November 28, 2023

Art Market

Paul Laster

Exterior view of Frieze Los Angeles, 2023. Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy of Casey Kelbaugh and Frieze.

Los Angeles seems like the perfect city for a major art fair with a solid history of galleries and museums that have exhibited contemporary art since the 1950s. Over the years, however, the city has seen several art fairs arrive with excitement before fading with a whimper—until the arrival of Frieze in 2018.

Since the prestigious fair’s arrival, the city has seen an influx of galleries, which has engendered something of an art world boomtown, on par with the excitement that has been building around cities like Paris and Seoul (which are also homes to major art fairs).

The city’s younger galleries—including Anat Ebgi, François Ghebaly, Make Room, Nino Mier Gallery, and Night Gallery—have multiple locations, while blue-chip gallerists such as Blum & Poe, Jeffrey Deitch, Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, David Kordansky Gallery, Matthew Marks Gallery, Regen Projects, Sprüth Magers and Vielmetter Los Angeles have either big buildings, multiple spaces, or both.

Within the past year, Sean Kelly Gallery and Pace Gallery have opened spaces and Lisson Gallery, Perrotin, and David Zwirner currently have galleries under construction. When asked if Frieze Los Angeles has played a part in this current boom, Christine Messineo, the fair’s director of Americas, told Artsy that “Frieze has been instrumental to collecting education. We’re a reliable resource.”

Interior view of Frieze Los Angeles, 2023. Photo by James Jackman / CKA. Courtesy of Frieze.

Sited at the Santa Monica Airport in the Barker Hangar, where exhibitors featuring 20th-century art were joined by the newly expanded Focus section (for galleries of and under 12 years of age), and in a giant tent which showcased galleries from across the world and the greater Los Angeles region, the fourth edition of Frieze Los Angeles hosted more than 120 exhibitors from 22 different countries.

“We had to move from the tent in Beverly Hills [last year’s site] because that location was no longer available,” said Kulapat Yantrasast of WHY studio, which designed the space. “This is our fourth time designing Frieze Los Angeles. The fair is always about the tent. The tent is the location. In this year’s case, there are two locations, the hangar and the tent. In a way, it’s more like London, where you have the master and contemporary sections with sculpture in between. That DNA has always been in the Frieze experience.”

Having to walk—or be shuttled in golf carts—between the two spaces didn’t seem to deter collectors or celebrities. A number of booths were completely sold out within the first few hours, with primary pieces selling for millions. Attendees included such Hollywood stars as Jared Leto, Gwyneth Paltrow, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, and Owen Wilson, along with major collectors like Edythe Broad, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Fai Khadra, Jill and Peter Kraus, Lynda Resnick, Don and Mera Rubell, and Lauren Taschen.

Interior view of Frieze Los Angeles, 2023. Photo by James Jackman / CKA. Courtesy of Frieze.

“This week, Los Angeles is our very special Valentine,” said Marc Payot, president of Hauser & Wirth at the end of the opening day. “We opened our second Hauser & Wirth space here yesterday—a gorgeous site in West Hollywood with a sold-out show of works by George Condo—and our Frieze L.A. stand is a celebration of the Los Angeles artists in our program. Their paintings, works on paper, sculptures, and videos are a testament to the power, originality, and influence of the cultural producers of this amazing city.”

Hauser & Wirth’s opening day sales included a large-scale abstract mixed-media painting by the highly coveted L.A. artist Mark Bradford for $3.5 million; a recent figurative canvas by Henry Taylor for $450,000, along with an earlier, small work on cardboard by the artist for $45,000. The gallery also sold a 1966 abstraction by Luchita Hurtado for $225,000; a gridded, nine-panel paint and chalk-on-paper piece from 2011 by Gary Simmons for $65,000; and several unique, mixed-media photographic works from 2022 by Charles Gaines for $150,000 each.

