The Very Best of Frieze New York

Artsy Editorial
May 5, 2017 2:16AM

The sixth edition of Frieze New York kicked off on Thursday morning at Randall’s Island, when an eager VIP preview crowd filtered into the fair’s expansive tent to visit over 200 galleries hailing from 30 countries and six continents. From John Currin’s rarely seen drawings to Dora Budor’s bizarre Leonardo DiCaprio homage, here are our highlights.


Focus, Booth D21

Simone Subal

With works by Kiki Kogelnik

Installation view of Simone Subal's booth at Frieze New York, 2017. Photo by Mark Blower, courtesy of Frieze.

It’s hard to miss this mini-survey of radical, neon-laced works from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Large-scale paintings like Double Vision (1981) and Express (1972), in which female figures assume powerful poses, pop from the booth’s walls. Kogelnik grew up in Vienna but developed her singular style in New York. There, while in dialogue with Oldenburg and Lichtenstein, she “translated a Pop vocabulary into a feminist agenda,” explained gallery owner Simone Subal, who has represented the late artist’s estate since 2012.

The drawings, sculptures, and paintings here, priced between $15,000 and $130,000, show not only the diversity of the artist’s output, but also her influence on recent generations. In particular, young female figurative painters, like Emily Mae Smith (seen nearby at Rodolphe Janssen’s booth), are looking to Kogelnik’s pioneering approach to fragmentation and flattening of the female form. Simone Subal’s presentation scored this year’s Frieze Stand Prize, awarded to the best booth from a gallery 12 years or younger. —Alexxa Gotthardt

Main, Booth C8

Marian Goodman Gallery

With works by Anri Sala

Installation view of artists work at Marian Goodman Gallery's booth at Frieze New York, 2017. Photo by Mark Blower, courtesy of Frieze.


Marian Goodman Gallery has become known for its elegant and curatorial approach to fair booths, historically focusing on one artist with an immersive installation that stops you in your tracks. This year, the gallery presents a work by Albanian-born, Berlin-based artist Sala. Bridges in the Doldrums, 2016, puts Sala and musician André Vida’s 2015 musical composition “To Each His Own (in Bridges)”— —constructed from the transitional bridges of 74 different songs—into a sculptural format. The stark but inviting booth features four drums—three suspended from the ceiling and one resting on the floor—that each emit recordings from layers of the composition, causing the drumsticks to lightly pitter-patter on the drum skins. Visitors can also don headphones to hear the full sound piece, an alternately disjointed and harmonious tune that takes you far away from the surrounding bustle of the fair. —Marina Cashdan

Main, Booth C27

Xavier Hufkens

With works by David Altmejd

David Altmejd, Spacing Out, 2017. Photo by Jason Mandella. Courtesy of the artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.

David Altmejd, Flesh, 2017. Photo by Jason Mandella. Courtesy of the artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.

The Brussels-based gallery delivers an exceptional presentation of the sought-after Canadian artist (who recently lost his New York representation with the now-shuttered Andrea Rosen). Fairgoers weaved among new sculptures and wall-based panels (over a dozen works in total) to ogle the artist’s mixed-media heads—resin casts of heads that meld together fake hair, foam, shards of glass, text, bronze, and gold, among other materials. One resembles a zombie Abraham Lincoln; another sports a crystal-encrusted hole in its face. —Casey Lesser

Main, Booth C15

Galerie Nathalie Obadia

With works by Andres Serrano

Andres Serrano
Cheneke Nanaoxi, Mexican Migrant Worker (America), 2002
Galerie Nathalie Obadia
Andres Serrano
Donald Trump (America) , 2004
Galerie Nathalie Obadia

A giant photograph of now-President Donald Trump, pointedly hung beside a portrait of a Mexican migrant worker, makes for a timely and not-so-subtle centerpiece at Nathalie Obadia’s solo booth for Serrano. The booth comprises 12 works from the artist’s “America” series (2001–04), photographed over the course of three years post-9/11 with the intention of distilling the nation’s collective identity. The series kicked off with rather direct subject matter—firefighters, an FBI agent—but grew into a wider portrait of America, with sitters spanning a Boy Scout to a pimp. Serrano also brought celebrities before his lens, Trump and Snoop Dogg among them; shown together, no single face is more or less American than any other. —Molly Gottschalk

Main, Booth D5

The Approach

With works by Bill Lynch

Installation view of The Approach's booth at Frieze New York, 2017. Photo by Mark Blower, courtesy of Frieze.

