Here Are 5 of the Best Booths at Frieze New York, From Metaphysical Landscapes to Playful Ceramics and a Revelatory Rediscovery
These galleries stood out for their abstract, thoughtful, and surreal stagings.
Frieze New York is settling into the new formula it introduced last year—around 65 exhibitors, scaled down from nearly 200 on account of the change in venue from Randall’s Island to the Shed in Manhattan, plus an online viewing room component. This year, however, there seems to be far less pandemic-related anxiety hanging in the air, with fairgoers chomping at the bit to resume business as usual.
And what can be more usual than the sensory overload of strolling past booth after booth, assuming you’ll spot the must-see show just around the corner?
So, knowing that many fairgoers operate in anticipation of what’s next, and may not stop to take a close look at everything on view—not to mention the promising under-the-radar shows, like the ones at the less-established galleries featured in the Frame section—here are five of my standouts, representing an array of media and styles, as well as a diverse group of artists.
But don’t treat this list like the be-all and end-all of what’s worthy of your time. Let’s call it a good starting point. The rest of what you take away from Frieze New York 2022 is entirely up to you.
Gallery founder Maria Montero has a knack for befriending artists wherever she goes. She met Rebecca Sharp, an artist she added to her roster in 2018, while off the clock and attending a meditation retreat.
Turns out, Sharp is a retreat fanatic. Working between Boulder, Co., and her native Brazil, she often uses the internal explorations she experiences there as a starting point for her practice. Sharp’s oil paintings tend to have a mind-bending feel to them, similar to surrealists of the past, and encompass three district landscapes: the architectural, the natural, and the metaphysical. She often employs the image of mirrors, windows, and doors as portals to the “other side.”
By the end of VIP day, several of her small-to-medium-sized canvases, which range in price from $7,000 to $8,500, had already been sold. As of the start of day two, her pole objects, which evoke a ceremonial quality, are still available and priced between $4,000 and $6,000.
Stephen Friedman Gallery
With paintings filling the fair’s aisles as far as the eye can see, finding a stand full of ceramics is like a welcome breath of fresh air. London-based artist Jonathan Baldock uses craft to plumb the depths of the human emotion—from humor to sadness—particularly in his face masks series. These line the wall of Stephen Friedman’s booth and surround an installation of tall, stacked towers—his nod to the historic practice of folklore and storytelling. Each piece consists of ceramic sections placed one atop another, with Baldock often adding humorous elements, like a set of protruding hands.
As one the first U.S presentations of Baldock’s work, sales came in fast. Priced from £5,000 (and from £10,000 to 25,000 for each tower), nearly all of his masks were sold within the first two hours of the fair.
Jenkins Johnson Gallery
San Francisco/New York
Mary Lovelace O’Neal has been painting vibrant, large-scale abstractions with assemblage elements since the 1960s, and according to dealer Karen Jenkins-Johnson, if she had gotten the attention she deserved, her work today would be priced just like her white male counterparts. Even so, the 80-year-old artist is certainly not flying under the radar anymore; in the selection here, her paintings are being offered at $900,000 a pop. Her reputation has been on a steady incline since 2020, when she had her first solo show in New York since 1993 at the Mnuchin Gallery. Shortly after that, she had another in San Francisco at the Museum of the African Diaspora (40-plus years after becoming the first Black woman to have a solo show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art).
In this presentation, Jenkins-Johnson placed Lovelace O’Neal’s work alongside pieces by Gordon Parks, Enrico Riley, Lisa Corinne Davis, and Sydney Cain—who sold two pieces by the close of the first day, for prices ranging from $5,000 to $26,000.
For reasons that are hard to pin down, the combination of media—from hand embroidery to hanging sculpture—at Kurimanzutto’s booth just makes visual sense. And that’s essentially the point of the presentation, which honors the foundations of the gallery’s program across various disciplines in one space. So the muted conceptual piece by Danh Vo, which incorporates his typical readymade elements, has been placed next to a small-scale sketchy abstract (and likely politically influenced) painting by Oscar Murillo. Other connections, while not stylistically similar, are obvious in different ways; like the Gabriel Orozco work situated next to his two sketches by his longtime friend, Damián Ortega. Overall the booth reads like a fascinating and lively conversation among different styles and genres.
Pieces range from $20,000 to $350,000, with works by six of the eleven artists being sold by the close of the first day.
If someone had to name the fair’s showstopper, Carol Bove at David Zwirner would probably be it. The immersive booth, with Bove’s sculptures protruding from the wall in twisted, block-like metal forms, has been painted entirely in bright orange, making it hard to believe, at first (or second and third) glance, that they aren’t made of something more malleable, like clay or fabric. The hypnotizing vacillation of this trompe-l’oeil effect shows how well Bove brings attention to the uncertainties of human perception through her mastery of material. And buyers must have been equally intrigued: Priced between $200,000 to $600,000, the sculptures sold out in no more than three hours.
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