This week, contemporary art took hold of New York – and we’re not just referring to Jeff Koons‘ extra creepy cover of New York magazine, heralding “The Age of Koons.” “The most successful artist” did cause plenty of commotion, though, launching simultaneous shows at David Zwirner AND Larry Gagosian. Earlier there had been a rumor one gallery would show new work, and one a collection of classics. As it happened, both showed new work, inspired by the classics. But that’s Classics with a big “C” – whether you take your Venus Callipygian, or of Willendorf. Then again, Koons wasn’t the only one copying famous sculptures that week. Outside the Frieze New York tent, Paul McCarthy erected an 80 foot tall, red balloon dog: Koons meets Clifford.
In its sophomore year, Frieze Art Fair’s New York edition was commendably strapping, bringing in a solid show from the trendier edges of the blue chip realm (not as stodgy as Basel, not as dicey as NADA.) There were more stable shows than expected – recently, galleries seem to be fighting fair fatigue with solo presentation or thematic exhibitions, rather than just one work from each of the represented artists – but the fair still managed to feel fresh. At Marian Goodman, one entered a white room to find an eleven-year-old girl, an Ann Lee (the anime character famously “rescued” by Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno) brought to life by Turner contender Tino Sehgal. She was unnervingly poised, asking annoying questions ala most eleven-year-old girls, except her questions were “Would you rather be too busy or not busy enough?” and “What is the relation between a sign and melancholia?” As part of the Frieze Projects, artist Liz Glynn set up a speakeasy, slipping keys to 144 fairgoers, purportedly at random. Recipients were instructed to find the secret door tucked between fair booths, where their keys opened safety deposit boxes. The contents of those boxes determined the cocktail that visitor would receive, and the story the bartender would tell as he mixed it. The stories were half-improvised, but the drinks were double-strength. There were no complaints.
Frieze wasn’t the only fair in town, obviously. NADA was sporty fun, in its new location at Basketball City, one of the piers on the Lower East Side, in easy walking distance to Michele Abeles‘ “English for Secretaries” at 47 Canal, or Tracey Emin‘s ache-filled drawings at Lehmann Maupin‘s Chrystie Street outlet.
It also meant you were in close proximity to cutlog, the French fair/band of outcasts colonizing the Clemente on Suffolk. This year’s focus was on Russian artists and curators, including cyber-pioneer Anna Frants and Victoria Golembiovskaya, who installed a salon of drawings as part of her House of the Nobleman project. The grand prize for best artist was awarded to Siberian upstart, Radya, who constructed a version of Stability Figure #1 out in the courtyard of the Clemente. The sculpture erects a pyramid from police shields. Why it wasn’t called Stability Figure #2, we don’t know, but we do know it took home a $2000 prize, so our congratulations!