New York’s Independent Art Fair 2024 by Ilka Scobie

Independent, one of New York’s favourite annual art fairs, featured over 172 artists. The invitation-only fair included 15 X 15, curated by founders Elizabeth Dee and Matthew Higgs. This event celebrated the fifteenth anniversary by highlighting the work of 18 artists and galleries who have had an influential presence since the Fair’s inception. The VIP opening led to a few first-day sellouts of exhibiting booths, and the positive mood reflected the sun-filled Tribeca space.

As a novice potter, I found the selection of clay works particularly compelling. Alice Mackler’s glazed humanoids at Kerry Schuss are great companions to Ruby Neri’s exuberant ceramic women, both part of 15 x 15.

Elizabeth Dee, Independent founder Photo: Luigi Cazzaniga

At Nina Johnson in Miami, Francesca Di Mattio showcased her porcelain masterpiece, a majestic figure titled” Pampers Caryatid.” Blank Form of Brooklyn featured the unique abstract goblets by Tori Kudo, which echoed a post-punk sensibility in their unmanicured functionality. Adebunmi Gbadebo’s voluptuous vessels, made from soil sourced from her ancestors’ South Carolina plantation, were a testament to her artistic skill and heritage, shown at Nicola Vassell.

The Nigerian American artist says, “I use a Nigerian coil technique to build all the very intuitive vessels.” That same energy translates to her works on paper, the cerulean tones a tribute to her family’s skills as indigo producers. Photos and collaged paper are beneath a turbulent blue sky, clouds created from handmade paper and barber shop gleanings.

Amanda Baldwin at Public Gallery, London, with director Harry Dougall Photo: Luigi Cazzaniga

Another favourite was Elisabeth Kley’s installation of paintings and handbill pots. Running into the artist and critic Jerry Saltz, they posed, and we chatted. “Elisabeth Kley is a great visionary materialist. She creates forms that create space, allowing us to travel out of ourselves. She is an OG artist… She can knock you over with a feather. I love her work.” So do I.

Jerry Saltz

What fair would be complete without Jerry Saltz Photo: Luigi Cazzaniga

An English gallery, Public, showed the seductively hued work of Amanda Baldwin. The luscious landscapes feature opulent colours and undulating flora. Tom Uttech at Alexandre creates large-scale depictions of upper Midwestern woodlands replete with fauna, detailed bird flocks, and bears. And a shout out to Uman, the 2024 honoree, who created a gold leaf-embellished print and an eight-foot vermillion masterpiece at Nicola Vassell.

Imminent travel prevented me from spending another day at Independent. This year’s Fair again secured Independent as a downtown stalwart, echoing excellent curation and being an eclectic and international must-see art event.

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