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Los Angeles and the West Coast Market Issue I: New Fairs and Galleries Launched in LA
2011/04/05 Update   Writer  / Yaji Huang
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In January, three art fairs opened following one and another: Photo LA, Los Angeles Art Show, and Art Contemporary Los Angeles. Los Angeles Art Show, founded in 1996, is the biggest art fair which attracted 114 galleries this year but lacked attendance from leading local and international galleries. Art Contemporary Los Angeles, which focuses on contemporary arts, attracted Asian galleries such as. Tomio Koyama, Taka Ishii in its inaugural edition. This year it features main local galleries,  David  Kordansky, Robert & Tilton, Susanne Vielmetter, Patrick Painter and many others. However, if we know Los Angeles also has Blum & Poe、Gagosian、Regen Projects, we feel unfortunate for their absence. Indeed, Los Angeles, the biggest art hub in the West-Coast, has been lacking good art fairs for a long time. It is quite strange for a city having MOCA, LACMA, Getty, big collectors such as Mr. Eli Board and many other high-end galleries to have no significant art fairs.

                                                    Art Contemporary Los Angeles   Photo- Yaji Huang

January 27, an article in the Los Angeles Times discussed this issue and reported that MMPI, the art fair production company, who also hosts the Armory Show will launch a new art fair, Art Platform – Los Angeles this September. Moreover, famous art fairs such as Art Basel and Frieze view Los Angeles as their leading choice of expanding their franchise.

Interview with Mr. Adam Gross- Director of Art Platform - Los Angeles

Before working for upcoming Art Platform – Los Angeles, Mr. Gross has previously worked in MOCA and has been familiar with LA art scene for many years. In this interview, Mr. Gross talked about LA current scene of contemporary arts, art market and the new art fair.

Q:Los Angeleshad been the important origin for contemporary arts, such as Pop arts, contemporary commercial gallery (Ferus), and art media (ArtForum), however, there have been no significant art fairs for many years. Is this the main reason MMPI to produce Art Platform — Los Angeles? How long you have been planning for it?

Mr.GrossThe decision to launch Art Platform—Los Angeles has been in the works for several years. There has been a team researching a fair for LA but MMPI first announced the launch in October 2010. Why now?  LA’s moment is now. There is so much happening on the ground in LA’s art scene – including the international acknowledgement that LA is a vitally important art center and art production center - there is a palpable buzz in this city. For these reasons we are opening the fair and believe that the market is ready for a fair with importance and significance.

Q:You have been in MOCA and LA art scene for a long time, what is your observation of LA art market and collectors? Is the collector base as large as New York?

AGLA has a vibrant art market with very active and important collectors who support the city’s artist, galleries and museums, and the market thrives on their support. While the collectors here have a broad international view, I believe they truly enjoy the engagement, relationships, and direct impact of their support of the LA scene.

I think there may be more well-known collectors in New York but there are definitely more collectors doing important work under the radar in LA.

Q:Are there any differences between the West and the East Coast collectors, in terms of preferences, taste, collecting habits, age, and occupation?

AGYes, there are differences in all these categories, particularly because the entertainment industry is in LA, but habits are hard to typify. I might say the LA collectors are more adventurous because of the frontier mentality in Los Angeles.


                      Art Platform- Los Angeles will launch in LA Mart, Los Angeles ©Art Platform- Los Angeles

Q:To hold an brand new art fair in LA, do you have strategy to differ from existing LA art fairs and other art fairs ex. NY the Armory, in terms of attracting collectors, inviting galleries to present artworks suitable for LA and the West Coast collectors?

AGArt Platform is opening at the same time as the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 (PST), an enormous region wide effort with over 70 not-for-profits celebrating the history of Los Angeles as an art center. Saying this, the focus of PST is art in LA from 1945-80, so we are in a position where we can complement the focus of PST by bringing in more contemporary work and also pieces contemporaneous with the PST focus that are available for acquisition. We are fortunate to have MMPI behind this effort as the largest world-wide producer of art fairs, so we have amazing resources, the great reputation of The Armory Show and a broad marketing capability available to us. 

