Richard Mille and Frieze meet at crossroads of contemporary art
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As the partnership between Richard Mille and Frieze Masters/Frieze London enters its second year, the haute horlogerie brand is fast approaching another milestone: two decades of horological creations that have revolutionised the art of Swiss watchmaking, imparting a legendary status to the brand within an astonishingly short period.
Celebrating this vibrant, contemporary contribution to the art of watchmaking, the brand’s recurring presence at Frieze Masters continues to deepen the bond between the visual and horological arts that Richard Mille considers essential to the experience of luxury. Inside the Richard Mille stand at Frieze Masters this year, visitors may explore the micro artistry of Richard Mille, where the hidden beauty of the movement comes alive as parts reveal themselves to be microscopic sculptures within the watchcase.
The tremendously complex shapes of these miniscule components are further embellished with refined hand-finishing techniques, sustained by the craftsmanship of the watchmaker — a central highlight of the exhibition. Mille’s timepieces play up the full possibilities of three-dimensional space, defined by both the volume of the watchcase and the movement itself. Within these highly confined areas spanning just a few centimetres that serve as a blank canvas for horological creativity, the brand’s timepieces articulate minute yet dramatically expressive arching spaces, layers and architectural cross sections. In this manner, Mille’s vision of watchmaking becomes a conversation through the ages.
Richard Mille’s exhibit at Frieze this year centres on eight different horological themes: movement skeletonisation, automotive inspiration, the interpretation of time, revisiting the past, the perceived value of weight, timekeeping beauty, luxurious comfort, and the achievement of precision. Different Richard Mille timepieces have been selected to illustrate each theme, with separate parts of the timepieces chosen to illustrate the hidden, microscopic beauty of encapsulated within each watch’s movement or case. The smallest pattern or finishing detail of each part can be viewed under a magnifying glass, where essential visual and stylistic elements characteristic of Mille’s holistic approach to watchmaking can be closely assessed.
Richard Mille: ‘Our view is that we can express artistic inspiration in every detail and aspect of a horological creation. For that reason, we work very hard to ensure our timepieces are the product of multi-layered visual expressivity, associative imagery and use of materials. Defining these aspects during the design process are not far removed from the realm of miniaturist painting, where an entire world can open up within a very confined area of just a few square centimetres.’
This assimilation of watchmaking to artistic endeavours is also reflected in the company’s close connections with the arts. An integral part of the Richard Mille Group, the storied publishing house, Éditions Cercle d’Art worked closely with Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque and represents the living legacy of an extraordinary moment in Modern Art. This intimate connection supports the brand’s artistic vision for a truly 21st century conception of watchmaking. Contributing to this are enriching exchanges that take place via the brand’s numerous partnerships, which include artists such as internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied and the Palais de Tokyo museum in Paris.
Frieze is the world’s leading platform for modern and contemporary art for scholars, connoisseurs, collectors and the general public alike. Frieze comprises three magazines—frieze, Frieze Masters Magazine and Frieze Week— and four international art fairs—Frieze London, Frieze Masters, Frieze New York and Frieze Los Angeles. Additionally, Frieze organizes a program of special courses and lectures through Frieze Academy.
Frieze was founded in 1991 by Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, with the launch of frieze magazine, the leading international magazine of contemporary art and culture. In 2003, Sharp and Slotover launched Frieze London art fair, which takes place each October in The Regent’s Park, London. In 2012, they launched Frieze New York, which occurs each May in Randall’s Island Park, and Frieze Masters, which coincides with Frieze London in October and is dedicated to art from ancient to modern. In 2018, Frieze announced the launch of Frieze Los Angeles, which opened February 14–17, 2019 at Paramount Pictures Studios, Los Angeles. In 2016 Frieze entered into a strategic partnership with Endeavor, a global entertainment, sports and content company.