By Courtney Sultan
Published: May 10th, 2017
One of the coolest perks of being an art student in New York is, without a doubt, access to the art shows—and Frieze New York 2017 did not disappoint.
Taking over Randall’s Island from May 5 to May 7, it was a massive gathering of art gallery royalty mixed with buzz-worthy up-and-comers from all over the world, where I spotted artists mingling alongside art-collecting celebrities, and fashionistas in every direction in search of the perfect Instagram backdrop.
The art show conglomerate descended upon New York for its sixth year, bringing together over 200 galleries from 31 countries. In addition to its main gallery floor, it had three special curated platforms: “Spotlight,” “Frame,” and “Focus,” each showcasing a different theme.
“Focus” was a favorite of mine, representing the best of the young galleries. Seeing so much fresh, new work is invigorating. As an art show regular (from Armory Art week to Art Basel Miami), I tend to see the same galleries show the same work every year, and it’s honestly the only time I ever find myself unsatisfied looking at art. I want to be inspired, to see new ideas and approaches, experimentation, politically-charged and thought provoking messages, as well as technical mastery (is that so much to ask?!)—and Frieze delivered.
A standout crowd favorite was the Lisson Gallery (www.lissongallery.com) which had several mind-bending Anish Kapoor pieces including “Mirror Glow (Oriental Blue).” The best part of viewing this piece was actually looking at the people trying (and failing miserably) to take the perfect selfie inside its concave, reflective surface. No matter how hard you tried, when you stood directly in front of it, the reflection staring back at you was not your own!
Another mind-boggling piece of art wasn’t actually a piece of art at all. It was a dance performance created by Brooklyn-based contemporary artist Ryan McNamara called “Awareness Raising and Befriending Schemes.” It consisted of a room full of young performers dressed in loose-fitting white clothes, each of their faces beautifully painted with extravagant fluorescent colors reminiscent of a Cirque du Soleil dancer’s makeup. They danced in slow motion around the room, carrying props like bright green bubble wrap while viewers “tuned in” through headsets.
Of all the NYC art shows, Frieze is probably the best curated and most exciting, and it leaves you with less of an “art-overload” feeling once you return home. The art at the fair blends so well together and the space is well-lit and easy to navigate (getting to Randall’s Island, however, is another story.) I was not surprised that it attracted a very diverse and colorful crowd of all ages. In the midst of dressed up gallery girls and boys (who couldn’t be bothered to look up from their screens), everyone from artists, art lovers, collectors, students, and parents with toddlers and infants (and pets!) were there; and that made it feel real and much more fun..
Overall, the art was incredible, the people-watching was amazing, and the Instagram material for days was priceless.