As Thursday draws to a close, and the sun sets over the Pacific, the Frieze Los Angeles Art Fair has wrapped its first day of operation, closing on a a particularly strong and visually striking event that lived up to the anticipation many had afforded it. Installed around the enigmatic environs of the Paramount aquatic tank, the fair’s installation structure and emphasis on its normal uses lent the event a flair that likely will rarely be matched among the highest levels of the contemporary fair circuit. Its strange inclusion of a massive painted skyline against the rows of booths made for a captivating comment on the land of make-believe so many afford the city as a characteristic.
At the Jeffrey Deitch booth, the newly re-minted Los Angeles resident had brought an impressive selection of works by Judy Chicago to exhibit, focused in particular around the artist’s early work in the 1970’s and 80’s. At Lisson, one could peruse a presentation of works by Cory Arcangel, Daniel Buren, Carmen Herrera and more of the gallery’s impressive roster, while 303 Gallery had taken a decidedly more focused bent, bringing together a group of works by Doug Aitken (whose install just a few blocks to the north had already earned attention over the course of the week). Hauser & Wirth had also opted for some hometown flair, pulling together an exhibition of the works of Mike Kelley that felt particularly resonant on the film lot, a mixture of the artist’s extensive impact on the city’s arts scene, and his own use of video and film to reconstruct conceptions of reality and identity.
Sales were particularly strong over the course of the fair’s first day, with major headline sales and consistent booth sales that seemed to emphasize the fair’s primary aim, planting a flag for the city as the next major market hub. Of major note was Mike Kelley’s Unisex Love Nest, which sold to a European collection for $1.8 million, while Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac sold an Andy Warhol piece for $875.000. Over at Victoria Miro, the gallery had sold a Yayoi Kusama Infinity Nets work, which had carried an initial price tag of $1.6m USD. White Cube also performed well. “We had a very active first day at Frieze LA with many works sold by Tracey Emin plus pieces by Darren Almond and David Altmejd,” Alex O’Neill told Art Observed, noting that Altmejd had joined the gallery. “David’s first White Cube exhibition opens in March 2019.”
Like so much conversation around LA’s role in the modern art circuit, one might level a pointed critique that the fair’s scale and concepts were still somewhat limited in comparison with events in NYC or London, yet this iteration of the fair made for an equally strong argument as to why LA seems to draw so many to its endlessly sunny expanses. With ample space to make and create, the city seems positioned as a place of dreams, of imaginative spaces and suspensions of reality that still offer much appeal for the intrepid artist.
The fair closes February 17th.
— D. Creahan
Frieze Los Angeles [Exhibition Site]