Second Annual Frieze New York Art Fair Opens in Randall's Island Park

The annual British import of a contemporary-focused art fair -- which last year drew Rachel Weisz and Mark Ruffalo -- kicked off Friday for a weekend of programs, galleries and talks.
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Frieze New York opened for its second season Friday, kicking off a weekend that has become one of the new highlights of the city's cultural calendar.  

This year's iteration of the British import contemporary-focused art fair promises to be even bigger than last year's, which attracted about 45,000 visitors including A-list art lovers Rachel Weisz, Leelee Sobieski, Kim Cattrall, Pharrell Williams and Mark Ruffalo. More than 180 galleries representing 32 countries -- including 55 from the fair's host city -- have gathered in Randall’s Island Park under a massive bespoke structure designed by SO – IL architects, the creators of the record-breaking tent that housed the fair’s first incarnation. The lineup includes global powerhouses, as well as emerging galleries in the fair's Focus and Frame sections, plus main fair newcomers Marian Goodman Gallery and Luhring Augustine from New York, Los Angeles’s L&M Arts and Mumbai-based Project 88.

Among the booths will be solo stands featuring Alexandre Da Cunha (CRG gallery, New York); Zander Blom (Stevenson, Cape Town), Carlos Bunga (Galeria Elba Benitez, Madrid), Jack Early (McCaffrey Fine Art, New York), Tino Seghal (Marian Goodman Gallery, New York) and Dianna Molzan (Overduin & Kite, Los Angeles), as well as two-artist presentations by John Wesley and Mary Reid Kelley (Fredericks & Freiser, New York), Pae White and Roe Ethridge (Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, and greengrassi, London), and Teresita Fernández and Do Ho Suh (Lehmann Maupin, New York).

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Curator Cecilia Alemani has also lined up a slate of commissioned site-specific projects and special events, including a hidden, Prohibition-style speakeasy by Liz Glyn, a color-coded garden by Maria Lobod and a cemetery created by Andra Ursuta. In addition, the fair will pay homage to the late artist Gordon Matta-Clark with a re-creation of FOOD, the legendary Soho restaurant he started with Carol Goodden and other artists in 1971.

“For the second edition of Frieze Projects in New York, I asked the commissioned artists to intervene in the fair and its surrounding landscape by staging challenging works that play with everyday habits and collective behaviors,” said Alemani in a statement. “Basic actions such as eating, drinking, speaking and praying serve as the starting point for a series of site-specific installations that engage the ritualistic dimension of the fair and the unique landscape of the island.”

Art will not be the only attraction on Randall’s Island this weekend. The fair will also feature restaurant pop-ups imported from Manhattan and Brooklyn, including hipster pizza joint Roberta’s and Lower East Side hotspot Mission Chinese. Talks by the likes of author Lydia Davis and musician John Maus, as well as a sound program featuring Trisha Baga, Charles Atlas and New Humans and Haroon Mirza, will complement the program. While the event has already taken off in terms of buzz -- just check Instagram this weekend if you need proof -- that hasn't necessarily translated to sales. As one European gallerist tells THR, the fair's location, while novel, doesn't allow for the impromptu return visits often necessary to close a deal. "You get off the ferry and there are 200 people waiting for a cab," he said at a pre-fair dinner.

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Regardless, many galleries racked up big numbers last year, including Galerie Gisela Capitain, which sold an untitled work by Martin Kippenberger to a U.S. collector for more than €1 million (around $1.5 million) and Metro Pictures, which placed a 1977 Cindy Sherman photograph for for $950,000. “The whole place had a fantastic feeling and I very much liked the size and spaciousness as well as the organization of the booths,” said New York gallerist Andrea Rosen at the time. “We presented a specific, focused stand with work by Elliott Hundley and that worked for us as we sold out our booth on the first day. I could not have asked for more.”

In addition to the official fair, major events and exhibitions have popped up around the city, timed to offer art-savvy fairgoers plenty of see after they leave Randall’s Island. Among the most anticipated is David Zwirner’s controversial debut showing of new work by Jeff Koons, an artist who is among the jewels in the crown of rival dealer Larry Gagosian.

Tickets to Frieze are available for $42 and must be ordered in advance at friezenewyork.com/visitors/tickets