Jonathan Grossmalerman went to Frieze New York 2014

and couldn't see the art

By Jonathan Grossmalerman

I attended Frieze New York's opening night and, as the damn ferry never showed up, I had to take a very expensive cab ride to Randall’s Island where they had set up their impressively vast tent. But dear reader, the gorgeous splendour of its wrapping only masked the sad, slipshod display of arrogant ineptitude and doom that awaited the entering art lover. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand economics and all that so I get it if Frieze has decided to take a bargain basement, no frills approach to selling art. After all, It’s true that The Armory and Art Basel Miami suffer from a certain ostentatiousness, but is it too much to ask that the galleries hang the work on the walls rather than simply lean them? Or at the very least, uncrate their work? Is it uncool to make even the slightest effort or has the art market gone so haywire that collectors simply buy the work sight unseen? 

Is that what’s going on? The restaurants weren’t open! There was garbage everywhere. Does this kind of stuff go over in London? I mean, what the hell people? Can this mean anything other than the bubble has finally popped? The Andrea Rosen booth looked as though it had been abandoned mid hanging! And if you found yourself wanting one of their wooden totem poles in a metal box, well… tough titties! There was no one around to help you… or answer your questions! Just a guy drilling holes in the wall. Which is an extremely unprofessional thing to do during opening night! But I suppose I would even take that over Peter Blum Gallery’s presentation where they couldn’t even be bothered to take the art out of it’s crate! 

I haven’t felt less welcome as a consumer than that time I stumbled into a Hasidic haberdasher in search of a magnificent beaver hat! I mean…is this what it’s come to? Are they passing on the savings to their clients? Because, frankly, I didn’t see many of those. I did see a few art student types …carrying things…but none of them knew anything. Well, I suspected that they didn’t know anything…which is why I didn’t ask them…I mean I doubt they could have enlightened me. One sensed that Gagosian Gallery's entirely empty booth meant they had decided to not even show up to the bloodbath, unless their empty stall was some sort of statement. Or maybe their house of cards had already collapsed and they couldn’t pay the shipping. In any event, to sum it all up, I can only assume this year’s Frieze New York was an unmitigated disaster and signifies the complete collapse of the art market we all knew was coming.

Update and correction:

Apparently someone at ArtReview sent me the wrong dates for the fair (idiots!) and after my unfortunate pre-visit the fair went off without a hitch and was apparently very nice. In any case, I feel I made a very good point had it all been true.

16 May 2014