The 10 Best Booths at Frieze Los Angeles
Art collectors and dealers in Los Angeles woke up Thursday morning to find that the opening day of the first-ever Frieze Los Angeles would be one of the few dozen occurrences of rain per year in the City of Angels. But despite the torrential downpour that threatened flooding in parts of town, throngs of people made the trek to Paramount Pictures Studios for the fair’s morning VIP opening, including collectors such as Michael Ovitz, Marty Eisenberg, and Don and Mera Rubell, as well as actors including Brad Pitt, Michael Keaton, Jodie Foster, and Sylvester Stallone.
The scene under the tent was a leaner and meaner Frieze offering, with 70 exhibitors, in contrast to the usual 160 in London, and galleries generally brought work a notch above the wares hawked at Frieze’s New York outpost. Sales were coming in, too—Hauser & Wirth sold its booth-sized Lévy Gorvy sold Spirale III (2002) with an asking price of $1.2 million and Infinity Nets (B-A-Y) (2001) with an asking price of $1.6 million.
The opening came as the art world takes Tinseltown by storm. In addition to Frieze, fairs such as Art Los Angeles Contemporary, Felix LA, and Spring/Break Art Show are opening their doors this week. Collectors such as Ovitz and Jumex fruit heir Eugenio Lopez are opening their homes for cocktail parties; White Cube is taking over the notorious Chateau Marmont hotel for a wild bash; and Jay-Z and Beyoncé made an appearance at the opening of a show co-presented by Swizz Beatz at UTA Artist Space.
But let’s not let all the hubbub get in the way of the art. Here are the best 10 booths at the first edition of Frieze Los Angeles.
A mic drop of an art fair booth. Instead of carefully selecting a grab-bag of artworks from its formidable roster of some of the world’s greatest living artists, Hauser & Wirth decided to show a single work, and it is a doozy.
It’s a bit of a homecoming for the work: After Kelley completed it two decades ago in Los Angeles, the work sold to a European collection that loaned it to museums in Europe, but never any in the United States. And it now goes to another European collector, a foundation that wished to not be named. In a statement, Hauser & Wirth partner and vice president Marc Payot said, “For us this was a non-commercial endeavor, but to our delight we have placed the installation within the first hours of the fair.”
In deference to the strong gallery scene here in La La Land, Frieze made sure the first two galleries that visitors saw when they entered the tent were Blum & Poe, one of Los Angeles’s foundational galleries, and David Kordansky Gallery, which has been most closely associated with L.A.’s rise as a world-class art city. While Blum & Poe opted for a group booth to showcase all of its local artists, Kordansky gave the whole booth to one L.A.-based artist,
Here, Andrews chose to investigate gender-based power dynamics, and how they relate to the film industry’s myth-making. The point of entry is the Black Dahlia murder, the grisly killing of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short that remains unsolved. The wall works feature dahlia flowers, while a sculpture uses film props—a German soldier’s helmet, a pig’s head, a woman’s torso—to reference Short’s killing, while also highlighting the objectification of women’s bodies in Hollywood. The work proved to be a hit. By the end of the day, 11 wall works had sold for $40,000 a pop, and a sculpture involving a prop from Terminator 2: Judgement Day sold for $85,000.
Park View / Paul Soto
With works by Mark A. Rodriguez
Looking across the tent towards the booth of local outfit Park View / Paul Soto, one could be forgiven for thinking that the works on view, by Los Angeles–based artist Mark A. Rodriguez, were
Though this is a seemingly impossible number of recordings of Grateful Dead, it’s not complete. A press release explains that the work is less about Jerry Garcia and more about investigating the “ritual activity of attempting to ‘complete’ a collection.” One thing was completed during the first hours of the fair: The gallery sold one of the two available works to the collector Beth Rudin DeWoody.
With works by Judy Chicago
Perhaps more than any other dealer showing in the fair, the existence of Frieze Los Angeles can be tied to Jeffrey Deitch. He’s the art advisor to Ari Emanuel, who, in 2016, purchased a 50–70 percent stake in Frieze through his talent agency, Endeavor, and one year later, Deitch announced plans to open another gallery space not far from the fairgrounds at Paramount Pictures Studios. Up now at that space is “People,” an exhibition of figurative sculpture, but Deitch’s fair booth shows abstract studies on paper by pioneering feminist artist
Deitch discovered the airy, pastel-colored drawings during a visit to Chicago’s studio, where he found them stored in a drawer, unseen since the 1970s. Similarly, the large sculpture that fills the booth, Zig Zag (1965/2019), was refabricated for the fair after Chicago abandoned plans to make it in the ’60s. The artist, who worked in Los Angeles for many years, will have a show at Deitch’s L.A. gallery in September.
With works by Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman, Karen Kilimnik, Lizzie Fitch, Ryan Trecartin, and Senga Nengudi
In 2014, German gallery powerhouse Sprüth Magers announced that it would be leapfrogging over New York and opening its first stateside gallery in Los Angeles. In the years since it opened, the outpost has become one of the city’s foremost galleries, hosting exhibitions of its stacked roster of artists at a two-story space across the street from LACMA. This week, it opened a new show by
Ruby’s been focused on his vitrine-like sculptures and canvases incorporating flags and fabrics, but the new show begins with his first video work in nearly a decade, which is mostly aerial footage of correctional facilities; and some truly horrifying new sculptures, giant skulls with Day-Glo electric-shock wigs. (Haters be damned: “Damnation” is an utterly freaky delight.) There’s no Ruby in the booth at Frieze, but Sprüth Magers placed works by
French artist Perrotin’s Frieze L.A. booth is indeed quite graphic. But the Los Angeles–based artist keeps it PG for her solo booth at Night Gallery, where the large paintings on dyed fabrics depict a group of debutants in a sorority squat pose and a girls’ soccer team ready to play. One portrait was made on a fleece blanket, and gallery sales director William Hathaway said that it was okay for me to touch the side of it. Reader: That painting is soft! Hathaway reported that two of the large-scale works had sold, with the other two on hold. An overheard comment from a collector as I left summed it up: “I don’t care how long I have to wait, I just want one.”
The biggest downside of having rainy, cloudy weather in Los Angeles is that you can’t take a dip in the pool. What’s this city of sun and fun without the cerulean swimming pools so gauzily captured by the likes of
One art fair trend that was so prevalent in Miami but oddly absent here: the proliferation of dozens of mirror works. Could it be possible that L.A. collectors like looking at themselves less than Miami collectors? Anyway, a hit of mirror art came blissfully in the form of showstopping solo booth at König Galerie, from Berlin. Twisted Geometric Mirrors I (2016) catches reflections from all different angles, and Vertical Cut (2017) places mirror foil on an aluminum frame and slices a cut in the middle of it, à la
With works by Sanya Kantarovsky
There was very little that was quiet about the opening day of Frieze Los Angeles. The tightened-up exhibitors list left no room for fat, and every gallery brought their A-game to out-shout the gallery next to them. And, hey, when done right, there’s nothing wrong with making a loud gesture. But still, one had to appreciate the booth of a gallery like Modern Art, the London concern run by dealer Stuart Shave that brought lovely, soft-looking watercolors by
With works by John Baldessari, Steve McQueen, Thomas Struth, and Lawrence Weiner
It’s not quite an understatement to say that the art scene in Los Angeles would not exist without
While the Baldessari works nod subtly to California, Broken Column (2014), a sculpture of Zimbabwe black granite. It has no direct connection to California, but it makes sense that the only contemporary artist with an Oscar for Best Picture has work in a fair at a movie studio.
Nate Freeman is Artsy’s Senior Reporter.