Handelsblatt features Ming Smith

New York - Frieze New York appears to have pressed the Restart button on their eighth edition. The fair also needed a major overhaul. Last May, the tent heated to over 30 degrees, and VIPs quickly took off. The fair compensated merchants with at least $1,000 or up to ten percent of the stall fee, but the reputation had suffered.


Even the time-consuming journey to the remote venue on Randall's Island is a major handicap. These factors drove other blue chip traders, including the galleries Pace, Almine Rech, Marian Goodman, Sprüth Magers, Matthew Marks and Skarstedt into the arms of its competitor Tefaf New York Spring (The European Art Fair), which arrived three years ago at the elegantly appointed Armory at Park Avenue and adopted the top market for modern and contemporary art and design. Frieze filled the gap with young exhibitors, many from China, but also some younger New York galleries. One or other of the participants, such as Nino Mier (Los Angeles / Cologne) came over from the canceled trade show NADA (New Art Dealer Alliance), which wants to focus on their December edition in Miami.


Also, Frieze had already tried - albeit unsuccessfully - to distinguish itself in the lucrative modern market. For four years it has been successful in discovering forgotten or undervalued artists of the 20th century. This steadily growing sector "Spotlight" is a hit especially with museum curators.


This year, 33 dealers, out of a total of 190, cover a very broad spectrum. Galerie Kornfeld (Berlin) presents to the international audience the brightly colored paintings of Elvira Bach, who was celebrated in the 1980s as a star of the "Junge Wilden". In the first few hours, three were sold to a Chinese museum. Collectors from New York and Hong Kong also acted fast.


Ironically, in the section "Spotlight" the international Marlborough Gallery can be found. It offered Red Groom's (81) huge fabric sculpture "The Bus" (1995), a walk-in New York City bus with almost life-size humorously portrayed passengers. It too was sold at $550,000 in the first few hours.


Parisian artist circles are still a good source. The gallery Loevenbruck has on file the Haitian painter and poet Roland Dorcély from the 1950s and 1960s, with thick black contours reminiscent of Julian Opie or Tom Wesselman (20,000 to 30,000 dollars). They look very fresh. The exiled Brazilian Bijan Saffari also lived in Paris. Drawings of his gay clique and self-portraits from the early 1980s can be found at the Tehran Gallery Dastan's Basement.


This year, the fair impresses above all with new, well thought out initiatives. An exhibition titled "The Doors of Perception" after Aldous Huxley's essay offers a good overview of international Art Brut art in more than 300 closely-hung pieces. Not all are for sale. "We are tired of homogeneity, every trade fair looks just like the next one," says Loring Randolph (Artistic Director, Americas for the second year) of her decision.


20 large sculptures designed to arouse curiosity


In the middle of Manhattan, the new initiative "Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center" aims to arouse curiosity. Here are 20 large sculptures in dialogue with one of the most prominent and busiest places in the city (until 28.6.). More or less successful, as the sad parade of 50 black-brown jute flags of the young Ghanaian Ibrahim Mahama (represented by White Cube, London), which replace dozens of ever-waving flags of the UN member states, irritated one or two tourists. He wants to point to the extreme injustice in the worldwide distribution of income and resources.


The tribute to the black American gallery owner Linda Goode Bryant (69), who offered conceptual art by artists of colour in her gallery JAM ("Just Above Midtown") in the middle of Manhattan in the 1970s, has also been successful. Many have become stars. Incidentally, MoMA are planning a museum exhibition on the subject for autumn 2022. Here at Frieze you can stock up on them at ten dealers who represent Bryant's artists today.


Hauser & Wirth presents new photo collages by Lorna Simpson. But they are all already sold. Atmospheric photography by Ming Smith, who captured normal New York street life and also her friend Grace Jones, is offered by Karen Jenkins-Johnson (San Francisco) (up to $ 375,000).


Michael Rosenfeld (New York), who has long specialized in historic African-American art, has three mysteriously glowing dark late paintings by Norman Lewis ($ 1.8 million). Many galleries reported good sales of up to about half a million dollars to museums and collectors from around the world at the end of the well-attended VIP Day (Wednesday).


The opening of Tefaf on Friday sees twelve new names among a total of 93 participants. And although the stalls in the Armory are known to be small, some galleries can make an immaculate business card. For example, Helly Nahmad (New York) placed the equally prominently on the entrance with rare cubist images and drawings by Picasso, Leger and Gris. Eykyn McLean (New York) impress with the best pop art. One of the star offers Dickinson (London / New York) ready. The gallery can convey a whole American collection and makes you hungry with excellent examples from the first decades of the 20th century.


David Zwirner also presents his latest coup: the exclusive representation of the Klee family, who are working together with a commercial gallery for the first time. "His numerous facets are to be brought to a new generation of collectors and artists," says grandson Aljoscha Klee. Participants Pace Gallery recalls the long standing representation of Jean Dubuffet with works from the years 1965 to 1981. Also, three performances of the "living painting" "Coucou Bazar", which was premiered in 1973 in the Guggenheim Museum, are planned.


Much South American modernity is offered, not only to specialists such as Bergamin & Gomide (Sao Paolo) or Leon Tovar (New York). At Gladstone (New York / Brussels), among other things, presented two particularly beautiful small formats of the Brazilian Alfredo Volpi from the 1960s on a light sackcloth. Also Patrick Derom (Brussels) brought along a lot. "In recent years, North America has become more aware of the importance of the 1950s and 1960s in Latin America," says Gilles Marquenie of the gallery, "this art has quality and freshness."


And with contemporary galleries, the trend is evidently spreading into the 20th century. Petzel (New York) Simon Lee (London / Hong Kong / New York) and also Sean Kelly (New York / Taipei) combine news with Picasso or Surrealists.


Above all, Natalija Goncharova's gigantic stage set for the premiere of Diaghilev's ballet "Le Coq d'Or" (1914), which depicts a popularly simplified view of St. Petersburg in bright yellow shades, can not be overlooked. Hung by Galerie Gmurzynska under the ceiling in the parlor, it puts on the great Goncharova retrospective in the summer in Tate Modern (about 1.5 million dollars).


It is also always nice to see how galleries react to the challenge of protected areas. Tina Kim (New York) left everything with a very intricately engineered cream velvet board dress up. At Nilufar (Milan), on the other hand, you can appreciate the cozy atmosphere of the mahogany paneling and add Milanese chic. Like in dark green velvet new upholstered armchair "Concha" and "Curva" of the Brazilian Joaquim Tenreiro. And 41-year-old Hernan Bas (for Lehmann Maupin, New York / Hong Kong / Seoul) also responds to Neo-Renaissance-style design in his latest series of paintings.


Incidentally, just before the fair began, Tefaf announced a new ownership structure. It acquired the 49 percent stake from the co-founder of Tefaf New York, New York-based art consultancy and investment firm Artvest Partners. Artvest managed the fair for the first two years, then continued to hold a seat on the board as a minority shareholder.