Five Pieces You Should Absolutely Make Time for at Frieze New York

From savagely trippy paintings to next-level folk kitsch, Frieze New York delivers dramatic range.

Art fair goers look at an assemblage of abstract paintings resembling tree trunks
Paintings by Alex Katz. Casey Kelbaugh

Yesterday, Frieze opened its doors to collectors from around the world for the twelfth edition of its New York art fair. Though plenty of visitors to Hudson Yards on these sunny days have been content to take ground-level selfies with the development’s much-renowned, equally panned and overtly dangerous spiral—better known as Vessel, those who made their way to The Shed for less lethal works of art were rewarded with a pretty good spread. Here is my (as always) irresponsibly subjective list of the top five works that I enjoyed at Frieze New York.

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Tree on Red 4 (2024), Alex Katz at Gladstone

A painting of what looks like birch trees on a red baackground
Tree on Red 4 (2024), Alex Katz. Dan Duray

An obvious choice. Go read David Salle’s much-delayed but brilliant review of Alex Katz’s Guggenheim retrospective if you haven’t already. I didn’t think my appreciation of Katz could become any deeper, but that review did it, and frames so well those floating trees in Maine, the new works right at the top. These new ones remix them with Henri Matisse’s Red Studio (1911) and the result is an intense afterimage. It’s the brushstrokes within the red that really do it for me. After decades of ridiculous unbelievable control, Katz is opening his mind up to us with these late works. What a treat.

Untitled (1994), Feliciano Centurión at Ortuzar Projects

A blanket featuring an eagle in flight hanging on the wall
Untitled (1994), Feliciano Centurión. Dan Duray

Feliciano Centurión was a Paraguayan artist who lived in Argentina and made work in the handcrafted textile tradition that feels completely modern today. This blanket was found at a local market with most of the imagery ready-made. The artist merely embroidered the outlines, but this has the effect of making it more false and dramatic. For whatever reason this works perfectly. He’s completed the image. It’s impressive that he didn’t need to do anything to the feathers or the mountain. Next-level folk kitsch.

To the people of NYC (rotten apple) (2011), Nate Lowman at David Zwirner

A concrete apple logo
To the people of NYC (rotten apple) (2011), Nate Lowman. Dan Duray

I was looking for a way to describe how it feels to be in The Shed, and Nate Lowman provided it for me: it feels like being in an Apple Store that really sucks. Now, of course, they all suck. They’re loud, annoying, and bright. Each one seems spacious but then they cramp you at those tables. You have to hear way too much about everyone else’s business. Why is that guy buying five iPads? Nothing makes any sense. The Shed has all of that, only it’s way, way worse. If this seems like a digression, it’s not really because that is the point of this almost attractive work, which is paired with a cool Franz West furniture layout that offers a fun contrast in being far more luxurious than it looks. The “Warhol’s Children” revival is definitely coming and I’m not excited about it, but this piece made it seem like parts of it may be tolerable.

Youdue (1966), Karl Wirsum at Matthew Marks

A trippy colorful paitning
Youdue (1966), Karl Wirsum. Dan Duray

Did you catch Matthew Marks’ recent museum-quality Karl Wirsum show? Holy smokes. This one was in it and I’m surprised it didn’t sell before because it was a stand-out even in the gallery. Granted, it’s a little scary. There’s a nice paint-by-numbers quality to it, and it has those rough edges that get sanded out in later work. He made the sinister so friendly and goofy, and the innocent intense. The color selection here as in all his work is top-notch. The pigments punch you in the face but still remain somewhat muted. Savage.

Alan Lynes (1977), Stanley Stellar at Kapp Kapp

A nude photo of a man in a frame hanging on a blue wall
Alan Lynes (1977), Stanley Stellar. Dan Duray

This gallery wanted to stage a project that interacted with Frieze’s home on the west side of Manhattan, so their entire booth presents technicolor photographs by Stanley Stellar that document gay life on the Piers. The composition and lighting in this one is something else, and the defiance is just so cool. Lynes was also shot by Robert Mapplethorpe but the color photography does so much to make these feel contemporary. New York’s counter-cultural history can sometimes feel monolithic but these works give a sense of what it was actually like to be there, and make their subjects feel like people we might know.

Five Pieces You Should Absolutely Make Time for at Frieze New York