For art enthusiasts and collectors, May is an exciting time in New York City as it brings together a number of art fairs, auctions, and exhibitions. Alongside Frieze New York, other art fairs such as TEFAF and Independent Art Fair also take place during this time, showcasing a diverse range of artwork from around the world. In addition, leading auction houses such as Christie's, Sotheby's, and Phillips hold their marquee sales, offering an opportunity to bid on some of the most sought-after works. With so much happening in the city's art scene, it can be overwhelming to decide what to see and do. Here’s our curated guide to help you navigate the art fairs and exhibitions happening in New York during this exciting month.
Andy Warhol at the Brant Foundation
The exhibition "Thirty Are Better Than One" is showcasing over 100 artworks by Andy Warhol at The Brant Foundation's East Village location. The comprehensive survey covers Warhol's entire career, from his early drawings and Polaroids to his famous silkscreens and sculptures. The exhibition includes pieces from the Brant Collection, curated by Peter M. Brant, who was a longtime patron, collaborator, and friend of the artist. The title of the exhibition comes from Warhol's 1963 artwork of the same name, which depicts 30 scaled-down, silk-screened images of the Mona Lisa. Through the exhibit, visitors can witness Warhol's experimentation with various media, bringing into focus his contributions to Pop Art and 20th-century American art. Peter M. Brant, the founder of The Brant Foundation, first bought Warhol's work in 1962, with Campbell’s Soup Can (Chicken with Rice). Brant has continued to collect significant pieces from each decade of Warhol's career. "Thirty Are Better Than One" highlights the close relationship between Brant and Warhol, which began with their first meeting in 1967 and included several collaborations. The exhibition also displays Warhol's earliest works from the 1950s, his iconic pieces from the 1960s, his exploration of abstraction in the 1970s, and his later works from the 1980s, which touched on subjects such as faith, morality, and loss.
The exhibition will be on display at The Brant Foundation's East Village location until July 31, 2023.
Yayoi Kusama, “I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers” at David Zwirner
Kusama is an influential artist of the past century, known for her personal and recognizable works that often use repetitive elements to convey both microscopic and macroscopic universes. Her career spans various mediums, including paintings, sculptures, performances, literature, films, fashion, design, and architectural interventions. The exhibition titled "I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers" showcases three large flower sculptures and three massive pumpkin sculptures, situated at opposite ends of 519 and 533 West 19th Street, respectively. Kusama has repeatedly incorporated plants and flowers in her work since the 1950s, inspired by her love for nature. The exhibition also features thirty-six paintings, which are part of Kusama's recent series EVERY DAY I PRAY FOR LOVE and a new Infinity Mirror Room titled "Dreaming of Earth’s Sphericity, I Would Offer My Love" at 525 West 19th Street. The paintings use intricate details and repetition to blur the line between abstraction and figuration, and the Infinity Mirror Room immerses the viewer in an interplay of natural and artificial light through its round-colored windows. Kusama's works derive from her desire to create art that is autobiographical yet appears outside of herself.
"Yayoi Kusama: I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers" is on view at David Zwirner, through July 21, 2023.
Demisch Danant X Paulin, Paulin, Paulin
FORMAL DISRUPTION | Pierre Paulin and the State Commissions of the 1980s is an upcoming exhibition at Demisch Danant in collaboration with Paulin, Paulin, Paulin that showcases the work of French designer Pierre Paulin during his lesser-known era in the 1980s. Paulin is known for his influential, sculptural forms and modular developments in the 1960s and 70s, but this exhibition will highlight his avant-garde works and limited edition collections from the latter half of his career. Paulin was a regular collaborator of the Mobilier National, the national service agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, and received public commissions to design the residences of multiple government officials and national institutions. The works from these exclusive commissions have never been produced for public viewing until now. The centerpiece of the exhibition is the Mitterrand office set, a total of five pieces commissioned by then French President François Mitterrand in 1985, now put into production for the very first time by Paulin, Paulin, Paulin. Adorned in Tyrian pink and bleu de France, these works surprised and delighted the design world given their unique pairing with a serious and official setting. The exhibition showcases Paulin's ever-evolving and non-linear practice, from his choices in material and use of artful color to the meticulously thoughtful and practical construction of his pieces.
