What to See at Frieze New York Art Fair 2024

The New York art world is peaking this weekend with a confluence of more spring art fairs than ever before. The anchor, Frieze New York, now in its 12th edition, has found its rhythm at The Shed, with galleries establishing their spots within the ever-changing art village landscape. Year after year, Gagosian and David Zwirner sit side-by-side like disgruntled brothers on the main floor, but this time around, it almost felt like there might have been collusion. Gagosian’s booth of new Sterling Ruby paintings went almost too well with the Nate Lowman meets Franz West lounge that David Zwirner had set up. Both throwbacks to the aughts set a nostalgic tone that resonated throughout the fair’s cornucopia. Here is a guide to what not to miss in the abundance

Pacita Abad at Tina Kim Gallery

Something about this year’s edition of Frieze New York put us in mind of Miami and Palm Beach palaces, where chunky colorful work thrives alongside baroque flourishes and tile floors. If we were going to choose what to decorate our own with, we would start our wishlist with Pacita Abad, who appears posthumously at this year’s edition thanks to Tina Kim Gallery. If you haven’t seen Abad’s juicy and startlingly beautiful retrospective at MoMA PS1 yet, then let the works on view in this booth offer you a tantalizing taste of what’s to come. The Filipino-American artist has a talent for creating wild compositions that feel like every stroke and button is as necessary to the whole as the next.

Installation view at Frieze of Pacita Abad, The Far Side of Apo Island, 1989.

Installation view of Tina Kim Gallery | Booth A9 at Frieze New York. Courtesy of Tina Kim Gallery. Photo by Charles Roussel.

Sylvie Fleury at Sprüth Magers and Karma International

Sylvie Fleury’s work has always been larger than life, so it came as no surprise that even blue galleries were happy to set aside their own supersized ambitions to rally together under her flag. One of the few solo booths at the fair, Fleury’s presentation swallows up the viewer into her world, where a certain uncannily pre-packaged femininity comes into contact with masculine-coded art gestures like minimalism. A concealer tube, for instance, goes beyond its purview as a tool to hide by turning itself through scale into something meant to be seen: an abstract painting. The wall of neon witticisms ensures that Fleury’s sense of cheek wins the day. As one work proclaims, it is “Naughty but Nice!”

Sylvie Fleury, Eternity Now, 2015 Neon, white.

Courtesy Sprüth Magers

Feliciano Centurión at Ortuzar Projects

Another satisfying solo presentation comes courtesy of Ortuzar Projects, who’ve devoted their booth this year to the frazadas of Paraguayan artist Feliciano Centurión—who left this world too early as a victim of the AIDS crisis in 1996. Always moving from the personal outwards, Centurion’s work sought to give emotional and spiritual weight to everyday items that others could see themselves in. He found his canvas of choice when he began using the moving blankets that were available at local markets. The shorthand of the blanket created a universality in the work that still clings to Centurion’s striking compositions of eagles, tigers, and mountain ranges. If this work appeals, make sure you look into his sculpture practice, where plastic children’s toys of dinosaurs and zebras get their own handmade fits.

Installation views of Feliciano Centurión, Untitled, 1994, Acrylic and embroidery on textile (left) and Untitled, 1993, Acrylic on textile (right)

Photo by Steven Probert

Hayley Tompkins at Matthew Brown LA

Hayley Tompkins is a painter who will use anything but a canvas to create her work. This means the British artist resorts to all kinds of experimental modalities, from worn suits to uneven plywood panels that fight back. Her intuitive compositions play with their found bodies and sparked joy when moving through a fair chock-full of other more traditional abstract offerings. We were especially drawn to the delight of a dipped and ripped cuff sleeve that we at first took for a damaged chef hat. That shift in expectation is the kind of experience that can make abstraction an emotional exercise rather than a formal one. Matthew Brown Gallery has already promised to bring more good surprises to the city by announcing the opening of its first New York space earlier this week. We look forward to the discoveries to come from the Los Angeles wunderkind.

Hayley Tompkins, Cuff II, 2024, Acrylic and found object.

Image courtesy of the artist and Matthew Brown. Photography by Stefany Lazar.

Stanley Stellar at Kapp Kapp

With an obscured view of the Hudson River peeking through The Shed’s bulbous shell, Frieze felt like the right place to celebrate the pier-focused work of Stanley Stellar—the documentarian who captured the queer scene that bloomed along the West Side in the 1970s and ’80s, in all its naked glory. The eye behind these pictures announces itself upon arrival—there is an unspoken consent between sitter and photographer that the viewer has access to. One doesn’t wonder if the photos are posed or sincere, because the trust displayed in them is palpable. Our assumptions were confirmed when we overheard the dealer saying that it meant something to him that he knew the name of every guy pictured because Stellar did, too. This beautiful and sometimes explicit set of images felt like a nice framework to think through more contemporary queer photography practices, like Dean Sameshima’s presentation at the Venice Biennale or Clifford Prince King’s Public Art Fund bus stops.

Stanley Stellar, RobertPedantic, 1983, Archival pigment print.

Courtesy of Stanley Stellar and Kapp Kapp

Plus: Esther Art Fair

If you are looking for something less institutional-feeling, there’s now a fair for that. Trend-setting and cult-favorite dealers Margot Samel and Olga Temnikova aligned themselves with peers like Glasgow’s The Modern Institute and Andrew Kreps to take over Beaux-Arts era jewel Estonia House and give it a contemporary art makeover. Almost no surface in the historic home has been spared this treatment, with art covering every corner and pool table available. Sometimes the art even resonates in the hall’s architecture, thanks to the ambitious program of performances and conversations that animate the space. Undoubtedly a more humane environment to take in new work, Esther in its first edition has us wondering if others will soon follow suit and take to more domestic environs rather than staying within conventions.

Installation view of Esther at the NY Estonian House

Pierre Le Hors

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