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Art comes in from the cold, but cautiously

ROMAN Abramovitch, Gwyneth Paltrow and US hedge fund giant David Ganek were among the rich and famous at the opening of Frieze art fair yesterday. For if there’s one event that even Abramovich can’t miss, it’s this: a chance to browse and buy the world’s hottest contemporary art during its five-day residence in a marquee in Regent’s Park. With 165 galleries from around the world, Frieze is one of the world’s most intense displays of cutting edge art, and a collector’s dream. There’s the niche – a mixed media treehouse from Austrian gallery Georg Kargl and a metal ziggurat made from recycled window frames by Lithuanian artist Mindaugas Navakas – and the less niche, such as work by Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons and their ilk.

For those after an experience money can’t buy, Frieze Projects should do the trick – look out for the Danish collective Superflex who have made four three-minute films (also shown on Channel 4 this week) about the credit crunch, presented by… a hypnotist.

The art market has traditionally been a barometer of our economic mood – particularly the Christie’s and Sotheby’s twice yearly modern and contemporary auctions. Frieze is like the auction houses’ cooler younger sibling – more of a mixed bag, more variety, more creative.

This year, of course, spending is suppressed, and Frieze exhibitors are feeling the crunch, particularly smaller ones, who must fork out considerably for a stall. That said, it’s an electrifying atmosphere, boom, bust or limbo. And if you have a bonus burning a hole in your pocket, there’s no better place to pick up a prize that even Abramovich might envy. Tickets £20; until 18 Oct at Regent’s Park, to book go to www.friezeartfair.com.