Frieze New York 2018

Art Scene

Frieze New York 2018

One way to describe Frieze New York 2018 would be, “amusing.” The annual contemporary art fair has taken place in early May at Randall’s Island for the last several years. The ferry ride from 34th Street in Manhattan, one of the primary ways to get to the island, is where many visitors begin their festivities. Colorful, eccentric and ordinary art enthusiasts offer plenty of fodder for people watching on the 25-minute ride.

Photo by Anders Jones

With more than 190 participants, lectures and panels, an education program and docents, the fair offers plenty of opportunities for both viewing and engagement. Situated in lush green surroundings with indoor and outdoor dining options at multiple price points, Frieze is an accessible experience for newcomers to the world of contemporary art and long-time aficionados alike.

Photo by Anders Jones

The fair launched a new design this year that still included its signature white tents, but replaced its tunnel-like layout of the past with a more cubed structure. Also new in 2018 was LIVE, a performance series that featured presentations in booths and open spaces over the course of the weekend.

Photo by Anders Jones

This year, a variety of artworks on view seemed to choose humor as salve in these troubling political times. Satire and absurdity, with a dose of serious social commentary, could be found sprinkled throughout the fair.

Photo by Anders Jones

One work, by Robert Therrien, that put a smile on most people’s faces was a giant card table and three folding-metal chairs. The work’s enormous size also seemed to echo the sometimes ostentatious grandeur of its presenter, Gagosian Gallery. Enclosed by several walls with two entrances on either side, the works’ Alice-in-Wonderland feel had children taking their shoes off and running around it wildly; albeit to the chagrin of the booth’s security guard.

Photo by Anders Jones

At one point on a tour through the fair, visitors could turn a corner and find a series of booths presenting strikingly non-contemporary art. The Spotlightsection, a special area of the fair each year, featured rarely seen works by 20th century artists. The color palette and general feel of the post-war art presented there was a reminder of the evolving nature of taste that is inevitable in the world of visual art.

Photo by Anders Jones

Some of the works that laced social commentary with humor included: a trifecta of mannequin legs donning skirts fringed in knives, spoons and forks, perhaps a comment on the current feminist, “Me Too” movement; a sculptural installation by Eduardo Sarabia featuring a cardboard box labeled “Avocados” functioning as a base for a ceramic vase painted with a marijuana leaf – objects tied to Mexican production and US consumption; and, a boxing bag embroidered in what appears to be a Native American motif with the text, “If I Ruled the World,” by artist Jeffrey Gibson.