Art Market

5 Collectors Share Highlights from New York’s May Art Weeks

Osman Can Yerebakan
May 13, 2024 4:54PM

Interior view of Frieze New York, 2024. Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy of Frieze and CKA.

Two weeks after the “art world Olympics” of national pavilions and festivities of the Venice Biennale, the art world immediately set track on a different marathon of art fairs on the other side of the globe. The first week of May in New York saw Frieze, NADA, 1-54, Future Fair, and newcomer Esther all opening within one week, with Independent and TEFAF opening just days after.

The New York art world was at full volume over the fortnight, with several galleries opening up booths in one or occasionally even two fairs, while local ventures also unveiled new shows at their own spaces. Museums responded with ambitious exhibitions, such as MoMA’s LaToya Ruby Frazier survey “Monuments of Solidarity” and the Met’s roof garden commission, Petrit Halilaj’s “Abetare.” Events in the city will also continue into this week, with major auction houses set to run their series of tentpole May sales.

In this bustling landscape, even the most seasoned collectors may find the back-to-back schedule of events intimidating. With an ever-growing list of international fairs and biennials, the art world remains in a constant shift and shuffle, with different mediums and eras constantly making a return or wane from checklists and fair booths.

Artsy spoke with five collectors for their takes on the highlights from the Big Apple’s busiest art world fortnight.

Pete Scantland

Founder and CEO, Orange Barrel Media

Portrait of Pete Scantland. Photo by Chyna Carter. Courtesy of Pete Scantland.


Pete Scantland took this fair season as an opportunity to scout his future acquisitions. “I was particularly excited about a work by Issy Wood shown by Carlos/Ishikawa at Frieze,” he told Artsy.

The collector and the founder of his family’s Scantland Collection at the Columbus Museum of Art was also a fan of Casey Kaplan’s solo presentations of Kaveri Raina, and James Cohan’s booth with Elias Sime, who currently has a collateral solo exhibition in Venice.

In fact, Frieze’s emphasis on solo booths was Scantland’s biggest takeaway: “I was really drawn to the quality of the stellar focused presentations and solo stands that allow for a deeper dive into an artist’s practice,” he noted.

In terms of medium, Scantland underlined what he described as “a more nuanced approach this year, where no single medium or mode dominated the galleries.” As many fairs are generally dominated by high-demand media—lately painting—he noted that it was “refreshing to see less of a pervasive sense of one overarching trend, as it gives a more expansive view of art practices today.”

Kaveri Raina, installation view of Casey Kaplan’s booth at Frieze New York, 2024. Photo by Sebastiano Pellion. Courtesy of Casey Kaplan.

While he admits that a busy schedule prevented him from visiting TEFAF and Independent, the collector trusts that both put beautiful presentations based on his former experiences. The collector and champion of public art through his company’s OBMARTS initiative prioritizes unearthing newness at art fairs. “They are a great way to discover new artists, see what’s happening, and learn about forthcoming gallery and museum shows,” he added. As a fan of art outside of the white cube, his favorite show in the city is Halilaj’s lauded Met commission as well as the late Pacita Abad’s extensive show of textile paintings at MoMA PS1.

Zoe Lukov


Portrait of Zoe Lukov. Photo by David Prutting for BFA. Courtesy of Zoe Lukov.

Zoe Lukov holds many roles in the art world, but during this fair season, the L.A.-based multihyphenate had her curator hat on. “Frieze Week is generally an opportunity for me to reconnect with artists and other folks working in cultural institutions around the city, move projects forward and see shows I might have missed,” she said.

Between zigzagging across the fairs, Lukov made sure to check in with artist friends at their studios, such as Devin B. Johnson, Jeffrey Meris, and Naudline Pierre. Lukov is in fact working on site-specific commissions with these artists for upcoming projects as the curator-at-large at the multipurpose Walter Street Associates (WSA) building in downtown. Johnson and Meris, who both have studios in the building, will inaugurate the WSA’s exhibition space in September to coincide with the opening of The Armory Show.

