The Best Shows to See in New York During Frieze Week 2022

From Lorraine O’Grady’s photocollages from the 1990s at Alexander Gray Associates to Kiyan Williams’s deep-fried American Flags at Lyles & King, these are the must-see shows

BY Travis Diehl in Critic's Guides , Exhibition Reviews , US Reviews | 20 MAY 22

David Muenzer

Dracula’s Revenge

07 May – 12 June 2022

David Muenzer Solo III, 2021 Colored pencil on paper 11 x 15 inches (27.9 x 38.1 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Dracula's Revenge, New York. Photo: Jason Mandella.
David Muenzer, Solo III, 2021, colored pencil on paper, 28 × 38 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Dracula's Revenge, New York; photograph: Jason Mandella

Witness the lives of the ‘globe heads’ portrayed in David Muenzer’s ongoing suite of drawings. On one level, they are corny monstrosities engaged in banal struggles of the sort seen in the off moments of Hollywood comedies; on another, they are fitting avatars for thick-headed globalists about to immolate from UV exposure but too stubborn to care. The bizarre conceit – globes for heads – jabs at the scope of figurative painting now in vogue, and is executed with a kind of eerie confidence. In the one painting on view, three red-on-white line-drawn globe heads huddle together in a realistically hued landscape. The custom-made rug on the floor of the space parodies a diagram that charts the various deck styles throughout the years of the of the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering.

Kiyan Williams

Lyles & King

12 May – 25 June 2022

Kiyan Williams How Do You Properly Fry An American Flag, 2022 Nylon flag, flour, paprika, acrylic coat 4 x 6 inches, 10.2 x 15.2 cm
Kiyan Williams, How Do You Properly Fry An American Flag, 2022, nylon flag, flour, paprika and acrylic coat, 10 × 15 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Lyles & King, New York; photograph: Charles Benton

A group of humanoid sculptures made from packed soil hold sway in the back room, some with platinum-blonde wigs, one with eyes, one without a head. The dirty Mylar flooring under them creates a sort of bad, upskirt effect. The highlight here is the row of deep-fried American flags. Williams has treated each miniature Stars and Stripes slightly differently, experimenting with levels of breading, spicing and cook time, while arranging the blue canton in the top left, bottom right, and so on – variously signaling mourning, distress and assault. This series of flags is titled ‘How Do You Properly Fry An American Flag?’ (2020–ongoing) – they seem crispy enough to actually eat. 

Izzy Barber

James Fuentes

11 May – 11 June 2022

Izzy Barber Union Pool III, 2022 Signed, titled, and dated verso Oil on canvas 11 x 9 inches (IB/P 11229)
Izzy Barber, Union Pool III, 2022, oil on canvas, 28 × 23 cm. Courtesy: the artist and James Fuentes

There is something both charming and stubborn about Izzy Barber’s little paintings of nothing moments. Although they are almost impressionist in their art historical bent – big brush strokes and moody tones – her tableaux are nonetheless thoroughly contemporary in their relentless cataloguing of the unremarkable. Or, rather, they depict moments forced into remarkableness by the artist's insistence on sketching them out, on capturing the likes of a finger on the button of a subway-train door. To one side here there are images of subway riders, loose studies of seated passengers, sometimes the yellow pole of the car slicing down the canvas in a single canary stroke – to the other, tungsten bar scenes, with caulk-coloured figures in blurry weak marks that appear to flit into the frame. The kinds of pictures you find on your phone the morning after a big night out in New York.

Anna-Sophie Berger


13 May – 18 June 2022

Anna-Sophie Berger Occam's Razor, 2022 aluminum ladders, zip ties 21.50h x 21w x 121d in 54.61h x 53.34w x 307.34d cm
Anna-Sophie Berger, Occam's Razor, 2022, aluminum ladders and zip ties, 55 × 53 × 307 cm. Courtesy: the artist and JTT, New York; photograph: Charles Benton

‘Sin’ is the title of Anna-Sophie Berger’s latest outing at JTT. It’s holy to see the trend in Catholic aesthetics reaching visual art. The show is crammed together, using just one wall and a few square metres of an otherwise spacious gallery. The installation is made up of two mannequins. One wears the purple velvet of popes, but reimagined as crummy drapery attended by plastic green playground frogs. The other drapes a mud-spattered white dress. On the wall, a clothing pattern cut from photocopies of Dante’s Divine Comedy (1320) has been spatchcocked into angel wings. A photo collage of repeated stock photos takes the triptych form of an altarpiece. To the left, factory farms and hunting; to the right, snakes. In the middle, babies and cute animals. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is Paradise, which is Earth and which is Hell.

