DISPATCH - MAY 10, 2013
RANDALL'S ISLAND, NY-
Hard as it might be to believe, the exotic tropical wonderland that is Miami Beach and the sports field-dotted Randall’s Island in New York’s East River now have something in common: an international art fair that draws serious attention. Thanks to the arrival of London’s Frieze Art Fair, Randall's Island plays host to an annual gathering of prestigious galleries and international artists that draws curators, collectors, museum directors and the merely curious, who are as large a group as any on the planet. (As the art fair savvy already know, Miami Beach is one stop in a trio of countries for Art Basel of Switzerland).
Across the board, the 2013 Frieze New York art fair drew rave reviews from galleries, collectors and gawkers alike.
I reached the fair by taking a zippy ferry up the East River, chugging past the docks and factories on the Long Island side, cruising under bridges and spying flocks of seabirds on a scraggly Hurricane Sandy ravaged islet. And while checking out the Frieze fair was the purpose of the trip for all on board, getting there was pure tourist fun—even for native New Yorkers and art lovers who have made the city their home for many years.
From the ferry dock on Randall’s Island, a flower-strewn walkway led up to the fair’s unique serpentine tent. I took the back way to see the full length of the riverfront sculpture garden. You couldn’t miss Paul McCarthy’s Balloon Dog, which comes in both extra-large and small (installed outside and indoors). Walking inside the South Entrance, the humid air and flood of natural light made for heady viewing.
Some visitors to the big fairs like to collect celebrity sightings and Frieze didn’t disappoint. Strolling through the crowds on the first day were several heavy hitter collectors, including fashion mogul Tommy Hilfiger and tennis ace John McEnroe.
But the art was the real star, with top-tier names and work that was a cut—and probably a price—above what was on view last year.
How top-tier were the big names? Big enough that Gagosian Gallery—up there with the world’s biggest—declined to ID the work by either wall label or printed handout. If you didn’t know who made it, well, you probably weren’t the buyer that Gagosian was looking for.
And while the big international art fairs in major urban centers will always spark snarky comments that it’s more about the money—who’s got it, who’s spending it, and how much collectors are willing to pay—than it is about the art, included with this account are a few of the impressive works that caught my eye out of the thousands of pieces on view at this year’s Frieze New York.
Regardless of the size of your bank account, the 180 galleries gathered in the Frieze tent provided enough stimulating work to satisfy even the largest appetite for art.
BASIC FACTS: Frieze New York 2013 was presented from May 10 to 13 at Randall's Island in New York City. friezenewyork.com.
Sandra Hale Schulman is an arts writer, author and filmmaker. She co-founded Spiritual America Gallery with Richard Prince in 1983 and 303 Gallery in 1984. After moving to South Florida and writing on the arts in Miami for a decade, she published an arts weekly in Palm Springs, produced three films and authored three books.
RELATED: "First Look at Frieze New York 2013"
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