Inside The 2024 Independent Art Fair

At this year’s Independent Art Fair, expect a generational transition through many of the booths on-view, as 31 galleries (around 40 percent) are participating in the New York fair for the first time. It’s this attention to newness and emerging artists that has long set the fair up as a breeding ground for younger talent to grow, make connections, and spring onto a larger stage.

The 2024 iteration includes 77 exhibitors in a May 9-12 run at Spring Studios, aligned one week after Frieze and NADA touch down and overlapping with TEFAF.

A special portion this year will honour the fair’s history – “15 x15: Independent 2010-2024”, organised by founder and CEO Elizabeth Dee alongside founding curatorial advisor and White Columns chief curator Matthew Higgs. Galleries contributing to this project will include Canada, Kasmin, Anton Kern Gallery, Lehmann Maupin, Tilton Gallery, and Nicola Vassell Gallery.

Read below for Elephant’s list of galleries to watch at this year’s event.

Deli Gallery x Public
Ficus Interfaith, Months That End in R, 2023. Cementitious terrazzo, brass, zinc, oysters, 42 x 48 in. Courtesy of Deli Gallery.

Deli Gallery joins first-time exhibitor Public this year on a co-presentation featuring Amanda Baldwin and Ficus Interfaith (a collaboration unto itself between artists Ryan Bush and Raphael Martinez Cohen).

The talent complement each other with works that speak to the outdoor environment. Leaves, cave paintings, and varied use of wood are central to the Interfaith team. Baldwin, however, zooms out to reimagine landscapes in glowing tones and deep canyons, both topologically and emotionally. She defies the laws of physics through her work, creating new rules of nature along the coastlines, mountains, and other natural features of the world.

“I like the idea of looking at something that’s very familiar and thinking about it in a little bit of a different way,” Baldwin shared. “It’s really about trying to view things from a new perspective.”

Shannon Cartier Lucy, Not yet titled, 2024. Oil on canvas. 48 x 68 in. Courtesy of Lubov.

Over at Lubov’s sophomore booth at the fair, viewers will find the star power (no, really) of Shannon Cartier Lucy’s Star, 2024.

“We’re excited to bring Shannon to Lubov’s second year at Independent, especially after Connor Stankard’s sold-out presentation at the 2023 edition,” gallery director Rachel Park said.

Known for making cinematic choices that invite further questions, the storytelling of the piece is whimsical and fresh against the wide bevy of work on the fair’s floor. Further exploration into her work reveals stars a-plenty, both in the physical on a female subject’s face and through the clarity of voice in work that includes a portrait of a dalmatian’s open stomach, wasps landing on a young girl’s arm to her quizzical expression, and many works exploring the intimacy of hands.

Magenta Plains
Jane Swavely, Silver OID#4, 2022. Oil on canvas, 90x90in. Courtesy of the Artist and Magenta Plains, New York.

In the nursery of decades of important cultural output (The Bowery), artists Jane Swavely and Alan Uglow built careers in art that reflect their lived-in surroundings and transpose them onto canvas. This dual presentation marks the first time their work will be shown alongside one another – the presentation is a homage of sorts to the artistic dialogue of the late 20th-century New York scene.

Swavely’s style includes laying out her canvases on the floor, allowing gravity to aid in shaping the piece and telling a more intriguing story. Gestural abstraction is her credo. With this strategy and other playfully subversive production techniques, she produces works like Silver #OID (2024), a sweeping prairie of grey ash cut by the blazing orange of a middle-set column. Uglow, rising from the neighbouring world of minimalist abstraction, leads with geometric shapes and simplicity that allow his other efforts (thickening stretch bars to allow his paintings to protrude farther from the wall, utilising dozens of paint layers in his work) to express his goals for the pieces in a holistic manner.

Tara Downs
Tsai Yun-Ju, The Scent Index, 2024. Oil on canvas, 47.25×70.75in. Courtesy of the artist and Tara Downs.

