Grab your sunglasses and Gucci up: The art world is coming to New York. Over the next few days, during so-called Frieze Week, more than a dozen art and design fairs showcase their wares across the city. Here, we highlight those that are not to be missed.
And once art overload sets in, these nearby restaurants—from high-end and classic to hip new eateries—won’t disappoint.
Collective Design Fair
550 Washington Street, Skylight Clarkson Square
May 3–7, VIP preview May 2
What to see: Five years ago, when architect and interior designer Steven Learner launched this event, it seemed like another art fair was the last thing New York needed. But the spring showcase of 20th– and 21st-century objects managed to carve out its own space, and passionate fans. Some of the most influential dealers in design exhibit here; don’t miss the booths of Cristina Grajales, R & Company and Maison Gerard.
Where to eat: Throughout its 95-year history, the iconic West Village Chumley’s (86 Bedford Street) has been many things: a secret, a literary landmark, a hangout for the Mad Men ad guys, a religion for its regulars, a dive bar, and closed. But it reopened late last year with a spiffier chef (Victoria Blamey), spiffier menu, spiffier weathered-wood decor, and much higher prices. Reservations are advised.
Art New York/Context New York
12th Avenue at 55th Street, Pier 94
May 3-7; VIP preview May 3
What to see: These sister art fairs from the folks behind Art Miami open a day before Frieze and offer a slightly shaggier—in a good way—mix of dealers and material. Going beyond the usual Berlin–London–NY circuit, there’s a refreshing range of unlikely dealers from Monte Carlo to Indianapolis. There’s also a strong slate of lectures and panels and on Saturday afternoon, legendary photographer Bob Gruen sits down with Metallica’s bass guitarist and artist Jason Newsted—and half of all sales from both artists will be donated to the Perry J. Cohen Foundation.
Where to eat: Nearby, alums of Le Bernardin and Contra have opened the new seafood eatery Gloria (401 W. 53rd Street), boasting menu items such as shrimp in a buttery orange cortez sauce and an organic vodka-and-wine drink with the appealing name Ladies Who Lunch.
TEFAF New York
The Armory, 643 Park Avenue at 67th Street
May 4–8, VIP preview May 3
What to see: Expect marvelous big-ticket items at this Netherlands import, coming to New York in the spring for the first time. Cuban superstar painter Tomás Sánchez debuts new work at Marlborough’s booth, and we highlight other notable dealers here.
Where to eat: For an after-fair dinner, there’s nearby Daniel (60 East 65th Street), flagship of Daniel Boulud, himself a collector who can sometimes be spotted shopping at the art fairs. Less glamorous, but also noteworthy, is JG Melon (1291 Third Avenue), which consistently ranks on the very short list of best burgers in New York. Or stroll down Lexington Avenue to 61st Street for a Pop Art–style treat: Sprinkles 24-hour Cupcake ATM (780 Lexington Avenue).
Frieze New York
Randall’s Island Park
May 5–7, VIP preview May 4
What to see: Despite all the people lolling about on the outside lawns trying to appear blasé, this is a genuinely exciting fair, with galleries from all over the world trying to make an impression at the beautiful waterside space. With literally 1,000 artists on view, you need a cheat sheet. And based on history, dealers such as Acquavella (booth C39), David Kordansky (B3), Gavin Brown (B36), Paul Kasmin (C17) and Salon 94 (B17) pull out all the stops.
Where to eat: It’s a captive audience on this island off the coast of Harlem but fair organizers have imported pop-ups from Roberta’s pizza, Sant Ambroeus and Russ & Daughters—an art world, and foodie, trinity.
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair
159 Pioneer Street, Pioneer Works, Red Hook, Brooklyn
May 5–7, VIP Preview May 4
What to see: This is the fair’s third year in New York, and it has earned a cult following for its U.S. and London editions. This year founding director Touria El Glaoui has selected around 20 galleries to exhibit, including first-timers from Angola and Ghana. Highlights and special projects include a show of contemporary African photography, and a lounge by Sengalese designer Ousmane Mbaye.
Where to eat: This one is a no-brainer. Pok Pok NY (117 Columbia Street), a hip Thai joint a little less than a mile down Van Brunt Street, has flat-out terrific chicken wings, among other richly flavored dishes. (New York Magazine deemed them not only the best wings in the city, but “perfect food.”)
Spring/Break Art Show Brooklyn
300 Flatbush Avenue Extension, off Willoughby Street
What to see: This is a delightful, lively, curator-driven fair known for its elaborate installations. A breath of fresh air when it premiered in an abandoned downtown schoolhouse years ago, it’s kept its goofy let’s-put-on-a-show air despite becoming an influential marketplace. (Shoppers and scenesters have included Leonardo DiCaprio and Cindy Sherman.) The opening party is Saturday May 6, 7 p.m.–10 p.m., and the show runs through the following weekend.
Where to eat: Subway? Chipotle? IHOP? There aren’t a lot a lot of high-design fine-dining spots right around here … but Junior’s Brooklyn deli (386 Flatbush Avenue Extension) and its famous cheesecake is just a short walk away.
33 Bleecker Street
What to see: Offering an “intimate alternative” to the art superstore experience of most fairs, this mini-fair showcasing African art has an easy vibe and lots of goodwill. Galleries from Paris, Brussels, Hangzhou, China, and Provincetown, Massachusetts, are exhibiting, plus the inventively named Oslo gallery Demon’s Mouth. The closing party from 5 p.m.–7 p.m is perfectly timed to combat art-fair exhaustion.
Where to eat: Head to the newly opened Chef’s Club Counter for a fantastic Jean-Georges Vongerichten fast-casual hamburger (62 Spring Street). But a walk down Lafayette Street leads to the fancier Le Coucou (11 Howard Street), backed by art collector and real-estate developer Aby Rosen. It’s a swanky low-key space, with stone accents, yawning metal windows, and chandeliers. The menu is a bit busier—but of the same upmarket quality. The French hit took home the award for Best New Restaurant in the country at the James Beard Awards this month (widely considered among the highest restaurant honors in North America).
459 West 14th Street
What to see: Bragging that it’s “hypercontemporary,” this lively Miami import promises a fun, accessible environment with well-priced art. This is a first-timer fair for New York, though it’s been a popular Miami destination in December (in the Little Haiti neighborhood). There’s a Young Collectors Ice Cream Social on Friday, May 5, with live vocals by Penguin Prison. We have no idea what that means, but it does sound fun.
Where to eat: Bypass the scene at the Standard Hotel. Every studio-art MFA student heads to the Biergarten or the Boom Boom Room during Frieze Week, as if Larry Gagosian might just swan by and look at their slides. Instead, head to Untitled at the Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort Street) for the flower-bedecked beef tartare and grilled arctic char from the new young chef Suzanne Cups.