A Guide to All the May Art Fairs

The May art fair calendar in 2024 is packed with cultural events beyond Frieze, including art scene newcomer Esther Art Fair and the uber-democratic Fridge.

Frieze New York in 2019. Courtesy Frieze

Art fair fatigue can start to set in just before May, which is ironic given that May is one of the busiest months in the spring art calendar. Or maybe they’re all busy now. There were loads of April art fairs; even February’s art fair calendar was packed. Like it or not, art is a global affair, and dealers in sometimes underrepresented parts of the world are catching up, making it increasingly a year-round occupation. What sets May apart, however, isn’t that there are so many art fairs—when are there not, at this point—but that so many are right here in New York, a quick subway ride from Observer headquarters.

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They call it Frieze Week, but maybe that should be Frieze month, given that the Blue Chip art fair attracts a global audience of art lovers to NYC who then stick around for the many, many art happenings still running—fairs and otherwise—long after that fair closes its doors.

May 2024 Art Fair Guide

1-54 New York 2024

May 1-4

1-54 was founded in 2013 by Touria El Glaoui to showcase contemporary African art and artists to a broader international audience, and since the first 1-54 in London at Somerset House, this art fair has grown to become the place to be for lovers of contemporary African art. Now in its tenth edition, 1-54 New York is being mounted at The Starrett-Lehigh on 11th Avenue in Chelsea for the first time after being held in the Malt House in the Manhattanville Factory District in 2023. This year’s fair will feature over thirty galleries exhibiting the work of more than seventy artists from Africa and the global diaspora—the largest edition to date.

Fridge Art Fair 2024

May 1-5

During New York City Frieze Week, Fridge Art Fair NYC is planning a celebration honoring a decade of the free, uber-democratic fair—it’s going to be party time at the Seaport Hotel. There’s an opening-night birthday bash and parade, games (“pin the tail on the Fridge,” anyone?), prizes and surprises. None of this will come as a surprise to fans of the eclectic fair, which this year is curated and directed by Chris Cobb, David Craig Ellis, Jean and Iggy Font of CollaboARTive and fair founder Eric Ginsburg. Fridge Art Fair was launched in 2013 by Ginsburg, an artist himself, as an alternative to more traditional and larger-scale art fairs with a more accessible, intimate and quirky experience. Booths are just $225, and the event is widely known for its friendly, inclusive atmosphere.

An exterior of a New York building
Newcomer art fair Esther will be held at the Estonian House. Courtesy of the Estonian House

Esther Art Fair 2024

May 1-4

Fair scene newbie Esther made headlines in February when it announced its May arrival. Founded by gallerists Margot Samel and Olga Temnikova, Esther Art Fair’s inaugural edition will bring twenty-five national and international galleries to the New York Estonian House on East 34th Street during Frieze Week. With paintings, sculpture, site-specific installations and performances and events free and open to the public, the fair aims to shake things up by creating a platform that lets galleries take more risks.

Frieze New York 2024

May 1-5

Frieze New York at the Shed is one of the biggies on the city’s spring art calendar and this year returns to The Shed under the directorship of Christine Messineo with a new curator for Focus—Lumi Tan—and work from artists represented by more than sixty galleries from twenty-five countries. There’s also an extensive program of events and activations planned. As Observer correspondent Max McCormack put it, “Frieze New York—much like its Los Angeles, London, and Seoul counterparts—offers an opportunity to discover, to see old friends and to gain new insights around what’s culturally significant in art today.”

A pink hued tapestry woven to depict two nude people
Mia Weiner, ‘Condessa for G,’ 2022. Courtesy Future Fair

Future Fair 2024

May 2-4

Future Fair, founded by Rachel Mijares Fick and Rebeca Laliberte in 2020, is coming back to the city with a roster of sixty New York, national and international exhibitors. The goal of the fair, which held its first in-person event in 2021 after a virtual soft launch during Covid, was to support and promote collaboration and equity among galleries and artists, and to that end, it launched with a unique revenue sharing model and a commitment to pay transparency. This year’s edition will, as always, be mounted in Chelsea at Chelsea Industrial on West 28th Street with participation by sixty national and international galleries showcasing more than one hundred new and notable voices in contemporary art.