"FORMAL DISRUPTION | Pierre Paulin and the State Commissions of the 1980s" is on view at Demisch Danant in Manhattan until May 27, 2023.
John Chamberlain at Mnuchin Gallery
John Chamberlain: Five Decades + at the Mnuchin Gallery presents a comprehensive survey of the artist's oeuvre, featuring sculptures made between 1960 and 2011. Chamberlain rose to fame in the 1960s with his groundbreaking use of crushed automotive steel to create abstract sculptures. His works are characterized by a unique dynamism and vibrant color palette, as well as a carefully constructed balance between spontaneity and intentionality. Chamberlain's approach to sculpture-making evolved over the years, from his explorations of foam, paper, and resin in the 1960s to his later embrace of curves and spheres in the 1980s and 1990s, and his return to geometric forms in the 2000s. Through it all, he maintained an unparalleled mastery of color and form, pushing the boundaries of scale and composition to create awe-inspiring works of art. The sculptures on display are drawn from prominent private collections and museums and are not organized chronologically, but rather interwoven to celebrate Chamberlain's unwavering commitment to innovation and experimentation. By showcasing works created over a fifty-year period, John Chamberlain: Five Decades + illuminates the themes and techniques that remained central to the artist's lifelong practice. The exhibition promises to be a must-see for anyone interested in the history of American sculpture and the enduring legacy of one of its most innovative and influential practitioners.
"John Chamberlain: Five Decades +" is on view ar Mnuchin Gallery, New York until June 10, 2023.
The Roof Garden Commission: Lauren Halsey
The artwork created by artist Lauren Halsey for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's rooftop exhibition has been designed with permanence in mind. The piece, which will be transported to Halsey's hometown of South Central Los Angeles after the exhibition, will become a civic monument at her community center and will serve as a record of the place against the encroaching forces of gentrification. The sculpture's off-white cube and surrounding columns loom over Central Park and feature tiles that recall the graffiti of the Met's Temple of Dendur, but also celebrate the vitality of Halsey's local Black community. The show was delayed due to the pandemic but became more ambitious and meaningful as a result. Met director Max Hollein stated that the exhibition is important, and Halsey's artwork reflects her interest in blending contemporary narratives from South Central Los Angeles with those evoked in ancient pharaonic architecture. Halsey hopes that viewers in New York will feel the intuitive connections between her artwork and her hometown. The piece is not only a work of art but also a powerful statement about preserving the history and culture of marginalized communities in the face of gentrification.
“The Roof Garden Commission: Lauren Halsey” is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until October 22, 2023.
Cecily Brown's First New York Survey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The current exhibit at the Met features around fifty works by Cecily Brown, a British artist who now resides in New York. Her unique style combines abstract and figurative elements, with references to old-worldly interiors, ornate tablescapes, and overflowing perfume bottles appearing throughout her works. Brown's pieces convey a range of emotions, from joyous musings on life's pleasures to contemplation of mortality. Her compositions pay homage to various sources of inspiration, including the works of Edward Munch and her mentor, Maggi Hambling. Recurring themes such as boredom, chaos, and contemplation can be found in her paintings, both pre and post-COVID, such as "Hangover Square" and "Lobsters, Oysters, Cherries, and Pearls." Visitors to the exhibit will find pleasure in searching for the figurative cues hidden within Brown's compositions. Despite the tension between the energetic brushstrokes and the familiar subjects, the everyday life and sentiments of vivacity and death remain shrouded in mystery.
The exhibition will be on display in the Met's Modern and Contemporary galleries until December 3, 2023.
Gagosian to present a solo booth featuring Nan Goldin at Frieze
Nan Goldin will be presenting eight grid works at Frieze New York 2023, marking her debut presentation with Gagosian Gallery following her recent representation. Goldin creates her grids based on formal or psychological themes and has been working with the grid format for over 20 years, which emerged from the same associative impulse as her slide shows. Her grids are considered as chapters of the slideshows on the wall and like storyboards. Goldin's slideshow Scopophilia commissioned by the Musée du Louvre includes The Back (2011–14), Veiled (2011–14), and Island Seas (2014), which pairs her own autobiographical images with photographs of paintings and sculptures from the collections of the Louvre and other international museums, organized around Greek mythology and touching on themes of love and desire. The grids are examples of how Goldin maintains the intimacy of her work through various mediums, expanding the context of the single image to exist without a specific time and place. Goldin was influenced by Color Field painting in the 1990s and started making grids as a homage to the Color Field painters. The grid format sums up her view that history and time exist as an aggregate of individual lives.
