Paris Photo L.A. Draws Stars to Paramount Backlot

Jordan Riefe

Drew Barrymore, Judd Apatow, James L. Brooks, Gwyneth Paltrow among art lovers on the studio's iconic New York City backlot.

Paris Photo L.A. returns to the backlot and soundstages of Paramount Studios, May 1 through 3, drawing many of the biggest names in art and entertainment, counting Gwyneth Paltrow, artist Catherine Opie, UTA’s Jim Berkus and TV producer Steven Levitan, among the opening night crowd. Champagne flowed freely as art lovers drifted through the studio’s New York City streets, where they took in works presented by 79 exhibitors from 17 countries.

“I just like browsing through here,” James L. Brooks told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s very eclectic. It’s very hard for me to find color (photography) that I like, but I have found it a couple of times. It’s a lot of masters, a lot of photo journalists.” If he sees that certain something, he just might buy it. But definitely not a portrait, “I have a prejudice against posed pictures.”

For Judd Apatow, portraits are just fine. Though he doesn’t call himself a collector, he owns some Richard Avedon photos of old comedians like Groucho Marx and Buster Keaton. “I just look for things that interest me,” he says. “Things like Gary Winogrand, I always like things that have some humor.”

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A 17-year institution in Paris, the three-year-old L.A. fair is well on its way to becoming of equal importance. Last year’s event drew 16,000 attendees, and this year they are expecting 20,000 under the stewardship of newly-appointed organizers, Florence Bourgeois and Christoph Wiesner. In addition to screenings and discussions with artists like Paul McCarthy and Allen Ruppersberg, this year marks the first year of INTRODUCING! Young California Photographer Award, where UCLA’s C.J. Heyliger won $5,000.

“It was a very spirited juror conversation and I think we’re all happy with our choice,” said Jamie Lee Curtis, who served on the decision-making panel, and owns works by Irving Penn, Cindy Sherman and Sebastiao Salgado. “Obviously, it’s hard to pick one individual gallery here that I would say is better than another, but there’s a lot of beautiful art here.”

She was about to continue, but for a surprise visit by Drew Barrymore, who pushes a double stroller while husband, Will Koppelman wrangles babies Olive and Frankie. “We read your book every minute!” she said, referring to one of the many children’s books Curtis has authored, and the two fell into a discussion about the show.

If Curtis were to buy, she said she would likely purchase pieces by newcomer Ronan Guillou, whose stunning portraits have an Arbus-like quality, and turn-of-the-century photographer, Edward Sheriff Curtis, whose portraits of the old west transcend time.

“What I really like is the juxtaposition of this very new photographer looking at the American west, and Edward Curtis looking at the American west,” smiles the actress. “If I could, I would hang them together as a conversation.”