Home Arts At the Independent in New York, opportunities to discover the forgotten and the emerging

At the Independent in New York, opportunities to discover the forgotten and the emerging

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Contrary to the bigger is better mentality of many of its counterparts, New York Independent fair has retained a boutique spirit. On the program for its 14th edition (May 11-14), an international coterie of 66 galleries showcasing a mix of works by top and emerging artists.

“We have always been consciously scaled and very intentional with every step we take,” says Elizabeth Dee, the fair’s founder. “We want to present a real insight into the art world rather than just the industry that has been growing all around us.”

This year’s fair, which once again takes over Spring Studios in the increasingly crowded Tribeca arts district, showcases new work while filling in historic gaps from galleries of all sizes. Londoner Maureen Paley, who has been at the fair since the first edition in 2009, and Berlin powerhouse Peres Projects will exhibit alongside fellow Londoner, first exhibitor and three-year-old gallery Niru Ratnam (showcasing the work of British-Ghanaian painter Kimathi Donkor) and the Los Angeles-based Diane Rosenstein Gallery, which gives Nigerian-British painter Abe Odedina his New York debut. Kasmin’s stand is the first focused exhibition of Judith Bernstein’s lesser-known charcoal drawings from 1989 to 2009.

Judith Bernstein, Angry Bitches (Birth of the Screw)2009 Courtesy of the artist, Kasmin Gallery and Independent New York

Dee calls the presentation of Bernstein’s works alongside Richard Saltoun’s solo presentation of Eleanor Antin’s anti-Vietnam War mail art project, 100 Boots (1971-73), “a reassessment of two second-wave feminist icons from both sides of the country.” Besides their common black and white palettes, both works grapple with the aggressiveness and violence of modern American history.

Award-winning research

A revisionist approach helped shape the identity of the fair. Independent Modern, which opened last September as the fair’s second annual edition, focuses specifically on 20th-century art. “As an art history graduate from a women’s college, I’ve always been troubled by the lack of female artists in the canon,” Dee says. “With the September show, we have the chance to rewrite women and other artists who have been marginalized in conversation.”

The second fair also gave emerging galleries the opportunity to work with artist estates and re-contextualize young artists on their listings, which in turn informs what dealers are presenting when editing spring. Local gallery Kapp Kapp is an example of this, with its presentation of two artists combining the works of painter Beverly Semmes addressing how women’s bodies (and their representations) have been politicized with images by photographer Stanley Stellar, whose Black and white photos of the Hudson River piers in the 1980s celebrate male eroticism against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis.

Stanley Stellar, John on Howard1994Ccourtesy of the artist, Kapp Kapp, and Independent New York.

Another two-person installation from a neighborhood gallery is PPOW’s booth, which juxtaposes two very different approaches to representing women’s bodies. Jessica Stoller’s porcelain sculptures of surreal, distorted female bodies sit alongside Grace Carney’s paintings, which blur the line between figuration and abstraction with suggestions of twisted limbs, bound bodies and struggling forms.

Beyond the gallery stands, Independent will launch a collaboration with five publishers settling in to sell artists’ prints in person at the show and online. German publisher Texte zur Kunst will launch its collaboration with Cecily Brown, while the California Institute of the Arts will release a series of 50 artists to mark the school’s 50th anniversary. Phaidon will kick off the fair’s series of artist collaborations with hand-painted lithographs by Jameson Green, who had a solo stand at Independent with Derek Eller Gallery in 2021. Dee says: “In the future we will be inviting an artist who has had a significant freelance moment in the past 15 years to create print work that will be available both at the show and online.

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