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This is an image of an installation of artwork by Anna Tsouhlarakis in Tilton Gallery's booth at Independent 2024.

Installation view of Anna Tsouhlarakis, Tilton Gallery at Independent 2024.

The Best Booths at Independent New York, Where Muted Art Commands Maximal Attention

By Alex Greenberger
May 10, 2024

At art fairs, gallerists sometimes heed the not-so-invisible hand of the attention economy, mounting big, gauche presentations that seem designed to be photographed first and appreciated second. But spare, unflashy art can thrive at a fair, too, and the newly opened edition of Independent New York offers solid proof of that.

This year’s Independent, which opened its preview at Spring Studios in Tribeca on Thursday, is alive with energy in more than a few of its booths, but the jolts that the fair offers are largely gentle. That’s a good thing.

There are no artistic stunts and no mega-galleries at this fair, whose 77 exhibitors are predominantly mid-size operations. As has been the case in the past at Independent, which this year turns 15, the emphasis is on glossy, sleek art with an international flavor.

The fair is guilty of aesthetic conservatism—the vast majority of the work on view is painting, and much of it is fairly apolitical this time around. Then again, that’s the case for every art fair. This one, at least, has its pleasures. There’s a plethora of pieces by under-recognized and dead artists, and generally, there are few stars or market phenomena among the living, which means that there is new talent waiting to be noticed.

Below are eight of the best artists on view at Independent, which runs through Sunday.

Anna Tsouhlarakis at Tilton Gallery

The list of materials used by Anna Tsouhlarakis to make her sculptures are often just as intriguing as the objects themselves. SHE’S SO NATIVE SHE’LL CUT YOU WITH HER CHEEKBONE (2024), a plaster arm bound to a branch and antler, apparently has in it metal cones, scissors, screws, rabbit fur, and an object mysteriously described as an “IKEA remnant.” Whether you spot that last one is beside the point. Tsouhlarakis, a Navajo, Creek, and Greek artist, has created sculptures that are deliberately dense and indecipherable—they contain elements that escape the gaze of leery eyes. In related paintings, Tsouhlarakis seems to reflect this tendency onto her identity as a Native woman. One painting is lined with barely visible memes parodying the supposed difficulties of dating Indigenous women. On top, Tsouhlarakis has printed a threatening message to its viewers: “HER EYES CUT QUICKER THAN A SWITCHBLADE.”