How to Make the Most of the Frieze Week Art Fairs
Posted April 30, 2018 10:31 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK — Spring weather has finally arrived in New York and it is just in time for the annual bonanza of contemporary art fairs. There are three art fairs running simultaneously this week in Manhattan and a bevy in Brooklyn, all of them vying for the attention of new collectors, as well as the veterans whose deep pockets make the whole art world spin.
Then there are all the gallery shows and museum exhibitions piggybacking on the popularity of the fairs. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. But these fairs, which present scores of galleries from around the world within a walkable and inviting space, offer an unparalleled chance to see what’s going on in the contemporary art world.
It is like a year’s worth of gallery-going all in one place. Admission can be costly — though some fairs offer discounts for students or young visitors — but if you look carefully, you can learn a lot. Loring Randolph, the new artistic director for the Frieze New York fair, urged visitors to take their time, especially with work that may seem simple or straightforward. “Look closely at things that you might think you understand at first glance,” she said.
Another bit of advice: Make note of the galleries that are showing work you like. Those are the places you might want to visit during the rest of the year. And ask questions. Those gallery workers are there because they love this stuff.
“Any question is fine,” said Randolph, a former gallerist. “It can be really basic: How does this person make this work? What is this made out of? Where is this person from? That sparks more in-depth conversation.”
Frieze New York
This fair, now in its seventh year, is the week’s tentpole event, and the only one that boasts an official Champagne sponsor. More than 190 galleries are taking part, presenting booths loaded with artwork in a bespoke 250,000-square-foot pavilion on Randalls Island.
The most prominent display will undoubtedly be “Black Dada Flag (Black Lives Matter),” a monumental flag created by artist Adam Pendleton. It will fly on the island for six months, making it Frieze’s first lasting public art installation. Pendleton’s work is part of Live, a new component of the fair comprising performances, installations and interactive works.
Other artists with notable solo presentations at Frieze include Tracey Emin (Xavier Hufkens gallery, Brussels), Theaster Gates (Richard Gray Gallery, New York), David Hockney (two shows with Pace, New York; and one with Offer Waterman, London) and Betye Saar (Roberts Projects, Los Angeles). A group show from Chi-Wen Gallery in Taipei, Taiwan, will revolve around a flower installation by Atsunobu Katagiri. One section, Frame, focuses on newer galleries.
There will be conversations with artists, writers and others as part of Frieze Talks, and a collection of art publications available in the Reading Room, should you need to decompress. Food vendors include Court Street Grocers, Roberta’s and the Fat Radish.
The layout has been redesigned in an attempt to make all of this easier to navigate, but there is still so much to see that you should plan to make a day of it. Taking the ferry from Manhattan is part of the fun.
Friday through Sunday on Randalls Island; frieze.com. Tickets: $48; $27 for students.
Tefaf New York Spring
In just its second year, this Upper East Side fair, which sprang from the European fair in Maastricht, the Netherlands, brings together blue-chip galleries this spring that bridge the modern and contemporary. One sure highlight being shown by the Mnuchin Gallery is “Almost,” a new work by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, known for using reclaimed materials to create majestic assemblages. Ninety galleries are taking part, and the offerings also include jewelry, furniture and antiquities.
Marian Goodman will have a solo presentation by Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco. Di Donna Galleries is pairing surrealist works with the 19th-century Native American masks that inspired them. And Matthew Marks Gallery will be showing “White Yellow,” a 1957 Ellsworth Kelly painting that has not been seen in public since 1959. Panel presentations will include a conversation with museum directors and Daniel Weiss, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, about the issue of museum admission fees.
Friday through Tuesday at the Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Ave.; tefaf.com. Day tickets: $55; students: $25.
Art New York
On the West Side of Manhattan is Art New York, an offshoot of Art Miami, which includes nearly 100 galleries from 30 countries. There will be art for sale by major artists such as David Hockney, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Anish Kapoor. A solo show by artist Cey Adams, the original creative director of Def Jam Recordings, will benefit the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. And Jason Newsted, the onetime Metallica bassist, will display his ongoing series of art, “RAWK.”
A shuttle bus will also run to this fair directly from the Frieze ferry landing at East 35th Street.
Thursday through Sunday at Pier 94, 711 12th Ave.; artnyfair.com. Day tickets:$25; students and seniors: $15.
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair
This far more intimate event at the Pioneer Works space in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is focused on work by African and African diaspora artists. Seven of the 21 galleries included are new participants this year. South African artist Ralph Ziman will install a Casspir armored vehicle, an outsize symbol of apartheid’s legacy. Phoebe Boswell’s work “I Need to Believe the World Is Still Beautiful” aims to undermine the dominance of the white male gaze while reclaiming the female nude.
Friday through Sunday at Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer St., Brooklyn; 1-54.com. Day tickets: $20; students and seniors, $10.
The Other Art Fair
With a focus on emerging artists unrepresented by a gallery, the second Brooklyn edition of this fair offers art at a more affordable price than its larger rivals. The 130 participating artists were chosen by a selection committee. The fair is a partner of Saatchi Art, an online gallery that is not to be confused with London’s Saatchi Gallery.
Thursday through Sunday at Brooklyn Expo Center, 72 Noble St., Brooklyn; nyc.theotherartfair.com. Day tickets: $15; students and seniors, $13.50.
Moniker International Art Fair
After several years in London, this fair makes its New York debut with presentations by more than two dozen galleries. Urban and street art is a key focus, including a screening of “Street Heroines,” a documentary about female graffiti and street artists, and a public conversation about the legacy of 5Pointz.
Thursday through Sunday at the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse, 73 West St., Brooklyn; monikerartfair.com. Day tickets: $15.
Fridge Art Fair
This scrappy upstart has migrated from its origins on the Lower East Side to the Nu Hotel in Downtown Brooklyn. Founded by artist Eric Ginsburg, it’s undoubtedly the week’s most dog-friendly fair. Offerings include work from some three dozen artists and galleries, as well as a David Bowie tribute.
Wednesday through Sunday at the Nu Hotel, 85 Smith St., Brooklyn; fridgeartfair.com. Day tickets: $15.