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Frieze Art Fair Arrives in New York

Unlike the established art fairs in town, this one requires a 20 minute ferry ride, but the 250,000 square foot tent is a spectacle worth seeing.

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The creators of Frieze Art Fair in London have taken a leap of faith with their new edition, which opened today in Randall’s Island Park in New York. Unlike the established art fairs in town, this one requires extra planning and a 20 minute ferry ride, but the 250,000 square foot tent is a spectacle worth seeing.

Designed by Brooklyn architects SO-IL, the tent is covered with white ribbons that visitors must walk through in order to enter a stark, white space that immediately features many twists and turns. Visitors can’t see all the way down the corridors but every so often, there is a large open area with a restaurant, such as the Fat Radish, Roberta’s or Sant Ambroeus. “This was an interesting challenge for us,” said co-creator Amanda Sharp. “Not a lot of people know Frieze here. But it felt like kismet, to find this site. We knew this could be something that was really exciting.”

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In London, 50,000 people attend the fair each year. She expects 25,000 to 30,000 to make the first foray to Randall’s Island. “You never know how it will go but we kept it spacious and I just hope it won’t get too busy in there. This is a weekend for people watching, promenading and galleries.”

A criticism of New York-based art fairs has been the lack of international galleries. This is one of the reason’s Sharp decided to open an edition in the U.S. “We had people asking us to come and wanting something different here,” she said. “There are 180 galleries and maybe 60 of them are from America.” In addition to the regular Frieze exhibitors, one section is devoted to galleries that were founded less than six years ago. “You have these young emerging galleries alongside blue chip names.” Another section is only open to galleries that opened in or after 2001, showing up to three artists.

After the New York run, Sharp will turn her attention to the fair in London, as well as a new one, Frieze Masters. Both fairs will run concurrently in Regents Park. “It’s the most radical thing we’ve ever done,” Sharp said, of Masters. The new fair will invite 70 galleries to show work created before the year 2000. It’s about taking historical material and looking at it with a contemporary perspective. “It’s interesting when something looks as fresh now as the day it was made, even if it was made in 1310.”