What you need to know about the new Frieze LA Art Show

It’s finally here!  The new Frieze LA Art Show, under the direction of Victoria Siddall and Bettina Korek, is open. Here’s what you need to know: the best works on display; the fabulous parties, the retail pop-ups, and the museum shows that are unfolding alongside the new art show. Falling directly between Grammy weekend and Oscar weekend, its the perfect moment for a harmonic convergence of the worlds of fashion, celebrity and artLos Angeles is where it’s all happening this weekend, dear reader. Are you ready?

the new Frieze LA Art Show

There’s a glamorous new edition of the Frieze opening to the public today in Los Angeles. Are you going? If you’re lucky enough to be in town for it, here’s an overview of what to expect. And if you love contemporary art and LA, and want to experience it vicariously, we got you. Here’s what you need know about the new Frieze LA art show.

Before we start, it’s important to note that half a dozen other contemporary art fairs have coordinated their schedules at hotels and unconventional locations this weekend, too. These “satellite” shows will add variety, richness and depth to the experience. Basically, the city is set to host a full-blown, major international art week. And there’s an electric thrill in the air as it all gets going today.

Frieze LA organizers, from left, Victoria Siddall, Bettina Korek and Ali Subotnick.

Frieze comes to LA for the first time

The debut edition of Frieze Los Angles is the newest addition to a group of art fairs launched in 2003 by the publishers of Frieze magazine, which is based in London.

Freize London is still the best-known of the group, but Frieze New York has become an annual rite of spring for people active the contemporary art world.

Now it’s LA’s time to shine.

Until now, there have been sporadic attempts to bring an annual blockbuster art show like this to LA. The consensus seems to be that the city has finally achieved the scale of museums, galleries, art schools, resident artists and dedicated collectors to support such an endeavor.

Speaking of which, the global talent agency William Morris Endeavor is a part owner of Frieze, so you can expect lots of celebrity support for this debut.

a hollywood back lot plays host

The show is being staged on the back lot of Paramount Studios. First, visitors will pass through a massive tent where they can see and buy works. Then, they’ll spill out onto the New York Backlot. There, they’ll be greeted with ersatz brownstones and townhouses, subway stations, faux SoHo streets and other icons of Manhattan adorned and transformed by site-specific art installations.

The location of the first Frieze LA art show

It’s a whimsical and fanciful way to probe the themes of artifice and reality, and the complicated rapport between L.A. and New York. Says Bettina Korek, Executive Director: “The [New York] Backlot provides a special opportunity to wander a ‘non-place’ where other worlds are produced and imagine a city where art is at the center of the conversation.” 

Meanwhile, the custom-designed gallery tent is hosting 70 galleries from Greater LA, the rest of the US, and abroad. It, too, is cinematic in its own way: it’s built over an area that could be flooded with over a million gallons of water to film aquatic scenes, from The Ten Commandments (1956) to Waterworld (1995). A 177-foot wide mural wall, painted like the sky, completes the illusion.

must-see New York Backlot works

The site-specific commissions are among the most striking and memorable works on display. Former Hammer Museum curator Ali Subotnick organized the 16 projects. Here are a few of the standouts:

Barbara Kruger

Among the first set of works visitors see after the leaving the gallery tent are Barbara Kruger’s provocative questions presented on stickers. You’ll see soul-searching questions like “Who will write the history of tears?”, “Are there animals in heaven?” and “Who salutes longest?”

Trulee Hall

Emerging from the SoHo subway, Trulee Hall’s fluorescent serpent twists and winds its way through windows and fire escapes on the back lot.

Sarah Cain

Sarah Cain’s  installation is installed in the interior of a Brooklyn-style brownstone. She has painted doors, floors and a sofa where visitors can sit. There are hanging canvases, and stained-glass artwork in the window. andSons Chocolatiers of Beverly Hills has collaborated with Cain to craft an Earl Grey-infused, vegan dark chocolate that the artist will be serving all day Thursday and at teatime on subsequent days.

