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Art & Culture

Frieze NY Gets its Groove Back

Highlights from this year’s lineup—from urban dance to abstract pieces, provocative pop art to clay sculpture.

Frieze NY electrified the local art fair scene when it landed on Randall’s Island in 2012 with a tent so large it earned a spot in the Guinness World Records book.

Hopping the ferry and strolling through acres of art under a custom big top became an annual thrill. You never knew what to expect: One year, a donkey named Gabe grazed in a chandeliered stall. In another, three Leonardo DiCaprio doppelgängers roamed the aisles in character from his movies.

So when Frieze ditched Randall’s Island in 2021 for the austere Shed in Hudson Yards, it was . . . an adjustment.

This year’s edition brings a tight exhibitor list spanning 38 NYC galleries and 25 countries.

Three years into its new tenure, though, it looks like Frieze NY has found its groove again. This year’s edition brings a tight exhibitor list spanning 38 NYC galleries and 25 countries. And it’s taking the party to city streets, adding nightly urban dance performances on The High Line and transforming Rockefeller Center’s ice-skating rink into a racing pit for artist Sharif Farrag’s remote-controlled cars decked out with ceramic hamster heads. (Both programs are free and open to the public.)

Meanwhile, inside The Shed, there’s a good reason to visit every floor, beyond the people watching on the escalators. Solo artist exhibits are everywhere this year, from the canon to the overlooked to the self-taught.

Matty Davis, Die No Die (The High Line), 2024. A co-commission by High Line Art and Frieze.
Matty Davis’s, Die No Die (The High Line), 2024 is a co-commission by High Line Art and Frieze. Performances are free and open to the public. Photo by Jonah Rosenberg
Pleasures (pink flamingo) 2022; pink orange neon by Sylvie Fleury
Pleasures (pink flamingo) 2022 in pink orange neon by self-described “punk feminist in disguise” Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury. Photo courtesy of the artist, Karma International, and Sprüth Magers

On Level 2: Look for new works by Alex Katz—still going strong at 96—at Gladstone and Ethiopian artist Elias Sime at James Cohan (if you’ve just returned from the 2024 Venice Biennale, you’ll recognize his abstract pieces, often stitched together from circuit boards and electronic ephemera, from his solo exhibit at the Arsenale).

On Level 6: A joint booth by Sprüth Magers and Karma International will showcase Swiss artist Sylvie Fleur’s irresistible neon signs and mannequin legs. The self-described “punk feminist in disguise” has been making provocative Pop art since the 1980s.

...strange worlds. painting by Leyla Faye
...strange worlds., 2024 by rising Brooklyn-based Leyla Faye, who trained at Rhode Island School of Design and Yale. Courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery
Matthew Brannon
Matthew Brannon’s Mouth-to-Mouth, Set & Setting, 2022; silkscreen with hand-painted elements on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Gió Marconi. Photo by Jason Wyche
Carmézia EmilianoWazaká –tree of life, 2022. Oil on canvas70 x 60 cmPhoto: rodrigo guedes da silva
Pioneering indigenous artist on the contemporary Brazilian scene Carmézia Emiliano focuses on themes from the Macuxi culture. The Tree of Life Wazaká , 2022, oil on canvas. Photo by rodrigo guedes da silva

On Level 4: Focus, the fair’s signature younger-gallery showcase, is in deft hands under this year’s curator, Lumi Tan, who recently helped resurrect the fantastical 1987 Hamburg art park full of amusement rides by Basquiat, Haring, Dalí, and more, for LA’s Luna Luna.

Here, she’s brought together “emerging and overlooked” artists of all ages and backgrounds: Legendary 1970s and 1980s New York queer-life photographer Stanley Stellar (at Kapp Kapp) will hob-nob with multi-disciplinary Brazilian artist Davi de Jesus do Nascimento (at Mitre Galeria) and Brooklyn-based Leyla Faye (at Company), a rising artist who completed her MFA at Yale in 2021.

The Earth part III by Elias Sime; braided electrical wires and electronic components on panel.
Part III of THE EARTH, a solo installation by Elias Sime; braided electrical wires and electronic components on panel. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York. Photo by Izzy Leung
Robert Pedantic photograph by Stanley Stellar
Robert Pedantic, an historic photograph by legendary 1970s and 1980s New York queer-life photographer Stanley Stellar, produced in color for the first time. Courtesy of the artist and Kapp Kapp

In between, ceramicist Reverend Joyce McDonald is finally getting her first New York solo presentation (at Gordon Robichaux). The self-taught artist battled a $100/day heroin addiction for decades and, at 72, is the only female reverend at The Church of the Open Door in downtown Brooklyn. After spotting one of her intimate wall reliefs in Maureen Paley’s booth at Frieze LA last month, we’ve been jonesing to see more.

Frieze NY runs from May 1–5 at The Shed, 545 West 30th Street, New York, NY 10001. VIP previews take place on May 1. Buy tickets here

Hero image: Wild Fire Water Guarded, 2023, by Davi de Jesus do Nascimento; courtesy of the artist and Mitre Galeria

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