Collectors Flock to Comfort Food at Frieze New York, With Early Sales of a $1.3 Million Baselitz and Paintings of Interiors

Dealers welcomed crowds of eager buyers as Frieze New York returned to the Shed for the second year running.

Guests at Frieze New York 2022.
Guests at Frieze New York 2022.

How much art can New York absorb?

It’s a question at the forefront for many during the third week of a spring marathon in the city, which kicked off with the newly christened New York Art Week on May 4 and continued with an onslaught of evening auctions. This week, sales at Sotheby’s and Phillips go head to head with Frieze New York, which returned to the Shed in Hudson Yards for the second year in a row. The New York version of the British fair launched a decade ago in a bespoke tent on Randall’s Island, but moved to the mainland after a lockdown-induced hiatus. 

The VIP preview on Wednesday was abuzz but not frenzied thanks to timed entry. Attendees included collectors Phil and Shelley Fox Aarons, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, high-powered art advisors Patricia Marshall and Allan Schwartzman, and artist Henry Taylor. The fair hosted a slimmed-down roster of 65 galleries (a dramatic cut from its 190-plus in the tent).

 ©2021-2022 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Installation view of Perrotin Gallery at Frieze New York. ©2021-2022 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Image courtesy Perrotin.

It didn’t take long after the opening bell for reports of sales to start coming in—likely in part because dealers had done a substantial amount of legwork to presell or reserve works in advance. Many of the works that found buyers early were typical art-fair fare: brand names or hot young things.

“The Shed was once again buzzing with the unparalleled energy of New York, and our sales were a testament to this,” Emmanuel Perrotin told Artnet News. “We had 14 pieces on the day one booth that all sold out.”

These included works by Daniel Arsham, Cristina BanBan, and Bhart Kher, all in the range of $70,000 to $150,0000 each. Also sold was a work by Danielle Orchard, a new addition to the roster who has been making waves at auction, and a bronze sculpture of the Statue of Liberty in a mask by Paola Pivi, a domestic version of a work also on view on the High Line. All told, revenue totaled nearly $3 million, the gallery reported. 

Flora Yuhkhnovich, <i>Total Betty</i> (2022) at Victoria Miro Gallery booth at Frieze New York. <br>Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

Flora Yuhkhnovich, Total Betty (2022) at Victoria Miro Gallery booth at Frieze New York.
Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

More than just vehicles for sales, fairs can also function as a way to keep an artist’s work in the public eye in between exhibitions—even if the gallery doesn’t need to show it publicly in order to get it sold. Artists with long wait lists on display included Flora Yukhnovich, whose large round painting Total Betty (2022) sold to a North American museum for around £180,000 ($223,000) at London-based gallery Victoria Miro. (At auction, her works have achieved ten times that price.)

Other dealers take the opportunity to place a spotlight on a single artist to create a moment or drum up interest. (This is usually a strategy for younger galleries in special sections like Frame, which require it, or much larger galleries that can afford to take the risk.) David Zwirner reported that its solo presentation of new sculptures by Carol Bove sold out during the early hours of the VIP preview at prices ranging from $200,000 to $600,000.

Charles Gaines, Numbers and Trees: London Series 2, Tree #1, Blomfield Street (2022). © Charles Gaines Image courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Charles Gaines, Numbers and Trees: London Series 2, Tree #1, Blomfield Street (2022). © Charles Gaines. Image courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Fellow mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth opted for a solo presentation by Charles Gaines. The display raises the curtain ahead of a big East Coast year for the L.A. artist, who also has a show at Dia:Beacon and a project with Creative Time on Governor’s Island and Times Square later this year, as well as a solo show at Hauser & Wirth in New York in 2023.

All five large works at the booth, priced at $550,000 each, sold to buyers including a U.S. museum. The presentation also raised $700,000 for Creative Time through the sale of Gaines’s edition Notes on Social Justice: Freedman’s Monument

Other strong solo booths included Company’s rollicking display of sculptures of queer young people by Cajsa von Zeipel, Michael Rosenfeld’s display of Nancy Grossman’s edgy meditations on the human form, and sculptures by 72-year-old Marsha Pels created from objects left behind by her late mother and an ex, at Lubov Gallery.

Installation view of David Lewis Gallery booth at Frieze New York. Image courtesy David Lewis.

Installation view of David Lewis Gallery booth at Frieze New York. Image courtesy David Lewis.

These focused booths were in the minority, however. Most dealers opted for the less eye-catching but usually more lucrative group display. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac sold one of the day’s priciest works, Georg Baselitz’s Do not disturb (2021), with an asking price of €1.2 million ($1.3 million), as well as Elaine Sturtevant’s twist on Jasper Johns, Johns Target with Plaster Casts (1999), for €700,000 ($735,500), and two new paintings by Alex Katz for $700,000 each.

At Rachel Uffner, Anne Buckwalter’s charming and highly detailed paintings of interiors (note the Wonder Bread bag on the counter below) were drawing intense interest. Ten of them sold for prices ranging from $7,000 to $14,000 each.

Saturday Morning (2022) one of Ann Buckwalter 's "Kitchen" paintings at Rachel Uffner at Frieze New York. Photo by Eileen Kinsella

Saturday Morning (2022) one of Ann Buckwalter ‘s “Kitchen” paintings at Rachel Uffner at Frieze New York. Photo by Eileen Kinsella

Frieze New York was one of the first art fairs to return as as a live event last May after extended shutdowns. Some dealers reported more guests from out of town than last year, even though case counts in the city are actually higher than at this time in 2021.

We have been productive reconnecting with international collectors who returned to New York for the fair this year,” New York dealer David Lewis told Artnet News. The gallery’s sales on the preview day included Claire Lehmann’s painting Prodigies (2022) for $18,000 and Vivarium (2021–22), for $24,000. Two paintings by Lisa Jo found buyers including for prices between $12,000 and $18,000. 


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