Sarah Cain’s Stained Glass Installation at Frieze LA Photo Courtesy: New York Times

Lisa Anne Auerbach

The artist’s Psychic Art Advisor will be offering one-on-one counseling sessions focused on collecting and creativity, complete with custom tarot cards made for the occasion.

Hannah Greely

High and Dry (2019) reflects the domestic routines common in dense urban neighborhoods like the simulated Brooklyn residential block on the Paramount back lot. Suspended from clotheslines spanning the fire escapes and windows of two apartment buildings, her hand-made, cartoon-like paintings of clothing items, clouds and helicopters are just wonderful.

Hannah Greely’s High and Dry

key works to see under the big tent

Here are some of our personal favorites among the offerings from various galleries at Frieze LA:

Unisex Love Nest

This 1999 work by the late hometown hero Mike Kelley has never been exhibited in LA until now.

Mike Kelley Unisex Love Nest 1999

Materialism, Studio Drift

We love almost anything created by the talents at Studio Drift. A new work, Materialism, premiers at Frieze LA through Pace gallery. The intent of the work is to “confront us on a very elementary level with the things we surround ourselves with and the materials that comprise them. The work calls for contemplation on how we deal with the raw materials at our disposal.” The variations in texture, color and form are stimulating and beautiful.

Materialism, premiering at Frieze LA, from Studio Drift

Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud’s solo presentation with Acquavella Galleries is certain to bring a smile. What could be better for a California day than his sensibility?

Wayne Thiebaud Acquavella Galleries

food and drink at frieze LA

Our ongoing series about the food offerings at some of the world’s best museums has made it clear that fine art and fine food are a splendid combination. Both will be on full display at Frieze LA. Here are a few to check out:

1. heritage LA restaurants and purveyors

There are fantastic LA-based food trucks and eateries on hand for the air fair, including Baroo (a resurrection of the beloved and short-lived purveyor of Korean-inspired fermented dishes); Cinqué LA, Coni’s Seafood, Milkbar, Roberta’s and Sqirl.

2. singable champagne toasts

At the Ruinart Lounge, Champagne toasts are translated into Morse code and performed by singers as part of a piece created by Los Angeles-based artist Emily Mast, entitled Continuous Wave (2019).

3. Bombay Sapphire x Max’s Kansas City

Bombay Sapphire is transforming a townhouse at Paramount Studios into the Bombay Bar & Lounge inspired by Max’s Kansas City. MKC is the infamous New York clubhouse where Andy Warhol, David Bowie and John Lennon gathered in the 1960’s and ’70’s  The pop-up features a collection of artwork donated by MKC alumni that will all be for sale.

The Max’s Kansas City x Bombay Sapphire pop-up at Frieze LA

elsewhere in LA, other art events abound

1. many other air fairs of note

Frieze LA coincides with the 10th anniversary of Art Los Angeles Contemporary – the international art fair that takes place annually in a Santa Monica airplane hangar.

The weekend will also see the launch of homegrown newcomer Felix LA, which promises a different kind of art fair experience at The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.

Felix LA will be held at the Hotel Roosevelt

Superfine! Art Fair brings diverse, accessible art to DTLA’s Magic Box at The Reef. Works from a curated, diverse roster of more than 250 artists, including out-sized LGBTQ and female representation, will be for sale.

SPRING/BREAK Art Show LA is the first time that the show has ever been held outside of greater New York. It will feature 40+ curated exhibitions of local emerging and established artists, non-profit organizations, independent curators, artist collectives and galleries

2. important gallery shows

There are several significant gallery shows being mounted in art galleries around town.

One not to miss is “David Hockney: Something New in Painting (and Photography) [and even Printing]… Continued” at L.A. Louver. The show features new works by the artist created in his Los Angeles home studio.


We’re also keen to see artist Albert Oehlen’s “pop-up” wall drawing, visible from both inside and outside, installed in a storefront space next to Gagosian Beverly Hills.