Q:There are many Asian new rich living in the West Coast, do you have any observation about their market here? Do you have any special marketing plan for Asian (the West Coast and abroad) collectors?

AGThe many Asian collectors who are sympathetic to the arts are playing a greater role in LA and the West Coast and we see this fair as developing into a fair that addresses the needs of the entire Pacific Rim.

Q:Could you please introduce Art Platform — Los Angeles? How many galleries will participate? Are there any mentionable galleries from local, US and international? Will there be any special projects or exhibitions? Will there be any special events with museum and private collectors?

AGWe will have approximately 70 galleries exhibiting at Art Platform. Our final list of exhibitors is not ready for publication at this time. By virtue of the alignment of our dates with the Getty’s PST, there will be a host of outside projects and events open to the public and the major local and international collectors in attendance. We are also working on public displays of important and monumental sculpture at the LA Mart, we are planning our Open Platform public programming that will occur during the fair along with a robust VIP program which will open up and demystify this city in a way and on a scale that it has never been done before.

Q:Could you please also introduce your venue L.A. Mart?

AGThe LA Mart has been an important center in downtown LA for many years. Art Platform will be located on the first floor of the Mart and has over 50,000 square feet to hold the fair and our programs. We have long been an active civic participant in downtown LA and have witnessed the renaissance of the downtown area, including The Walt Disney Concert Hall, REDCAT, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), the future site of the Broad Museum, just to name a few, and we are planning to cement the LA Mart as a vital partner in this celebrated section of the city.

Q:Will Art Platform — Los Angeles pay special attention to LA local artists?

AGYes. We are requesting that dealers submit exhibition proposals with the goal of contextualizing LA’s rich history and current position as one of the world’s great art centers.

            Art Platform- Los Angeles will launch in LA Mart, Los Angeles ©Art Platform- Los Angeles

Q:LA artists’ market has been growing in these two years, there were several notable gallery exhibitions ex. David Zwirner’s “Primary Atmospheres: Works from California 1960-1970”, and museum exhibitions ex. John Baldessari’s tour. What do you think about the market growth? Does it affect the birth of Art Platform — Los Angeles?

AGYes, these exhibitions speak to the growing importance of LA as art center of importance.

Q:There were many predictions that the LA art market and art scene is growing and will become as important as New York. But there was also galleries deciding to leave LA last year. What do you think about the change? Was LA art market influenced by financial crisis as New York? Did LA market recover already?

AGYes, it has grown and is growing, but the economies of an art gallery are inherently volatile especially during the economic climate of the past few years. At different times for different reasons galleries will open and close in any city. For instance L&M Arts just opened in Venice and the Matthew Marks Gallery is scheduled to open a new space in LA in 2012. I think these speak to the strength of the market and how galleries in New York say, look to LA as part of their global strategic plans. I would personally not be surprised if more galleries open up satellite locations here. As for the financial crisis, I would say we as a city were not influenced as much as New York or other cities as so much of LA’s economic base is now entertainment oriented; people enjoy distractions from their day-to-day, especially in hard times. In whole, the majority of LA collectors are fine as are many LA galleries.  For galleries, it’s more a question of compelling content – and LA has no shortage of great and important artists. 

Q:How about the auction houses, are there many movement of major auction houses?

AGAuction houses have always looked to Los Angeles as a great source for material and collectors and in turn play an important role in any market, LA included. However, I am not aware of any specific plans by the major auctions houses to open in LA.

Q:There have been some big happenings in LA art scene last year, such as Mr. Deitch became MOCA director, Mr. Broad will built-up his museum in downtown LA, and now your new art fair is coming in September. What is your expectation to LA art scene and Art Platform — Los Angeles?

AGAll of this speaks to the growing importance of LA as an art center and were certainly factors in our decision to launch Art Platform—Los Angeles. This fair will become a platform for the arts in LA and we hope to be part of cementing LA’s reputation as one of the world’s great arts centers.