The rumors have been swirling for a while, peaking during the Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair last month, and today, Frieze confirmed that it will indeed inaugurate a Los Angeles fair, along with its location, dates, and key appointments. The fair will take run from February 14 to 17, 2019, at Paramount Pictures Studios. Bettina Korek has been appointed executive director of Frieze LA, and Ali Subotnick will be the fair’s curator.
Korek founded the organization ForYourArt, which “encourage[s] new forms of patronage, engagement, and collaboration,” according to its website, and is well known in the L.A. social scene for her entrepreneurial work. The Wall Street Journal once called her “L.A.’s art insider.”
Subotnick will organize a series of projects and films for the inaugural edition of Frieze LA. Currently an adjunct curator at the Hammer Museum, where she was formerly curator, Subotnick is a regular at fairs and biennials around the world. She organized the 2012 edition of the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. biennial and co-organized the 2006 Berlin Biennale with Maurizio Cattelan and Massimiliano Gioni. And, with Cattelan and Gioni, she founded the Wrong Gallery, a tiny nonprofit intended to be New York’s smallest exhibition space, and Charley magazine.
The dealer count for Frieze LA is 60, making it more of a boutique-size fair. (By comparison, there are more than 160 galleries in Frieze London –300 if you count the six year old sister fair Frieze Masters fair in a different tent across the park–and about 190 in Frieze New York.) That means Frieze LA will be comparable in size to the ADAA Art Show, which opens next week in New York and typically includes around 70 galleries.
There has been much skepticism in the media recently about the chances of success for an art fair in Los Angeles, and the French FIAC fair, which had planned an event in LA, then cancelled it without a first edition in 2016. In a statement provided to ARTnews, Frieze director Victoria Siddall said, “Frieze is in a unique position to create a successful fair in LA because of our experience in London and New York and our partnership with Endeavor, who have deep roots in LA and will work with us to bring a fantastic audience to the fair.” She is referring to the large, powerful LA-based sports and entertainment agency Endeavor investing, led by Ari Emanuel, in Frieze art fair in 2016, the fair’s first outside investor.
Frieze is known not for taking place in convention centers, like Art Basel, but rather under a big, architect-designed tent, since 2003 in Regent’s Park in London (David Adjaye) and since 2012 on Randall’s Island in New York (So-Il). The tent in LA will be designed by Kulapat Yantrasast of the architecture firm wHY, which previously helped transform a former Masonic temple in L.A. into the Marciano Art Foundation. Other art-related projects wHY has designed include the Harvard Art Museums, the L.A. River Art Bridge, the Worcester Art Museum, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
In the 15 years since it launched a fair in London, Frieze has been at least partially responsible for a revitalized art scene in the British capital and the growth of the city’s art market. Los Angeles, still known better for its artists and art schools, may present a tougher challenge, although some have made comparisons between LA and London, both of which have a non-centralized gallery network.
Frieze is currently in the process of forming a selection committee for the inaugural edition of Frieze LA.
Alex Greenberger contributed reporting.