The painter, who cut his teeth at Cooper Union, was more or less unknown before his death in 2013; Matthew Higgs was instrumental in rediscovering his work shortly thereafter, and showcasing it at White Columns. The compositions here—all done on slightly ragged, unprecious pieces of plywood—depict rough, quasi-abstract landscapes. (A gallery representative told me that Lynch was greatly inspired by traditional Chinese painting, an influence that he wears on his sleeve.) A number of gentle drawings of birds round out a presentation that is quietly affecting. —Scott Indrisek

Spotlight, Booth A24

Honor Fraser

With works by Kenny Scharf

Installation view of Honor Fraser's booth at Frieze New York, 2017.

A peer of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Scharf made it through the chaos of the ’80s and into a long career that has included museum commissions and omnipresent public murals. This packed booth looks back on the work he made in New York between 1978 and 1985, including a telephone ornamented with plastic dinosaurs and a series of enormous boomboxes tricked out with his signature in-your-face color palette and happy alien blobs. It’s a sort of teaser for an exhibition opening this October at the Museum of Modern Art, focusing on the legacy of Club 57, an East Village venue and community that played a vital role in Scharf’s early career. —SI

Focus, Booth D9

Martos Gallery

With works by Aura Rosenberg

Installation view of Martos Gallery’s booth at Frieze New York, 2017. Photo by Mark Blower, courtesy of Frieze.

In the mid-’90s, Rosenberg made “Head Shots,” a series of uncomfortably close portraits of men, including artists such as John Baldessari. “I photographed men seemingly caught at the moment of orgasm. I intended to show men in ecstasy,” she wrote of the project, “something rarely seen in newspapers, advertisements, or even pornography.” The late, great Mike Kelley was one of her subjects. Recently, Rosenberg was going through her own archives and came upon a roll of undeveloped film. It turned out to be a whole slew of images of Kelley writhing ecstatically. The entire grid of black-and-white photos will run you around $70,000, though they’re also sold individually. Kudos to Martos for taking a risk on such an uncommon, intimately awkward work—the only piece it is showcasing in the entire booth. —SI

Main, Booth B61


With works by John Currin

John Currin
Untitled, 2003
Gagosian Gallery
John Currin
Untitled, 2004
Gagosian Gallery

Currin brings his drawings out of the studio for the first time. “He’s kept them very close to him,” said the gallery’s Rebecca Sternthal, standing in front of a salon-style hanging of several hundred framed works on paper. To make the selection for Frieze, Sternthal and her colleague Andy Avini helped Currin comb through over 6,000 sketches that had amassed in his Flatiron studio since the 1980s. The artist uses them as fodder for his renowned paintings, which feature semi-nude, pleasure-seeking women who allude to the subjects of the Old Masters.

Most drawings on view are the size of a piece of notebook paper (charmingly, some come complete with the ragged fringe that results from tearing the page from its spiral-bound pad), and show the diverse range of characters that end up populating lushly appointed rooms on Currin’s large-scale canvases. But on paper, his subjects are mostly rendered alone, on uncluttered backdrops, so that their features are the focus. —AG

Main, Booth A2


Organized by Marc Hundley

Installation view of CANADA's booth at Frieze New York, 2017. Photo by Mark Blower, courtesy of Frieze.

This booth is the brainchild of gallery artist Hundley, who set out to present a replica of his own Brooklyn apartment, split into separate living room, dining room, and bedroom areas. He’s filled the faux-domestic space with choice works by fellow artists (plus a few of his own), as well as his own furniture (including tables he made). The selections include pieces from artists on CANADA’s roster, like Matt Connors, as well as others, including Etel Adnan and Grandma Moses. The unique setting gives cohesion to a group show that otherwise lacks a firm theme, smartly offering fairgoers a vision of what it actually looks like to live with great art. —CL

With works by Marina Adams, Etel Adnan, Josh Blackwell, Katherine Bernhardt, Katherine Bradford, Sarah Braman, Matt Connors, Bella Foster, Grandma Moses, Nancy Haynes, Marc Hundley, Denzil Hurley, Xylor Jane, Karen Kilimnik, Elisabeth Kley, Sadie Laska, Sherrie Levine, Lily Ludlow, Mary Manning, Erin O'Donnell, Elena Pankova, Noam Rappaport, Martha Rosler, David Benjamin Sherry, Sue Tompkins


Frame, Booth B28

Eva LeWitt

On view at VI, VII

Installation view of Eva Lewitt’s work at VI, VII’s booth at Frieze New York, 2017. Courtesy of Frieze.

