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Frieze New York, under construction on Randall's Island, Apr. 23, 2012
Frieze New York, under construction on Randall's Island, Apr. 23, 2012

Frieze New York


by Rachel Corbett

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Didn’t the Armory Show just end? Doesn’t matter, the New York inauguration of the London-born Frieze Art Fair means the city is getting an entirely new week of spring art happenings, and it’s upon us now. Don’t miss out on the action at the new Frieze New York and the satellite fairs, as well as the contemporaneous sales at the auction houses and goings-on at the galleries.


*Frieze Art Fair
After years of speculation that the nine-year-old standard bearer of the London fair scene would launch an edition in New York, it’s finally here, May 4-7, 2012. Set in a rented 250,000-square-foot tent that organizers claim is the biggest temporary exhibition space in the world, 180 exhibitors from 30 countries come together at the unlikely site of Randall’s Island Park, which sits in the East River, a short bus ride over the bridge at 125th Street.

The out-of-the-way location was somewhat intentional, according to co-founder Amanda Sharp, who said she found it while searching Google maps. “It took me 15 minutes to get there the first time from the Upper East Side,” she said, “and I thought, ‘my God, people don’t know about this place’.” And the fair’s trying to make transportation as easy as possible: ferries run every 15 minutes from East 35th Street, and a Frieze bus service connects with the trains at 125th Street. Fares for both are included in the price of the $25 admission ticket.

SO-IL architects designed the snaking tent structure as a series of rectangles divided by smaller “wedges” which break up the gymnasium-like feel that can numb other fairs. And instead of the typical carpeting, the floor is painted gray plywood. The ceiling of the three-corridor tent opens frequently into a series of skylights because “natural light is the best way to look at art,” said co-founder Matthew Slotover.

Then there’s heaps of special programming, starting before you even arrive on the island. Curator Cecilia Alemani is launching Frieze Sounds, a new series of commissioned “songs, short stories and lullabies” by Martin Creed, Frances Stark and author Rick Moody to be played in the VIP shuttle cars -- some 450 vehicles, the organizers said.

Alemani also helmed this year’s Frieze Projects, a site-specific series from eight artists that draws predominantly from the natural landscape of Randall’s Island, and ultimately forms a “temporary pop-up village.”

New for the stateside edition is Frieze Focus, dedicated to galleries that have been open for 10 years or less. The idea derives from London’s Frieze Frame division, which is open to galleries six years old or younger, and, as Slotover explained it, is meant as a kind of stepping stone for artists who maybe “graduated” from Frame, but aren’t quite ready for the main stage.

Oh, and there’s a 15-work sculpture park running along the waterfront and a daily lecture series. But what about food? Organizers spared no expense in the dining department. Frankie’s Spuntino has signed on as the 72-seat in-house restaurant, and cafes are being provided by Intelligentsia Coffee, Roberta’s, Fat Radish and Sant Ambroeus, a nod to Upper East Side old-timers who may remember the artist haunt from back when Leo Castelli held court in the corner booth.

Frieze curator Cecilia Alemani, left, and Frieze co-founder Matthew Slotover, on the East River water taxi
Frieze curator Cecilia Alemani, left, and Frieze co-founder Matthew Slotover, on the East River water taxi

*PULSE New York
Livening up the fair circuit for the seventh year in a row, PULSE New York ditched its usual Armory Week time slot in March to coincide with Frieze this May. (Organizers have said in the past that the switch had nothing to do with a change in fair loyalty.)

Now, from May 3-6, 2012, at the Metropolitan Pavilion, PULSE exhibits work from 60 galleries, including Jen Bekman, Benrimon Contemporary, Freight + Volume, Daniel Weinberg, Meulensteen, Tyler Rollins Fine Art, Mike Weiss Gallery, Torch and Zemack Contemporary.

Keeping with fair director Cornell DeWitt’s boast that, “While there are always fairs that people feel they have to visit, PULSE is a fair that they love to visit," PULSE is bringing in an interactive arcade, designed by the forces behind Babycastles, the Queens-based indie game emporium.

Some of the more unconventional works of Frieze Week can no doubt be found in the Pulse Projects series. This year, the seven large-scale installations, performances and sculptures include art collective Inner Course’s “psychic playroom” for collaborative art-making, Fred Wilson’s installations of black glass puddles and drips and Risa Puno’s oversize, interactive labyrinth game built for two players. Admission is $20.

*NADA New York
After setting up shop in the comparatively out-of-the-way destinations of Cologne, Germany, and Hudson, N.Y., as well as Miami Beach, the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) fair is finally making its way to New York City for the first time, May 4-7, 2012.

With it comes its roster of 66 young and hip galleries from 11 countries, including Aanant & Zoo, Ancient & Modern, Callicoon Fine Arts, Clifton Benevento, Lisa Cooley, Corbett vs. Dempsey, Ana Cristea, Derek Eller, FRANKLIN FURNACE, Honor Fraser, Laurel Gitlen, Rachel Uffner Gallery, SculptureCenter and UNTITLED. Admission is free.

