Independent New York was established in 2010, as a consciously scaled art fair focused on inspiring relevant art encounters for a well-informed and devoted Contemporary Art audience. Independent 20th Century premiered in 2022 to champion artists and international avant garde movements that took place between 1900-2000, in a historical setting (the Battery Maritime Building was built in 1908).
Independent and Independent 20th Century together premiere internationally recognized artists, spotlight lesser known narratives, or feature a side of a canonical artist's practice that even well-informed collectors and museums find worthy of further curatorial and market attention.
There is not a traditional application process, as participation is invite only. Galleries and non profits are nominated by Independent founding curatorial advisor Matthew Higgs, in conversation with participating galleries and the Independent leadership team.
Independent has a respected track record of delivering curatorial excellence and launching artists to a new level of artistic recognition. Both fairs are internationally appreciated as a place for discovery and consensus, essential attributes that are increasingly lacking in the art fair ecosystem.
For artists, galleries, institutions and collectors, Independent remains the highest caliber, commercially viable creative platform for the art world’s future. We are the art world’s favorite fair in New York.
First Seen at Independent
In a new weekly series, Independent New York celebrates the artists who got their start at the fair. We kick off with Colombian-born artist Oscar Murillo, who had his New York solo debut with Stuart Shave Modern Art at Independent’s third edition in 2012, the same year he graduated from London’s Royal College of Art. Murillo’s installation of stacked paintings and sculpture, an environment merging the studio and the gym, was recognized by New York Times critic Roberta Smith and discovered by collectors Don and Mera Rubell, who invited the artist to undertake a five-week summer residency at the Rubell Museum in Miami. The paintings he produced there featured in his first institutional exhibition in the United States, opened at the museum in December 2012.
British painter Issy Wood was first seen at Independent in 2017 at the fair’s three-year exhibition platform supporting international gallery projects in Brussels, Independent Régence. Carlos/Ishikawa presented a spring show pairing Wood’s unsettling paintings with Darja Bajagić’s collages ahead of Wood’s first solo exhibition with the gallery in London that November. Wood went on to make her New York debut as part of Carlos/Ishikawa’s joint presentation with Chapter NY at Independent 2018. The New York Times’ review of the fair highlighted her signature oil-on-velvet paintings among its unmissable booths.
The eye-catching pastels and murals of Swiss artist Nicolas Party were featured in a solo presentation with Glasgow’s The Modern Institute at Independent in 2015. Composed with hyper precision and saturated in color, Party’s playful figuration estranges the familiar subjects of landscapes, portraits, and still-lifes. His imagery often dialogues with art history; in the installation created for Independent, a floor-to-ceiling monochrome version of Picasso’s Blue Period figure Celestina was superimposed with a view of trees evoking Matisse’s The Dance. Giant wall paintings hinted at Party’s early interest in graffiti, which he has since channeled into architectural interventions and public mural commissions around the world.
Born in 1946, McArthur Binion has spent 50 years developing a unique style of action painting drawing on autobiography, the African American experience, and the visual tenets of Modernism. His gridded oil-stick compositions integrate a “substrate” of collaged layers of photocopies from his personal history and racially charged found images. Emerging in 1970s New York among a group of Black painters devoted to abstraction, Binion had his first exhibition at Artists Space in 1973 at the invitation of Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and Ronald Bladen. He dedicated himself to teaching after moving to Chicago in the 1990s, working as an influential art professor at Columbia College for more than two decades. Catalyzing his career resurgence, he gained gallery representation for the first time in 2013 with Chicago-based Kavi Gupta, which presented his work in a solo exhibition at Independent in 2014.
The Los Angeles-based artist Ruby Neri had the biggest New York solo exhibition of her career to date at Independent in 2018, presented by David Kordansky Gallery. In an exclusive conversation with Independent ahead of the fair, she discussed the fusion of painting and sculpture in her practice and the “mash-up” of influences behind the ceramic vessels she debuted that year, from Paleolithic Venus figurines to Bay Area Funk. Centered on the nude female body, the presentation highlighted Neri’s ongoing development as a maker of daring and ecstatic forms. It was named a “don’t miss” booth by the New York Times.
Donna Huanca’s solo presentation with Peres Projects at Independent in 2016 centered on the human body, creating an environment that encompassed elements of painting, sculpture, and performance. One wall traced the remnants of a performance staged during install day, recalling Yves Klein’s Anthropometries series from the 1950s. Huanca’s Skin Paintings overlaid images of the body with thick, gestural camouflage applied in a trance-like state. Abstracted torso sculptures, colored with makeup and raw pigment, were made using the artist’s own body. The show heralded Huanca’s first large-scale US museum exhibition, OBSIDIAN LADDER, held at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles in 2019.
New York-based artist Elisabeth Kley showed ceramics, ink drawings, and paintings all featuring her distinctive black-and-white patterns with CANADA at Independent in 2018, two years after her gallery debut. The site-specific solo installation was conceived as “a 360-degree panorama of her world,” said gallery cofounder Phil Grauer. After seeing the show, curator Karen Patterson invited Kley to experiment with screenprinting fabrics as an artist-in-residence at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. The textile works she created in vibrant color culminated in Kley’s first solo museum exhibition, Minutes of Sand, held at FWM in 2021 and on view at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska, through April 2023.
Multidisciplinary artist, stylist, and creative director Akeem Smith made his Independent debut in 2020 in a special project with nonprofit Red Bull Arts. The video installation he presented, Dovecote, forms part of a larger body of work capturing the dancehall scene in 1990s Kingston, Jamaica. Drawing from an extensive archive of photographs and VHS tapes he has built over the years, Smith interweaves a collective memory with his personal experience growing up between New York and Jamaica. His godmother ran Ouch, the tailoring atelier at the epicenter of dancehall fashion. The Independent presentation anticipated his first major solo exhibition that fall, No Gyal Can Test, with Red Bull Arts in New York and Detroit. Smith went on to have his first gallery show at Heidi in Berlin in 2021. Following his solo booth with Heidi at the inaugural Paris+ par Art Basel in 2022, Smith has been selected for a new commission with Lafayette Anticipations – Fondation Galeries Lafayette in Paris.
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Images: © Etienne Frossard.
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