For its New York debut, the Frieze Art Fair was held on Randall's Island Park, in an expansive 225,000 sf. tented structure custom-designed by Brooklyn architecture firm Solid Objectives — Idenburg Liu (SO — IL). Many Manhattanites were skeptical at first of the location choice, but access to the fair was made easy by regular ferry trips, shuttles from the subway, or quick cab rides from Manhattan. Attendees seemed to enjoy the adventure associated with going to a dedicated self-sufficient location, where they were greeted with outdoor sculptures and installations upon arriving on the island.
The fair hosted 180 international contemporary galleries, representing over 1,000 of today's most important artists. Critics argued that the fair did not bring enough newness and lacked risk-taking on the part of the galleries, but that did not seem to hinder the business of art, with many galleries reporting significant sales on the first day. Overall, the event was well produced, and the high quality of the galleries represented were positive factors that would most likely encourage the fair's subsequent return to New York. In addition, the tasty food vendors nourishing Frieze visitors certainly trumped most trade fair food options.
Repeating themes throughout the fair involved conveying and challenging notions of time and space, as with Darren Almond's piece Perfect Time. The use of color provided splashes of energy, such as Paul McCarthy's blue silicone sculpture portraying the dwarf Sleepy from the classic, Snow White. Many artists created works from found objects, like used clothing tacked compositionally to wood in Tom Burr's These Patterns of Public Display. Other mediums ranged from traditional to unconventional, such as acrylic paint, paper, canvas, wood, textiles, plastic, mirrors, glass, metal, resin, and not to be neglected, Damien Hirst's formaldehyde-preserved dead animals. Physical floor or wall installations and sculptures seemed to dominate the show over paintings, drawings, and video. Design and art overlapped on occasion, with some works serving to both aesthetic and function, such as Andrea Zittel's Aggregated Stacks and Richard Artschwager's impressive red oak and cowhide chairs.