Albert-Oehlen Wall Drawing 2019 Courtesy Gagosian

Another must-see? The galley exhibit of Annie Leibovitz’s early work. The first comprehensive exhibition in Los Angeles devoted to the earliest work of this renowned photographer, ‘The Early Years’ at Hauser & Wirth features more than 5,000 photographs taken between 1970 – 1983.

3. exceptional museum exhibits

The Marciano Foundation is staging Ai Weiwei’s first major institutional exhibition in LA. It features the new and unseen work Life Cycle (2018) – a sculptural response to the global refugee crisis.

Robert Rauschenberg’s monumental The 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece (1981–98), which took 17 years to create, is on display at LACMA.

Also at LACMA, be sure to catch the opening of Charles White: A Retrospective. It’s the first major 21st-century museum retrospective on the famed mid-century artist and civil rights activist.

Charles White, Sound of Silence, 1978, color lithograph on white wove paper, 25 1/8 × 35 1/4 in., The Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Fund, 2017.314
Credit: © The Charles White Archives, photo © The Art Institute of Chicago

retail pop-ups, collabs and limited edition items abound

It wouldn’t be a Happening if there weren’t some shopping opportunities, right? In addition to contemporary art, there are plenty of places to purchase apparel, prints, luggage, and other limited-edition and hard-to-find “only in LA” items.

1. at the fair itself

Onsite you’ll find re:LA, which is selling L.A. -inspired accessories to benefit LACMA. And local LA brands andSons Chocolatiers and Pretend Plants and Flowers.

and Sons Chocolate

2. Mark Bradford limited-edition

For the inaugural Frieze Los Angeles art fair, acclaimed LA artist Mark Bradford has created a limited-edition print called Life Size, which features a police body camera. All proceeds from the sale of the print – sold via his gallery Hauser & Wirth – will go directly to the Art for Justice Fund, which supports greater career opportunities for ex-offenders.

Mark Bradford Limited Edition Print for the Frieze LA show

3. the matchesfashion townhouse

Luxury e-commerce retailer is hosting pop-up townhouse. Modeled on the retailer’s five-story brick-and-mortar space at 5 Carlos Place in Mayfair in London, the pop-up will host a series of events, including a live floral installation with florist Eric Buterbaugh.

4. Rimowa x Alex Israel

a buzzy collaboration between the suitcase brand Rimowa and the artist Alex Israel. Luxury suitcase brand Rimowa is also deepening its ties to the art community at Frieze, launching a set of limited-edition suitcases based on Israel’s Sky Backdrop paintings, which depict L.A.’s cinematic twilight skies. The colorful luggage, which retails for around $2,800 per piece, will launch at an event on Feb. 14.

rimowa x alex israel

5. Oliver Peoples x Tasya van Ree

artist and photographer Tasya van Ree will curate an exhibit for the optical brand Oliver Peoples. “Who is Oliver?” will feature a series of portraits showcasing the brand’s new “Oliver” frames.

6. 1st dibs x Mattia Biagi

1stdibs is hosting a multi-sensory exhibition produced by Italian multimedia artist Mattia Biagi titled “Metropolitan Sets.” The installation features original art by Biagi curated alongside selections of furniture, lighting and objects from 1stdibs.

7. Arcangel Surfware at Dover Street Market

A highlight of the shop will be the debut of a series of neck pillows conceived for airplane use. The pillows are made out of excess fabric used in Arcangel’s recent series of scanner paintings.

Arcangel Surfware Dover Street Market

finally, don’t miss the “tom cruise” door

On the grounds of Paramount Studios, you’ll find a spot where side by side are two identical but differently sized doors that are used to make shorter actors look taller (and vice-versa). Paramount staffers, it’s said, nicknamed these doors “Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman” after the two actors’ well-known height difference.

That’s it! Everything you need to know about the new Frieze LA Art Show. What’s your favorite work from you’ve seen so far? Are you hoping to attend next year? If you’re already there, send photos! And have a great time.

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