5 Questions for Felix Art Fair Cofounder Dean Valentine About Los Angeles’s Buzzy Art Market

The collector and art fair leader discusses the energy coursing through LA as the city’s art world infrastructure catches up with its abundance of creativity.

Dean Valentine. Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage.

This article is part of the Artnet Intelligence Report Year Ahead 2024. Through in-depth analysis of last year’s market performance, the new edition paints a data-driven picture of the art world today, from the latest auction results to the artists and artworks leading the conversation.


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What three words describe the state of Los Angeles’s art market?
Global art hub.

Where is Los Angeles’s art market headed in 2024?

We’re at a particularly vibrant moment for L.A. There’s the whole raft of new galleries that have opened—some local, some national, and some international. It feels in some ways that the art world here has doubled in size in the space of a year.

Everyone is very eager to see LACMA’s expansion, and the Hammer has been firing on all cylinders. People are very excited about [the Hammer biennial] “Made in L.A.” There seem to be some new collectors out there. All of it is good.

This energy out West has been chattered about for years. Do you think it’s safe to say Los Angeles has irrevocably arrived, so to speak?

From a historical point of view, there’s always a little bit of skepticism, because L.A. has had moments before where it looked like things were really about to explode, and then they didn’t. It went the other way, or it just petered out. And some of these galleries [coming to L.A.] haven’t opened yet or even been built. So we’ll have to see. The question has always been if there’s a large enough collector base here to sustain multiple large galleries. That remains to be seen.

But I don’t think the collector base is the rationale for why a lot of these galleries moved out here. They wanted to be closer to the artists they show or want to show, and it makes sense from a cost-benefit perspective. But there needs to be some kind of collector base who provides the energy, because otherwise you’re just relying on art fairs. There’s reason to be excited. I don’t think there’s any other place that’s seen this kind of growth.

The scene at the 2023 Felix Art Fair at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh.

The scene at the 2023 Felix Art Fair at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh.

Why hasn’t it happened before?

The issue with L.A. is that the artists were always here, and the creativity was here. But the art world infrastructure was lacking. All that seems to be catching up now.

Where does Felix Art Fair, which you run along with Mills Morán, come into play within this new landscape?

Felix is in our fifth year. We don’t really want to expand, and we can’t actually because of the hotel format that we have. We can’t just magically make rooms appear. But Felix and Frieze are part of the larger trend of growth in L.A.

I think 2023 was really a year of slow recovery. Everyone’s still feeling their way around, but you can feel the energy gathering. Some global art fairs were a little more limp than others, but there was a certain level of activity still. There’s a coming back to life that’s happening, in society as a whole.


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