Monday, May 7, 2012

The Big Frieze: Ferrying Over to Randall’s Island

In the sculpture park, Joshua Callaghan's "2 Dollar Umbrella (mock-up)", shown by Steve Turner Contemporary, priced from $10,000 - $40,000.
The Big Frieze: Ferrying Over to Randall’s Island
Text by Brook Mason and photos by Rena Silverman

They said the Frieze Fair staged on Randall’s Island would never take off. After all, the only other thing held on that small island perched in the East River was lacrosse skirmishes and baseball games with private school kids. But the inaugural Frieze, a Brit import held in a 250,000 square foot tent on Randall’s from May 4 through today, May 7, was greeted by wildly enthusiastic contemporary art fans in droves.

Sponsored by Deutsche Bank, this fair is packed with 180 international galleries and sports a Sculpture Park and Frieze Sounds with audio works, too. We took the Frieze water ferry from East 35th Street and zoomed over to Randall’s Island to check out the fair and the pulse of the market as well.
We took the water taxi to Randall's Island. Our trip was just under 30 minutes.
Driving the success of Frieze is the timing of the fair cleverly coinciding with the May evening Modern and Contemporary Art auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s this week and next. In all, from the fairs to the sales to galleries exhibitions, a total of $2 billion in art is up for grabs.

One sign of the buoyancy of the art market these days is Sotheby’s raking in a stupendous $330,568,500 at their sale of Impressionist and Modern art on Wednesday night. There we witnessed Edvard Munch’s 1895 pastel on board, The Scream skyrocketing to $119,922,500 against an estimate of $80 million making it a world record for any work of art sold at auction ever. That hefty price hammered down is considerably more than a string of Fifth Avenue penthouses. So the flush market is now roaring to say the least just like back in pre Lehman bankruptcy days. Heavy hitters in the sales room included financial titan Donald Marron.
We could see the huge tent from the boat.
But back to Frieze which opened its Preview party Thursday night when the DOW closed at a robust 13,206. The humongous tent compares to only 55,000 square feet for fairs in the turreted Park Avenue Armory where the Spring Show with traditional art and antiques is now on view. 

The ferry ride was a leisurely 28 minutes and had shades of being in the Venice canals for the Biennale. The alternative was hiking up to 125th Street where there are special Frieze buses.
The weather cleared once we arrived.
North entrance to the Frieze tent.
South entrance to the Frieze tent.
Our first views inside Frieze.
On the floor at Frieze are mega gallery Gagosian which boasts a total of 11 galleries stretching from Madison Avenue down to Chelsea and across to Paris and Rome and Hong Kong. Others include Mitchell-Innes & Nash and Lehmann Maupin. From London is Sadie Coles and Wilkinson Gallery while Yvon Lambert hails from Paris and Galerie Krinzinger from Vienna, Standard from Oslo and Thaddeus Ropac from Salzburg and Paris. Other galleries came from Warsaw, Beijing, Athens, Amsterdam and even Dubai. What distinguishes this fair from the Armory Show on the Piers is the quality. Both established and emerging artists newly mint much of the art.

What’s on view is all over the ball park and sales were brisk. At Wilkinson, paintings by George Shaw priced at $30,000 each sold immediately. “There’s an element of buying for artists with solid careers as investments,” said Amanda Wilkinson. Shaw has been nominated for the Turner Prize.
Gagosian Gallery's booth.
Wilkinson Gallery of London's photographic sculpture by the young artist Pennacchio Argentato.
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac of Paris.
From the booth of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac of Paris
And many things hung from above.
Many things seemed to reflect at Frieze.
Work by blue chip artists was spotted. The London and Milan Lisson Gallery was filled with clients eyeing a large reflective Anish Kapoor from 2010. “The price is expensive,” said a gallery representative who preferred anonymity but indicated the price tag was north of $2 million.

“We’re seeing Americans, Brazilians, Greeks, Australian and British collectors,” he disclosed. Trophies were abundant. Hauser & Wirth tagged a pair of sculptures by Louise Bourgeois at $3.75 million while at the Chelsea David Zwirner dealership was a 1969 Dan Flavin fluorescent light sculpture for a tidy $1 million.
Anish Kapoor's "Untitled, 2010" made out of Fiberglass, brought by the Lisson Gallery.
Many light sculptures on view.
London's Frith Street Gallery brought artist Daphne Wright's 'Son's Head', 2012.
The SoHo House VIP room.
Another trend seemed to be photographs printed on other material.
This is a sculpture, not a person.
The quirky and the quixotic were also dominant. The London Cabinet Gallery sported Anthony Symonds mannequins dressed in white for $12,000 each and Lutz Bacher's 2008 Club Bud, a stack of beer cans in cardboard boxes for $30,000. Nearby at Greene Naftali of Chelsea was the Australian collective gelithin’s Back to the 90’s and Back Again, a huge sculpture of stuffed animals.

“The pace of buying here is faster than in the gallery,” said the gallery director, who also opted out of disclosing his name.
The London Cabinet Gallery sported Anthony Symonds mannequins for $12,000 each.
Lutz Bacher's "Club Bud" (2008) brought by the Cabinet Gallery, London.
"Back to the '90s and Back Again," a sculpture by the Gelitin collective made out of stuffed animals brought by the Chelsea gallery Greene Naftali.
On hand at Galerie Eigen + Art from Berlin and Leipzig was Olaf Nicolai’s walls of polyester curtains Why Women Like to Buy Curtains for a stunning $160,000. “Ten years ago, clients went to galleries; today they take in fairs like this,” said Gerd Harry Lybke, who heads the gallery and participates in 12 fairs.
Galerie Eigen + Art from Berlin and Leipzig in front of Olaf Nicolai's "Why Women Like to Buy."
The booth of Galleria Raffaella Cortese of Milan was perfectly littered in scraps from the exhibited picture.
This gallery's booth was decorated with artwork that was not for sale.
The Manhattan Salon 94 clinched deals for 50 works from $8,500 to $200,000. Still available was Detroit artist Liz Cohen’s customized car for $250,000. “The fee of $70,000 for the stand was expensive but worth it,” said Sarah Walzer, associate director.
Salon 94 of Manhattan's incredible display of this customized car for $250,000 by the Detroit artist Liz Cohen.
303 Gallery brought Jeppe Hein's 2008 steel ball, "On Trail."
Strolling the aisles were Peter Cohen, Alliance Bernstein CEO, along with collectors Beth Rudin DeWoody, Michael and Susan Hort as well as Donald and Mera Rubell.

Even the restaurants were top drawer like Sant Ambroeus and the Fat Radish.
In the sculpture park, Katja Strunz's "Folded Triangle 4073," 2012, brought by Gavin Brown's Enterprise
Aside from a number of panels and artist conversations, fair goers took in the Sculpture Park with examples by Louise Bourgeois and Ryan Gander’s 2010 Everything is Learned, composed of concrete cones.

Call Frieze the adult version of the theme park. The difference being you not only get to covet everything but you get to snatch it all up providing you pay for the art then haul your pickings all home.
Visitors on their way out of the fair.
Departing water taxi.