Frieze Launches Debut Art Fair in Los Angeles

Will this Valentine’s day see Los Angeles’s love affair with the art world re-ignite? or is it as doomed as two star crossed lovers? Frieze LA’s debut launch with executive Director Bettina Korek at the helm will certainly be hoping for the former, as she launches her first major league art fair in the city today in Paramount Picture Studios, Hollywood.

It is a tough environment to show in, with a litany of art fairs past failing to make an impression on the city. Either struggling to even get off the ground, like Paris Fair Fiac, or not managing to go the distance. Art Platform LA, Paramount Ranch and Paris Photo LA have all been and gone on the same Paramount site without success.

It also remains to be seen whether Asian art collectors will make the journey to LA, especially given current economic downturns. It takes more than 12 hours to fly in from both Europe and Asia, making Frieze LA’s lack of geographic proximity to other art-world hubs a big sticking point for collectors. The city’s sprawling landscape and notoriously heavy traffic congestion will also bring it’s own set of unique challenges to Frieze LA, but Korek remains positive and upbeat.

She has managed to pull together an impressively star studded host committee, as befitting the tinseltown location. Actor and avid art collector Tobey Maguire, Salma Hayek Pinault and her husband Francois-Henri Pinault, son of Christie’s owner, will be in attendance. Reportedly alongside majority owner Endeavor’s Serena Williams.

This branch’s showing is very small compared to the other Frieze fairs around the world. There are only 70 exhibitors in the main tent. In comparison, Frieze London has 160 exhibitors in the contemporary tent, with another 130 in Frieze Masters. With this it promises to serve up fresh works, with 49 of the 70 exhibiting galleries not having shown at an LA art fair in the past 5 years, and one third of exhibiting galleries being LA based or have a space in the city. Frieze Projects, curated by Ali Subotnick, will be showing in Paramount’s outdoor New York City backlot with a range of large-scale installations by predominantly LA based artists. Visitors can purchase a sole ticket to the backlot area, with the curated installations and specially commissioned projects set amongst the bars and restaurants.

Korek firmly believes in bringing art to a wider audience by trying to open up the art world and making it accessible for all art enthusiasts. Her business ForYourArt, launched in 2006, helps artists bring their projects to reality, and provides information on the local art scene.

At Frieze LA emerging galleries will not appear under an eponymous section as they do in the New York and London editions. Instead she has introduced a four tiered pricing structure for galleries, with the price per square foot increasing by the booth size. Ten smaller booths in the $10,000 range will be reserved for LA’s emerging to mid-sized galleries to exhibit at the front of the tent, alongside iconic galleries Lisson and Gagosian, benefiting from the position’s premium footfall. In an unprecedented move, Korek has encouraged exhibitors to reveal price ranges for the works on show, in an unofficial guide, something that galleries have previously been very tight-lipped about. But at the end of the day, if Frieze LA is to secure a foothold where others have failed, a broad range of galleries need to sell works.

Five influential artists not to miss

  1. Detroit-born artist Mike Kelley’s installation Unisex Love Nest (1999), shown for the first time in LA, exactly 20 years since it’s inception in the city
  2. New paintings and sculptures by Kim Dingle, exploring the subversive edges of female childhood and myths of nationhood
  3. One Square Club by Tom Pope, a unique space just one square metre where Pope himself will fix you a drink or sing a round of karaoke with you
  4. A solo of new works by LA-based artist Doug Aitken, widely known for his innovative fine art installations, which present a vision of Los Angeles
  5. Sarah Cain’s all encompassing painting installation housed inside a classic brownstone building on the New York Street backlot. Visitors will also be offered custom made Earl Grey infused chocolate bars created by AndSons Chocolatiers, representing the artists two greatest vices whilst painting