
Sarah Piantadosi

The Frieze London and New York fairs are a magnet – not just for collectors, but for a wider audience, too. What do you believe makes art so attractive?
There is indeed an extraordinary level of interest. We had 40,000 visitors at last year’s New York fair. And when you walk through Manhattan’s Chelsea district on a Saturday afternoon, the galleries are always packed. I think it’s wonderful. Art can enable you to see the world with fresh eyes and get away from the daily grind for just a little while.

What makes Frieze different from other art fairs?
It grew out of an art magazine that was founded 25 years ago. So it’s the field of art criticism that we came from originally, and this is reflected in our focus. The supporting program and working together with top curators are important to us, too. It’s not just about the business side of things, but the art itself.

Vogue magazine once called Victoria Siddall the “wunderkind director.” The 38-year-old took over the running of the Frieze art fairs in 2016.

Frieze New York is dedicated exclusively to contemporary art. Do you, as the director, still find yourself discovering things that are new and exciting at the fair?
Yes, of course. There’s this wonderful moment when everything is set up and all the works are hanging on the walls. That’s when I find myself being surprised time and again.

Is there any particular work of art that you have personally found especially fascinating recently?
At Frieze London there was an exact replica of the first exhibition by Wolfgang Tillmans, an event that is legendary today. The gallery premises were reconstructed exactly as they were back then – right down to the light switches.

What’s your advice for somebody who’s interested in art collecting and is wondering how to get started?
The simplest answer would be: buy something you think is really great. If it increases in value over time, so much the better. And if it doesn’t, then at least there was a passion behind your buying it, which gives it a value in its own right.

Frieze New York
A great success since it was first held in 2012, this year’s edition of the Big Apple’s spin-off of the London art fair took place from May 5-7 in Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan. BMW has been partnering with Frieze since 2004.