Clouds are lingering in the sky above Frieze New York, but the morning rain seems to have ceased, and the fair is in full swing.
There’s no easy way to measure this sort of thing, but I’d hazard to say that this year’s fair is slightly more big-ticket than last. Put another way, it’s slightly more conservative. The bluest of blue-chip galleries have come to ball. Gagosian has a full booth of small Ed Ruscha paintings, and a very bright white floor. David Zwirner is well stocked with Donald Judd and Yayoi Kusama, including one of her very fat polka-dotted pumpkin sculptures. Luhring Augustine has big and very big paintings by Oehlen and Wool, Josh Smith and Jeff Elrod, a trophy abstraction at every price point. (Well, sort of.) Nothing wrong with all that, though, to be clear. This is an art fair. It’s time to make some money, and it’s nice to see the goods.
That said, there are, thankfully, some very handsome surprises to be found all over the more than 200,000-square-foot tent. Derek Eller is showing vintage Karl Wirsum, the Hairy Who great, with works dated 1965 to 1988, including three marionette-like sculptures sporting his wife’s old clothes. (Those clothes have been in storage for three decades and have been freshly dry-cleaned for the affair.) Some museum should snap them up. London’s Ancient & Modern has a trove of sculptures and paintings by the late, great Norbert Prangenberg. Tel Aviv’s Tempo Rubato has electric Pop paintings by Israeli Joav Barel (1933–77), whose figuration has dashes of Kiki Kogelnik and William Copley. And did I mention that David Kordansky has a booth of choice Sam Gilliams. Wowser.
And, of course, there are young galleries from all over the world showing young artists—one of the prime reasons to shell out the staggering $43 ticket price. Real Fine Arts of Brooklyn has chicly scrappy sculptures of resin and metal fencing by Frankfurter-turned-New Yorker Lena Henke, for instance, and Berlin’s Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler has three airbrushed black-and-white computer-graphics-style stunners by the Bronx-based Avery Singer. And how about that garden of an installation by Tel Avi- and Berlin-based artist Ariel Reichman at Berlin’s PSM? Over at 47 Canal, you can find the intriguingly peculiar pairing of Nolan Simon’s wild and compact figurative paintings and Amy Yao sculptures. I’m looking forward to running over there again in a few minutes to give them another, closer look.
One last, very pleasant surprise: Marian Goodman, not exactly a gallery one thinks of as an art-fair-oriented enterprise has followed up its best-in-show Tino Seghal booth last year with a very superb Danh Vo outing this year. I actually had some trouble finding it at first: the artist has floated a number of his trademark cardboard and gold leaf sculptures high in the air above the booth, leaving the floor completely empty. It’s a breath of free air.
More photos, and a bit more commentary, follow in the slide show above.