Maurizio Cattelan, installation view of “Sunday” at Gagosian, 2024. © Maurizio Cattelan. Photo by Maris Hutchinson. Courtesy of Gagosian.

Fairs also help Lukov to catch up on shows in New York where she is no longer a local. “I was happy to see Derrick Adams’s immersive exhibition of Afrofuturistic paintings and collages at Project for Empty Space, curated by Jasmine Wahi,” she noted. Lukov also found time to experience Arthur Jafa’s “just mind-blowing” new video work, *****, at Gladstone Gallery, as well as Delcy Morelos’s exhibition El Abrazo at Dia and Maurizio Cattelan at Gagosian.

A lover of dancing, Lukov made sure to get up and move during the week, too. The launch of Derrick Adams’s collaboration with the jewelry company Gautam & Saunders at the Habibi in Brooklyn in support of his artist residency in Baltimore was a highlight, as well as a raffle at Kehinde Wiley’s Brooklyn studio to raise funds for his Blackrock Senegal artist residency in Dakar. The best party of the week, however, was thrown by Mickalene Thomas at Midtown nightclub Silencio: “I don’t think I have danced that hard in years.”

Kim Manocherian

Founder, Scheherazade Collection

Portrait of Kim Manocherian. Photo by Romer Pedron. Courtesy of Kim Manocherian,

Kim Manocherian wrapped up the fairs with an acquisition of a Nate Lowman painting from David Zwirner’s Frieze booth. The New York–based collector also admired Victoria Miro’s presentation, particularly thanks to the large Chantal Joffe painting of a young woman in a red dress, Prom (2022). “I have Chantal in my collection and love watching her career progress,” she said. The holder of the world’s largest private collection of Paula Rego paintings, Manocherian unsurprisingly noticed Mindy Solomon Gallery’s booth of the young painter (and Artsy Vanguard alum) Basil Kincaid, which featured a large textile painting of dancing figures, Within this seed is the gift of a thousand forests (2024), at 1-54.

A thread Manocherian noticed across the aisles at Frieze was that “much of the work was not confrontational—I noticed pieces that were easy to live with rather than provoking which is what I tend to look for in art.” She also added that “politically driven works” were scarce and believes that “people probably don’t want to have that in their homes right now, but for me it’s less powerful.” Joy, however, was an element she found fascinating, especially in David Zwirner’s Frieze booth: “It felt like a fun, happy place, with Franz West and Nate Lowman—very Pop!”

Basil Kincaid
Within this Seed is the Gift of A Thousand Forests, 2024
Mindy Solomon Gallery

At TEFAF, she of course had her attention on two “beautiful” Rego paintings, The Waiting Room (1999) and The Psychiatrist (2011), at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert. “I was so struck by the quality of the fair,” she noted. Robert Colescott’s vibrant, large-scale painting Tobacco: The Holdouts (1987), at Venus Over Manhattan’s booth, also caught her attention.

Manocherian, who has around 600 works in her collection, considers fairs an opportunity to both collect and get an update on the art landscape. “I connect with galleries that are not around all the time, but also see where the work I have bought is expanding,” she explained. “One of the best things is finding global art and seeing different countries flourish.”

The collector considers this year’s two-week marathon as “buzzy,” but admits to having a hard time choosing from the many events every night: “The city was busier than ever—so much was happening!”

Heidi McWilliams

Collector and advisor

Portrait of Heidi McWilliams. Photo by Jitske Nap. Courtesy of Heidi McWilliams.

“Truly fulfilling and a visual feast,” said Heidi McWilliams of the last two weeks, during which she acquired a painting by Hugo McCloud from Sean Kelly Gallery at TEFAF. The L.A.-based artist also has a new solo show, “As For Now,” at the gallery’s New York space.

