"We were trying to find a solution to these narrow, persistent problems of fairs and how they assist galleries in terms of their economies and how they function. There’s a reluctance of many galleries to take part in fairs, but it’s like a catch-22— they’re obliged to take part, but they find them unsatisfactory in terms of a place to see art, or a place for artists to present their work. The idea was to really create something of a hybrid— something that wasn’t exactly a fair, although there was a commercial aspect, and wasn’t exactly an exhibition, though it perhaps resembled one.
"We also wanted to break down some of those hierarchies that exist in the art world between the blue-chip galleries—the galleries that do resale, the more established commercial galleries—and the emerging young galleries, and then also the galleries that are outside of those narratives. For me, it was an interesting opportunity to create space for all kinds of art, a marketplace for all kinds of art, where you’d see things alongside one another that you perhaps wouldn’t typically encounter elsewhere. I don’t think one could necessarily say that it’s a curated exhibition, but it’s definitely a curated forum or curated platform. From the outset, for me, it was very interesting to have more ‘maverick’ dealers included in the mix."
-Matthew Higgs, Founding Curatorial Advisor
Independent was conceived and initiated in 2009 with a consortium of like-minded commercial and non-profit galleries. The first edition took place in the former Dia Center for the Arts and former home of X Initiative at 548 West 22nd Street. This was the first fair to take place in a former museum, a landmark building in Chelsea’s gallery district. The inaugural edition included 40 international exhibitors in March 2010.
Following the critical success of the first three editions, in 2014 Independent launched Independent Projects—a two-week platform of solo exhibitions during New York's auction week in November 2014. In 2016, Independent expanded to Europe in a partnership with the City of Brussels with three annual editions to date, incorporating a live performance commission series, that became central to the fair’s model. That same year in 2016, Independent relocated the New York edition of the fair from Chelsea to Spring Studios in Tribeca. As the founding visual cultural partner of Spring Studios and Spring Place, Independent joins the ecosystem of Tribeca Film Festival as one of two public events to take place annually in this location
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