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Beneath the bling: a few highlights from Frieze New York

13 May 2014

One can’t help but imagine what residents of the upper east side of Manhattan think every year in May when the massive white tent assembles on Randall’s Island. Surely thousands can see it from their apartments. And a veritable circus takes place under its temporary roof. This week’s fair (the third in New York) saw top galleries from around the world show off their finest artists and artworks. Here are a few notable selections from the event that flew under the radar, beneath the bling:

A still life by Jutta Koether on Bortolami's stand

A still life by Jutta Koether on Bortolami’s stand

Bortolami brought several still lifes by Jutta Koether that used bright pink, purple, and orange tones.

by Isa Genzken

Untitled, by Isa Genzken (Hauser & Wirth)

It may not be ‘under the radar’ but Hauser & Wirth’s booth deserved credit nonetheless for its thoughtfully curated mini-exhibition ‘On The Fabric of The Human Body’ featuring work by Rita Ackermann, Louise Bourgeois, Isa Genzken, and Paul McCarthy. All works dealt with the artist as an explorer of human anatomy. The works alternated between red and blue – signifiers of oxygenated and venous blood, respectively. Isa Genzken’s Untitled (2012) hides the non-flesh of a mannequin, provocatively draped in a blue cape.

(1935), Gaston Lachaise

Torso with arms raised (1935), Gaston Lachaise (Cheim & Read)

Sculpture highlights included Gaston Lachaise’s Torso with Arms Raised (1935) at Cheim & Read, adding a bit of pre-war talent to the contemporary bling.

(1996), Albert Oehlen

Untitled (1996), Albert Oehlen (Luhring Augustine)

Luhring Augustine occupied one of the large, eye-catching corner booths at the tent’s busy junctures, but one of their stronger works was tucked out of sight: Albert Oehlen’s Untitled (1996) is a mixed media printout created with computer graphics tools in a purposely untutored, glitch aesthetic.

by Yuri Firmeza, on Casa Triângulo's stand

Ruin Project by Yuri Firmeza on Casa Triângulo’s stand

Casa Triângulo installed Yuri Firmeza’s Ruin Project, a series of photographs of ruins in his native Brazil. They depict Alcântara, which in the 19th century experienced a building boom in anticipation of a visit from Emperor Dom Pedro II, who never arrived. Firmeza aligns these ruin images with three-dimensional models of contemporary Brazilian structures and renderings of imagined ruins, helping us think through questions of urban progress.


Wi-Fi sculptures by Davide Balula on Galerie Rodolphe Janssen's stand.

Wi-Fi sculptures by Davide Balula on Galerie Rodolphe Janssen’s stand. Courtesy of Galerie Rodolphe Janssen

Galerie Rodolphe Janssen presented a solo project by Davide Balula consisting of functioning Wi-Fi sculptures – the round antennae are hooked up to routers emitting signal. These works stood in front of a wall of the artist’s burnt wood panels and their paler, printed mirror images. The works function together: if the god Prometheus gave us fire, today we worship the provider of Wi-Fi.

Frieze New York was at Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan, from 9–12 May.

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