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Arts / Museums

Dallas Contemporary’s Justine Ludwig Reports from Frieze, NYC

BY Justine Ludwig // 07.28.15

Dallas Contemporary’s unerring director of exhibitions/senior curator, Justine Ludwig, reflects upon her recent jaunt to Manhattan and environs for the merry month of May’s art action. Did Frieze win her over, or NADA quicken her pulse? Read on.

Now in its fourth year, Frieze New York is noted for its presence of blue-chip galleries, ambitious artist commissions, and its novel location on Randall’s Island. Throngs of well-heeled collectors explored the bright and airy tent searching for exciting new works to acquire.

Commissioned exclusively for Frieze Projects, Mexico City-based Pia Camil created wearable canvas ponchos that were given out for free in two spurts each day of the fair. These giveaways stirred up quite a frenzy, with individuals lining up long before the allotted time. Offering a counterpoint to the high price-points of the work elsewhere in the fair, Camil’s habitable paintings inspired a conversation about the interrelationship of art and economy.

Similarly, Jonathan Horowitz’s 700 Dots Project at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise furthered this dialogue by paying visitors $20 each to take 30 minutes to paint a perfect black dot with a diameter of eight inches. The project was a welcome pause from the frenetic approach usually adopted at art fairs where one attempts to see as much as possible in a contained amount of time.

The Breeder Gallery’s visually arresting booth focused on Andreas AngelidakisCrash Pad — an architectural arrangement strewn with rugs and cushions intended for conversing and contemplation. Drawing upon European and Ottoman traditions and referencing the bankruptcy of Greece in 1893, this work ties to the current debt crisis in the country.

The Gagosian booth was dedicated to Richard Prince’s new series of portraits. These provocative, blown-up Instagram screen captures read as a social media feed in physical space. The works are the logical progression of Prince’s relationship with appropriation — mining digital photographs that individuals put out in the world for mass consumption.

Richard Prince took over Gagosian Gallery during Frieze. © Richard Prince. Photo Robert McKeever.
Richard Prince took over Gagosian Gallery during Frieze. © Richard Prince. Photo Robert McKeever.

At Travesia Cuatro, Milena Muzquiz’s whimsical ceramics, sculptures and floral arrangements were a pure joy. While at Lehmann Maupin, Kader Attia’s nod to the Hajj, reenacted with bent beer cans that appear to be praying, beautifully continued the artist’s already established lines of inquiry dealing with religion, identity and conformity.

The NADA fair (produced by New Art Dealers Alliance), the hip young sibling of Frieze, offers a quirky scene, young galleries and more accessible price points. New York-based Dallas-native, Josh Reames at Johannes Vogt Gallery made for one of the most interesting booths. Three paintings by Reames, rendered in his signature kitsch aesthetic pepper with unexpected juxtapositions of mundane and pop objects, were displayed on a single wall surround by black tarp that was riddled with decal bullet holes.

Also at NADA, Ben Thorpe Brown’s photographs at Bischoff Projects offered an understated documentation of a pre-digital relationship with finance. Queer Thoughts highlighted David Rappeneau’s moody millennial romanticism and Draja Bajagic’s desire-driven click bait. Proyectos Ultravioleta displayed Elisabeth Wild’s unexpected constructivist collages rendered in vibrant colors on a persimmon-colored wall providing a beautiful visual break from the sea of white booths.

Art highlights during Frieze Week certainly were not limited to the fairs. Hito Steyerl’s solo exhibition at Artists Space in SoHo was a thought-provoking stunner. One-person exhibitions by Math Bass, Simon Denny and Wael Shawky at MoMA PS1 were, in turn, gorgeous, humorous and mesmerizing. The New Museum’s third iteration of the Triennial was the most cohesive to date leading to contemplation on the global influence of technology on contemporary society. The new Renzo Piano-designed Whitney, only recently completed at the edge of the High Line in the Meat Packing district, features sprawling vistas of New York City and brings attention to just how impressive the institution’s permanent collection is.

Scroll through the slideshow above for Ludwig’s best of Frieze and beyond. (Images courtesy the artists and the respective galleries or museum exhibiting the work shown.) For another take on Frieze Week, head to Houston artist Debra Barrera and husband/gallerist Jon Hopson’s blog for PaperCity.

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