A guide to art in New York during Frieze Week

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Curator, experiential designer and New York member Ché Morales rounds up the best art exhibitions outside of Frieze to mark the city’s annual celebration of contemporary art

By Ché Morales    Thursday 6 May, 2021    Above image: ‘I Got Next’ by Alvin Armstrong, 2021

In New York, Frieze opens to the public this weekend at The Shed in Hudson Yards. It’s arguably the most significant art event in the capital’s calendar. But there’s more to art in New York than Frieze over the next few days. The city will be transformed by satellite events, alternative art fairs and exhibitions, all within walking distance of the Big Apple’s new art centre. Here, we take a look at the other exhibitions that opened this week which are also worth your attention, all along the famous High Line.

A woman sat on a sofa laughing

‘Retrato De Mujer llorando’ by Cristina BanBan

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‘Tres Dones Descansant Al Delta’ by Cristina BanBan

Garden Of Eden by Todd James at Ross + Kramer Gallery
In this vibrant show, Todd James takes us back to the early days of his career, before he achieved major commercial success by creating album covers for musical icons such as Iggy Pop and the Beastie Boys. Massive canvases take over the gallery, immersing the viewer into a magical world that only James could envision. 


Del Llanto by Cristina BanBan at Albertz Benda
I first saw Cristina BanBan’s work in person at 1969 gallery back in 2019. Since then, she has dominated the art scene with her gargantuan artworks that are filled with distorted bodies and densely layered brushstrokes. Citing artists such as Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud as influences, BanBan has managed to create a unique style based on her own memories and experiences. This new show at the Albertz Benda gallery (which is part of a dual show with 1969 gallery) dives into these personal experiences, and tackles the nostalgic longing she has for home, as well as feelings of creative doubt.


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‘Soft Viola’ by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, 2002

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‘Dr Coltello Costume’ by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, 1986

Claes & Coosje: A Duet at Pace
Claes & Coosje: A Duet is one of those rare exhibitions that only a gallery the size of Pace could house. This beautiful show sheds new light on the artistic dialogue between Claes Oldenburg and the late Coosje van Bruggen. As one of the famous artistic couples of the 1960s, this exhibition follows the evolution of their partnership. Look out for the pièce de résistance, ‘Dropped Bouquet’ – the final sculptural work that Oldenburg and van Bruggen worked on together before her death in 2009.


And I Will Wear You In My Heart Of Heart at The Flag Art Foundation 
The Flag Art Foundation’s stellar group show, And I Will Wear You In My Heart Of Heart, brings together the work of breakthrough artists such as Tajh Rust, Salman Toor, and Anna Weyant, as well as established ones like Derrick Adams, Lisa Yuskavage, and Will Cotton. The exhibition explores the countless ways in which 35 artists evoke tenderness through depictions of lovers and friends, familial exchanges, and moments of solitude. 


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Above image: ‘Hammer In A Sea Of Hate’ by Alvin Armstrong, 2021


Wangechi Mutu at the Gladstone Gallery 
Though Wangechi Mutu is mostly well known for her collages, it’s her sculptural works that really excite me the most. Nothing beats seeing her ideas in three-dimensional form. With these new works, Mutu explores the representation of women throughout time, and arrives at her own offering towards its discourse. 


To Give And Take by Alvin Armstrong at the Anna Zorina Gallery
Emerging artist Alvin Armstrong is someone I’ve been keeping an eye on. To Give And Take presents a series of characters, alone and paired, stationary and in motion, to interrogate the vulnerability of Blackness in America. Armstrong intentionally uses scale and technique (large canvases with full-bodied figures and smaller-sized portraits) to toggle between urgency and intimacy, movement and emotion. These hauntingly beautiful portraits by the self-taught artist should not be missed. 


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‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicle With Inflatable Membrane’ by Simon Denny, 2021

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‘Bonjour Et Bonne Nuit’ by Tetsumi Kudo, 1963

Metamorphosis by Tetsumi Kudo at Hauser & Wirth
This exhibition focuses on the late artist Tetsumi Kudo’s desire for personal and collective spiritual evolution beyond the values of Western humanism, which he believed caused war, racism, and colonialism. Only a gallery like Hauser & Wirth could bring together 20 significant works created in the decade following Kudo’s move from Japan to Paris in 1962. The museum exhibits a variety of signature works, from small sketches to the artist’s signature container pieces.


Mine by Simon Denny at the Petzel Gallery 
Filled with a variety of sculptural works, this exhibition focuses on the interconnections between data mining, mineral mining, and the mechanisation of labour. From paper reliefs to large-scale cardboard sculptures, the artworks raise questions about the effects of further automation on the limited jobs still left in mining, service, and logistics. Denny’s recent body of work confronts us with the sad reality we might be heading towards. 


Julie Mehretu at the Whitney Museum of American Art 
Julie Mehretu’s mid-career survey at the Whitney might not be something you’ve heard a lot about, but it’s definitely one of those shows that history will look back on with great importance. Comprising around 30 paintings and 40 works on paper, dating from 1996 to the present day, this broad retrospective might be the last chance you get to see all of the artist’s work in one place. ¬ 

Frieze New York
Preview (invitation only): 5 to 6 May 2021/ Public days: 7 to 9 May 2021



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