A glazed stoneware sculpture by Birger Kaipiainen at Dansk Møbelkunst Gallery’s TEFAF booth marked another entry into McWilliams’s collection through the fair. “I also discovered an extraordinary wall of works of paper by Emma Reyes, who is in [the] Venice Biennale, at Leon Tovar and purchased seven works,” she added.

At Independent, the New York– and Palm Beach–based collector purchased a painting by Ryan Mrozowski from i8 Gallery. “The dealers brought the finest quality; every booth was thoughtfully curated and truly appealing to the connoisseur,” she said of the fair. “There is a thirst for quality and the dealers there fulfilled this.” A strong presence of women artists was a thread McWilliams enjoyed throughout the show. She especially noticed Thaddaeus Ropac’s solo presentation of paintings by Joan Snyder, as well as Rebecca Salsbury James at Salon 94 and the juxtaposition of works by Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, and Rosemarie Trockel at Sprüth Magers. Offer Waterman’s exploration of female ceramists Lucie Rie, Magdalene Odundo, and Jennifer Lee was another highlight.

Joan Snyder
Wild Prayer, 2001
Thaddaeus Ropac

McWilliams considers the fairs to be a crucial part of the art world orbit: “They are a place of discovery and also offer the opportunity to connect with many dealers, artists, and museums,” she noted. She particularly likes Art Basel’s Unlimited section for “providing an opportunity for an artist to showcase expansive ideas and monumental works.” TEFAF’s Showcase section, she also believes, “offers the opportunity to present a more intimate and focused curated space.” For McWilliams, the fairs are encouragement to dive deeper into an artist’s work. “I acquire artwork at the fairs and I feel that in many cases dealers may save their best pieces to curate beautiful stands,” she said.

McWilliams considers art-packed weeks as reminders that “New York has always been a rich and vibrant place for art and creating.” She underlined that “the fairs may be closed but I would encourage every art lover to take advantage of the exciting shows and installations in the galleries and in the museums.”

Some current favorites for her are Nairy Baghramian’s installation “Scratching the Back,” on the Met’s façade; MoMA’s Joan Jonas retrospective “Good Night Good Morning”; and Jorge Otero-Pailos’s “dynamic” sculptures on Park Avenue. Another public art exhibition she finds thrilling is Rose B. Simpson’s exhibition “Seed” at Madison Square Park. “New York is a rich tapestry of art and culture, and at this moment it’s more exciting than ever with its cup overflowing,” she said.

Roselyn Mathews

Chief of staff and vice president of brand, Lucifer Lighting

Portait of Rosalyn Matthews. Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy of Rosalyn Matthews.

When she’s not working at her family’s San Antonio–based lighting firm Lucifer Lighting, Roselyn Mathews makes sure to squeeze in an art fair–stomping to her travels between Texas and New York—or elsewhere around the globe.

NADA was Mathews’s standout: “There was such a great range of art on display, especially by emerging voices.” As a lighting expert who works with top museums and hotels, Mathews always pays attention to the ways artworks are displayed. She thinks NADA did not disappoint, and neither did Esther with its alternative orchestrations against the typical white cube format. The ways the walls were painted in this newcomer, Mathews noticed, “made the pieces on view pop and emphasized the important role color and light plays to make the art a feast for the eyes.”

Installation view of Esther at the New York Estonian House, 2024. Photo by Pierre Le Hors. Courtesy of Esther.

TEFAF is Mathews’s all-time favorite among the plethora of art fairs. “It features a highly curated group of galleries, and it’s always so fun to see what everyone is presenting,” she said. A leadership summit in her hometown has hindered her from attending this year’s show, but the collector had a chance to review the fair’s sales previews.

Although she is amiss in the fair marathon’s second week, Mathews was impressed by the first week’s “buzz and energy in the air.” A highlight was participating in a panel discussion hosted by Artlogic at the Fifth Avenue Hotel about the relationship between art dealers and collectors. “The events, fairs, museum shows, and auctions come together to show the strength of New York’s art scene,” she said about the overall promise, “even if we are all quite tired by the end!”

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