Can Frieze New York Reshape The US Art Market

This May, Frieze Art Fair – perhaps the bells-and-whistles event of the London Art calendar – is set to make its New York debut. This inaugural event will take place between the 4–7 May 2012 on Randall’s Island, Manhattan, and promises ‘the most forward-thinking galleries from around the globe’, peddling work ‘by over 1,000 of the world’s leading artists’. ArtLyst will, of course, be reporting live from the scene of what looks set to be the biggest art event of the year, keeping our informed readers up-to-date with all the latest art news.  

Boasting 160 international galleries from 28 countries, including Brazil, China, India, Korea, Mexico, Romania, Israel, and South Africa, Frieze Co-Directors Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover have gleefully declared that ‘The number and quality of applications to our first American fair matched our ambition in ensuring this was a leading international fair from the beginning’.


The London galleries are well represented including the usual suspects, White Cube, Sadie Coles, Stephen Friedman, Frith Street, Victoria Miro, Maureen Paley, Alison Jacques Gallery,Anthony Reynolds, Timothy Taylor Gallery,greengrassi, Corvi-Mora, Vilma Gold and the Lisson Gallery as well as some surprises like, Seventeen,The Approach London,Kate MacGarry, Cabinet,Mary Mary, Glasgow and Limoncello. To this roster are added 32 local New York galleries, from heavy weights Gagosian, Lehmann Maupin and David Zwirner to James Cohan, Elizabeth Dee, and 303. Cape Town Gallery Stevensen will see South Africa represented for the first time, while the Beijing galleries Boers-Li and Tang Contemporary Art are also newcomers at the fair.

This is with out a doubt an international art fair with galleries representing all of the major contemporary cultural centers in the world.

Along with the now-established Frame section (in which Frieze grants solo shows to young galleries), Frieze New York will open a new section – Focus – for galleries opened after 2001.


With an enterprise of this scale and ambition, its comes no surprise that Frieze have announced that their very first NYC edition is to be spectacularly housed. New York-based Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu architects have been enlisted to create a special pavilion, employing what is being described as a distinct snake-shaped structure.

SO – IL spoke of how their ‘first challenge was to establish the structure as an icon, beyond being a very large tent’; ‘With the ambition to relax and open up what would otherwise be a rigorous system, we devised a slightly mutated pie-shaped tent section, using “wedges” which we inserted into the structure at five locations. From the outside, they allow us to bend the otherwise straight tent into a meandering, supple, shape.’

Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover say that they chose SO – IL architects because their previous projects have ‘shown an inventive approach that we instantly found appealing. Having worked with a series of architects in London we have a reputation for commissioning forward-thinking design and we wanted to bring a similar approach to our first New York fair. SO- IL’s designs for Frieze New York are a solution that demonstrates a thorough understanding of how the fair works at the same time as being a structure that promises to genuinely excite.’

Since the very first Frieze Art Fair in 2003 the design for the bespoke temporary venue has been a key talking point, with the fair calling on the talents of a series of internationally celebrated architects, from Caruso St John and Jamie Fobert, to Carmody Groarke and David Adjaye.

Sculpture Park

As with the London editions of Frieze, the NYC version will creating a sculpture of park of newly commissioned large-scale works that will be freely accessible the public.

The Sculpture Park will be located along the waterfront of Randall’s Island overlooking the East River (a two minute walk from the main pavilion), and will year contain works new works by James Angus, Rathin Barman, Christoph Büchel, Ernesto Neto, Tomás Saraceno, Katja Strunz and Cerith Wyn Evans as well as pieces by Louise Bourgeois, Joshua Callaghan, Subodh Gupta, Ryan Gander, Jeppe Hein, Gabriel Kuri, Susan Philipsz and Jaume Plensa.

The idea of the sculpture park is to give a audiences a sense of the current state of sculpture today. The honour of putting this public display together has gone to curator Tom Eccles, who during his tenure at The Public Art Fund, presented more than eighty major exhibitions, and established an annual program of large-scale installations at Rockefeller Center.

‘Drawn from participants in the Frieze Art Fair itself, the sculpture park offers visitors a unique way to experience contemporary art within the unexpected context of the Randall’s Island waterfront’, Eccles explained: ‘Both bucolic and urban, the site offers the perfect backdrop for a series of diverse works by some of today’s leading international artists.’ 


While you might be forgiven today for assuming otherwise, Frieze has humble origins. In 1991, – on the eve of the YBA revolution – Amanda Sharp, Matthew Slotover, and artist Tom Gidley founded Frieze magazine, with a simple and worthy mission: to provide an alternative to ‘the [available] art mags [that] were badly designed and badly written … [and] even more full of jargon than they are now … [with] a lot of French philosopher name-dropping’.

 And, at first, there were no plans for world domination. ‘We didn’t think of it as a business’, Sharp explained; instead, ‘It gave us an extraordinary life of the mind. [And] It was a privilege to watch the art world grow.’ ‘We weren’t doing the magazine for audiences, but we wanted to do something that answered our own questions about the art world’, Slotover agrees.

The destined-to-be power couple Sharp and Slotover were especially excited by the work of the YBAs,  and were keen to provide these young artists with a mouthpiece, fearing that this nascent scene might be ignored by the established art press. Fittingly, Damien Hirst would grace the front cover of the very first issue – the start of relationship between Frieze and the artist that has remained strong ever since.

In 2003, Sharp and Slotover staged the very first Frieze Art Fair, replete with a secret gig by Jarvis Cocker and free bags designed by Jeremy Deller. This inaugural event attracted 27,700 visitors and made around £20 million in sales, surpassing all expectations: ‘We were amazed’, exclaimed Sharp and Slotover; It wasn’t just the art world that came, it was creative London. It had this fantastic energy of the city and that made it a platform in a way we never expected.’

Despite perennial lambasting from critics, Frieze has gone from strength to strength, and ultimately secured London’s top place on the artworld map. And now, with the move to NYC, it seems they just might raise the stakes and produce the Art Basel quality fair that New York has been lacking.

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