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The Frieze Art Fair is going Hollywood

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Frieze Los Angeles executive director Bettina Korek: "I am very cognizant of the fact that part of what's going to make this successful, particularly in its inaugural year, is establishing a marketplace in a city that is known for artists."

Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES is a place where desire, fantasy and commerce come together, yet contemporary art has traditionally been overshadowed by the star power of Hollywood. Still, the city has quietly emerged as an important contemporary art hub - a process that has been decades in the making.

It's with "a hunger to build on this already fantastic foundation," that Frieze Los Angeles, the newest iteration of the British fair, will debut next year, says Frieze co-founder Amanda Sharp. It is scheduled for Feb 14-17, between the Grammy Awards and the Academy Awards.

Bettina Korek, a local art impresario and founder of the Los Angeles-based arts organisation ForYourArt, will be the event's executive director. Ms Korek has been supporting the city's contemporary art community for several years.

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Ms Korek has her work cut out for her. Los Angeles has been better known for its iconoclastic artists, like John Baldessari, Mark Bradford and Catherine Opie, than for the strength of its commercial market. And shifting the city from a centre of art production to art consumption will be a crucial barometer of Frieze's success.

"I am very cognizant of the fact that part of what's going to make this successful, particularly in its inaugural year, is establishing a marketplace in a city that is known for artists," Ms Korek said.

Fortunately, Frieze Los Angeles will be able to build on a handful of earlier large-scale successes with major multi-institutional initiatives like the Getty's "Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980" and "Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA."

"The exhibition recognised that this city produces stars whose work reflects the region, and that it has a sense of character distinct from New York," says Hamza Walker, executive director of LAXART and curator of Frieze Los Angeles' "Talks and Music" programme.

Los Angeles also has a new crop of deep-pocketed arts institutions like the privately owned Broad Museum and the Marciano Art Foundation. There are also sizeable expansion initiatives at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Hammer Museum. These developments - coupled with Frieze's focus on local galleries and artists - should help solidify the city's status as a vital centre for visual arts.

"The fact is that a number of LA artists who existed on the margins are no longer decentralised; they are central figures in our conversations on the history of art," said David Kordansky, who owns the David Kordansky Gallery, which is one of 68 participating in Frieze Los Angeles. All of this momentum, he said, has activated a local collector base of people who have typically shopped elsewhere for art. "Collectors are no longer looking to New York, they're looking to their own backyard," Mr Kordansky said.

And Frieze clearly intends to become a central figure in this newly confident market. "Not everyone can get on a plane and go to Miami or London for the fairs there," Mr Kordansky said.

Still, Frieze is not relying on the same formula that made its London and New York versions so successful. For instance, the fair is forgoing its usual application process in Los Angeles. Instead, it has tapped Mr Kordansky and five other gallerists to invite a select roster of galleries to take part in the inaugural edition.

The fair will be full of major American galleries like David Zwirner, Gagosian and Marian Goodman Gallery, alongside international heavyweights from 15 nations, such as London's White Cube, Kukje Gallery from Seoul and Mexico City's OMR. A large section will also be devoted to important local galleries like Blum & Poe and Regen Projects and more experimental, emerging spaces like the Box and Anat Ebgi.

For many galleries, the decision to join Frieze's Los Angeles edition could also be tied to the fair's notable new West Coast connection: In 2016, Endeavor, which is led by influential agent Ari Emanuel, purchased a (still undisclosed) stake in Frieze.

"With Frieze's knowledge of the art world, combined with Ari's knowledge of the Hollywood industry, this could be a happy marriage," said Charlotte Burns, executive editor of In Other Words, an online magazine from Art Agency, Partners. "Generally Hollywood has always been a hard industry to crack because it's a creative industry focused on its own creation," Ms Burns added. But this "is a classical mathematical equation that seems logical".

Mr Emanuel is also one of 77 members of the fair's host committee, which includes Hollywood and sports celebrities like Salma Hayek and Serena Williams, and Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles.

Frieze's Los Angeles location - in a custom tent on the Paramount Pictures studio lot - is also emblematic of the fair's Hollywood ambitions. The tent will be designed by architect Kulapat Yantrasastof wHY, the firm behind the new Marciano Art Foundation. Like Frieze in London and New York, Frieze Los Angeles will also feature smaller events. Ali Subotnick, an adjunct curator at the Hammer Museum, will curate a site-specific art and film series called Frieze Projects, which will include works from Barbara Kruger and Karon Davis displayed against Paramount's iconic New York backlot.

Frieze is not the first global fair to set up shop on the Paramount lot. In 2013, Paris Photo started an edition that ran for three years. Plans for the fourth iteration were scrapped after sales floundered.

But the demise of Paris Photo does not necessarily mean that Frieze potentially faces a similar fate. The price point for contemporary art, particularly the kind of work likely coming to Frieze Los Angeles, is vastly higher than the smaller-scale - and lower-priced - works exhibited at Paris Photo. One major sale at Frieze could potentially cover a gallery's operating costs.

Yet even if initial sales in the first year are modest, Frieze intends to remain in Los Angeles for some time.

"We are not quick to launch new art fairs," said Victoria Siddall, who is the director of all three Frieze fairs. "This is a long-term commitment that has been years in the works. We have done a huge amount of research that has shown that this is something the city wants, the market wants and the galleries want." NYTIMES