Really more of an exhibition than a fair -- an “organically flowing” one, in the words of its founders -- Seven is yet another new game in town. It comes in from Miami to make its NYC debut at The Boiler, the project space of Williamsburg’s Pierogi gallery, Apr. 28-May 20, 2012.

The event brings just seven artists together from the seven participating galleries: Diana Cooper at Postmasters Gallery, Ben Gocker at P.P.O.W., Hew Locke at Hales Gallery, Emil Lukas at Bravinlee, Dawn Clements at Pierogi, Gil Yefman at Ron Feldman Gallery and Andy Yoder at Winkleman Gallery. Admission is free.

*The AADLA “Spring Show”
The spot for lovers of fine furniture, fine and decorative art, antiques, textiles and tapestries is the Art and Antique Dealers League of America’s “Spring Show.” This year, more than 60 exhibitors are presenting their wares at the Park Avenue Armory, May 3-6, 2012, including Arthur Gay Kaplan, Drucker Antiques, Haynes Fine Art of Broadway, Leo Kaplan Ltd. and Rumi Galleries. Admission is $20.


This spring, Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art auctions begin a little earlier than usual, with its evening sale on May 1, 2012. The event has already gotten plenty of publicity for its offering of a lost study of one of Paul Cézanne’s “Card Players,” which was recently rediscovered in the home of a late Dallas collector. The picture is estimated to fetch $15-$20 million.

Its contemporary sale falls just after Frieze New York closes, on May 8, 2012. A fiery orange-on-red Mark Rothko canvas from 1961, estimated at $35-$45 million, leads the sale, closely trailed by paintings by Yves Klein, Jackson Pollock and Gerhard Richter.

At Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern auction, May 2, 2012, the landmark sale of Edvard Munch’s 1895 masterpiece The Scream is rightfully drowning out any noise from the house’s competitors. Sotheby’s isn’t naming a real estimate, predicting only that it will garner “in excess of $80 million,” but market analysts have said it could go for as much as $135 million.

At the contemporary sale, May 9, 2012, Roy Lichtenstein and Francis Bacon go head to head for the highest-priced offering. From the pop artist comes Sleeping Girl (1964), which has been in a private collection since it was painted, and is estimated at $30-$40 million. Or, for the same price, you can get Bacon’s 1976 portrait of a man writing, wearing only his underwear, and who resembles the artist’s longtime partner George Dyer.

*Phillips de Pury & Co.
Pop-era prodigies Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol command top dollar as usual over at the Phillips contemporary sale, May 10, 2012. The Warhol Mao from 1973 is estimated at $9 million-$12 million and the self-portrait on wood by Basquiat is tagged at $8 million-$12 million. But the sale’s top lot is by Willem de Kooning, whose gestural might is at its peak in the abstract landscape for sale, Untitled VI (1975), estimated at $10 million-$15 million.


*Metro Pictures
In case you haven’t gotten enough Cindy Sherman from her current Museum of Modern Art retrospective, Metro Pictures presents a new body of large-scale photographs, Apr. 28-June 9, 2012. The images, with their substantial Photoshopping, are something of a departure for Sherman. She employed the program to insert herself into a series of lonely, rugged landscapes, instead of staging the scenes, and she often used it to alter her physical appearance in lieu of makeup and prosthetics. The project was conceived during a shoot Sherman did for Dasha Zhukova’s Garage magazine, in which she photographed herself wearing vintage Chanel costumes.

*Blain Di Donna
The new 2,500-square-foot gallery in the Carlyle Hotel has hosted only two shows to date and yet it’s already establishing a solid reputation for Surrealism. Its first exhibition centered on drawings, paintings and sculpture by René Magritte, and now the gallery opens “André Masson: The Mythology of Desire, Masterworks from 1925 to 1945,” Apr. 27-June 15, 2012. The exhibition includes more than 30 paintings and works on paper, which is apparently the biggest survey of the French-Belgian surrealist’s work since his 1976 MoMA retrospective.

*Bortolami Gallery
Anyone who has visited the current Whitney Biennial probably remembers Jutta Koether’s update of Nicolas Poussin’s The Four Seasons -- large canvases facing the windows, each a fast-paced, street-style whirl of contemporary life. Now, she is debuting “The Fifth Season,” a series of eight paintings laden with the ancient motif of garlands, May 2-June 16, 2012, at Bortolami Gallery.

AND. . .

*The Brant Foundation Art Study Center
Billionaire publishing magnate and art collector Peter Brant opens the fourth exhibition to date at his Greenwich, Conn., art space with a collection of works by painter and installation artist Karen Kilimnik. So far Brant has focused solely on younger, market-making men -- Urs Fischer, Josh Smith and David Altmejd -- but he’s been a longtime supporter of 57-year-old Kilimnik’s work (who recently set an auction record of her own, just north of half a million, last fall). The exhibition, opening May 6, 2012, features a “Chinoiserie”-themed installation and a variety of Kilimnik paintings from Brant’s own collection, which, often compared to Elizabeth Peyton, are typically studies of joyless glamour.

RACHEL CORBETT is news editor at Artnet Magazine. She can be reached at Send Email

Frieze New York, under construction on Randall's Island, Apr. 23, 2012
Frieze New York, under construction on Randall's Island, Apr. 23, 2012