There’s usually a picture-perfect view of the Hollywood sign from the balcony of what was once Cary Grant’s Spanish Colonial Revival house in Los Feliz, the hilly neighborhood in Los Angeles by Griffith Park. But last Friday was one of the approximately three-dozen days a year
when it rains in L.A., and the sign was obscured by rolling clouds, nothing visible beyond the hanging gardens that engulf the house.
“It’s actually great
that it’s raining,” said Jeffrey Deitch, bounding down the stairs of the classic La La Land manse, which he purchased in 2010, passing
wall work and plenty of technicolor
sofas. “We’ve been desperate for it.”
Deitch has been spending more time in Los Angeles as he readies a new 15,000-square-foot gallery out here for its September opening
—his grand return to the West Coast after leaving the directorship of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art
(MOCA) in 2013—and this particular weekend was a critical one. The run-up to the Academy Awards ceremony sees Los Angeles at its most frenzied, but it’s also a key window for the city’s galleries to show off for the art-collecting entertainment big shots—and, increasingly, tech world titans—who fly into town for the festivities. And he’s not the only one placing a big bet on L.A. in early spring. Next year, Los Angeles will officially become a stop on the global art world circuit when Frieze opens a fair in Paramount Studios, which will run the week prior to the Oscars festivities, creating a two-week boondoggle for collectors to snap up canvases and hit all the movie parties.
Why hasn’t this happened before? Several international art fairs have, in fact, tried and failed to set up shop in Los Angeles. FIAC, the Paris fair which will have its 45th edition this October, was set to open an edition here in 2015, but it was first postponed, and then canceled. Paris Photo had an L.A. iteration from 2013 to 2015, but cancelled the fair after just three years because, as a representative for the parent company put it
, “the level of sales during Paris Photo Los Angeles is not sufficient to support such a Fair and to offer our exhibitors the best conditions of return on their investment.”
But Deitch insists that this time is different.
“I was there when Norman Braman was trying to bring Art Basel to Miami Beach, and that’s what this feels like,” Deitch said, walking past the stained glass windows that were built into the house.
“Everyone is going to come, it will be just a new spot on the schedule—Asian collectors, Latin American collectors,” Deitch said. “People want to be a part of the scene here—they can relax here.”
Los Angeles does share a number of elements that made Miami such an attractive city for a European-based art fair company to put down roots. There’s a ravenous and unabashedly rich base of collectors both young and old, clusters of white-hot galleries, big mansions with wallspace to be filled, and museums that constantly need to replenish their holdings with fresh material. There’s a rich institutional landscape full of deep-pocketed boards—the Hammer Museum
that it has raised $133 million of a $180 million fundraising goal, LACMA
inched closer to its long-awaited new building with a $150 million donation
from David Geffen, and the Getty
is still attracting new donors
despite being the richest art institution on earth, with an endowment of nearby $7 billion. There are also newer private museums, such as the Broad
(founded by Eli Broad, dubbed
the “Lorenzo de’ Medici of Los Angeles” by The New Yorker
) and the Marciano Art Foundation, and George Lucas is building his $1 billion museum in the city’s Exposition Park, set to open in 2021.
Frieze may have more of a fighting chance to succeed where others failed, thanks to a built-in entree into Tinseltown’s inner sanctum: mega-agent Ari Emanuel, whose company Endeavor—a talent and events business that reps Ben Affleck, Tina Fey, and others—purchased an initially undisclosed slice of Frieze in 2016; ArtReview later pegged the stake at 70 percent
. Deitch himself is one degree away from Frieze—he is Emanuel’s informal advisor and often curates shows from work in Emanuel’s collections
. For Emanuel’s famed pre-Oscars party on Saturday night, attended by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Emma Stone, Deitch chose work by young artists of color to install at the bash, which was held at a Beverly Hills home that formerly belonged to Paul McCartney.
In the days leading up to the Oscars, the city’s rapidly intensifying art-social circuit was on full display, with a number of openings, dinner parties, and plenty of art being sold. The spree began as early as Wednesday, when Guess co-founders Maurice and Paul Marciano hosted a dinner for the opening of ’s Reality projector
(2018) at the private museum they opened last year, located in a former Masonic Temple on the outskirts of Koreatown. That was a mere run-up for Thursday’s festivities, the opening of the annual Oscar week show at Gagosian
’s Los Angeles outpost.