Louise Giovanelli at GRIMM Gallery
Louise Giovanelli's fourth solo exhibition at GRIMM presents a new series of paintings titled Entheogen, featuring an appropriated 1970s film still image of a young woman in a moment of spiritual reverie taking the Eucharist. Giovanelli repeats the image across the series of works, distinguished by subtle variations of cropping and color, prompting deeper contemplation of the shifting narrative implications of the image, from religious to provocative interpretations. The series' title, Entheogen, refers to psychoactive substances often used in ritual and spiritual contexts, reinforcing the narrative ambiguity where religious iconography, hallucinogenic drugs, and sexual revelation coalesce with Giovanelli's large-scale paintings of curtains, casting impenetrability between the viewer and object.
'Louise Giovanelli: Sooth Say' is on view at GRIMM Gallery, New York until June 30, 2023.
Donald Judd at Gagosian 980 Madison Avenue
The exhibition showcases fifteen objects by Donald Judd, made from his primary materials, such as painted aluminum, galvanized iron, and colored plexiglass. Judd's focus on three-dimensional forms was a departure from his earlier work as a painter, and he developed an art that existed on its own physical terms, with new terms to describe them. The show also features Judd's untitled works from different periods, such as two metallic pieces from 1970 and 1979, a galvanized iron bull-nosed piece from 1965, and four stacks of identical components from 1980-1990, made from different materials. The exhibition also includes a set of twenty woodcuts, one of Judd's most extensive uses of color in printmaking. Each pair of prints has one impression with a printed frame of color and one in which the same color is reversed and printed as the interior space of the frame. The prints were made for a forthcoming exhibition in Seoul, and the proofs were printed on local paper, hanji, and approved by Judd in 1992-93. The mission behind this show is to display Judd's focus on the intrinsic qualities of materials and their relationships in carefully considered proportions, creating a physical art form that exists independently of metaphor or illusion.
The exhibition is on view at Gagosian 980 Madison Avenue, New York until July 14, 2023.
New York is home to a dynamic and diverse art scene, and some of the most exciting events of the year take place during the month of May. Visitors to the city in May 2023 should be sure to check out a range of art fairs, each with its own unique focus and atmosphere. The Independent Art Fair is a must-see for anyone interested in the cutting edge of contemporary art. This fair, which takes place at Spring Studios in Tribeca, showcases innovative and experimental work by emerging and established artists alike. Unlike some of the more commercial fairs, Independent is focused on the art itself, with a highly curated selection of galleries presenting work that challenges and expands the boundaries of the medium. The most anticipated event in the New York art calendar is Frieze New York. This fair is known for its international focus, with galleries from around the world presenting work by artists from a diverse range of backgrounds. Frieze is also known for its focus on large-scale installations and interactive projects, making it a great choice for anyone looking for a truly immersive art experience.
On the other hand, TEFAF (The European Fine Art Foundation) showcases over 90 dealers presenting museum-quality fine art, antiques, and design objects. What makes TEFAF unique from other art fairs is its rigorous vetting process, which ensures that every piece presented is authentic, high-quality, and of exceptional value. Visitors can expect to see an eclectic mix of works from Old Masters to modern and contemporary artists, with a wide range of genres and mediums represented. For those interested in more specialized areas of the art world, there are a range of smaller fairs taking place during May as well. The June Art Fair, for example, focuses specifically on the intersection of art and technology, showcasing work that incorporates digital media and other cutting-edge technologies. The 154 African Art Fair, meanwhile, is dedicated to promoting African and African diaspora art, with galleries from across the continent and the world presenting work by some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today. Finally, the NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) fair is a must-see for anyone interested in emerging artists and galleries. With a focus on supporting young and independent dealers, NADA is an incubator for new talent in the art world, and visitors can expect to see work by some of the most exciting up-and-coming artists working today. Whether you are a collector, a scholar, or simply an art lover, there is something for everyone in the diverse and vibrant art fair scene in New York in May 2023.