Action! Los Angeles Glitterati Descend on a Frenetic First Day of Frieze, Snapping Up Works and Posing for the Cameras

The art fair is back after two years at swanky new digs in Beverly Hills.

An attendee holds the Frieze Week Magazine on the first day of Frieze Los Angeles, a leading international art fair, February 17, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images.

Crowds of eager visitors and collectors—along with a healthy dose of bold-face Hollywood names—descended on Frieze Los Angeles yesterday, as the curtain raised on the art fair’s 2022 edition. Returning after a year’s hiatus to a spacious new location in Beverly Hills—a bespoke white tent adjacent to the sprawling Beverly Hilton hotel—the reboot was by all accounts a triumphant one. 

Seemingly before the fair’s new director, Christine Messineo, even had time to call “action!” yesterday morning, reports of sales began coming in fast and furious. Inside the tent, there was no shortage of colorful, eye-catching works that popped even more against the white walls and tent cover—flashy set dressing that felt very appropriate for an art fair aimed at the upper echelons of both the art market and Hollywood.

The mood was buoyant and energetic. Senior director of Galerie Max Hetzler Florian Rehn, told Artnet News he thought the fair’s new location had something to do with it. “We’re happy to be back in this frantic art scene, I think that the location change has played out well,” Rehn said. Previously the fair took place at Paramount Pictures’ historic studio lot in Hollywood. “The studios were fantastic, but it always felt like you needed a car to get there,” he added. “Here, it’s more central. I know that doesn’t exist in L.A., but it feels like that.” 

The perks of being back in a face-to-face setting after the pandemic weren’t lost on gallerists. “The sales have been very, very, very good. It’s great to be able to meet new people in person,” said Nicolas de Cherisey, a director with Almine Rech, noting that his booth had nearly sold out, with several pieces going to new collectors. “Some of them from Hollywood, yes,” he nodded. 

Frieze Los Angeles 2022. Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy of Casey Kelbaugh/Frieze.

Frieze Los Angeles 2022. Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy of Casey Kelbaugh/Frieze.

Mega-gallery Gagosian jumped headfirst into the Los Angeles spirit, erecting Chris Burden’s large-format structure Dreamer’s Folly (2010) inside its booth. Instagram feeds quickly began to light up with visitors posing beneath it, recalling Burden’s iconic Urban Light, which is permanently installed outside LACMA. Dreamer’s Folly sold on day one to what the gallery said is an “important European institution.” Fun fact: Chris Burden was actually the first artist to be represented by Larry in 1978. 

“We’re thrilled to be back at Frieze L.A.,” said Hauser and Wirth president Marc Payot. The gallery, which is preparing to open a second L.A. location, in West Hollywood, had a solo presentation by Camille Henrot, marking the French artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, and her first showing with the gallery since joining last fall.

Camille Henrot, Dos and Don'ts - The Old Rule (2022). Image courtesy the artist and Hauser and Wirth.

Camille Henrot, Dos and Don’ts – The Old Rule (2022). Image courtesy the artist and Hauser and Wirth.

Overall prices for Henrot at the fair ranged from $20,000 to $140,000. Among the most expensive were Dos and Don’ts—The Old Rule (2022), and Dos and Don’ts—True Politeness (2022), which each sold for $140,000. Demonstrating the “tremendous” response to her work on day one, Payot said a total of 23 works had been placed in various collections.

Early in the day, Thaddaeus Ropac gallery also reported major sales, including Georg Baselitz’s upside down painting Eisdiele (2020) for $1.5 million (€1.35 million); a 1998 Robert Rauschenberg work for $1.1 million; and Martha Jungwirth’s painting Ohne Titel, aus der Serie “Corona-Biester” (2021) for $216,000 (€190,000).

Meanwhile, White Cube reported roughly a dozen sales in the fair’s opening hours, including two works by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes: O Bailarino (2019) for $1.2 million and Hawai em Amarelo Vibrante (2019), a collage, for $200,000. 

Thomas Houseago. Purple Sunset on the Pool - Early Moonrise (for DH), (2022)

Thomas Houseago. Purple Sunset on the Pool – Early Moonrise (for DH), (2022)

It was the first time at Frieze L.A. for Sean Kelly, one of an armada of East Coast galleries that have recently announced plans to open up shop in the city. “The fair has been high energy and felt almost pre-Covid, but with masks,” the gallerist told Artnet News. “It’s been great to share news about the opening.” Sales included a sculpture by Antony Gormley for $544,000 (£400,000); and works by Hugo McCloud ($200,000), Shahzia Sikander ($175,000), Alec Soth ($16,000), Idris Khan ($204,000), and Wu Chi-Tsung ($55,000).

Antwerp gallery Zeno X said sales at its booth, featuring mostly women artists, included two paintings by Marina Rheingantz for $48,000 each, and a third for $34,000. Later in the day, the gallery parted with two sculptures by fashion designer Martin Margiela: Torso II (black) (2018–21) and Torso III (dark) (2018–21), for around $50,000 each, as well as a painting by Marlene Dumas, In-Finitum (2008), for around $600,000, and a piece by Jack Whitten, 82 Degres F (27.777C) (11) (2011), for roughly $500,000.

Belgian dealer Xavier Hufkens sold nearly all his new large-scale paintings by Thomas Houseago—which mark a new direction and subject matter for the artist, while still recalling elements of his signature skeletal figures—at prices around $350,000. Associate director Ana Zoe Zijlstra told Artnet News that a work titled Purple Sunset on the Pool will be going to LACMA.

Glenn Kaino, Revolutions (2021), presented by PACE. Frieze Los Angeles 2022. Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy of Casey Kelbaugh/Frieze.

Glenn Kaino, Revolutions (2021), presented by PACE. Frieze Los Angeles 2022. Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy of Casey Kelbaugh/Frieze.

Pace, which recently bought out Kayne Griffin to establish a new West Coast flagship, also had a fast-paced opening day.

Sales included a “Gazing Ball” sculpture by Jeff Koons for under $3 million, as well as five NFTs from Leo Villareal’s “Cosmic Reef” series, his first foray into the realm, which sold for 2.0 ETH (about $6,000) each. One was purchased by collector Suzanne Deal Booth.

The gallery also sold a new painting by Paulina Olowska, Artist’s Flea Market (2021), for $200,000, marking the Metro Pictures alumna’s debut showing with the gallery since joining its roster earlier this year. It also placed a new painting by Nigel Cooke with an institution in Asia for $285,000.

Finally, in-person events meant in-person performances. Pace hosted a piece by Glenn Kaino, who constructed a circular xylophone made to look like prison bars. Kaino played the piece to reveal the opening notes of the U2 song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” about the massacre in Ireland in 1972. The artist explained to a crowd that he was inspired by meeting John Lewis, who survived another Bloody Sunday attack by police in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 during the Civil Rights movement. The piece, titled Revolutions, was accompanied by a musical performance by Wally Ingram.

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