Mike Kelley

Untitled (Allegorical Drawings), 1976

Hauser & Wirth

Gary Simmons

Landmark, 2008

Hauser & Wirth

David Kordanksy Gallery’s first presentation with Chase Hall sold out for undisclosed prices “within the first opening hours” of the fair, reported Kurt Mueller, senior director at the gallery. “We received an incredible response from notable institutions and collectors alike to these important works that engage both the artist’s experiences as a youth in L.A. and our city’s social history in their exploration of race, access, and identity.”

Night Gallery sold works from every artist in its presentation, including a large ceramic wall work by Brie Ruais for $50,000, all three Melanie Schiff photographs at $30,000 each, a number of JPW3 paintings at $24,000 each, and all of its paintings by Marcel Alcalá for under $10,000 each. “We had a terrific fair and the energy was great,” William Hathaway, the gallery’s partner and sales director told Artsy.

Victoria Miro completely sold out its one-person booth of Doron Langberg’s paintings, with his colorful, figurative canvases priced between $25,000 and $80,000. “We always do solo presentations at Frieze Los Angeles,” Glenn Scott Wright, director and partner at the gallery informed Artsy. “It gives us an opportunity to broaden the audience for an artist’s work and it gives viewers in Los Angeles a chance to better understand the work. It’s been a successful strategy.” According to Wright, several of the lively portraits, still lifes, and landscapes by Langberg, who currently has a solo show at the Rubell Museum in Miami, were placed with very good museums.

L.A. Louver made “several smaller sales” and “the sales of two significant large-scale assemblages are currently in negotiation” from its presentation of Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, according to Lisa Jann, its managing director. “We are quite fond of the location at the Santa Monica Airport and were extremely pleased by the attendance and the quality of conversations at Frieze, and at the events at our gallery, located just 10 minutes down the road in Venice Beach,” she told Artsy.

Doron Langberg, installation view in Victoria Miro’s booth at Frieze Los Angeles, 2023. © Doron Langberg. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro.

Vielmetter Los Angeles placed works with “excellent collections,” its founder Susanne Vielmetter conveyed to Artsy. “We were so excited to present a focused booth with an inspired pairing of sculptures by Arlene Shechet, in a range of $65–$125,000, and drawings by Nicola Tyson, priced between $5,000 and $28,000. We could not have expected a more spectacular response.”

At Anton Kern Gallery, a series of intimate drawings by Brian Calvin were priced between $2,500 and $3,500, while his playful paintings and pastels, which sold out on the opening day, ranged between $15,000 and $100,000. “Although he’s a Chicago-based artist, our booth was somewhat of a homecoming for Brian Calvin, who often showed in Los Angeles with Mark Foxx before the gallery closed,” Anton Kern told Artsy. “Brian made eleven new paintings and five large-scale pastel drawings, plus he gave us a group of small drawings— some of Chateau Marmont stationery—that he made over the past ten years. He also installed the show and made the furniture for the booth.”

Nino Mier Gallery sold 16 paintings on paper by Jorge Galindo from “Sacramonte,” his series of abstract floral works, at $12,000 a piece; several of Stefan Rinck’s surreal animal sculptures, priced between $24,000 and $36,000; and Mònica Subidé’s figurative works, priced between $8,000 and $36,000.

Ming Smith, installation view in Nicola Vassell’s booth at Frieze Los Angeles, 2023. Courtesy of Nicola Vassell.

Nicola Vassell Gallery sold a number of editioned prints by Ming Smith for $35,000 each.

“Ming Smith lived in Los Angeles,” Nicola Vassell told Artsy while standing in her gallery’s booth, surrounded by eight of the artist’s photographs. “There’s a natural affinity with the city and an audience that reveres her work. We saw it as a great opportunity to tie together so many of the tenets of her work that feel important in the Los Angeles landscape and highlight her innovative techniques in the medium of photography.” The artist currently has a project at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, curated by Thelma Golden.