World Art Dubai 2024

May 2-5

World Art Dubai, established in 2015, is the region’s largest contemporary retail art fair with more than 4,000 artworks displayed by 400 galleries and solo artists from something like sixty nations. The fair was initially launched to provide a platform for rising and established artists in the region to put their work in front of a broader audience of collectors and art enthusiasts. This year, World Art Dubai will host interactive workshops, painting sessions, artist prizes, art talks and cultural performances (e.g., live street art graffiti). Serious buyers can nab a one-on-one session with French creative arts specialist Astrid Lesuisse, who will guide them through an “interactive experience using Virtual Reality” to help them find the perfect addition to their art collections.

Clio Art Fair 2024

May 2-5

Observer once suggested that visitors to Clio Art Fair could “expect more outsider work, maybe less expensive pieces, and artists who are actually down to talk to their audiences.” True or not, Clio does tend to live up to its reputation as the “anti-fair”—in a good way. The work on view is by artists from around the world who don’t have exclusive gallery representation, so it can be more eclectic, riskier and overall more exciting. It’s also (sometimes) less expensive, with some price points in the hundreds, versus the hundreds of thousands. Fun fact: Clio Art Fair was one of the first to accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum as payment.

NADA New York

May 2-5

NADA New York at 548 West in West Chelsea’s gallery district is known for being inclusive in more ways than one. It offers a platform for younger galleries that may not have the required resources to exhibit at larger, more commercial fairs. And NADA puts on an accessible event, with provisions such as ASL interpreters for programs. Most importantly, it’s a must-visit for art lovers looking for hidden gems. This year’s fair will showcase work brought in by ninety-two galleries, art spaces and nonprofit organizations, fifty-nine of which are New Art Dealers Alliance members and thirty-four are first-time exhibitors. Once again, curator and writer Simon Wu will highlight five presentations from exhibiting galleries in the Curated Spotlight series.

Superfine Art Fair NYC 2024

May 2-5

This art fair “brings cool to Times Square,” billing itself as the most dynamic fair of the year. Founded by Alex Mitow and James Miille, Superfine embraces a hands-on, inclusive art fair model designed to appeal to artists without traditional gallery representation. A big part of holding an art fair for artists involves both bringing in pre-qualified buyers and a bigger-than-usual marketing budget. The goal? Sales. There are 130+ hand-curated displays spread over 10,000+ square feet, but the atmosphere is affable and intimate. Seventy-five percent of surveyed visitors report that meeting and connecting with the artists is their favorite part of attending Superfine.

Independent Art Fair 2024

May 9-12

To mark the 15th anniversary of its May art fair, Independent is unveiling a new brand identity designed by Team, founded by Amy Globus and John Clark. This year’s edition at Spring Studios in Tribeca will feature solo, duo and group exhibitions of work by more than 130 artists presented by eighty-five galleries and nonprofits nominated by Independent’s founding curatorial advisor Matthew Higgs. Fair founder Elizabeth Dee and Higgs are also co-curating an anniversary presentation, “15 x15: Independent 2010-2024,” which will showcase artists and galleries that have made a significant impact on Independent’s evolution. Highlights: Kasmin will present a single large-scale work by American citizen artist Vanessa German; Galerie Lelong & Co. will present works created by Ficre Ghebreyesus; David Nolan Gallery will exhibit a new series of paintings by Vian Sora; and Niru Ratnam will feature the work of Kutluğ Ataman and Sutapa Biswas.

FOCUS Art Fair New York 2024

May 9-12

This young art fair organized by Paris art agency Curator HongLee only made its New York debut last year after a few years of successful fairs in Paris and London. FOCUS’s “sustainable art fair experience” must be indeed sustainable, as it’s headed back to the city—specifically to 548 West between Chelsea and Hudson River Park. Twenty-five galleries have signed on to exhibit art by artists from more than forty nations. The fair’s theme is still TBA, according to the FOCUS website, but chances are good that it will speak to pressing societal issues. Expect to see traditional paintings, sculptures, photography and installations alongside NFTs, digital art and the like—a “distinct and idiosyncratic experience that crosses virtual and reality.”

TEFAF New York in 2019. Kirsten Chilstrom

TEFAF New York 2024

May 10-14

The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF), originally established in 1985 with the merging of Pictura and De Antiquairs International before becoming TEFAF in 1988, held its first New York edition in 2017. Since then, this prestigious fair mounted in the halls of the Park Avenue Armory has showcased the best in curated modern and contemporary art and design, plus jewelry, antiquities and ethnographic art. Gagosian, David Zwirner, Gladstone, Kasmin… plenty of big-name galleries attend. “But here, you have a lot more art historical basis,” Will Korner, TEFAF’s Director of Fairs, told Observer last year. This fair, which is known for its stringent vetting process, is the place to go for museum-quality works rarely seen outside of museums—like last year’s van Dyck sold by Dickinson gallery. Don’t miss the early and rare designs by Isamu Noguchi being shown by R & Company.

