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Frieze New York 2021

Frieze New York 2021: A Day with Rebecca Ann Siegel

Frieze Director of Americas and Content, Rebecca Ann Siegel shares her routine and useful tips for a typical day during Frieze New York

BY Rebecca Ann Siegel in Frieze New York , Frieze Week Magazine | 26 APR 21

5:30 AM

With key colleagues five hours ahead in London and three behind in Los Angeles, my days always start early and end late. Luckily, I like coffee. The first thing I do before I get out of bed, is the New York Times mini crossword on my phone. If I finish in under 60 seconds, it’ll be a good day. Then headlines from the Times, the Financial Times, and a few daily emails: Howard Wolfson and Fred Wilson’s are almost always worth opening. Then I scan for urgent emails and messages before I get dressed. In the Before Times, I was always in high heels. I’m not convinced I still know how to walk in those, though, so this year will be flats. Brilliant friends who work at galleries can rock a sneaker and look smart, but I am not one of those people. I did however shop at Matchesfashion even before I worked at Frieze.

Rebecca Ann Siegel Portrait
Rebecca Ann Siegel

7:00 AM

For most visitors coming to Frieze New York, I’d suggest taking the 7 train directly to Hudson Yards, or the A/C/E or 1/2/3 to Penn Station – do not miss the new installations by Elmgreen & Dragset, Kehinde Wiley, and Stan Douglas, all part of the renovation of Moynihan Station. Or, if wearing said high heels, take a rideshare app to 30th Street and 10th Avenue. I live in NoMad, so I’m lucky to be able to walk. It’s about 20 minutes, longer if I stop for coffee – I’m closest to Stumptown where I’ll get an Americano, in part because it’s faster than drip. I’ve spent a lot of the pandemic at my house in Bellport (Long Island), and it’s so good to be back in the city, to absorb the energy and sociability again. But, for a deep breath and a moment’s peace just before I get into The Shed, I’ll take a turn on the High Line – a different view of the city, and Simone Leigh’s Brick House should still be up – frankly, you can’t see that work enough times…

8:00 AM

Inside The Shed, it’s all hands on deck: internal meetings, press briefings, checking any last-minute concerns from exhibitors and operations. It’s been a unique challenge to present our first in person fair since the pandemic began, but our new partners at The Shed have been incredible, and the enthusiasm from our community of galleries and artists makes it all worth it.

11:00 AM

We’ll start to welcome our first guests at this time. It’ll be a different atmosphere this year, with just over 60 galleries at The Shed, and for the first time, our simultaneous presentation of over 150 galleries on Frieze Viewing Room. Those joining us digitally have much to see, and for our audience in New York, we’ve created a booking system with allocated time slots to ensure safety and manage crowd flow. Less ‘Katy, bar the door!’ than what we were used to at fairs pre-pandemic. I suggest visitors start by taking the escalators all the way up to the 8th floor on arrival, and then work their way down level by level. After a year apart from each other, I think the energy will be quite electric – so I’d suggest a glass of Ruinart champagne to take the edge off. (I speak from experience when I say: always start with champagne.)

Be sure to watch footage of a new performance by Precious Okoyomon, winner of this year’s Frieze Artist Award supported by LUMA Foundation – or play around with Acute Art’s augmented reality artworks. Next, head down to the 6th floor to see presentations of artworks from Brazil, Mexico and South Korea. After that, on the 4th floor, don’t miss Frame, our special section of solo exhibitions by emerging artists, presented by galleries under 10 years old. I’m particularly excited about Olga Balema’s installation, painting by Zeinab Saleh, and Otis Houston Jr.’s sculpture. On the way to the 2nd floor, don’t miss Carrie Mae Weems’s installation, part of our tribute to the Vision & Justice Project and Professor Sarah Elizabeth Lewis.

2:30 PM 

Lunch! Let’s be honest, this doesn’t always happen, but in a dream scenario, I pick up the Flauta Jamón Serrano from Mercado Little Spain. I have eaten more Tuscan Tuna Salads from Bottino than I care to remember, so indulgent Spanish cheese on toasty bread is a welcomed change of pace.


If I were you, I’d see what’s on in the neighbourhood – including exhibitions by Lynda Benglis, Carol Bove, and Pedro Reyes, before taking a power walk down the High Line to the Whitney’s Julie Mehretu show. Frieze Week is a focal point for its host cities, and there will be wonderful shows opening around this year’s fair. frieze magazine has an amazing new feature on public art around the city’s transportation hubs: don’t miss that adventure.

6:00 PM 

New York’s heatmap is always changing, but right now it’s particularly exciting, with galleries finding homes in all kinds of new spaces and locations. For me, the walk from Tribeca to the LES is one of the most exciting paths to take, and I’ll look forward to seeing shows at James Cohan, Company Gallery, Andrew Kreps, and David Lewis. As we continue to try to live safely amidst a pandemic, openings aren’t quite the scene we remember, but there’s nothing like seeing great art in person.

9:00 PM

Dinner with friends is the only way to temporarily distract me from email.The Odeon is a classic for a reason – shameful, but true: the art world could subsist on their martinis and fries alone. My personal favourite outdoor dining is at King: the chefs are veterans of River Café, which makes my London-based colleagues happy.

10:30 PM 

Take a car home for a shower, before more email and calls, usually at this point with Los Angeles. At the end of the day, I like to look at the Frieze Viewing Room – there will be galleries from six continents taking part this year, and more technical upgrades to continue improving the user experience. I take a – slightly misanthropic? – pleasure in testing the search filters, using unusual combinations to see the range of what’s on offer: like, the most expensive work on paper, or the oldest sculpture by a woman.

11:30 PM

Into bed, to review the day’s press, go over my agenda for tomorrow and then, if I’m lucky, I’ll read a few pages of a book – Andrew Durbin, frieze’s editor-in-chief, gives excellent recommendations. Right now, I’m making my way through Klara and the Sun, Baby, I Don’t Care, and The Copenhagen Trilogy. Then to sleep and dream of vacation: I don’t know where it’ll be or when it’s coming, but it’ll be good…


This article appeared in Frieze Week, New York 2021

Rebecca Ann Siegel is a former director of Frieze. She lives and works in New York.