Premiere in Hollywood
The Frieze Comes to Los Angeles

The first installment of Frieze Los Angeles takes place in the heart of Hollywood, at legendary Paramount Studios. Frieze LA is not only showcasing some of the world’s most important galleries. The fair, sponsored by Deutsche Bank, also has an ambitious framework program. And it shows that Los Angeles, alongside New York, has become an epicenter of the U.S. art scene. A preview by Achim Drucks.
“Laughs. The joy of the absolute absurdity of opulence and elitism. A fun conversation.” Tom Pope promises all of this to visitors to his One Square Club, the world’s smallest private members’ club measuring just one square meter. Featuring a bespoke bar, stylish wallpaper, and cozy lighting, it brings British lifestyle to Paramount Studios. Or to be more precise, to its backlot, the part of the studios where outdoor scenes are shot. The British artist got the idea for the installation, which is reminiscent of a telephone booth when seen from the outside, a few years ago. At that time, he learned that a single square meter of ground in London’s posh Kensington neighborhood cost a whopping 11.365 pounds (approximately 13,000 euros). “I thought, that’s mad,” recalls Pope, who was the recipient of a Deutsche Bank Award for up-and-coming artists in 2011. “How did this value come about? What is it based on?” His One Square Club then not only became the world’s smallest club, but also the most exclusive. Membership lasts only one day and its price is based on the value of the square meter on which the installation is currently standing. But now Frieze Los Angeles is offering people the opportunity to visit the club for free as Deutsche Bank is presenting Pope’s work in its ArtSpace. The respective guest can select music, drink something, interpret a karaoke number with the artist, or talk with him about how the value of the property – or that of art – arises.

At the first Frieze Los Angeles, the club is situated in a setting that looks astonishingly similar to the streets of New York, where film classics such as The Godfather and Breakfast at Tiffany’s were shot. And Frieze Projects are located nearby. For this section, Ali Subotnick, who as the longtime curator of the Hammer Museum is extremely well connected with the local and the international art scene, invited 17 artists to engage with the fair and its setting. Paul McCarthy is represented with his giant inflatable sculptures. Like King Kong or Godzilla, his monumental ketchup bottle stands in front of a skyscraper in the studio grounds’ “financial district.” Trulee Hall’s contribution conjures up trash horror films: she unleashes a huge fluorescent worm in one of the mockup buildings. The strange creature wends its way through the entire edifice. In addition, the LA-based artist shot a video in which real and animated characters “perform” in the backlot, ridiculing the conventional role models that are repeatedly propagated in Hollywood movies. Lisa Anne Auerbach was inspired by New York clairvoyants and palm readers, who like to attract attention with bright red neon tubes in the windows of their stores. Her Psychic Art Advisor combines clairvoyance with art advising. Unfortunately, though, Auerbach “can make no claims to correctly predict the future.”  

Frieze Projects enhance the slightly surreal feeling conveyed by the film sets, inasmuch as fair visitors find themselves in two places at the same time, so to speak – in an artificial New York and a real Los Angeles. Among other things, this is a humorous allusion to the competition between the two most important art metropolises in the USA. While New York was long regarded as the uncontested number one, Los Angeles has caught up in recent years. The boom there is abundantly clear. Some of the world’s most popular artists live and work in LA, including Laura Owens, Ryan Trecartin, and Sterling Ruby. Also, new private exhibition venues such as The Broad and the Marciano Art Foundation have become established there, enriching a museum landscape that was already outstanding beforehand with LACMA, MOCA, and the Hammer Museum. Young galleries are flourishing downtown, such as Night Gallery and The Box, the latter directed by Paul McCarthy’s daughter Mara. And global players like Sprüth Magers and Hauser & Wirth have opened branches in the metropolis in the last few years. All of these galleries have a presence at the first Frieze Los Angeles, reflecting the tremendous breadth of the local art scene. A total of some 70 galleries were selected for the fair. Most of the participants come from three cities in which Frieze is active: London, New York, and Los Angeles. They are housed in a tent designed by Kulapat Yantrasast. The former assistant of Tadao Ando is currently one of the most sought-after museum architects. In Los Angeles, he designed the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Marciano Art Foundation, among others.  

Deutsche Bank has been involved in Frieze, which was founded in London, since 2004. As the Global Lead Partner, the bank has also accompanied the expansion of the art fair, which initiated Frieze Masters and Frieze New York in 2012, and now the offshoot in Los Angeles. Aside from Tom Pope’s One Square Club in its ArtSpace, Deutsche Bank is also presenting a current artistic position in its lounge in the Paramount Theatre. In keeping with the cinema location, it selected Victoria Fu, an artist who works with motion pictures. Her immersive installations, which amalgamate clips from the Internet with film and video material she shoots herself, investigate the relationship between viewer, canvas, space, and image. Taking a painterly approach as their point of departure, Fu’s works rely on suggestive light effects. Her installation in the lounge reacts to the elegantly curved architecture of the movie theater’s lobby. She alludes to its circular elements, plays with natural and artificial light, and deploys projections and neon sculptures. Examining light and space in conjunction with digital technologies, Fu is taking the tradition of Californian artists such as James Turrell and Robert Irwin into the future. Her works combine the analog and the virtual, the fictive and the real, and make the images shine – just like the current Hollywood productions normally shown at the Paramount Theatre.

The focus of Frieze Los Angeles is on the West Coast art scene, which is apparent at the gallery booths. Doug Aitken’s new video works, for example, are devoted to his home city of LA. And while Wayne Thiebaud’s large-scale landscape paintings celebrate Californian light, Kathryn Andrews‘ most recent project was inspired by LA’s dark side, the still unresolved “Black Dahlia” murder of 1947, which provided the basis for the current television series I Am the Night. Art and pop culture, high and low, have always been closely intertwined in California. A case in point is the work of Mike Kelley, whose trailblazing installation Unisex Love Nest is on view for the first time in Los Angeles, the place where it originated exactly 20 years ago, thanks to the Frieze fair. Other highlights are works by Carrie Mae Weems, Tracey Emin, Mona Hatoum, Anri Sala, and Roman Ondak, all of whom are represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection.

While international fairs such as Paris Photo had previously failed to gain a foothold in Los Angeles, the Frieze can look optimistically to the future. The participation of first-rate galleries such as Gagosian, White Cube, Perrotin, and Ropac heightens trust in the new venture. And the fair already is very well connected locally. The Frieze’s 52-member (!) Host Committee boasts many big names, from celebrities like Salma Hayek, Tobey Maguire, and Serena Williams to the most important protagonists of the local art world. Among the supporters are mega collectors Edythe and Eli Broad, as well as museum directors Klaus Biesenbach (Museum of Contemporary Art), Michael Govan (LACMA), and Ann Philbin (Hammer Museum). The dates of the fair were strategically slotted between the Grammy Awards and the Oscars. And the Frieze begins right on Valentine’s Day. The best prerequisites for a long-term love story between Los Angeles and Frieze.  

Frieze Los Angeles
February 14 – 17, 2019
Paramount Pictures Studios, Hollywood