May Fair set to dominate New York’s spring art season
Tickets have now officially gone on sale for the first New York Frieze Art Fair. The Frieze Art Fair founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover were recently among those receiving OBEs in this years New Years Honours list for the visual arts are exporting their well organised brand of fine art fair to the market leader. Frieze art fair is set to hit America for the very first time in May 2012, boasting 160 international galleries from 28 countries, including Brazil, China, India, Korea, Mexico, Romania, Israel, and South Africa. It will take place (4-7 May) at Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan. Co-directors Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover are confident with the selection, believing that ‘The number and quality of applications to our first American fair, matched our ambition in ensuring this was a leading international fair from the beginning’.The fair, sponsored by Deutsche Bank, features over 170 of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries. The fair is housed in a bespoke temporary structure designed by New York-based SO-IL architects. Located in the unique setting of Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan, overlooking the East River, the fair is easily accessible by public transport. A dedicated Frieze ferry service is also included in the admission price. In addition to being able to see work by over 1,000 of the world’s leading artists, visitors can experience our unique curatorial program, Frieze Projects, curated by Cecilia Alemani and Frieze Talks featuring leading artists, writers and cultural commentators.
At first, there were no plans for world domination. ‘We didn’t think of it as a business’, Sharp explained; instead, ‘It gave us an extraordinary life of the mind. [And] It was a privilege to watch the art world grow.’ Slotover confirms this sentiment: ‘We weren’t doing the magazine for audiences, but we wanted to do something that answered our own questions about the art world’.
Sharp and Slotover began their meteoric rise when they were excited by the work of the YBAs in London and were keen to undertake the business of promotion, especially for fear that the emerging artists might be ignored by the established art press. Fittingly, Damien Hirst would grace the front cover of the very first issue. This would be the start of a long relationship between Frieze and the artist that would culminate at last year’s fair with Hirst selling a work for £3.5 million.
In 2003, the first year of Frieze Art Fair, Sharp and Slotover assumed the positions of Directors, having ceased direct editorial involvement in the magazine since 2001, and the two directors gathered together international blue-chip contemporary art galleries to exhibit in London’s Regent’s Park. The fair’s debut, with the help of a secret gig by Jarvis Cocker and free bags designed by Jeremy Deller, attracted 27,700 visitors and made around £20 million in sales. This went way beyond expectations, the organizers explain; ‘We were amazed. It wasn’t just the art world that came, it was creative London. It had this fantastic energy of the city and that made it a platform in a way we never expected.’
Despite perennial lambasting from some critics, Frieze has gone from strength to strength. This year, hosted within a 20000 metre squared tent designed by Carmody Groark, 175 exhibitors peddling their wares to international art collectors, alongside a curated programme of talks, artists’ commissions and film projects. First-time participants this year included Berlin’s Johnen Galerie, Paris’s Yvon Lambert, and New York’s Pace Gallery.