installation of artworks

Olafur Eliasson: Your light spectrum and presence installation view at Tanya Bonakdar gallery

As Los Angeles gets ready to launch this year’s edition of Frieze, our Contributing Editor Sophie Neuendorf shares her must-see exhibitions and events happening around the city

Sophie Neuendorf

I have a special fondness for Los Angeles and not just for the sun and sea. My father spent a lot of time in the city. During his days as a gallerist, he travelled to LA to discover fresh talent, many of whom he showed or represented, developing several life-long friendships.

One of those artists was David Hockney, who loaned my father his car when he did his driving test and bought him an ice cream to celebrate. Another life-long friend was Robert Graham, a marvellous Mexican-American sculptor, well-known for not only his art but also his cameos in Wes Anderson movies (not to mention his glamorous wife, the inimitable Anjelica Huston).

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Venice Beach was one of his favourite spots, where his friend the artist Billy Al Bengston still lives and works today. One of Ferus Gallery’s artists, Billy’s unique, ethereal West Coast Pop is unmistakable and continues to inspire many artists and designers. Most recently, he worked with Yves Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane on a fashion show.

artist studio

Artist Billy Al Bengston at work in his studio

Now, as the art world flocks to the city for Frieze, I’ve put together a list of must-see exhibitions, events and projects.

Frieze Los Angeles

This year, Frieze (17 to 20 February) has moved from Paramount Studios to a new location, a tent adjacent to the Beverly Hills Hilton. It will, however, spill out across the city with monumental installations for Frieze Projects, including Mel Bochner’s Street Sign, which you can spot while travelling northbound on Merv Griffin Way across from the fair. The fair also welcomes a new director Christine Messineo and will feature 100 galleries, both local and international with exhibitors from 17 countries. The crowd promises to be nearly as colourful as the works for sale, studded with artists, collectors, celebrities, and fashionistas.

Felix Art Fair

Launched by collector and television mogul Dean Valentine, Felix (17 to 20 February) is a more intimate, edgier alternative to Frieze. Taking place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, it will feature 60 international galleries, exhibiting in the cabanas alongside the David Hockney-painted pool and in the guest-rooms on floors 10 and 11.

Read more: Michael Xufu Huang on Making Art More Accessible

Womanhouse

Curators Barret Lybbert and Stefano Di Paola are curating a show commemorating the 50th anniversary of Womanhouse, an immersive installation co-organised by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro featuring work by 21 women artists. In the same radical spirit as the original installation, there’s no set artist list and the exhibition will evolve over its duration (18 Feb to 2 April) in an East Hollywood storefront.

Gallery Exhibitions

To coincide with Frieze, Gagosian is showing 10 recent works by Jeff Wall, marking the artist’s first exhibition in Los Angeles in nearly 20 years (on until 26 March 2022). Seven of the photographs were made in LA, where Wall lives and works in addition to his native Vancouver.

Over at Sprüth Magers, a show by artist Lucy Dodd (on until 12 March) is also a must-see while Nino Mier gallery is opening a show by hard-edge painter Georg Karl Pfahler, whose groundbreaking works will also be on view at Simon Lee’s London space this spring (read my interview with Simon Lee here for more info on what to expect).

restaurant interiors

Manuela restaurant at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

If you’re stopping by Hauser & Wirth’s impressive space to see Phyllida Barlow’s exhibition (I highly recommend you do), get in some R&R at their iconic restaurant, aptly named Manuela after the gallery’s co-founder and then pop by Tanya Bonakdar gallery to see Your light spectrum and presence, a solo exhibition by Olafur Eliasson. The show features eleven circular paintings created between 2012 and 2021, demonstrating Eliasson’s long-standing investigation into light, colour and the ways we perceive and interact with our surroundings.

Read more: The Best Art Exhibitions to See in February

It’s always worth a visit to the Getty Center, which is currently showing Poussin and the Dance (until 8 May) in collaboration with London’s National Gallery. The exhibition establishes a dialogue between 17th-century French painter Nicolas Poussin’s dancing pictures and new dance films by Los Angeles-based choreographers.

artist sculpture

untitled: skirt i; 2019. © Phyllida Barlow. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: ©2020 Alex Delfanne, All Rights Reserved

End Frieze week on a high note by visiting the absolutely unmissable LACMA exhibition Black American Portraits with work by Kehinde Wiley, Calida Rawles, and Catherine Opie (on until 17 April). Several of the artists in the exhibition will also be showing work at Frieze, albeit at different galleries. Wiley – whose 2018 portrait of former President Obama was also on view at LACMA in a separate exhibition that included Amy Sherald’s portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama – will be part of Roberts Projects’ group exhibition at Frieze. The gallery will also present an exciting new portrait by Wiley while Rawles’ work will be on view at Various Small Fires’ booth, and Opie will be part of Regen Projects’ Frieze presentation.

Sophie Neuendorf is Vice-President at artnet. Find out more: artnet.com