Visitors to Frieze New York, one of the art industry’s larger trade shows, housed in a white tent on Randalls Island, are greeted by what could be taken as a new fair branding symbol: a giant, helium-inflated figure of a fat, howling baby with a tiny brainpan and an immense open mouth.
Titled “Free Money,” this 25-foot-high outdoor sculpture is the work of the young American artist Alex Da Corte, who has based his career on sending pop culture through the spin cycle. In this case, he appropriates an image from Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman.” In the film, to bring out the people of Gotham, the Joker stages a parade with flashy floats, like this one, promising to cap the event with a shower of cash. What the crowds get instead, though, is a fog of poison gas.
This is an apt image for an art fair, even if a fair’s only conspicuous killer effect is to raise the world’s quotient of junk art and the prices paid for it. Frieze, which originated in London a quarter-century ago, certainly contributes to these spikes, and is geared to an audience that wants to see what it already knows. Its main value lies, however, in shining light on some unfamiliar galleries and in bringing forward art we might not otherwise see.
Absorbing the whole event, which runs through Sunday, requires strategizing, helped somewhat by the fair’s organization into several almost manageable parts. Mr. Da Corte’s colicky kid, for example, is one of a group of special projects commissioned from individual artists. The more than 200 galleries participating are divided into four broad categories.
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