Frieze New York Survival Kit
New York Friezes over
No Fair is an island, but for some reason Frieze decided it should be, and pitched tent on Randall’s Island. True, accessibility is far from the point of art fairs, but this odyssey stretches credulity. If you have the patience for transfers you can take the 6 way up to a shuttle bus. If not, the water taxi is charming, but Manhattan ain’t Venice, and if the ferry takes a nose dive into a strong counter-current, you won’t want to be on the top deck. No, really, this from experience. Pack for the day, and bring a folding fan: though its common knowledge that cold air sinks (the reason air conditioning ductwork runs along the top of tented spaces), the air here blows up from the floor. And while most of us are fine on a non-smoking island, some of you might want a patch as well. Once you get there, however, you will certainly not be bored. You may even want to a pitch tent yourself.
In shows that sprawl, journalists pray for themes, and collectors do as well. So good news: rendering is back, and wood is on an upswing. On the other hand, so is collage, photography, minimalism, abstractionism, sculpture, printmaking, video, and installation. Oh, and painting is strong. So strong, you could still smell the linseed oil. But that is all you’ll get in terms of direction. So with apologies, in no particular order, here is some of the best of it.
Europe is less enamored with textile than America is, but folk vernaculars appear similarly strong. There is a strangely compelling Spartacus Chetwynd puppet graveyard at Sadie Coles HQ, London, and Elliot Hundley’s suspended paintings at Andrea Rosen look like ephemera from a Faerie Encampment. LA artist Ivan Morley has a quite-nice stitched abstract at Kimmerich. And the stained wood Josh Tonsfeldt’s at Simon Preston are a well-curated counterpoint to Hans Schabus’ galvanized Atelier. There is a day-glo loom by Sarah Sze at Tanya Bonakdar, and White Cube showed a cool calico Tracey Emin.
There is a beautiful Matthew Day Jackson collage at Hauser & Wirth, along with a Diana Thater show-stopper and a Paul McCarthy dwarf. Sikkema Jenkins had a wonderful Vik Muniz c-print collage of Washington Crossing the Delaware, a felt and mixed media Arturo Herrera, and an 11-foot newspaper stack by William Cordova. Team Gallery had too many Ryan McGinley orgy collages. There are very good Justin Matherly inkjets at Bureau.
Stephen Friedman Gallery was particularly strong with a Ged Quinn oil of a geodesic ruin, a very collected Jim Hodges, and a Yinka Shonibare, MBE fountain. There was a tense Rinus Van de Velde at Almine Rech, along with some elegant Taryn Simons, and smart Nick Mauss at 303 Gallery.
In the Blue Chip zone, at Lisson Gallery the Ai Weiwei marble doors are magnificent, and his Huali wood Moon Chests were an olfactory surprise. Also at Lisson, an overpowering Anish Kapoor. There are two beautiful Aaron Currys at Michael Werner, powerful A.R. Pencks, fantastic Sigmar Polkes and a tasteful row of Picabias. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac had a great Banks Violette, and the Robert Longo charcoal was a pleasant surprise, along with the Tom Sachs Winnebago. Kurimanzutto, out of Mexico, took a firm stand with some Abraham Cruzvillegas’. Gavin Brown showed a Rirkrit Tiravanija sausage cart and a pretty Alex Katz. Sprüth Magers had a great Robert Morris felt piece and a stately Barbara Kruger. David Zwirner was extremely clear-cut, with Judd, Flavin and Le Witt. And Contemporary Fine Arts was full-on Anslem Reyle.
All in all, Frieze New York delivered on some of its many promises. Whether its the death knell for the Armory Show remains to be seen. And who knows, it may start the ball rolling on a franchise of art world theme parks. But if Frieze is fully committed to New York going forward, four words of advice: shuttles from Chelsea, shuttles from Soho, shuttles from the Bowery and shuttles from Madison Avenue.