Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and Jodie Foster were among early visitors to the second edition of the specialist fair Paris Photo Los Angeles, which ended on Sunday. The venue of the fair, in Hollywood’s Paramount Pictures Studios, was magical: under the blazing Californian sun, visitors strolled around booths set up in four sound stages and inside the buildings of the fake New York backlot, realistic down to the painted chewing gum on the pavements.
“The choice of the venue is inspired; this is the only fair in a working movie studio,” said Tim Jefferies of London’s Hamiltons Gallery, speaking in his elegantly tricked-out booth showing works by artists from Richard Avedon to Daido Moriyama.
Boasting 81 dealers, half of them American, the fair offered 31 solo shows, from such established photographers as Candida Höfer with Cologne’s Thomas Zander to the young Brazilian Rodrigo Kassab with São Paulo’s Lume. As for sales, these were reportedly better than last year, which was weak, even if the fair is still establishing its niche.
Movie stars and photography seem to be made for each other but completing the transaction was sometimes another matter: while Pitt just admired erotic auto-portraits by Pierre Molinier at Christophe Gaillard, the established collector Beth DeWoody actually bought one.
Overall the US dealers fared particularly well: 303 Gallery placed eight images of Arizona and Israel by Stephen Shore, while Black Ship sold 37 photos with redacted texts by Cristina De Middel.
The arrival of Paris Photo in LA is just another sign of the drastic changes that have taken place on the City of Angels’ art scene in the past few years. The watershed was certainly the 2011 Pacific Standard Time (PST) project, which brought together 60 Californian institutions; major dealers are opening in the city, and its artists – from Larry Bell to Ed Ruscha – are internationally famed. Even so, says the San Francisco dealer François Ghebaly, “The scene’s full potential has not yet been realised.”
Developing that potential is the goal of Reed Exhibitions, which owns Paris Photo as well as the leading French contemporary artfest Fiac (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain). It is launching an LA offshoot of Fiac in late May next year, and will shift Paris Photo to coincide with it. Fiac LA’s director is Jill Silverman van Coenegrachts, formerly a partner with Thaddaeus Ropac, and she says that she is still working on the “concept” of the event. “It will be unlike any other fair – fresh and innovative,” she says. “Things have changed here enormously in 10 years, and particularly since PST,” she adds. “The collector base has expanded and is now into the third generation. The US remains the world’s largest market for art but here we are on the edge of the Pacific; the light and the tempo are different.”
Fiac LA will include modern and contemporary art plus architecture and design. It will be held in the convention centre in Downtown – “the most dynamic district in LA”, according to Ghebaly, even if it is a schlep from Beverly Hills, where the best-heeled people live.
However, the art calendar reshuffle triggered by the Venice Biennale’s move to early May next year has seen many fairs scrambling for new dates. Local cultural entrepreneur and collector Scott Stover says that some professionals were questioning Fiac’s scheduling, which lands it three weeks after the opening of Venice and three weeks before Basel. Silverman’s response is that “the US has huge geographical differences between east and west, and north and south: there’s room for everyone.”
In a move eastward, the Los Angeles dealer Blum & Poe has just opened a New York outlet in the oh-so-smart Upper East Side, inaugurating it with a show of Butterfly paintings by the Californian Mark Grotjahn. Meanwhile, its artist Takashi Murakami is launching his debut sci-fi feature film Jellyfish Eyes, showing at a number of museums in Seattle, Chicago, LA and New York. Harry Potter-meets-manga, judging from the trailer. jellyfisheyesthemovie.com
Just how much is the online market for art worth? Estimates vary enormously: in her latest Tefaf report, art economist Clare McAndrew put the figure at €2.5bn ($3.47bn) in 2013, around 5 per cent of global sales of art and antiques. But now along comes the specialist insurer Hiscox with much lower figures: it says that the market for the same year was worth far less – $1.57bn – and that online art buying was just 2.4 per cent of the total market of around $65bn.
The difference shows up all the problems assessing this market. Hiscox admits its figures are “likely to be on the conservative side”, as they are based on verified figures from transactions entirely made online, not just completed online. The Tefaf report covers more players but includes all transactions completed online. The two reports also diverge for future performance: Hiscox predicts the online market will swell to $3.76bn by 2018, while Tefaf says it could reach an eye-popping $14bn by 2020.
The figures for art sales in Taiwan tend to be lumped in with “China” in many reports, making it another area that is difficult to assess. But with 28 Taiwanese billionaires listed by Forbes last year, the country’s buying is more significant than is often realised. However, there is a 3 per cent local tax on art, and one of the reasons a number of foreign galleries have set up shop in tax-free Hong Kong is to attract Taiwanese buyers. As well as buying Chinese artists such as Zao Wou-ki or Sanyu, the Taiwanese like western brand names. According to David Kearney of the leading Taipei auction house Ravenel, “Almost every collection in Taiwan has a Hirst, a Dalí and an Yves Klein sponge.”