Installation view of Eva Lewitt’s work at VI, VII’s booth at Frieze New York, 2017. Courtesy of Frieze.

LeWitt debuts a fresh group of sculptures, made specifically for the fair, working with the Oslo-based gallery for the first time (and in advance of a solo with them next spring). The young New York-based artist is the daughter of Sol LeWitt, though she sets herself apart from his weighted legacy. Her minimal sculptures are made from cylinders and bricks of foam—which she casts and dyes herself—as well as latex and plastic. Works on view (priced from $2,500 to $12,000) span sweeping, curtain-like installations in pale yellow and purple, as well as stools resembling swollen mushrooms. —CL

Frame, Booth B20

Thomson & Craighead

On view at Carroll / Fletcher

Installation view of Thomson & Craighead’s work at Carroll / Fletcher’s booth at Frieze New York, 2017. Photo by Mark Blower, courtesy of Frieze.

Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead, who together form this London-based duo, coopt images and data from the internet to explore what it means to be human in the 21st century. The strongest work here, Help Yourself (2016), offers visitors headphones and an option of 32 self-help podcasts to plug into (the themes range from Finding Love to How to Attract Money). A found abstract video provides a hypnotic visual accompaniment. “We live in a world where mindfulness and self-improvement is a central marketing strategy,” says Thomson. Self-affirmation “is a phenomenon that we live with, and we’re trying to present it in a way that makes us see the phenomenon, rather than use it for its therapeutic effects.” —MG

Main, Booth D14

Caroline Walker

On view at Grimm

Caroline Walker
Cabin II, 2017
Caroline Walker
Beauty Queens II, 2016

This young Scottish, London-based painter is the standout of Grimm’s eye-catching booth. In two small paintings, women gaze into mirrors while applying eyeshadow in bright blue streaks, jarring pops of color against the otherwise muted palette. (Both sold on the first day, making room for a larger presentation of Walker’s canvases, priced £4,000 to £25,000, planned for day two.) The gallery will also unveil additional cinematic scenes featuring women in intimate environments: primping, or captured in moments of contemplation and repose. The central theme in Walker’s work “is the human condition in a postmodern, desensitized world,” explained the gallery’s Margot Samel. The booth teases an upcoming show by Walker, date still to be determined, at the Amsterdam-based Grimm’s first New York outpost, which will open on the Bowery this June. —AG

Focus, Booth A18

The Harrisons

On view at various small fires

Installation view of The Harrisons’ work at various small fire's booth at Frieze New York, 2017. Photo by Mark Blower, courtesy of Frieze.

A metronome set to the tempo of a heartbeat is the quiet centerpiece of this Los Angeles gallery’s booth, which focuses on protest art. It’s courtesy of a relatively unknown pair of artists, husband-and-wife Helen and Newton Harrison (88 and 85 years old, respectively), pioneers of the “eco-art” movement. The work is representative of the couple’s call for collective solutions to climate change—often made in collaboration with scientists, historians, activists, architects, urban planners, and other artists. Flanked by brass panels that address the urgent concerns of the artists—ending with the line “Pay Attention to the Extreme Costs of Extreme Belief”—the consistent tempo puts you both at ease and on edge, listening as time ticks away. —MC


Projects, Booth P3

Jon Rafman, Dream Journal, 2017

On view May 4–7

Jon Rafman, Dream Journal, 2017. Courtesy of the artist. Image courtesy of Frieze.

At Frieze London, Rafman drew quite a crowd for his four-minute, virtual reality underworld filled with serpents and trolls. This time around, those who slip into his secret movie theater will be indulged with a full hour’s screening of his excellent new film, Dream Journal (2017). Think your dreams are interesting? Try entering the mind of an artist who for years has brought us into uncanny collisions of the physical and digital worlds. Computer-generated erotica blends with bizarre vignettes: A woman snorts Ketamine from two straws while riding in a boat with a muscular red creature; a topless woman lays down on a pentagram in an STD clinic; and a little armor-clad girl chases her own eyeballs through a hedge maze. —MG

Main Section, Booth C49

Unidentified photographer, Lunch atop a Skyscraper, 1932

On view at Daniel Blau

Unidentified Photographer, Lunch atop a Skyscraper, 1932. Courtesy of Daniel Blau USA.

