Frieze New York Sticks With a Winning Formula

In a season of pandemic-caused disruptions to the formats and schedules of art fairs, Frieze New York will be relatively unchanged from last year.

The contemporary art fair, taking place from Thursday to Sunday, will host around 65 dealers at the Shed at the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan, just as it did in 2021.

That number is roughly a third of the dealer total from Frieze New York’s earlier home on Randalls Island. The Shed, close to the art gallery hub of Chelsea, won some fans among exhibitors and collectors, as did the more intimate feel of last year’s fair.

“I think there was a great sigh of relief about the Shed location,” said Christine Messineo, the new director of Frieze’s New York and Los Angeles fairs. (Frieze’s first fair was in London and, as of September, it will have one in Seoul, too.)

Ms. Messineo, who began her job in November, came to the organization after years of working at art galleries, so she has seen fairs from the dealer side.

“I was an active participant in Frieze for years,” she said, adding that the scale of the event is now “very manageable.”

“The visitor really benefits,” she said. “I think it encourages longer conversations.”

Though the participants are largely American and European, galleries from about 17 countries are represented, including China, Guatemala and Brazil.

“It will have more of an international feel than last year,” Ms. Messineo said. But, she noted, “We are a New York fair at heart.”

Like many fairs, Frieze New York developed an online version during the pandemic, and that will continue.

“There’s nothing like seeing art in person,” Ms. Messineo said. “But we’ve learned that people want to look at art even if they can’t make it to a fair. Our viewing room continues to be a great option.”

The Frieze viewing room is live now and features the same galleries. Ms. Messineo noted that it was not merely a substitute for the physical fair, and that the two could be experienced in tandem.

The availability of the viewing room is part of an ethos Ms. Messineo hoped to impart widely: “Anyone can be a collector.”

The fair has a special tribute section each year, and this year’s event is honoring four nonprofits founded in the 1970s: A.I.R., Artists Space, Electronic Arts Intermix and Printed Matter.

“The Frieze ethos is connected to nonprofits, as they are often the starting point in an artist’s career,” Ms. Messineo said.

As for the dealers at the Shed, they have various reasons to pick a certain event over others.

Olivia Barrett, the founder of Château Shatto in Los Angeles, said in an email that Frieze New York was effective “because of the focused scale and the quality and volume of curators who attend.”

“Plus,” she added, “you meet a lot of collectors who are devoted and serious, but not necessarily in attendance across the wider fair circuit.”

Château Shatto, founded in 2014, will exhibit around eight paintings completed this year by Emma McIntyre, who is based in Los Angeles and known for, in the gallery founder Ms. Barrett’s words, “pyrotechnical abstraction.”

Leah Turner, a director of Esther Schipper, a Berlin gallery, said that showing just one artist was strategic.

“A solo booth helps you stand out in a crowded field,” Ms. Turner said.

Her gallery will feature around 10 works by Simon Fujiwara, all from his series “Who the Baer,” centering on a cartoon character of the same name. The series debuted last year at the Prada Foundation in Milan, and the works at Frieze will include “Who’s Bigger Splash? (Semi-Immersion)” (2022), a colored paper collage with charcoal.

“We wanted to introduce Simon, who is well known in Asia and Europe but hasn’t been as widely exhibited in the U.S.,” Ms. Turner said.

Who the Baer, a character created during the 2020 pandemic lockdown, has no gender, race or sexuality. “That status allows them to roam the world and consume everything in their path, in an endless and greedy and perhaps futile search for the self,” Ms. Turner said.

Gordon VeneKlasen, an owner of Michael Werner Gallery, said his booth would take the variety-pack approach, with around 15 works by different artists.

The gallery, which was founded by Michael Werner in Berlin nearly 60 years ago, now has branches in that city as well as in New York City; East Hampton, N.Y.; Cologne, Germany; and London.

“For Frieze we try to bring younger artists,” Mr. VeneKlasen said. “It’s the venue to showcase that.”

“We’re doing a September show of her work, and this is in preparation for that,” Mr. VeneKlasen said. “She is one of the most sought-after artists.”

As in “Trash 2,” which depicts discarded household items, “Her focus is on everyday things,” Mr. VeneKlasen said, adding that she sometimes paints from auction sales catalogs.

Other recent works in the booth include Florian Krewer’s painting “Dog Songs” (2021) and Aaron Curry’s sculpture “Head Complex” (2021).

But Mr. VeneKlasen has also included a work by a great name of an earlier era, an untitled oil by Francis Picabia painted in the late 1930s.

“I’m bringing a Picabia to mix it up, and show the estates we work with,” Mr. VeneKlasen said.

Gagosian, a worldwide operation with 19 physical gallery locations, still finds the need to show at Frieze in New York, a city where it has six such spaces. It will devote its booth to the German-born, Swiss-based artist Albert Oehlen, with four colorful untitled paintings he made in 2014.

But Mr. Oehlen also has a surprise up his sleeve, one that will be appreciated by fatigued fairgoers who have looked at a lot of art from a lot of dealers: The booth will feature a vending machine that dispenses a beverage of his own creation, developed with Aqua Monaco, called Cofftea. As the name suggests, it is a combination of coffee and tea.

Mr. Oehlen issued a warning about its caffeine levels: “Don’t take too much. It really wakes you up.” (Visitors will be given free tokens to use in the machine.)

He said that the machine “is not an art piece,” but he allowed for a thematic adjacency to his work.

“There’s a connection to the paintings,” Mr. Oehlen said. “They refer to general commercialism.”

The paintings, more than eight feet wide, are made with materials from advertisements. “I glued cutouts from supermarket stuff onto the canvas,” Mr. Oehlen said. “Ads for beer, toilet paper and detergent.”

He added, “The material has some quality of trashiness and cheapness, but when I use it in a painting it has an effect like a color does. You carry a feeling away from it.”

Could his take on commercial things also apply to a fair like Frieze, where art and the marketplace come together?

Mr. Oehlen took a long pause before saying, “I haven’t actually thought about that, but probably, yes.”

But he won’t be at the Shed in person to explore the concept. Mr. Oehlen added, “I haven’t strolled around an art fair in a long time.”

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