The American Art Fair 2024

May 11-14

The seventeenth annual American Art Fair will be held, as per usual, at the Upper East Side’s neo-Renaissance Bohemian National Hall. Also as per usual, it will showcase more than 400 landscapes, portraits, still lifes, studies and sculptures across its three floors, bringing together work from seventeen contributing galleries specializing in American art from the 18th to the 21st Centuries. The American Art Fair’s focus is typically on historically significant artists—think Emil Bisttram, Louise Nevelson, Erica E. Hirshler, Mary Cassatt, Thayer Tolles, among others—some of whom are highlighted in the fair’s annual curator lectures.

The Other Art Fair 2024

May 16-19

The Other Art Fair, with its commitment to reframing art and informing the curious, returns for its 13th edition at ZeroSpace in Brooklyn (running concurrently with the fair’s Sydney edition). With a lineup of thousands of artworks by 120 independent artists, some brand-new, the fair brings a diverse collection of art—including work reflecting Black history and culture such as Black portraiture by Bryane Broadie—to collectors and dealers from around the world. This year,  The Other Art Fair features “Get Nude Get Drawn,” an exhibition of drawings of posed nude New Yorkers celebrating the city’s diversity led by artists Mike Perry and Josh Cochran. Attendees can also look forward to live DJs, performances and cocktails and plenty of art starting at just $50 to $100, providing an in-road for new collectors.

Market Art Fair 2024

May 17-19

Launched in 2006 by a group of galleries from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, Stockholm’s Market Art Fair’s 18th edition will showcase nearly 100 artists at the Liljevalchs and Spritmuseum from forty-seven galleries, including first-time participant Saskia Neuman Gallery and long-time exhibitors Galerie Nordenhake from Sweden, Denmark’s Galleri Bo Bjerggaard and Galleri Riis from Norway. Þula from Iceland and Galerie Anhava from Finland will also be returning. This year, visitors will get to see work by Swedish artist Karin Westman touring the streets on the BMW i5 M60 xDrive cars (inspired by the BMW Art Car Project) that will shuttle people to and from the fair to check out everything that’s happening on the Nordic art scene.

ARCOlisboa 2024

May 23-26

The seventh edition of contemporary art fair ARCOlisboa will take place at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon and showcase works brought by about seventy galleries hand-selected by the fair’s Organizing Committee. Much of the art on view at this fair is by Portuguese artists or from global talent with a connection to Portugal. In 2024, ARCOlisboa has two main curated sections in addition to the General Programme: “As formas do Oceano” (“The Shapes of the Ocean”), an exhibition by Paula Nascimento and Igor Simões, which highlights the relations between Africa and the African diaspora, and “Opening,” by Chus Martínez and Luiza Teixeira de Freitas, which invites art enthusiasts to learn more about lesser-known artists, different artistic practices and new artworks.

Beijing Dangdai Art Fair 2024

May 23-26

Beijing Dangdai, or Beijing Contemporary, coincides with both Gallery Weekend Beijing and Beijing International Design Week and this year returns to the National Agricultural Exhibition Center for its sixth edition. With an expected visitor count of around 80,000, the fair will put the Chinese city’s contemporary art scene on full display with over 150 exhibitors, including some from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, across six sections that illustrate different trends and aspects in contemporary art. According to the fair’s Instagram, the concurrent cultural offerings will empower “a series of collaborations, creating artistic synergies across the whole city.”

Even more May art fairs in 2024

As always, what’s above doesn’t represent the totality of the May art fair calendar in 2024—there are always plenty of smaller, lesser-known and niche art fairs happening around the world. Here’s a quick roundup of several more art events you might want to check out this month.

The Phair 2024 (Turin)

May 3-5

The Other Art Fair 2024 (Dallas)

May 9-12

Marfa Invitational 2024 (Marfa, TX)

May 10-12

Art Busan 2024 (Busan)

May 9-12

Art On Paper 2024 (Amsterdam)

May 9-12

Art-Thessaloniki 2024 (Greece)

May 23-26

ReA! Art Fair 2024 (Lugano)

May 23-26

BAD+ 2024 (Bordeaux)

May 31-June 2

And don’t forget, there are also the 2024 June art fairs to consider!

A Guide to All the May Art Fairs