Review of Frieze New York

A larger-than-life balloon dog by Paul McCarthy, almost identical to Jeff Koons’, marks the north entrance to Frieze NY on Randall’s Island. Clearly an eye-catcher, the piece indicated the wealth of art to be seen once inside. For its sophomore year in New York, over 180 galleries from 40 nations representing over 1,000 artists exhibited, presenting only contemporary art and works made by living artists. The event ran 10 – 13 May.

In contrast to McCarthy’s piece, heavy-weight works of art were a trend across Frieze NY. This was particularly evident in the weight machine sculpture by Nick van Woert at Grimm gallery, the glass bass drum by Dan Colen at Gagosian, Rashid Johnson’s and Matthew Day Jackson’s sculptural wall hanging pieces at Hauser & Wirth and the blackened bronze Arabic script sphere by Ghada Amer at Kukje Gallery. However, more lighthearted work could be found at McCaffrey Fine Art’s booth with a rainbow walk into Jack Early’s Ear Candy Machine and the hostess treats and large pizza at Luhring Augustine, as well as humorous pieces on show throughout the fair by artists such as David Shrigley, Richard Prince and Barbara Kruger.

The stand prize was awarded to Galeria Elba Benitez presenting a cardboard structural display by Portuguese artist Carlos Bunga, while another beautifully curated booth was that of Team Gallery’s, which featured a solo presentation of photographs by Ryan McGinley. From the soft stillness of Lehmann Maupin’s pale green polyester fabric, Wieland Str18 2159 Berlin, by Do-Ho Suh to the Tino Sehgal interactive performance in which a young girl takes on the role of of a manga character at Marian Goodman, stand-out pieces range across various mediums and disciplines. However, with all the conversing about art, flow of the crowds, and white glow within the tent, its easy to get to get “fair-tigued” as the phrase has been coined, but the verdant setting provides a refreshing escape and a moment to enjoy artwork in the sculpture garden. Whether taking in all the artwork there is to be seen, or even viewing yourself through the many shiny mirrored surface works, for example the piece spelling “ART” at 303 Gallery, Frieze NY is an event to see and to be seen.

Programming for Frieze NY includes Frieze Projects with a Frieze Story, Frieze Talks, and Frieze Sounds, in which selected artists created site-specific works that reacted to the location of fair or engaged with the experience of the fair. One project is Liz Glynn’s speakeasy in an undisclosed location at the fair that is only accessible if given a special key, though if you aren’t granted access during your visit, there’s also a tribute to the legendary artist-run restaurant FOOD, amongst other curated selections of New York hotspot eateries. Perhaps you agree with the art fair spectacle, or support Andrea Bower’s anti-system message in her letter and posters protesting Frieze’s labor practices, but either way this year’s Frieze NY has made its presence known.

Frieze NY ran 10 – 13 May, Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan, United States.

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Ashton Chandler

1. Image courtesy of Frieze New York.