Frieze! You're alive
Contemporary art - The headiness of the Young British Artists might be over, but Russell Thoburn fin
Art, art, art: it's everywhere, reaching out from the roots of Regent's Park, clambering close to the cages of London Zoo, even settling for coffee at Sketch. Art fairs and gatherings have been taking place in hotels, studios and businesses. The collectors have flown in from the Continent, visited the nests in the capital's East End, and I've blagged a VIP pass to flow freely among them.
Grayson Perry's show has opened at the Victoria Miro Gallery. There are plenty of pots and plenty of taxis turning up - that's a good sign - and there's an exciting print called Map of an Englishman, which illustrates our dreams, fantasies, basically the different facets of being human. Watch out for that forest of fear.
Simon Periton is showing at Sadie Coles HQ. His delicately cut paper works provided me with a rare experience - a work of art that I deeply enjoyed and felt excited by. My feelings soon changed when I picked up my free copy of Art Review and noticed an advert: "Would you like to be a famous artist but you are still too young? Let us help you!" Yes, there is now an agency that specialises in organising exhibitions around the world for your ten-year-old offspring. I hope we don't follow the example of football and end up with little Tommy or Julie getting £50,000 for signing up to Larry Gagosian.
A new book, Market Matters, is launched at the Frieze Art Fair. I listen to the author, Louisa Buck, talking about it. The book deals with the links between money and contemporary art. In it, a gallery director proposes treating artworks like PEPs, as a way of avoiding tax, while another recalls collectors at a private view battling with credit cards to exploit low-cost "accessible" art made by Bridget Riley and intended for Joe Public.
Is British contemporary art getting too big for its boots? Perhaps it's more like a teenager with potential. Either way, it's taking a bigger slice of the cultural cake. I'm at the opening of "Expander", a show of brave new art at the Royal Academy. I wonder if any of that new breed of art student will be there - the ones who say, "I want to be the next Tracey Emin." The Arts Council says that women artists have increased by 70 per cent since 2001.
Saturday, and the aisles at Frieze are filling with collectors congregating and sharing their European stories. Art is on show, but so are the backs of people's heads. I remember when art galleries were closed at weekends, which was awkward and elitist, but now everything seems to be merging. The corporate world is here, the same people whom footballer Roy Keane complains about, largely because of their refusal to clap when Ryan Giggs swings a cross into the six-yard box. They are perfect candidates for art and museums.
The fair reveals a new style. Pieces of paper are pinned loosely to the walls, video art appears to be vanishing, and there is an air of the feminine, with more decorative materials - jewels, glitter, dolls' eyes, a kind of Blue Peter bric-a-brac feel. I like its humble qualities, and the random overlapping of media. It is art which emphasises a pleasure of making, which makes you think: "That must have taken ages, building that with chicken bones, doing all those cigarette burns . . ." This reassures people of value. It must have taken the artist about 500 hours to make. Multiply that by £4.65 equals £2,325. Yeah, that seems a fair price.
Grayson Perry is at the Victoria Miro Gallery, London N1 (020 7336 8109) until 13 November. Simon Periton is at Sadie Coles HQ, London W1 (020 7434 2227) until 20 November