'It's on': Frieze New York gets ready to be the first fair to return to the city

Scaled-back event will relocate from far-flung Randall's Island to The Shed in Manhattan

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Frieze New York has moved to The Shed in Manhattan Courtesy Brett Beyer

Frieze New York has moved to The Shed in Manhattan Courtesy Brett Beyer

From late March last year, coronavirus forced the cancellation of every New York art fair. Now one is making a cautious return—Frieze New York (5-9 May), the first in-person, one venue fair to be held in the city since the Armory in 2020. The fair has abandoned Randall’s Island—a chore to get to from anywhere—moving instead to The Shed, a non-profit cultural institution in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. Rebecca Ann Siegel, Frieze’s director of Americas and content, says: “The Shed was designed for flexibility, both in its architecture and its programming, which made it the best partner for this year.”

The fair has just over 60 exhibitors (mostly US-based), scaled down from the usual 190. Safety precautions are stringent: all visitors will need to show proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test or of full vaccination and a compliance team is onsite throughout. And it will not be cheap to visit—early bird tickets preview tickets ($265) have already sold out, and general admission costs $80-$90 per person.

Frieze’s regular special section, Frame, returns, featuring solo presentations by emerging artists with galleries under ten years old. “It’s amazing, you’re on an equal footing with more established galleries, not tucked away,” says Sam Gordon, the co-founder of Gordon Robichaux, which participated in Frame in 2019, and this year will be presenting work by the New York-based artist Otis Houston Jr. “Many of us didn’t think [Frieze] would be happening, but it’s on,” Gordon says. “Collectors seem excited, itching almost, to get back out there.”

Sean Kelly Gallery anticipates a busy week: “There’s such a pent-up desire to be able to see work in person, my biggest concern is whether everyone will be able to get in,” Kelly says. “Frieze have gone above and beyond with the structure to manage this fair and get people in and out safely.” Kelly applauds the fair for moving off Randall’s Island, which, he says, “no one was really happy with”. He adds: “They’ve moved to an exciting area, to an exciting building.”

• Frieze New York, The Shed, New York, 5-9 May

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