Frieze New York is leaving Randall’s Island for the first time since the fair launched in 2012, moving to the non-profit cultural institution The Shed, in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards neighbourhood, for its 2021 edition in May.
The art fair will be reduced in size by more than two-thirds to accommodate any social distancing rules that may be in place next spring. Around 60 exhibitors are expected to participate—down from more than 190 in 2019.
Describing this as a time “for creativity, flexibility and collaboration”, Victoria Siddall, the global director of the Frieze art fairs, says the move to The Shed presents “an exciting opportunity to hold a smaller fair” alongside an online viewing room, the now customary digital adjunct to most physical events. Crucially, the fair retains its Frame section for younger galleries, which will feature alongside a programme of collaborations, special projects and talks.
“Our commitment to New York is unwavering and we are looking forward to celebrating the city as well as our community of galleries and artists,” Siddall says. Whether the move off Randall's Island is more permanent—its relatively inaccessible location has long been a point of contention—remains to be seen.
Alex Poots, the artistic director and chief executive of The Shed, which has just reopened with an acclaimed exhibition by Howardena Pindell after being closed for seven months, says: “The Shed is committed to developing new partnerships and approaches to support the arts and our city at this critical time.” It is understood that Frieze is paying rent to the independent institution, which was dubbed by the Guardian newspaper a “quilted handbag on wheels” when it opened in 2019 to the tune of $500m and largely relies on private philanthropy.
One of the first major casualties of the global pandemic, Frieze New York was forced to cancel its 2020 edition but offered a full refund to its 200 exhibitors. The fair, which is now planned for 5-9 May, is currently charging £4,900 for dealers to exhibit in its online viewing rooms, while booth fees for galleries showing at The Shed will be in line with previous editions of the New York fair.
Bigger questions marks now hang over Frieze Los Angeles, which is due to take place in February. Many museums remain closed in the city, which has seen a 50% spike in coronavirus cases this month. A decision on how the fair might be able to proceed—or not—is expected in the next few weeks.