In 1932, 69 stories above Manhattan, an anonymous photographer snapped a portrait of construction workers eating lunch while precariously perched on a narrow beam. The photograph, a publicity image for the Rockefeller Center skyscraper, would go on to become one of the most iconic images from this era of New York’s history, later plastered on everything from posters to coffee cups. But likely only a single vintage print remains, says Daniel Blau’s Ryan Adams. Printed just two weeks after the shot was first taken, it’s on offer at Frieze for $126,500 (including tax). While the original glass-plate negative is today stored in a limestone cave in Pennsylvania, it’s broken into five pieces, making this legendary American print all the more invaluable. —MG

Main, Booth C2

Roman Ondak, Swap, 2011

On view at Esther Schipper

Roman Ondak, Swap, 2011. Photo © Jamie North (Kaldor Public Art Projects). Courtesy of the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin. Image courtesy of Frieze.  

Roman Ondak, Swap.

This restaging of an interactive work by the Slovakian artist involves an ongoing chain of exchange. When I visited shortly after the fair’s preview opened, a performer was sitting at a small desk, trying to trade someone a pen for an equally “valuable” possession of their own. Throughout the course of the morning, various objects changed hands—one guest gave up a €50 bill, which was later swapped by a lucky barterer for an American $20 bill. When I returned a few hours later to check up on the piece’s progress, a rather unusual object was up for grabs: An intricate plastic pill box, stocked with an eclectic selection of prescription medication (including Paxil, a version of Xanax, and a handful of unlabeled brown tablets). This stranger’s mobile medicine cabinet was all mine, in exchange for a dog-eared copy of a Mary Gaitskill novel. —SI

Main, Booth C45

Robert Rauschenberg, Primo Calle/ROCI VENEZUELA, 1985

On view at VENUS

Installation view of VENUS’s booth at Frieze New York, 2017. Courtesy of VENUS.

This giant painting is part of Rauschenberg’s 1984–91 project “Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange (ROCI),” for which he visited 10 countries and produced new, site-inspired work and exhibitions in each nation, with the goal of promoting world peace through cultural exchange. Created during his time in Venezuela, the vibrant canvas is significant in that it marks the artist’s return to silkscreening (which he had sworn off in 1964), includes prints made from his personal photographs (a new development at the time for the artist), and toured prominently in shows that celebrated the ROCI output, including exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Museo Nacional de Arte Contemporáneo in Caracas. The massive piece speaks to the cultural climate of Venezuela in 1985. Rauschenberg incorporated locally sourced fabrics and topical motifs, like an image of Pope John Paul, who had visited Venezuela that year. —CL

Main, Booth C48

Richard Long, White Onyx Line, 1990

On view at Cardi Gallery

It’s rare to find work by the reclusive British land artist Long at a fair. So it’s a bit of a shock to see his White Onyx Line (1990)—one from a series he made in the material—on the gray carpeting of this gallery’s booth. Typically installed in an open space and on a very different surface—wood or concrete—the placement here might seem to undermine its integrity. Still, it’s an exciting opportunity to experience even a taste of the meditative quality of Long’s work. —MC

Projects, Booth P4

Adam Pendleton, three scenes/the voice, 2017

On view Saturday, May 6, at 12, 2, 4, and 6 p.m.

Background for Adam Pendleton’s Frieze Project piece three scenes/the voice. Courtesy of Adam Pendleton.

Pendleton is best known for silkscreened canvases and mirrors that play with language, but he has also staged performances—most notably a 2007 commission for Performa that adopted (and subverted) the loose format of an energetic church revival. Here, he’s getting ambitious in a small space, bringing opera and gospel singers, as well as a string quartet, into an environment hung with work that alludes to Malcolm X’s 1964 speech “The Ballot or the Bullet.” It should be an unpredictable affair—as Pendleton told me when I visited his studio earlier this week, he isn’t even quite sure what the final results will be. —SI


Dora Budor, MANICOMIO!, 2017

On view May 4–7

Dora Budor, MANICOMIO!, 2017. Courtesy the artist. Image courtesy of Frieze.

A teaser for Budor’s performance on Frieze’s website was enticingly cryptic, describing her project as a “cinematic doubling to question perception and reality.” The artist’s own Instagram account merely posted a photo of a man wearing a big gold watch. Neither fully prepared fairgoers for Budor’s mischievous performance, which kicked off on opening day. It involved three men roaming the fair, each dressed as characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio in blockbuster films (The Revenant, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Catch Me if You Can). The performance was a potent—and wildly entertaining—meditation on the intersection of celebrity and the art world. (The real DiCaprio, of course, is also an art collector and art fair regular.) —AG

Artsy Editorial