New York Art Season 2023 by Lara Tomaszewska featuring The Opening at 42 Walker

Sozita Goudouna
6 min readFeb 27, 2024

Every May, the art world converges in New York for two electric weeks of auctions, art fairs, and openings. This May, ArtRow hit the ground running, taking in art fairs, galleries, auctions and networking events with collectors and art industry professionals. We are pleased to share our top picks and stand-outs here.

Chelsea and Tribeca Galleries

Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkins, flowers, and nets have become ubiquitous imagery in the art world. The works draw on iconography from pop art and the monumental sculptures explode the “superflat” aesthetic, inflating the forms with extreme gloss, crisp line, and high voltage colour. On display at David Zwirner, Aspiring to the Pumpkin’s Love, Love in My Heart (2023), like cut-out paper dolls, unfolds itself across the room and becomes an other-wordly vegetable patch where viewers can wander through the curves and flesh of the pumpkin. Similarly, I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers (2023), resting on the hard concrete of the gallery floor and opening to the street, is an object of delight and, despite the coolness of the highly polished painted copper, it pulsates with movement and life.

Current art practices are exploring fabric and textiles and this is evident across works by emerging and established artists. At a new space in Tribeca, The Opening Gallery, the exhibition Fathom opened with a multi-media installation and performance. The Icelandic artist “Shoplifter” installed hanging fabric cylinders from the ceiling — fluffy and colourful, the viewer can move through them and touch and feel. Amongst woven blankets, wall pieces, and textiles, the band The Callas played in hypnotic synchronicity, producing a multi-sensory experience that created a sense of warmth and well being.

TEFAF Art Fair

The highly coveted European-founded fair TEFAF, was held at the historic Armory building on Park Avenue and with its decadent floral installations and champagne trolleys, it heralds the upper echelon of collectors. Geometric abstraction, line, and modern masters held court and works by Kenneth Noland and Brigit Riley were stand-outs, with a stunning large scale canvas by Peter Halley. A striking painting by Lichtenstein titled Idea (1993) came out of the coffers of a private collection. Produced in the 1990s, it consisted of all the hallmarks of a Lichtenstein: ben-day dots, self-referential art with the art, a female form, and iconic text.

Auctions: Spotlight on Christie’s

There were endless modern and contemporary art sales across Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Phillips and Bonhams with results still being analyzed by the market seers. An ArtRow takeaway was the extraordinary collection “Art of the Century” presented at Christie’s. A perfectly installed Calder mobile successfully captured the meaning of these kinetic sculptures: one could not discern the moving shadows of the forms from the forms themselves. But the greatest contribution of the collection was the gathering of mid-century female Abstract painters: Grace Hartigan, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler and Lynne Drexler. In line with one of the central principals at ArtRow, the Fineberg collection brought to light historical works by underrepresented artists and those who have been excluded from catalogues and text books.

MoMA: Georgia O’Keefe Exhibition and Permanent Collection

The extraordinary, if not compact, exhibition of Georgia O’Keefe at MoMA was a succinct look at O’Keefe’s use of line as the foundation of her paintings. In charcoal and graphite, O’Keefe drew contours, organic shapes, and evocative landscape forms in black and white. The exhibition demonstrates how these works in black and white transferred into full colour and became the flowing paintings of biomorphic forms in pastels and blue, purple and pink hues that are synonymous with her oeuvre.

ArtRow is grounded in art history and our visual descriptions and exhibitions spring from an understanding of the movements, styles, and schools that make up the history of art. As such, MoMA’s galleries of early modern art are a must — from Rousseau and Brancusi to Picasso and Mondrian, the MoMA narrative, while problematic in its exclusions, is a crash course in the pivotal movements of the 20th century.

On this visit, Mexican post-revolutionary photography and social realism was a highlight with paintings by José Orozco and Diego Rivera. The formalist semi-documentary photographs of Tina Modotti, in particular, tell a story of early photographic practices and its use in identity politics. The rich, expressive and layered paintings of the muralists, here in human scale, shore up the connection between the role of art and self-determination and national identity.

NADA Art Fair

Frieze New York, held at The Shed in Hudson Yards, was a focussed presentation of carefully curated shows by mega galleries such as Gagosian, White Cube, and Hauser & Wirth. However, ArtRow’s fair of choice was NADA, only a few blocks away in Chelsea. NADA is devoted to showcasing emerging artists who are on the verge of breakthrough and the fair is an accurate and insightful look at current art practices and the mediums, styles, and subject matter are occupying artists at this moment.

Fabrics and textiles featured here, such as in the luminous work on paper with gold thread by Abdolereza Aminlari. Large abstract and semi-abstract paintings were prolific and tones were muted: sand, neutral, and soft palettes in pleasing forms. Artists such as Karen Barbour and Krista Louise Smith create sumptuous and calming works, some in layered and evocative compositions, and others rich with leaves, foliage, and cut-outs.

The art on display at fairs, auctions and galleries felt like a bit of an embrace: themes of calm, natural beauty, and thoughtful creation on a human scale, offered a foil against current global unrest and uncertainty.

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Sozita Goudouna

Sozita Goudouna is adjunct professor and the author of Beckett’s Breath (EUP, 2018). She is the founding director of the non profit organization Greece in USA