Q+A with Frieze Art Fair Founder Amanda Sharp

By ferry or Uber, by hook or by crook, come May the art world makes its way to Randall's Island for the London-bred Frieze Art Fair. Once upon a time, Frieze was just a scrappy, "jargon-free" art magazine, founded by a then 22-year-old Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover. In 2003, the magazine expanded into an art fair held in London's Regent Park. In 2012, it jumped the pond to New York and in just three years it has grown from newbie to juggernaut. Amanda Sharp brings us up to speed.

Standard Culture: You've been in New York for a few years now. How has the fair evolved?
Amanda Sharp: Well, the maturity of the fair is astonishing. We're only in year three and already people are referring to the fair as unmissable and galleries are really bringing their best work and making ambitious solo projects and installations for the fair.

What are you most excited about this year?
There are almost too many good gallery stands to choose from, but some are putting together something quite special. Ed Ruscha at Gagosian; Kusama and Judd at David Zwirner, Carroll Dunham at Barbara Gladstone are some of the heavy hitters but others that promise to be special are Eddie Peake with Lorcan O'Neil, Joan Jonas at Wilkinson Gallery and a special collaboration between Elizabeth Dee and Broadway 1602 on a multigenerational exhibition featuring work that was once undervalued and now has become historically significant, including artists Josephine Meckseper, Adrian Piper and Julia Wachtel.

Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover

Co-founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover

There are lots of art fairs. What makes Frieze special?
The visitor experience of the fair is something that we've received so many compliments about. The tent, the light, the space and even the ferry ride are all things that we've put a lot of thought into and people seem to love. Also the emphasis that we put on our associated Projects, Talks and Education programs are an important part of the fair. We invest in these non-profit elements as we see the fair as a cultural platform that can cultivate new audiences for contemporary art. We want our fair to feel like an adventure, an exciting cultural experience. A place to learn about what is happening in art now.

Do you collect art yourself? Who are you into?
I have a few things all made by friends. I feel lucky to live with art every day. Something everyone can do too!

Any tips for aspiring collectors looking to take a trip to Randall's Island? Wear comfortable shoes. Grab a map when you arrive to help orientate yourself. Look at the younger sections Frame and Focus to see work by emerging galleries and artists if you are really starting out. This is where some very affordable work can be found. Don't forget to visit the main sections too, even if it is to window shop. And don't be afraid to ask questions. Even if you aren't ready to take the plunge and buy anything, the fair is a great place to learn. Oh, and don't miss the presentations by the non-profits: Artists Space, The Artists Institute and White Columns.

Frieze Art Fair on Randall's Island


Don't miss Frieze Talks with:
Pussy Riot & David Remnick
The girls of Pussy Riot, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina, will sit down with New Yorker Editor-in-Chief David Remnick to talk about their feminist art collective, the problem in Russia, Putin, and Zona Prava, an agency advocating for prison reform.
Friday May 9th, 4:00 pm

Randall's Island
Friday, May 9 - Sunday, May 11 from 11am - 7pm
Monday, May 12 from 11am - 6pm
Get tickets here, $43.

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