From late March last year, restrictions due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of every New York art fair. Now one is making a cautious return -- Frieze New York (May 5-9), the first in-person, one-venue fair to be held in the city since The Armory Show in 2020. The fair has abandoned its plans to host the event at 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, said: "The Shed was designed for flexibility, both in its architecture and its programming, which made it the best partner for this year."
The fair will have 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 will be onsite throughout the duration of the event. And it will not be cheap to visit -- the tickets (which have all sold out) ranged from $265 for early bird tickets first preview tickets to $80-$90 for general admission.Frieze's regular special section, Frame, will return, featuring solo presentations by emerging artists with galleries less than 10 years old.
"It's amazing, you're on an equal footing with more established galleries, not tucked away," said Sam Gordon, the co-founder of gallery 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. Collectors seem excited, itching almost, to get back out there."
Sean Kelly, founder of 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 said. "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 said, "no one was really happy with." He added: "They've moved to an exciting area, to an exciting building."