Art fairs are like glorified prom nights for collectors and as such, galleries are the poor chauffeurs, dress makers, and florists that have to cater to whims of giddy, hopeful, attendees– Frieze L.A. was no exception. For those of us who are outside both the blue chip collector class and the P&L engines that drive them, these events invariably trigger some form of FOMO, as they rely on elitism. This manifests itself in scores of under-publicized VIP events–Frieze featured an exclusive tongue-in-cheek miniaturized “Members-Only” club (that ironically had a long line to enter). At the end of the day, fairs are all about the return, but if you keep your sights on the art, not the scene, Frieze ran a smooth, professional, event that showcased some interesting work.
By all economic accounts, L.A.’s inaugural edition of Frieze was a success. But at this point it’s no mystery that galleries have long been burnt out on fairs, to the point that many just dial it in, trotting out the same works that have been shown at other fairs, opting for a buffet line approach to showcase the artists they represent. This isn’t necessarily Frieze’s fault (although hefty booth fees can thwart ingenuity and are certainly cost prohibitive). This is why I appreciated the site (and artist) specific installations that a handful of galleries chose to feature on Paramount Studio’s New York back lot (more on that tomorrow).
Personally, my goal wasn’t to look for Brad Pitt, take selfies, or talk to galleries about returns, instead I walked through Frieze like the woman in that meme who perfected the squat-squint. I was out there looking for work by my favorite Black artists, and there was plenty to see. Here are some highlights: