Frieze confirms New York fair for 2012
After months of speculation, the London event's organisers reveal details of UK and US expansions
By Charlotte Burns. Web only
Published online: 19 May 2011
new york. The organisers of London’s Frieze Art fair have confirmed they will open a New York event in 2012 in Randall's Island Park. The inaugural US fair will coincide with New York's contemporary auction week, and will open to VIPs on 2 May with public access from 3 to 6 May.
The fair will be “almost exactly the same size” as the London original, says Frieze co-founder Matthew Slotover, and will feature around 170 galleries focusing on contemporary art. The American version will also include Frieze Frame, the section devoted to younger galleries that was introduced in London two years ago.
There have been rumours about the London firm making a move into Manhattan over the past two years, but the organisers struggled with the logistical issue of finding a big, and convenient, enough location. Randall's Island Park, which is situated on the East river, is “good because you can drive. It’s basically ten minutes from the Upper East Side, just across the Triborough Bridge,” says Slotover, adding that “there are also ferries and we are looking at special bus services.” The island has good connections to Connecticut, notable for the billionaire art buyers that live there, such as hedge-fund honcho Steve Cohen.
The fact that the fair is a trek across the river should not deter visitors, says New York gallerist Tanya Bonakdar. “It’s going to be somewhere you visit for the day. The weather in May is lovely, and it will be a destination. And I know [Frieze is] going to work very hard to make sure it is as efficient as possible.”
The park is owned by the city, which has taken a keen interest in Frieze’s plans, says Slotover. “They are really on board...they really want it to work.” In a statement, New York City Mayor Bloomberg said: “Frieze has a reputation for hosting world-class art shows, and with Randall's Island Park as the location and New York's waterfront as the backdrop, this new event should be extraordinary.”
Like its London edition, the fair will take place in a tent. The structure will be designed by Brooklyn-based architects, SO-IL, a firm founded by former Sanaa architects Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu.
Bonakdar says that Manhattan dealers should welcome the move: “Look at what Frieze did for London: it's extraordinary. Museums and galleries have hugely benefited and I really hope that will be the case here, too.” For New York galleries wary of sharing their client base with incoming Europeans, Bonakdar points out that it is a two-way trade: “We need people to come to town, and we've been losing out. There are definitely fewer Europeans visiting than when I first started and we need to create that energy that gets people out of their houses.”
The decision to open in May would have put Frieze toe-to-toe with Art HK, the Hong Kong Interntional Art Fair that has been gaining much ground (opening 26 May this year). But this month's announcement that Art Basel has bought a 60% stake in Art HK comes as welcome news for Frieze: the next edition of the Asian fair will now open three months earlier to avoid clashing with the Basel mothership that opens in Switzerland each June.
The move also raises questions about competition with the Armory fair, which takes place annually in March, and has suffered with a shrinking dealer roster and complaints about its location on a pair of piers on the West Side Highway. “I’m glad to hear the rumours have ended. Any art event in the city is good for New York,” said Paul Morris, vice president of Merchandise Mart, which owns the Armory Fair.
The stalwart Art Show, organised by the members-only Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) also takes place in March. Its organisers are positive about the incoming competition. “Their international presence will draw collectors and galleries from around the world, enhancing New York’s already vibrant art world. ADAA is pleased to see the arrival of Frieze in New York as it may offer opportunities for our members to participate or benefit from Frieze’s presence here,” says Linda Blumberg, executive director.
Details revealed for new London fair
Frieze also confirmed that it will launch Frieze Masters in London in October 2012 to coincide with Frieze Art Fair, as reported last week by The Art Newspaper (see related article).
The move has been fuelled by collector demand, says Slotover. “There were some collectors who came to the first couple of Frieze art fairs who told us that they liked the fair but that there wasn’t enough for them. [People said] they were interested in historic art, as well as contemporary art. Many people collect both, and we wanted to offer something more for them.”
The fair will focus on art made before the year 2000, from antiquities to 20th-century fine art. It is being head up by Victoria Siddall who has worked with Frieze for seven years, and was previously Christie’s head of proposals. She has been developing the fair for the past 18 months, says Slotover. Gallerists including Anthony Meier, Hauser & Wirth, Thomas Gibson and Fabrizio Moretti are on the selection committee.
Like the contemporary fair, it too will take place in a tent in Regent's Park. The structure will be designed by Annabelle Selldorf, who has previously worked with leading galleries including Hauser & Wirth and Gagosian, as well designing fair booths at Tefaf Maastricht, the 24-year-old European fair renowned for its old master works. Slotover denied that Frieze is going into competition with Tefaf: “By mounting a fair in October, we are in no way competing. We are almost at exact opposite ends of the year.”
Frieze Masters will initially feature around 70 international dealers, principally from Europe and North America, but has the potential to expand into a bigger fair should demand grow. Slotover says that visitors will have the option to buy either joint or single admission to the contemporary fair and Frieze Masters.
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