The Independent Art Fair in New York Will Move to a New Downtown Cipriani and Have a Refreshed Format for Its 2021 Edition

The 12th edition of the fair is set to take place in September.

The Battery Maritime Building. Courtesy of Etienne Frossard and Independent New York.

The Independent art fair has changes in store for its 2021 show in New York, including a new format, venue, and dates, all reflecting changes in the art industry since the onset of the pandemic.

“We really looked at this challenge as an opportunity to redefine what fair-making is and to think about new and novel ways to build a project that would have relevancy,” says the fair’s co-founder, Elizabeth Dee.

This year’s edition, the 12th, will take place from September 9 to 12 at Cipriani South Street, which is opening in Lower Manhattan this year inside a recently renovated historic ferry terminal

It’s a space well-suited to the pandemic era—certainly more so than Independent’s previous multi-story home at Spring Studios, where overstuffed elevators were as much a part of the fair experience as the art.

The high-ceilinged, Beaux-Arts Cipriani building, erected in 1906, includes three exhibition spaces on a single floor and opens up to a 200-foot-plus outdoor terrace where visitors can get some fresh air.  

As part of the move, Independent will scale down its list of exhibitors: whereas recent editions included up to 60 participating galleries, this year’s will feature around 40. Each will be granted a booth with natural light and access to the terrace.

The opening day crowd at Independent New York 2019. Photography by Etienne Frossard. Image courtesy of Independent.

The opening day crowd at Independent New York 2019. Photography by Etienne Frossard. Image courtesy of Independent.

More than ever, the focus will be on new art. Each gallery will be tasked with presenting specially commissioned projects in a format that recalls Independent Projects, a two-week pilot version of the fair that took place at the Dia Art Foundation in 2014 and exclusively featured curated solo exhibitions.

“The spirit of that project very much lives on in our minds,” Dee says. The idea, she adds, is to “create a choreography of presentations that build on each other.”

“Rest assured, you’re going to see an even sharper point of view,” she says.

Should it go on as planned, the fair will come almost exactly a year and a half after the 2020 edition last March, when Independent was among the last major New York fairs to take place before widespread shutdowns.

Independent’s organizers are lucky, in that sense: the show’s dates have changed, but it may not have to be cancelled outright, as many other fairs have been.

Participating galleries and their projects will be announced in the coming months, as will Independent’s plans for a new digital experience to accompany the event. 

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