Frieze Los Angeles couldn’t come at a better time. While Europe and the East Coast are gripped by the grim grey of February, California lends its sunny disposition to art lovers. The second LA edition of Frieze kicks off on 14 February and the city will be abuzz with art happenings. Here are some of the highlights.
The first fair of the year is being taken very seriously by galleries. Pace and Kayne Griffin Corcoran are devoting a booth to James Turrell – an artist on everyone’s lips after Kanye West gave the American artist’s life-long Roden Crater project a serious cash injection. Goodman Gallery, the first gallery from Africa to show at the fair, is bringing some stunning work by Zimbabwe-born painters Misheck Masamvu and Kudzanai Chiurai. Meanwhile, artists such as Lorna Simpson and Gary Simmons are showing performance and film works amid the backlot set of Paramount Pictures Studios. 14-16 February; Paramount Pictures Studios, 5555 Melrose Avenue; frieze.com
Almost immediately, Frieze has spawned a satellite fair. Co-founded by Dean Valentine and gallerist brothers Al and Mills Morán, Felix is based at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel and its selection of mid-tier and emerging galleries is seriously impressive – ranging from Berlin’s Tanya Leighton and San Francisco’s Jessica Silverman Gallery to Brussels/New York space Clearing. Burgeoning London gallery Soft Opening is one not to miss, with its group showcase including sculptors Hamish Pearch and Nevine Mahmoud alongside the seductive, figurative paintings of Ariana Papademetropoulos. The Special Projects Section here is also worth a look; curated by William J Simmons on activism and identity, it features artists such as LA’s Math Bass and Judy Chicago. 14-16 February; The Hollywood Roosevelt, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard; felixfair.com
Hauser & Wirth is opening a serious show of Fontana’s Spatial Environments, created between 1948 and 1968. This is immersive art before it was even a concept. Nine environments will be presented in this vigorously researched exhibition, highlighting Fontana’s huge influence on conceptual art. Using light, space, neon and paint, the innovation of this work is undeniable, predating both James Turrell’s and Yayoi Kusama’s explorations of experiential space. This is the show anyone in town will head to first. Plus there's the chance to see the otherworldly paintings of New York-based Swiss artist Nicolas Party, on show at the same time. 15 February to 12 April; 901 East Third Street; hauserwirth.com
50+50: A Creative Century from Chouinard to CalArts
CalArts is one of California’s most prestigious art schools, where the late, great John Baldessari taught for many years. Redcat gallery is hosting a show of limited-edition works by CalArts alumni including Barbara T Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, Tony Oursler and Stephen Prina. With prices ranging from $1,500 up to $150,000, sales are raising funds for a CalArts scholarship initiative and will continue with curated groups of 10 artists over the next five years (hence the 50 + 50 in the title). This is the hot ticket for philanthropic collectors – and those who love Baldessari’s self-portrait as a very large penguin. 12 February to 22 March; 631 West Second Street; redcat.org
Julie Mehretu and Betye Saar
Part of the pleasure of any art fair is the opportunity to catch museum shows in town. Frieze coincides with the last few days of Shirin Neshat at The Broad; a new Paul McCarthy show of drawings at the Hammer; and an exhibition honouring the contribution of indigenous Americans to the city at LAXART. It would be unspeakable, however, not to recommend visiting two exceptional shows at LACMA. Ninetysomething local Betye Saar is being given her first California museum show, comparing her sketches and finished works, while abstract painter Julie Mehretu is represented by a mid-career survey. Both are unmissable. Betye Saar, Call and Response, until 5 April; Julie Mehretu, until 22 March; LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard; lacma.org