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"I'm just happy we've got this in L.A now. I hope we can keep it here," Brad Pitt told The Hollywood Reporter last year at the VIP preview of Frieze Los Angeles' inaugural edition, held at Paramount Studios. Pitt was referring to the fact that art fairs with a world-class presence have struggled in Los Angeles. Case in point: Paris Photo, the French fair that also set up shop at Paramount in 2013, only to pull the plug after three years.
But Frieze L.A. got off to a rousing start last year, with every public day sold out, 30,000 visitors over its four days and some galleries selling out entire booths.
Now, with the sophomore outing set to run Feb. 14 to 16 (with a VIP preview on Feb. 13), the affair feels like it's gaining momentum. "There are so many more events — I feel like the city has really embraced it," says art adviser Maya McLaughlin, West Coast director at SFA Advisory (clients of the firm have included Leonardo DiCaprio). "It's like being in Miami [for Art Basel] in terms of every single dealer having a big dinner."
More than 70 galleries from around the world will show inside an enormous tent. Site-specific art installations will take over Paramount's backlot. And a Film & Talks series will roll out mostly in the Paramount Theatre (screenings include the 1988 animated cyberpunk movie Akira; among the featured panels is a discussion on art patronage with Bad Robot co-CEO Katie McGrath).
At the same time, two other art fairs will welcome art lovers in Hollywood — Felix (co-founded by former TV exec Dean Valentine) and Art Los Angeles Contemporary — while many galleries and museums across L.A. have aligned their openings. "It's a testament to the continued growth and deserved recognition of the L.A. art scene," says art collector and OWN president Tina Perry.
Hovering over the fanfare, though, are questions about the fair's leadership going forward. Frieze L.A.'s director Bettina Korek is departing to become CEO of London's Serpentine Galleries (no replacement has been named). Frieze also recently hired its first CEO, media veteran Simon Fox, with fair founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover stepping back from executive management duties. (In 2016, the pair sold a 70 percent stake in Frieze to Endeavor and have a put option to sell remaining shares this year.)
Here's what to expect at Frieze 2020:
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