The selection of work by Tara Downs’ namesake gallery is perhaps one of the most current in theme at the fair. Tsai Yun-Ju throws sprays of pastel colours, grassy greens, aqua blue, and various other bright shades across four canvases referencing technology, nature, and diverse historical lineages of art. Her style has evolved from darker iterations of these works, including the particularly moving Self Portrait (2020), while maintaining the emphasis on delicate brush strokes and thoughtful movement. About the works, Yun-Ju said:

“I have found that I’m not only attracted to the concept of conflict but also fascinated by watching life’s dramatic, ever-changing process of beauty and ugliness, temperance and obscenity, refinement and vulgarity.”

The selection also comes at an apt time – given a bevy of shown works currently exploring the world of technology around us, from Harold Cohen’s AARON presentation at the Whitney Museum, which chronicles the foundations of AI in art, to Arthur Jafa’s BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG, which reimages his multi-medium work across film, sculpture, and photography through an immersive series of installations at 52Walker.

Franklin Parrasch Gallery x parrasch heijnen
Teresa Tolliver, Untitled (Wild Things), 2010-2013. Mixed media, 34 x 36 x 20 in. Courtesy of Franklin Parrasch Gallery and parrasch heijnen.

One of the two collaborative exhibitions highlighted in this article, they’ve both made the cut for a good reason. Franklin Parrasch Gallery x parrasch heijnen presents the paintings of Joan Snyder alongside three sculptures by Teresa Tolliver. Both artists come from rich and deep creative contexts. One can look back on the fifty years of Snyder’s career and clearly see the trajectory of the uniquely recognisable and feminist approach she brings to her work. She pulls from intimate personal experience and unconventional materials, developing a practice that is rife with lessons about her lived experience.

Tolliver presents a refreshing selection of ceramic sculptures utilising found objects and items she has acquired at swap meets. Her works tend to range in size and appearance (ruddy earth tones and natural ephemera abound throughout, to be sure), with the three on view at the fair presenting as an unconventional family of animals – perched, paused, and gazing into the eyes of viewers.

Charles Moffett
Lily Stockman, Border of Camellias, 2024. Oil on linen. 14″ x 11″, Photo by Ed Mumford.
Courtesy of the artist and Charles Moffett.

In a series of firsts, Charles Moffett makes its Independent debut with a solo presentation of new paintings by Los-Angeles based artist Lily Stockman, her first New York exhibition since her last show with the gallery in fall 2022. With its apt location, Stockman’s works are not far off from the New York skyline (all speculation), with silhouettes of the Empire State or Chrysler Building shrouded in ochre rings and tertiary colors reminiscent of her distinctive palette.

Pleasantly, the work contains a range of throughlines as aforesaid while maintaining an air of gusto in each of the pieces – glowing curves and crackling orange fire hugging Red Right Returning, 2024 and The Concert Hall, 2024 and the more pared-down Dovecote, 2024 and First Green is Gold, 2024 engaging with Stockman’s focus on melancholy in the wet greens and blues of early spring.

Lévy Gorvy Dayan
Alison Watt, Peale, 2018. Oil on canvas. 72 x 72 in. Courtesy of the artist and Lévy Gorvy Dayan.

Drinking in Alison Watt’s Peale (2018) is a practice in letting go and submitting to the focus, consideration, and serenity she brings forth in her work. Lévy Gorvy Dayan is showing two of her other recent works, Plain (2022) and Reversed Canvas (2017), as part of a solo presentation this week. One of the foremost painters in the UK, Watt has explored manifold ways to portray the human character, with her later work on inanimate objects arising from their important use in the background of earlier pieces.

“There’s an old adage about the first shadow in a painting being that of the artist as it falls across the canvas. It’s a wonderful idea, the shadow within the painting; that something other that we can’t quite understand,” Watt shares. The clear visual language is both easily digestible and compelling, shadows licking the corners of her subjects in a thoughtful fashion. Her Independent showing coincides with Lévy Gorvy Dayan’s solo exhibition at the gallery, now running through June 28, 2024.

Written by Sam Falb