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“Just What the Doctor Ordered.”
The Press on the Premiere of Frieze New York

For the first time ever, the Frieze Art Fair risks a leap over the Atlantic—with stupendous success. The art fair, supported along with its London counterpart by main sponsor Deutsche Bank, not only impressed the public, but the press as well.

“Frieze Art Fair electrifies New York” (Wall Street Journal); “an extraordinary premiere” (Art); “strong showings” (Guardian); “Bull’s Eye!” (FAZ); “triumphant debut” (Independent)—the premiere of Frieze New York meets with an array of positive headlines. Even Jerry Saltz is excited by it—as well as by Randall’s Island, the somewhat out-of-the-way site of the new fair. For many, the island in the East River was terra incognita until now, even for New Yorkers. “I got out of my car, looked around, breathed, and felt good,” he writes for the website Vulture. To the star critic, Randall’s Island feels like “a fantastic world: a cross between New York, Venice, and the moon.” Along with the fair tent, which he deems “wide-open, well lit, generously proportioned, accommodating, sensual,” he’s also impressed by the quality of the works presented: “In its debut, Frieze has already surpassed every other large local art fair.”

The temporary tent construction of the Brooklyn-based architectural agency SO-IL is applauded everywhere: “Spacious booths and fantastic light set a new standard,” writes the Süddeutsche, “generously laid out, bright, well-aired” is Monopol’s verdict, “elegant” and “altogether well-done” writes the Handelsblatt. In the long, snake-shaped structure, New York Times critic Holland Cotter sees “the architectural equivalent of a white stretch limo” and praises the “natural light, which makes the art look good.” The young, “incredibly trendy” (FAZ) architects of the fair’s tent are featured in a lengthy interview in the New York Times.

In the tent, the Guardian fails to find the “provocations of the type London audiences have come to expect”: the first Frieze New York is a “safer affair, with little grit and lots of gloss.” But the newspaper praises the “strong showings from galleries outside the standard art circuit, from Rio to Beirut.” “What have the fair directors Sharp and Slotover done to raise the ante?” asks the FAZ. “They’re not afraid to favor a young gallery with unknown artists over an established dealer with a boring program.” And they support “galleries that speak to a public, that don’t just see the art as a monetary investment, but as an adventure.”

The Welt sees evidence of “a palpable earnestness”: “The work on show is by younger artists and somewhat lower in price than at the Miami fair. But it’s more intellectual and curated in a strong way. Less marketplace and more exhibition.” And the LA Times notices “a museum-like emphasis on quality over quantity.” “Not a single big name in the field was missing,” writes the Wirtschaftsblatt, while the Tagesspiegel claims that “the London prodigy on a island in the East River means competition for the Armory Show.” Art sees things similarly: Frieze “could quickly take the place of the traditional Armory Fair.” “Frieze manages a big coup” writes the Handelsblatt, “with the mega-gallery Gagosian, which has never shown at a New York fair before.” The Wall Street Journal reports that “many dealers speculate that it is poised to become the preeminent event—not just in New York City, where the calendar has become littered with art fairs—but for the entire contemporary art market in America.” The Welt am Sonntag sees a “Renaissance in the fair location New York.” “The first day of sales has been buoyant,” reports Artlyst and comes to the conclusion that “Frieze is just what the doctor ordered to reinvent the lackluster New York fair scene, which has spent many years in the doldrums.”

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