Now the Taiwanese ministry of culture has set up an Art Bank Programme to promote local artists. It is buying art from young artists and exhibiting it at the Art Bank HQ in Taichung, as well as renting it out or sending it to embassies around the world. An annual budget of $2.33m has been put aside for the project, and last year the ministry bought 346 works by 195 artists. The core concept, said Taiwan’s culture minister Lung Ying-tai at the opening, is to let Taiwanese children see local artists “instead of being educated on replicas of Picasso or Monet paintings”.
Georgina Adam is art market editor-at-large of The Art Newspaper
New York fairs
Frieze New York
Randall’s Island Park
The landmark art fair with over 190 world-leading galleries, artists, events, talks and what it bills as New York’s “most exciting eateries”. The more hefty entry price of $43 may well be worth it, particularly as tickets can also be used to gain free access to many of the smaller fairs running across the city.
Collective Design Fair
Skylight at Moynihan Station 360 West 33rd Street
Collective was started by architect and designer Steven Learner as a commercial and educational platform for designers, collectors and gallerists. Expect to find conceptual pieces among more finished items, such as last year’s “Blow Me” foyer piece by Sebastian Errazuriz which set the tone for this multidisciplinary fair.
Outsider Art Fair
Center 548, West 22nd Street
French artist Jean Dubuffet coined the term “art brut” (raw art) in 1947 to describe the practice of divergent groups who were “unscathed by artistic culture” and “outside” aesthetic and academic rhetoric. Fifty years later, Outsider Art Fair continues to explore this in projects that challenge what we define as art. This year it hosts Baumann + Muksian, a project by Swiss curator Daniel Baumann and San Francisco-based artist Aram Muksian.
The Armory, Lexington Avenue at 25th Street
The inaugural fair from the Art Miami team will focus on emerging talent, established contemporary, Modern and postwar artists. Downtown will fill the landmark historic Armory building with more than 600 artists from 35 countries.
Pulse New York
The Metropolitan Pavilion 125 West 18th Street
Dedicated to nurturing international galleries and artists, Pulse promises visitors a dynamic experience. Look out for Jessica Drenk’s tactile “Implement 36”, reversing the nature-to-man-made process in a conch-like sculpture. Each year a cash award is granted to one artist, who is also given a solo show during the fair
Pier 36, Basketball City 299 South Street
Nada is an acronym for the National Art Dealers Alliance, founded in 2002 as a not-for-profit collective of contemporary art professionals. Its pier-side venue in Basketball City sets this fair apart from others of similar size, giving artists and galleries light and spacious setting for their work.
11 Rivington Street, Lower East Side
Unlike other fairs, PooL offers curators, dealers and collectors the chance to seek out new talent from the pool of unrepresented artists. An exhibition space and meeting place for artists, collectors and industry professionals, this event may be a welcome alternative to the more formal art fair setting.
Cutlog New York
The Clemente, 107 Suffolk St
Set in a former school in the Lower East Side, this cutting-edge addition to the New York fair scene is a chance to see lesser-known contemporary artists in the grittier setting of the Clemente building.
Royal College of Art, London
In the shadows of London’s Royal Opera House, the Royal College of Art will host galleries from across the world at this fair. International specialists in Japanese, Russian, Polish and Ukrainian art will be showing works alongside highlight pieces by Matisse, Braque and Chagall.
Art Basel Hong Kong
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wanchai
An extensive fair with works spanning 12 decades, Art Basel will feature more than 2,000 artists from Asia and the rest of the world.
Festival Pavillion, Fort Mason Centre, San Francisco
San Francisco’s Bay Area is transformed into a world-class contemporary art fair. ArtMarkt offers a wide range of emerging and established artists from around the world.
Central House of Artists, Krymsky Val, Moscow
The fourth Moscow Biennale will take place alongside Arch Moscow, a domestic and foreign platform for architecture and design.
Harbiye Military Museum and Congress, Istanbul
Artbosphorus is as much about seeing art as it is for buying it. This year visitors can expect multimedia installations, video projects and a sculpture garden in the historic setting just off Istanbul’s Taksim Square.
Messe Basel, Messeplatz, Basel
An exposition of museum- quality exhibitions with design, art, architecture and fashion from all over the world, this fair is the design sibling to Art Basel next door.
Messe Basel, Messeplatz, Basel
The premiere international art fair with more than 300 international galleries in attendance.