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THE ART DADDY’S ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ART DADDY FAIR SPOTTING

Photography courtesy of TEFAF/Loraine Bodewes Fotografie


To say that May in New York City is a busy time of year in the art world is an understatement. The month is marked with multiple major auction sales across Christie's, Sotheby's, and Phillip's. But most importantly, it's the height of art fair season here. COVID did change the fair schedule, and in some ways for the better. Now there are more daddies jammed into my spring viewing season than ever before. To me, this is the most wonderful time of year when art dads from all corners of the globe converge on my fair city for two glorious weeks. 


Within a two week period there are multiple art fairs including the major four ones: New Art Dealers Association (NADA), Frieze NY, Independent, and TEFAF NY. THIS IS PEAK ART DADDY SEASON. New collector daddies. Miami Daddies. Mega Gallery Daddies. Dealer Daddies. European daddies. You name it, and you will find every kind of possible daddy varietal at the fairs.


While it's true that each fair does have its own unique feeling and general attitude it cultivates, the same can be said about the daddies and crowds found at them. My appetite for art daddies is generally omnivorous; and by going to each fair over the years, I have honed my skills to differentiate one kind  from another. On the surface they all may appear to be the same, but the truth is they are different. With that in mind, I give you the New York Art Daddy Fair Guide for 2024. 


This guide is ranked by where you can find the best daddies. We love a ranked situation. 


TEFAF NY May 10- 14, 2024.

Photography courtesy of TEFAF/Anna Brady


To me, The European Art Fair New York edition is the epitome of luxury in the NYC art fair circuit, and the world over.  Here you can find some of the finest daddies spanning two continents and beyond. Held at the famed Park Avenue Armory, usually when just walking into the venue, I tend to get a high contact just from spotting a daddy in a well tailored European suit. It makes all the difference (here’s looking at you, Nate Freeman).


This fair is the best of the best in my opinion when it comes to daddies. And the VIP opening alone could easily put me into a daddy comma. With the champagne flowing, free oysters being shucked by model daddies in training and the well dressed middle aged men slurping them down and buying art this is the epitome of daddy watching. There are more times than I can count where I almost felt a stroke coming on. 


It is a feast for the eyes and Europe is well represented here given the nature of the fair. For those who have attended TEFAF Maastricht know that the daddies there bring their A game. As for the the New York edition; it’s no different. To me, this fair is the height of daddy spotting. If you are after a cultured, older, well dressed, and probably less socially liberal daddy this is your fair. While we can always work their politics, hopefully, here is where the European daddies of my dreams live: outside of their home countries and inside the hallowed auction house walls at least. 


Getting them outside of Europe, working a fair booth in their TEFAF finest, and adding a few glasses of champs to the mix is all you need to get them and you going. I promise the price of admission for this fair pays for itself in daddies alone and hopefully the business cards you will get. 


Independent May 9-12, 2024

Photography courtesy of Artnews/Masato Onoda


Independent can offer quite a range of daddies. Happening yearly in TriBeCa, this fair attracts an interesting mix of sophisticated New York art world types, sprinkled in with European dads who are after something specific. For me, it's the best of both worlds and allows me to cruise in a very deliberate way. 


The 2024 edition will feature over 80 galleries, which is bigger than Frieze this year. There is a lot to think about when it comes to NY daddies and this comes up at Independent in particular, so it's the best of both worlds. I can find a range here, the location itself is sublime, and in my opinion is the best real estate and location for daddies and daddy spotting. They are well dressed and within their big vocabulary is a well hidden art agenda. While a more understated fair by far compared to TEFAF, I do love my New York daddies and you will find plenty of them here. And a few surprises along the way. 


Frieze New York May 1-5, 2024

Photograph courtesy of Frieze/Anna Haines


Launched in 2012, Frieze New York has always been known to cause a scene in the best possible way. While many remember the heyday of the fair on Randall's Island, in 2021, the fair jumped ship for a new location at The Shed. Despite its horrendous location––close to Hudson Yards and the hideous wasp nest like- Vessel, which was recently reopened, the fair is worth the trek for the daddies alone. Expect to be wow-ed - just not as impressed as TEFAF, in my opinion. The escalators here kill it for me too, it's a little like a department store. 


This year's edition will feature over 60 galleries spanning across 20 countries, which means there will be a very international crowd represented. You can expect the same fare as it translates to daddies as well. Frieze NY still tends to be the fair you-want-to-be-seen-at and there is a lot to see there in general both art and people wise. For a Frieze daddy, you can expect a range from well tailored European suits to the intentional daddy uniform of khakis, New Balances or something equivalent, sports jacket, and a statement shirt. These dads tend to be well informed on current art issues, are usually 45+, have done some big deals and are looking for something that will help make their collection grow. Hopefully in more ways than one. 


NADA  May 2-5, 2024

Photography courtesy of NADA/Yvonne Tnt


The New Art Dealers Association (NADA): while it does have some exciting programming throughout the years, such as their house on Govenor’s Island, it tends to be a scrappier fair. Location and presentation wise it's pale in comparison to the other fairs, but the daddies do come through here. This fair may surprise you art and daddy wise given the crowd. It truly is an eclectic mix of downtown gallery owner daddies, some young(er) European daddies in training, artist daddies and more. 


If you are after something that is a little off the daddy beaten path (and art too) this fair is for you. You will likely find adventurous DIY daddies with bold shoe and fashion choices that the other fairs might not attract. They tend to be a bit friendlier here too, so be sure to pack extra business cards.


 

The Art Daddy is a Brooklyn, New York-based daddy influencer and writer. AD runs the art world Instagram juggernaut account @theartdaddy_ and a weekly substack with the same name dedicated to all daddy and art things. 

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