Pret-a-Reporter

New York City's Spring Art Fairs: 10 Artists and Movements to Know

Courtesy of Patron Gallery; Five Car Garage; Space in Between
From left: Pieces by Alex Chitty, David Hendren and Lucas Simoes

Frieze and the city's other major art meetups in May generated buzz for a new generation of creators and their innovative works.

As with the Armory Week that overtakes New York's art world around the first of March, Frieze Week (May 5-8) means far more than just the one blue-chip art fair for which it is named. Rival fairs pop-up in Manhattan and other boroughs (NADA New York, Art New York, Context New York) commercial galleries bring out their best and DIY art spaces do what they can to get some of the attention (and maybe the money) coursing through town.

Here are some highlights from the many venues outside Frieze's giant white tent.


(Photo: Courtesy of Space in Between)

Lucas Simoes
The 30-something Brazilian trained as an architect in Sao Paulo and Milan, but has put architecture aside. In an exhibition called "All That Is Made And Unmade" at Space In Between at NADA New York, he paired polished, cast concrete with more ephemeral components like paper, often balancing tension and release in elegant ways. Simoes showed these alongside smaller plaster pieces he invited viewers to handle roughly, using their obvious deterioration to critique the over-precious way collectors treat similar movable objects Lygia Clark produced in the 1960s.


(Photo: Courtesy of Ed Varie)

Mark Delong
The nomadic Ed. Varie gallery, which was once settled in the East Village but now pops up in both New York and Los Angeles, showed at NADA New York a set of eye-pleasing collages by Delong, each made of colorful grocery-shipping boxes and colored string. Sometimes reminiscent of tramp art — Delong is self-taught, and these pieces may make viewers want to grab their X-acto knives and head to a produce market themselves — they demonstrated enough compositional imagination to fuel two or three full-gallery shows.


(Photo: Courtesy of Patron Gallery)

Alex Chitty
Showing her work for the first time in New York at NADA, Chicago sculptor Chitty filled Patron Gallery's booth with assemblages that might initially look like high-end interior design but, on closer inspection, reveal a tantalizing strangeness. Reportedly making many of the "found"-looking objects perched on these shelves herself, Chitty prompts poetic associations by juxtaposing these disparate items, sometimes suggesting a specimen-like presentation informed by her past as a marine biologist.


(Photo: Courtesy of Waterhouse & Dodd Gallery)

Kim Keever
Amid the many booths at Art New York that offered little but eye candy was a selection at Waterhouse & Dodd that, though unsurpassed for sheer lusciousness, maintained an air of mystery beneath its beauty. Keever's photographs are made by dropping paint into a large aquarium, and if that sounds like a practice with limited potential, the dozens of images here proved the opposite. Like the colorful, chaotic atmospheres of undiscovered planets, they are distant cousins to the more literal landscape work Keever has done in the past.


(Photo: Courtesy of Galerie Andreas Binder)

Adam Mysock
Munich's Galerie Andreas Binder brought this New Orleans-based painter to town for Art New York, presenting a trio of small, intricately painted works that imagine mashups between famous paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Less jokey than some of his earlier material (inserting robots into pieces by Caravaggio and Edward Hopper, for instance), these icy landscapes draw on Mysock's concerns about climate change. But their eerie qualities as pictures make easy political interpretation seem beside the point.


(Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York)

Cindy Sherman
Of the several big-deal shows thrown by individual galleries during Frieze Week (exhibitions of Richard Serra and Philip Guston among them), perhaps the biggest deal was the new work shown at Metro Pictures by Sherman. Her first new photos in five years (coming alongside news of a major show at L.A.'s Broad museum), these dress-up portraits address aging head-on, transforming the artist into an assortment of fading movie stars from Hollywood's golden era.


(Photo: Courtesy of Five Car Garage)

David Hendren
Five Car Garage, Emma Gray's gallery in a garage near the Santa Monica airport, came to NADA New York with a selection including two wooden sculptures by Hendren. Unassuming at first glance, they proved to be fraught, almost like objects left behind after some unexplained ritual. One a kind of sundial, one a moondial, they were marked with the time of their making and contained graphic elements inspired by the shadows that were cast then.


(Photo: Courtesy of Marginal Utility)

Scott Kip
Kip's "Dust Clock,” exhibited at NADA New York, is a grandfather clock-style cabinet hiding secret motion triggers and magnets, resulting in an interactive device that would almost be at home in a Quay Brothers film. Enigmatic by itself, the piece was drawn from a room-sized installation at Philadelphia’s Marginal Utility last fall, where objects scavenged from Masonic temples and the city's famed Mutter museum sat alongside dried weeds and the artist's old notebooks.


(Photo: Courtesy of Kunstraum LLC)

Video Art
Several of NADA's booths this year tried, in various ways, to make work by video-based artists more accessible to everyday viewers. A startup called Electric Objects was selling the "EO1," a $299 monitor that links up to an app, letting viewers view either pieces selected by EO's team or those uploaded at random by other users. Taking a more elitist (okay, "curated") approach, Daata Editions commissions work by established artists, then sells limited edition downloads. (A 35-second Tracey Emin, for instance, could be had for just $100.) Then there's scrappy Kunstraum (above), an artist-run Brooklyn outfit which presented its wares (including a celebrated piece by Emma Sulkowicz) as if the gallery were an old-school video store — packaged like consumer DVDs, the limited editions were $75 bucks an artwork, or $1,000 for one of everything.


(Photo: Courtesy Context New York)

Sound Positions
Perhaps the most austere artistic experience at the Context/Art New York complex was this Christoph Cox-curated group show, in which a dozen artists working in sound contributed recordings for listening stations. Pieces ranged from the political overtones of Lawrence Abu Hamdan's contribution to Holly Herndon's "Body Sound," which manipulated the noises made by a dancer's contact with the floor. In between were several engaging turntable- or electronics-based compositions, by both gallery-based artists and those who sometimes work as mainstream musicians.

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