The art world let out a collective gasp of anticipation earlier this month, as the London-based magazine-turned- fair Frieze opened its inaugural exhibition in the United States on New York City’s Randall’s Island. Founded in 1991 by Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover with artist Tom Gidley, frieze magazine established itself as a place for critical dialogue about cutting edge contemporary art before branching off to create the first Frieze Art Fair in London in 2003, and establishing the non-profit Frieze Foundation, which presents a variety of artist commissions, education, talks, films and music.
Nearly a decade later, amidst the spring auctions and a handful of satellite fairs including NADA, Pulse and Seven, Frieze New York met its hype on a remote-seeming patch of green space separating the East and Harlem Rivers, inside of a giant tent, designed by Brooklyn’s SO-IL. The temporary structure, a short ferry ride from Manhattan, was quietly impressive, allowing peeks of the river out the sides occasionally, its design respecting the contemporary art it housed and its island environment. Frieze Projects, commissioned works that referenced the site of Randall’s Island, continued the experience outdoors. Trees and tent aside, the week was about art, and more than just Frieze’s nearly 180 exhibiting galleries. Amidst the spring auctions and other fairs and major exhibitions like the Whitney Biennial and the Cindy Sherman retrospective at MOMA, there were special events like a block party in Chelsea, aptly named 26th Street pARTy.
The unique atmosphere, energized by an undeniable enthusiasm for the Frieze’s first fair stateside, mixed with a complete saturation of art events, performances and exhibitions in New York, made this a memorable trip and historically important moment for art fairs. Below are some of our favorite images of the very first Frieze New York.
Nick Harkin and Mia DiMeo work with Carol Fox & Associates, an EXPO CHICAGO partner.