How Independent became the hottest fair of New York art week
It's New York art week again, and with at least a dozen art fairs all over the city, you probably can’t make it to everything, logistically or emotionally. So, which ones should you make time for? We can’t say for sure, but Independent New York should be somewhere on the docket.
The name makes this relative newcomer—but art lovers’ favorite—sound more off the beaten path than it is: it’s actually required viewing.
Independent New York, which touts itself as “by and for galleries,” is in its second year in its gorgeous new space at Spring Studios in Tribeca where it welcomed 50 galleries, non-profits, and projects from 20 different cities for its 2017 instantiation.
And in this instance that old adage—it’s all about “location, location, location”—is borne out. Tribeca is both proximate to the few pockets of hipness remaining in Manhattan (and it is one of those, by some definitions) and convenient for Brooklynites and established Uptowners alike. The high ceilings of the redeveloped industrial space and rare excess of natural light make it possibly the best venue for an art fair in the city.
Stalemate, Leigh Ledare — Mitchell-Innes & Nash
The Tribeca location is a major appeal of the fair, says Jasmin Tsou, owner of Lower East Side gallery JTT, who was in attendance at the VIP preview Thursday.
“For people who live in Brooklyn…,” it’s an easy call to stop by Spring Studios, she said. And these days, that’s a large swath of the crowd interested in this stratum of art, which you might describe as not entirely established but not blue chip, exactly.
The new space overlooks the Hudson River, allowing a gorgeous view to augment the carefully curated fair. The “museum like experience,” as Founding Curatorial Advisor Matthew Higgs has dubbed it, runs until March 5 and charges $25 for general admission.
This is Independent’s eighth year in New York City; the fair also began a Brussels edition last year, which garnered raves from attendees and this reporter. The New York version may be a bit more crowded, and the crowd a bit more snarky, but nonetheless the variety of art carefully set into the architecturally interesting space made it a highlight of art week.
Untitled (2013), Thea Djordjadze — Sprüth Magers
Art world heavies like White Columns, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Jack Hanley, Lehmann Maupin, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Galerie Perrotin and Sprüth Magers all presented work. Many booths were dedicated to one artist, while others showed two or three.
“I think the fair has a very thoughtful selection,” said Humberto Moro, a curator from the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art, who was also perusing the preview. You can see “young galleries who are not new, working with young artists who are not that young, but they are on their way of becoming established artists,” he said.
Tatiana Trouvé, Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli, © Tatiana Trouvé / ADAGP, Paris & ARS, New York, 2017 — Galerie Perrotin
The feeling, at least on the preview day, that the fair functioned more as exhibit than sales event was a welcome relief from the pressure cooker sensation of some larger art fairs in the U.S.
Brussels-based collector Alain Servais called Independent “very well-curated,” and commended the less commercial atmosphere as he shopped the airy booths Wednesday. “You don’t feel it in other countries,” he lamented, of the base sales aspect of art fairs in the U.S. In New York, “everything is done for commerce,” he said. Which is exactly why Independent is a mandatory stop this week.