Last year when Frieze launched in Los Angeles, many were skeptical of how “New York’s most important art fair” would perform on the West Coast. However, following the sold-out success of its inaugural edition, the second edition of Frieze Los Angeles cemented the fair as a success in its own right.
With over 76 participating galleries, large-scale installations in the backlot behind the main tent, performances, and artist talks, the fair (which started with a preview on Thursday and was open through Sunday) packed out Paramount Pictures Studios with art investors, collectors, critics, and fans alike. The VIP preview had Leonardo DiCaprio, Natalie Portman, Usher, and The Weeknd in attendance, while Kendall Jenner became the proud owner of a new work by James Turrell.
Alongside celebrities, major collectors like Edythe Broad and Maria Hummer-Tuttle were in attendance and major art sales were made – with David Zwirner reporting more than $6 million in sales on the first day of the fair and Gladstone Gallery selling a painting by Keith Haring for $3.75 million.
Since very few of us would be able to afford such an investment, and many missed the art fair altogether, we put together the highlights of what happened over the weekend.
Untitled (Questions) by Barbara Kruger
For many, Frieze started with a deep and existential question. From the beginning of last week, a series of 20 questions popped up outside art spaces, landmarks and public spaces around Los Angeles. These pieces, in collaboration with artist Barbara Kruger and organized by Frieze Los Angeles Executive Director, Bettina Korek, included Is there life without pain? And, who do you think you are? Fitting with Kruger’s signature conceptual collage work over black-and-white photographs, the ad-like artwork popped up as green un-branded questions to set the mood for critical thinking.
New for this year, Focus L.A. was a feature section highlighting new Los Angeles spaces (open for 15 years or fewer). Curated by Rita Gonzalez, the galleries selected included gems such as Charlie James Gallery, Overduin & Co. and Various Small Fires. This was a great way to check out the work by emerging artists like Gabriella Sanchez, a politically engaged multidisciplinary artist, and Calida Garcia Rawles, whose work depicts African-American women and men submerged in glistening water.
If Frieze was a house party, Salon 94 was the room everyone wanted to be in. With custom wallpaper created by Derrick Adams, the booth was a colorful celebration of his mixed-media portraits, paired with balloons and garlands. Notably, there was also the obscure sculptural work of Brooklyn-based designer Thomas Barger, along with work by Lyle Ashton Harris, Laurie Simmons, and Amy Bessone.
New York gallery Casey Kaplan brought together rising art stars Jordan Casteel, Jonathan Gardner, and Matthew Ronay for a presentation of New York’s most promising emerging artists. With her first solo exhibition “Within Reach” opening at the New Museum this week, Casteel’s large-scale paintings depicting people of color in domestic settings were impossible to ignore. So too was the striking difference in painting styles between those and Gardner’s highly stylized work. Once in the booth, the pieces complemented one another and proved an interesting inclusion in this year’s fair.
Richard Prince’s deconstructed sculpture and painting of a modified Ford Mustang attracted attention at Frieze Los Angeles, which is no surprise considering the to-scale size. Dubbed the artist of “$100,000 selfies,” the artist notorious for appropriating other people’s photos was the centerpiece of Gagosian’s booth. Any attention grabbed by the 1,600-pound vehicle, however, was kept with works by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cady Noland, and Andy Warhol.
Out of Bounds
During a weekend that can often feel like a celebration of the art world’s “elite,” it’s worth mentioning the poignant work of “Out of Bounds” by artists in custody at the California State Prison in Los Angeles. Curated by Frieze Projects curators, Rita Gonzalez and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, they met with the artists included and worked with them to select work that felt representative of their experience. This was a nice nod to the only studio of its kind in the state doing this type of work, with all artwork created in the studio donated back to local nonprofits.
Commonwealth and Council
This booth was a favorite of many at the fair, pairing sculptures to pay tribute to Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (now a popular Netflix series) for G.L.O.W. Match Six (Gaze Living Other Worlds). Works by Young Joon Kwak and Oren Pinhassi explored queer embodiment with bodies of all types and sizes, and the artist’s selected their works in consultation with one another. The result was a glorious mix of green, brown, and green shapes.