In many cities, when a blue-chip fair comes to town, the city’s galleries, museums, nonprofits, and other art-related spaces tend to roll out the best to showcase to visitors what they have to offer under the umbrella of an official event. There’s never been an initiative of the sort in New York, however—until now. This May, more than 20 New York–based art organizations have banded together to launch the first New York Art Week, which is set to take place when four art fairs—Independent, TEFAF New York, NADA New York, and the Future Fair—open in the city.
“There are great models of this in other cities, like London during Frieze, but New York has never had a successful version of it,” Elizabeth Dee, the founder and CEO of Independent, said in an interview.
The main focus of this new collaborative project, running from May 5 to May 12, is to gather everything that these organizations have to offer into one central location. A new website (www.newyorkartweek.info) will have a map of the offerings, as well as listings for special programming like talks, panels, and tours.
The event is being conceived as a new form of collaboration in New York. It’s a familiar way of working for NADA New York, which is hosting its first edition this year since 2018, and which has previously collaborated with fairs like Art Cologne in Germany. “For New York, it makes sense for everyone to band together and say, ‘This is what’s happening this week,’” said Heather Hubbs, NADA’s executive director. It’s a way to encourage people to see as much as the city has to offer, “instead of making it sound like you’re the only thing in town, because that’s really not true.”
In addition to the four fairs that will take place that week, each of the world’s three major auction houses—Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips—are participating in the first New York Art Week, as are several museums across the city, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, the Queens Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum.
The other founding organizations include the Drawing Center, the New Museum, the Swiss Institute, White Columns, and Amant, the artist residency and exhibition space established in Brooklyn by ARTnews Top 200 Collector Lonti Ebers last year.
For Phillips, which will be auctioning Jean-Michel Basquiat’s $70 million painting Untitled (Devil) in May, New York Art Week was a way for the house and its colleagues to “band together to create a critical mass, like a rising tide,” according to Vivian Pfeiffer, the deputy chairman of Americas and head of business development at Phillips. “It’s a reflection of the maturity that art fairs, auction houses, museums have come to realize that we can work altogether in providing an exciting schedule in May for art lovers.”
Amant will be showcasing the U.S. debut of Brazilian artist Carla Zaccagnini, whose installations, sculptures, performed writings, and drawings explore displacement and fragmentation within Latin America. Ruth Estévez, the organization’s artistic director, said that Amant’s airy galleries and outdoor spaces will provide those participating in New York Art Week “the chance to slow down and get the necessary respite away from the hustle and bustle of fairs.” She added, “Part of New York’s enduring draw for artists is its ability to embrace the new and continuously reinvent itself,” of which New York Art Week is one new component.
Farther afield, the Queens Museum will have a slate of exhibitions on view, including a new commission by Christine Sun Kim and the first New York institutional survey for Suzanne Lacy. “I see us as a part of that cultural ecology of New York, a city which a wide range of cultural offerings,” Sally Tallant, the museum’s director, said. “We see ourselves as essential to that ecology and that ecology is absolutely essential to us. When Elizabeth reached out to us, we thought it was a way to be part of community with our colleagues.”
New York Art Week was born out of a 50-person call held last November, in which big-picture details, like the event’s dates and mission, were hammered with out. From there, the various members joined various committees that have been meeting regularly since December to accomplish the project.
With everyone’s calendars aligning, the moment was ripe for collaboration, Dee said, adding, “There’s more of an openness to taking advantage of this situation that makes us more aligned and more focused. We wanted it not to be branded anything but New York. It’s not one art fair’s branding exercise that either succeeds or fails.”
Tallant agreed, saying, “We wanted to participate in something that is about strengthening that cultural ecology. We need to support each other at this time. We need to deepen and strengthen the connections that already exist in order for New York to recover as the amazing cultural city that it has been, is, and will be in the future.”