Frieze New York Addresses the Heat and Expands the Kitchen
Sarah Faux with “Work in Progress for Frieze NY 2019.” Capsule Shanghai, which is presenting her work at Frieze New York, is one of six Chinese galleries at the fair this year.Credit...via the artist and Capsule Shanghai
By Ted Loos
May 1, 2019
Frieze New York, the eighth edition of which takes place Thursday through Sunday in Randalls Island Park, has distinguished itself as a thoughtful entry in the global art fair derby, offering copious curated sections and special projects in addition to serving as a commercial hub.
But the lesson learned from the 2018 New York fair is that the practical details of putting on an event are tricky and must be attended to.
Last May, an unexpected heat wave sent temperatures in the Frieze tents soaring to uncomfortable levels, and organizers were unprepared for it.
Art world denizens — never known for being stoic — made it clear that a repeat would not be welcome.
“The climate issues really posed a problem,” said Jane Cohan of James Cohan Gallery, who exhibited last year.
For this year’s fair, featuring about 191 dealers, an engineering consultant was hired to ensure temperate conditions. Victoria Siddall, the director of Frieze Fairs, said that all the 2018 participants had been offered a partial rebate on their booth fees. (Frieze puts on two fairs in London each fall, and the Los Angeles iteration had its debut in February.)
Dealers like Ms. Cohan were confident enough that the issue wouldn’t pose a problem again that she and her gallery have returned with not one but two booths this time.
“We do really well there,” said Ms. Cohan, who has two spaces in New York already and is effectively tripling down on her local presence by participating in the fair. “We can’t give it up.”
Having addressed the heat, Loring Randolph, the artistic director of Frieze Americas, is hoping that the galleries on hand will generate buzz among collectors. The sheer variety of offerings helps.
Asian dealer participation is up this year, with new additions from Taipei, Taiwan; Kolkata, India; and Seoul, South Korea. The number of Chinese galleries has increased to six this year from two last year with the addition of Tang Contemporary Art, MadeIn Gallery, Capsule Shanghai and Edouard Malingue Gallery.
“We’re always looking to make the fair more international,” Ms. Siddall said.
In the main galleries section, dual presentations are a popular option for the global powerhouse dealers.
Lisson Gallery (with branches in London, New York and Shanghai) will present the work of Leon Polk Smith alongside works by the Mexican artist Pedro Reyes that were created for the occasion. David Zwirner (with three branches in New York, as well as outposts in London and Hong Kong) will feature pieces by the artists Harold Ancart and Christopher Williams, also crafted for the fair.
Gagosian, with no less than 16 branches worldwide, continues the twinning trend by showing works by the sculptor John Chamberlain and the painter Steven Parrino.
By design, the curator-guided sections of the fair are likely to garner a lot of attention from visitors.
“We have more curated content than ever this year,” Ms. Randolph said.
She noted the start of a new public art initiative, Frieze Sculpture, which opened last weekend at Rockefeller Center; an homage to the pioneering 1970s and ’80s nonprofit arts center Just Above Midtown; and even an exhibition of virtual reality art.
The biggest curated section, Spotlight, is focused on overlooked 20th-century artists, and it was organized by Laura Hoptman, the director of the Drawing Center in New York. Thirty-three galleries will present solo booths, and the section has its own tent, one of four that make up the fair.
“Frieze New York has always differentiated itself by doing great solo booths,” Ms. Randolph said.
Though some of the artists in Spotlight worked in places far from Randalls Island, many of them were New Yorkers, including Louise Fishman, Mary Ann Unger, Knox Martin and Charles Hinman.
“It will broaden our ideas of what was going on in our own town,” Ms. Hoptman said. “It immerses the public in a series of stories they may not have known before.”
Prajit Dutta, a partner in New York’s Aicon Gallery, is showing the Algerian-born Rachid Koraichi as part of Spotlight. Discovering Mr. Koraichi’s work was love at first sight, he said, but it took a while to develop a business relationship.
“I first saw him at 2006 in a MoMA show,” Mr. Dutta said. “It was a discovery for me.”
Mr. Koraichi uses Arabic semiotics and calligraphy as the basis of his work, and the booth will feature engravings, banners, tapestries and a sculpture.
“He works with a rich context and background of ancient art, but he puts it into a clean, sharp, modern setting,” Mr. Dutta said. “It’s a marvelous combination.”
And Mr. Dutta sees another advantage in showing Mr. Koraichi’s art.
“Frieze is a tough market to penetrate,” he said of the battle for attention amid thousands of artworks. “But no one else is going to be showing anything remotely like this.”
Diálogos, a new section focused on Latino and Latinx art, will help mark the 50th anniversary of El Museo del Barrio, the institution in East Harlem. It was organized by El Museo’s director, Patrick Charpenel, and one of its curators, Susanna V. Temkin.
Mr. Charpenel was blunt about the necessity of Diálogos. “Latinx and Latin American representation is always really low at art fairs,” he said. “This gives us visibility.”
The prominence of the presentations, including the artists Marta Chilindron, Ana Mendieta and Freddy Rodríguez, is part of the “decolonization of culture,” Ms. Temkin said.
“I’m really excited about the Freddy Rodríguez work,” she added, noting that the painter is a New Yorker of Dominican descent. “Sometimes acclaim for Latin American artists is easier than for the Latinx, who don’t always fit into geographical categories.”
James Cohan Gallery and the dealer Kavi Gupta of Chicago are presenting Firelei Báez, a Bronx-based artist who does everything from painting to making immersive installations.
The works will probably benefit from being in Frieze’s light-filled tents, regardless of the weather outside — or inside, for that matter.
Ms. Randolph said that based on last year’s heat wave, she had one request having nothing to do with art: “I hope it’s going to snow.”
May 2, 2019
An earlier version of this article misstated the numbers of works by John Chamberlain and Steven Parrino that will be shown by Gagosian at Frieze New York. There will be five by Mr. Chamberlain and 30 by Mr. Parrino, not two by each artist.