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Art Market

Frieze New York puts a premium on performance

29 April 2024

From the May 2024 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.

As I speak with the director of Frieze New York and Frieze Los Angeles, Christine Messineo, the subject turns time and again to experiential aspects of the fair. She discusses Frieze New York as a place to make connections, enthusing about, say, the artist Suzanne Jackson’s journey from appearing at a talk at last year’s fair to presenting a solo show at this year’s. ‘I think art fairs are places for that kind of informed cultivation,’ she says. ‘They can be a bouncing board for future conversations.’

Despite the fair’s boutique size (just 68 galleries) there should be plenty to bounce off this year. As other fairs increasingly emphasise artists and galleries from the Global South, Frieze New York is doing its bit to keep up: though more than half of its exhibitors are based in New York, the rest of its line-up is notably international. Alongside the usual suspects – the four mega-galleries and an array of blue-chip exhibitors – it also features galleries from Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, the Philippines and South Africa. There’s a particularly strong Brazilian contingent, with five galleries from the country making an appearance.

Untitled (Tulips 3) (n.d.), Jenkins Johnson. Courtesy the artist and Jenkins Johnson Gallery

This year, Frieze New York is collaborating with High Line Art to present Die No Die (The High Line), a performance piece by Matty Davis and five collaborators. This will see performers and audiences moving along the High Line together, accompanied by music with each artist performing in turn. Those inside the Shed can watch as it passes by. ‘You’ll be riding up the escalators and you’ll see it happening – I’m looking forward to that collision,’ says Messineo.

For the third year running, the fair is working with the non-profit gallery Artists Space. The result is a performance by composer Ellen Fullman, who is playing her Long String Instrument: dozens of 15-metre wires strung in parallel across a room, which Fullman plays by running rosin-coated hands along their length to create organ-like tones. Another collaboration, this time with Performance Space New York, will result in a video work by the ‘multi-hyphenate’ Chella Man.

wild fire (2023), Davi de Jesus do Nascimento. Courtesy the artist and Mitre Galeria

This year, the Focus section is curated by Lumi Tan, curatorial director of the art amusement park Luna Luna. It will feature 11 young galleries showing solo presentations of work by artists who are either in the early stages of their career or deemed to be under-appreciated.

Whose work is Messineo most looking forward to discovering at Focus? Her answer is immediate: Stanley Stellar’s, in a presentation by New York gallery Kapp Kapp. ‘Stellar is from the same era as Peter Hujar and Alvin Baltrop, who were also photographing the piers in New York, but he did it in colour – you can see the peeling paint, the graffiti, the Keith Harings.’ She adds: ‘Focus is a moment of discovery not just for us, but for institutions and collectors. There’s an incredible collector base here – a knowledgeable, hungry collector base.’

Frieze New York takes place from 1–5 May at the Shed.

Gallery highlights

Niki de Saint Phalle: Tableaux Éclatés
30 April–22 June
Salon 94, New York

‘If I go down in the middle of the night to eat a banana, I am accompanied by a light show, sound, movements and soft noise,’ wrote Niki de Saint Phalle in 1993, referring to the presence in her home of a new series, the Tableaux Éclatés. In these painted mechanisms, five of which are on show at Salon 94, a motion sensor triggers the movement of people, animals and fantastical hybrids that disperse and reassemble as viewers move past the works.

The Treasure of the Borrego Desert (1994), Niki de Saint Phalle. Salon 94, New York. Courtesy The Niki Charitable Art Foundation and Studio 94

Andreana Dobreva: Public Grapes – Anonymous Meat
27 April–24 May
Fiumano Clase, London

The influence of baroque painting is plain to see in the work of Andreana Dobreva, who creates complex compositions painted in impasto oils. For the new series on show at Fiumano Clase, Dobreva drew on her memories of the eight years she spent working with refugees in Munich to create semi-abstract history paintings inspired by stories of their journeys to Europe.

Phyllida Barlow: Unscripted
25 May–5 January 2025
Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton

Ten years ago, mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth opened an outpost in rural Somerset with an exhibition of Phyllida Barlow’s work. A decade later, the gallery is marking its anniversary with another Barlow show. This time it’s curated by Frances Morris, who worked closely with the artist when she was director of Tate Modern, and who has selected objects, installations, maquettes and drawings Barlow made over the course of six decades.

Black Dada (A) (2023), Adam Pendleton. Courtesy Pace Gallery; © the artist

Adam Pendleton: An Abstraction
3 May–16 August
Pace, New York

In his Black Dada Reader (2017), Pendleton created an anthology that provided the conceptual underpinnings of his practice. ‘Black Dada is a way to talk about the future while talking about the past,’ he wrote in the chapter titled ‘Manifesto’. At Pace, Black Dada and Untitled (Days), two recent series of abstract spray-painted, stencilled and painted works are grouped together within a monumental structure formed of five black triangles.

Fairs in focus

Photo London
16–19 May
Somerset House, London

Works created in the past 12 months hang alongside those dating from the first decades of photography’s existence at Photo London, which this year hosts some 100 galleries from 44 countries. Eight dealers from Turkey number among the first-time exhibitors, grouped together in a special presentation on Turkish photography, while the fair’s Discovery section features emerging artists and galleries selected by writer and curator Charlotte Jansen.

Plate 1, Astrups Horn (n.d.), Tonje Bøe Birkeland. Courtesy Gyldenpris Kunsthall, Bergen

9–12 May
Spring Studios, New York

Following on the heels of Frieze New York, which takes place the week before, Independent is returning to Spring Studios in Tribeca. To mark its 15th year, the fair is featuring a special section of presentations by 15 artists, titled ‘15 x 15: Independent 2010–2024’, selected by founder Elizabeth Dee and founding curatorial advisor Matthew Higgs. Of the fair’s 88 exhibitors, 39 galleries – some 40 per cent – are showing at Independent for the first time.

From the May 2024 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.