Inside the Frieze Art Fair on New York’s Randall’s Island, there’s a hotel with two beds so guests can sleep among the artworks for as much as $375 a night.
A security guard will keep tabs on the slumber party to make sure no one is wandering around the white serpentine-tent housing 190 contemporary-art galleries from 28 countries. They can hang out in this art installation and watch hotel-themed films such as “Grand Hotel,” the 1932 Greta Garbo classic. Breakfast and dinner will be served.
The art world elite including billionaire collectors Eli Broad and Alice Walton are expected to converge today on the fair, a short car or ferry ride from Manhattan. Now in its third year, Frieze, which runs through May 12, is cementing its role in New York as a hip marketplace for emerging and blue-chip art.
Wealthy collectors can grab a $2,000 cast bronze champagne corkscrew by emerging artist Chris Bradley or drop $650,000 on a Donald Judd minimalist box. Frieze also commissioned surprising art projects like the sleepovers and organizing brainy talks, which this year will include a conversation between members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot and New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick.
“I always keep in mind it’s an art fair,” said Cecilia Alemani, who coordinated Frieze Projects, the site-specific artworks commissioned for the fair such as the “Al’s Grand Hotel.” “It’s not just collectors. People can listen to great talks or a concert or just enjoy an afternoon on the lawn.”
The fair coincides with two weeks of semi-annual auctions in New York, which are expected to sell as much as $2.3 billion of art. It also anchors at least eight other art fairs including Pulse, New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) and mini-fairs Seven and Salon Zurcher.
Frieze, which started in 2003 in London, where it will hold its next edition in October, is considered one of the world’s three most important contemporary-art fairs, along with Art Basel in Switzerland in June and Art Basel Miami Beach in December.
“Most collectors believe it’s a must-see event,” said Wendy Cromwell, director of New York-based art advisory firm Cromwell Art LLC. “They have a really nice high-low strategy, with a good representation of high-end art and emerging art. It’s taken them three years to get to this point.”
More than 20 galleries are dedicating their booths to solo artist presentations, ranging from American veteran Ed Ruscha at Gagosian gallery to emerging Brit Eddie Peake at Lorcan O’Neill.
New York’s Gladstone Gallery will show more than 200 drawings by Carroll Dunham created between 1979 and 2014. David Kordansky Gallery from Los Angeles is showing Sam Gilliam’s beveled-edge paintings from the 1960s and 1970s.
“For us, it’s a prime arena to meet new collectors and curators,” said Eric Ruschman, manager of Chicago-based Shane Campbell Gallery, a third-time participant. “Especially people who are not able to come to Chicago and see the art in person.”
The hotel installation is a restaging of Allen Ruppersberg’s project in 1971 in Los Angeles, in which he converted a Craftsman house in Hollywood for six weeks into a fully functioning hotel with seven rooms and a performance and party space. The Frieze hotel is a collaboration between Ruppersberg and the Los Angeles project space Public Fiction. It comprises three booths: two rooms, each with a queen-size bed, and a lobby.
Those in need of a break from art can peruse other site specific projects. New York artist Marie Lorenz will take passengers around the harbor for about 20 minutes in a row boat built from salvaged materials. Participants will wear life jackets and will be expected to do some rowing.
Lorenz offers “a unique perspective on the city we love,” said Alemani, who has taken one of the artist’s rides. “It’s astonishing how you feel immersed in nature and yet you can see the Manhattan skyline. It was amazing. You feel really tiny and the boat is tiny.”
Among the trendy restaurants serving food at the fair are Marlow & Sons, from Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, and Italian eatery Frankies Spuntino. Mission Cantina, the Mexican restaurant on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, will offer burritos and Roberta’s, the Italian restaurant housed in a converted Brooklyn garage, will serve pizza.
Deutsche Bank AG is the lead sponsor of Frieze in New York and London. Its foundation funds and develops the fair’s educational programs. High school students from the South Bronx and East Harlem will tour the fair; one group working with the Bronx River Art Center will create a digital guide.
“Our hope is to give broad access to school children of all ages to the various arts and culture programs that we sponsor,” Jacques Brand, chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank’s North American unit and chairman of the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, said in an interview.
Frieze is open to VIPs today by invitation and to the public May 9 through May 12. www.friezenewyork.com.