James Cohan sold a gigantic, hand-embroidered work by Jordan Nassar, part of his recent show at ICA Boston, to a private foundation for $200,000; a 1949 abstract canvas of an owl by Lee Mullican for $120,000; and figurative paintings and works on paper by Naudline Pierre, priced at $60,000 and $10,000 respectively.

Blum & Poe sold a Mark Grotjahn drawing for $350,000, a Yoshitomo Nara bronze for $250,000 and drawing for $180,000, a Ha Chong-hyun painting for $210,000, a Friedrich Kunath landscape for $100,000, and several canvases by Umar Rashid (who has a current survey at MoMA PS1) for $45,000.

“Frieze is certainly an important draw in encouraging people to make a trip to Los Angeles,” co-founder Tim Blum told Artsy. “It was very successful and looked terrific. Collectors opened their homes and artists opened their studios. There were complications with the location this year, but hopefully, things will be streamlined going forward.”

Standout Sales from the Focus section

Greg Breda, installation view in Patron’s booth at Frieze Los Angeles, 2023. Courtesy of Patron.

Dedicated to galleries aged 12 years and younger, the Focus section of Frieze L.A. was curated by Amanda Hunt of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, along with the new associate curator Sonya Tamaddon. This year’s edition broadened the remit of the section, featuring galleries from across the U.S. Some notable sales from the section include:

  • Anat Ebgi sold all four ceramic sculptures by Jane Margarette, priced in the range of $10-$25,000, on opening day.
  • Patron sold out its booth of figurative paintings by L.A. actor-turned-artist Greg Breda, with canvases ranging between $16-85,000.
  • Regular Normal sold a large, circular, mixed-media painting by Bony Ramirez (who just had a solo show at François Ghebaly in Los Angeles) for $50,000 and two of Melissa Joseph’s figurative felt pieces for $18,000 each and several of her smaller ceramic works, priced between $2,000 and $2,500.
  • Nonaka Hill sold out its presentation of narrative paintings by Kyoko Idetsu, priced between $3,500 and $20,000 each.

“Frieze Focus was a perfect venue to continue our reveal of Kyoko Idetsu’s work outside of Japan,” Rodney Nonaka-Hill, the gallery’s co-founder, said. “A number of people made it out to the gallery in Hollywood to continue the conversation—surely inspired by what they saw from our gallery’s presentation at Frieze.”

Other Notable Sales

Tracey Emin

You Keep Loving Me, 2022

Xavier Hufkens

  • Lehmann Maupin sold six paintings by London-based artist Chantal Joffe for a combined total of £200,000 ($240,000), three works by Loriel Beltran for a combined total of $135,000, and a hand-stitched silk collage by Billie Zangewa for $100,000.
  • Thaddaeus Ropac sold multiple pieces, including a painting by Robert Rauschenberg for $1,700,000, a painting by Alex Katz for $1,500,000, a painting by Martha Jungwirth for €330,000, and a painting by Rachel Jones for £150,000 ($180,000).
  • Xavier Hufkens’s sales included Green Vase with Carnations (1982) by Alice Neel for approximately $1,100,000, a painting by Tracey Emin for approximately £500,000 ($602,000), and a painting by McArthur Binion for approximately $225,000.
  • Pace Gallery sold a range of works priced between $45,000 and $2 million, including new works by Adrian Ghenie, Yoshitomo Nara, and Matthew Day Jackson.
  • Gagosian completely sold out their booth of recent paintings and works on paper by Rick Lowe for undisclosed amounts.

Such was the excitement at the Frieze Los Angeles that even one of its sponsors, LG Electronics, made substantial sales in its exhibition lounge of newly minted NFTs by sculptor Barry X Ball. Inspired by the artist’s ongoing portrait of Pope John Paul II, four versions of the 39-second NFTs were minted in editions of 100 and are being sold for $1,000 each, with both art and tech buyers adding copies to their collections.


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