Richard Prince

Gagosian, West 21st Street

10 May – 25 June 2022

Richard Prince, Hoods, 2022, installation view, Gagosian
Richard Prince, ‘Hoods’, 2022, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Gagosian; photograph: Rob McKeever

Even before he started using his blue-chip, blue-check clout to stalk young women online, Prince never let you forget he has a penis. The through line from Marlboro Man to Nightcore Girl is the artist’s confused blend of bragging and critique – collecting Americana as an artform, to be collected in turn. In this scheme of things, the car hood paintings offer a nigh-on transcendent mix of Bondo and pigment with a subtlety of Rothko sherbet, and do so maybe despite themselves – as evidenced here by a stripped-down muscle car with plywood hood, or a grey hood with basketball hoop attached. Prince misfires by straying too far from the great American highway of big-dick modernism.

Alfredo Jaar

Galerie Lelong

13 May – 25 June 2022

Alfredo Jaar What Need is There to Weep Over Parts of Life? The Whole of it Calls for Tears, 2018 Neon Dimensions variable Photo © Maki Ochoa
Alfredo Jaar, What Need is There to Weep Over Parts of Life? The Whole of it Calls for Tears, 2018, neon, dimensions variable. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Lelong & Co; photograph: Maki Ochoa

Jaar himself contributes a single work here: an unpunctuated, barely spaced spread of red-neon letters that quotes the philosopher Seneca’s famous words: ‘WHAT NEED IS THERE TO WEEP OVER PARTS OF LIFE? THE WHOLE OF IT CALLS FOR TEARS.’ Yeah, about that: the real event here is a dense, wall-to-wall group show that Jaar has curated in a side gallery, featuring work made in response to different repressive forces. You’ll find documentary images of Yoko Ono’s performance Cut Piece (1964) cheek by jowl with Nancy Spero’s War drawings, and documentation of David Hammons’s Blizz-aard Ball Sale (1983) in conversation with a delicate slipper of crocheted copper wire by Marisa Merz, and a Félix González-Torrez double pile of wrapped Bazooka bubblegum subtitled Welcome Back Heroes (1991), across from Art Worker’s Coalition’s image of the atrocities committed by US soldiers during the My Lai Massacre of 1968 in Q: And Babies? A: And babies (1970). 

Lorraine O’Grady

Alexander Gray

28 April – 11 June 2022

Installation view: Lorraine O'Grady: Body Is the Ground of My Experience, Alexander Gray Associates, New York, 2022
Lorraine O'Grady, ‘Body Is the Ground of My Experience’, 2022, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Alexander Gray Associates, New York

This small show offers some of O’Grady’s witty photocollages from the early 1990s: pre-Adobe scissors-and-glue stuff that plays with the figure-ground of the artist’s body. A palm tree (The Fir-Palm, 1991/2019) and a mandala of toy battleships (Lilith Sends Out the Destroyers, 1991/2019)  sprout from hills of Black skin; and two sets of four shoulder shots (Gaze and Dream, both 1991/2019) sees a  version of the same image of each model collaged, in a smaller-scale image, onto their own neck. Our eyes jostle between their two faces. Are the bigger ones maybe smiling a little more, or maybe the small ones are edging towards neutral?

Tristan Unrau

56 Henry

12 May – 19 June 2022

Tristan Unrau Dramatic Pictures, 2022 Oil on linen 47 x 38 in (119.4 x 96.5 cm)
Tristan Unrau, Dramatic Pictures, 2022, oil on linen, 119 × 97 cm. Courtesy: the artist, 56 Henry, New York and Sebastian Gladstone, Los Angeles

In Tristan Unrau’s ‘Dramatic Pictures’ at 56 Henry Street, a handful of paintings, each considerably different from one another, fill a small room. Here, a jittery cartoon living room (Dramatic Pictures, 2022), there, a fantastic thunderbolt rending the dawn of time (Dramatic Landscape, 2022). A scumbly close-up of a frightened face fills Le Cercle Rouge (2022) – and in its lower corner, a further incongruity: a super-flat rat layered over the brushstrokes in a wholly disparate style. What is the moody figure afraid of: the rat or the collapsing of art histories? Meanwhile, in Encounters (2022), a golden-hour battle between a submarine, destroyer and zeppelin, all grey and misplaced on the seas of hallucinated time.

Main image: Anna-Sophie Berger, ‘Sin’, 2022, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and JTT, New York; photograph: Charles Benson

Travis Diehl is online editor at X-TRA. He is a recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and the Rabkin Prize in Visual Arts Journalism.