Frieze Los Angeles Is Smaller This Year, but Dealers Are Doing Big Business

Now consolidated under a single roof, the fair was bristling with energy during the VIP preview. Sales were fast and furious.

VIP day at Frieze Los Angeles, February 29, 2024, at Santa Monica Airport. Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

Crowds filled the aisles of Frieze Los Angeles this afternoon during the fair’s VIP preview, and as usual, a bevy of celebrities were on hand early, including Robert Downey Jr., Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Ferrell, and Matthew McConaughey.

This year’s edition has 98 galleries, down from 130 last year, and the layout is much more manageable. For this second outing at the Santa Monica Airport, all of the exhibitors are under one tent. Last time, a satellite tent was situated across the air field, 10 minutes away by foot. (Yes, there were golf-cart shuttles, but dealers in that section grumbled.)

The physical consolidation of the fair may have provided some extra energy. Many dealers were boasting of robust sales in the opening hours of the fair.

Hauser & Wirth president Marc Payot called it “the most successful first day at Frieze L.A. since the first year of the fair,” in 2019. The mega gallery opened its first L.A. branch in 2016, and added a second one last year. Its strong showing was “the outcome of eight years of being here, on the ground in L.A.,” Payot said, “with our artists and in daily, organic, ongoing dialogue with the city and its amazing community of curators, collectors, institutions and schools.”

Firelei Báez , Balangandan (we are each other’s magnitude and bond) (2024). Image courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

Firelei Báez , Balangandan (we are each other’s magnitude and bond), 2024. Image courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

Hauser & Wirth said that it sold 14 works, including a giant painting by Firelei Baez, Balangandan (2024), hanging at the front of the booth, for $415,000. It also sold two Mark Bradford Ghost Ship paintings (both 2022) for $175,000 each, and works by Rita Ackermann, Frank Bowling, John Chamberlain, Ed Clark, Charles Gaines, Luchita Hurtado, Henry Taylor, Uman, and Flora Yuknovich.

New York dealer James Fuentes, who expanded to L.A. last year, sold a work by the late Geoffrey Holder, Portrait of a Girl (1992), to a trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles for $100,000. A piece by Kikuo Saito, who will inaugurate Fuentes’s soon-to-open Tribeca space, went for $120,000.

On the heels of “great success” at Frieze Seoul, San Francisco dealer Jessica Silverman said that she wanted to do a “blockbuster booth of women artists.” In the opening hours, her sales included an oil stick-on-linen painting, Betweenwhiles (2024), by Hayal Pozanti for $75,000, an oil painting by Rebecca Ness for $55,000, all five cast-bronze bells on view by Davina Semo for $38,000 each, a pigment and shell gold on hemp paper work by Rupy C. Tut for $38,000, and a dreamscape painting by Chelsea Ryoko Wong for $32,000.

Gagosian also reported strong sales for its display, which was curated by director Antwaun Sargent, with work by Derrick Adams, Cy Gavin, Rick Lowe, and Lauren Halsey. A Halsey sculpture, watts happening, is headed to an as-yet-unidentified L.A. museum, and numerous other works were placed in prominent West Coast collections, the gallery said.

Lauren Halsey, Untitled (2023). © Lauren Halsey
Photo: Jens Ziehe
Image courtesy of the artist, David Kordansky Gallery and Gagosian

The response was “tremendous,” Sargent said in a statement. A diverse array of Halsey’s work is on hand in the booth, and he said, “Lauren thinks about L.A., its history, and her own community through color, and how color can evoke how people, politics, and communities come together.” Her massive architectural installation atop the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s roof last summer was a viral sensation that introduced her work to an even wider audience.

Gregor Hildebrandt, Hermana Rosa / Sister Rosa (2024) Photo by Roman März. Image courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.

Gregor Hildebrandt, Hermana Rosa / Sister Rosa (2024). Photo by Roman März.
Image courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.

Perrotin devoted what it termed a “solo corner” to Gregor Hildebrandt, whose work mines music and film subcultures, and said that it sold seven works by the artist at prices ranging from $25,000 to $60,000.

Hildebrandt’s latest body of work pays homage to the film All About My Mother (1999) by the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. It includes wall pieces made up of shelves lined with cassettes, his signature “ripoff” paintings, two vinyl record columns, and wallpaper made from VHS tape coating, which serves as a backdrop for the booth.

Perrotin also sold a large-scale painting by Cristina BanBan in the range of $100,000 to $125,000, as well as work by GaHee Park and Danielle Orchard in the range of $35,000–$55,000. Park has a show at the gallery’s New York branch, while Orchard will exhibit with the firm in Shanghai in March and in Tokyo in September.

It was not just blue-chip stalwarts that were thriving. Frieze’s “Focus” section, which focuses on emerging galleries, was drawing heat, too.

Pt.2 gallery, of Oakland, California, presented a solo booth by Muzae Sesay, titled “A Kingdom of Diamonds,” with a series of captivating paintings that build on the artist’s “fanciful Afrofuturistic retelling of a fictional history,” as a gallery text puts it. In this narrative, a powerful, diamond-rich kingdom in present-day Sierra Leone conquers the Roman Empire and aims to bring peace and stability to the region.

“Being the first gallery from Oakland to participate at Frieze is a great honor. We managed to place everything hanging in the booth in the first couple hours of the fair,” pt.2 gallery owner and director Brock Brake told Artnet.

Muzae Sesay, Diamond Dock (2024) as part of "A Kingdom of Diamonds," at pt.2: gallery, Oakland, California. Photo by Eileen Kinsella

Muzae Sesay, Diamond Dock (2024) as part of “A Kingdom of Diamonds,” at pt.2: gallery, Oakland, California. Photo by Eileen Kinsella

L.A.’s Make Room dedicated its booth to Yeni Mao, who is showing a large-scale sculptural installation based on a series of tunnels in the Mexican border town of Mexicali. In the early 20th century, the tunnels were inhabited by Chinese migrants seeking refuge after facing persecution in the U.S.—and in Mexico amid the Mexican Revolution.

Installation view of Yeni Mao solo booth at Make Room gallery in the Frieze Los Angeles "Focus" section. Photo by Eileen Kinsella

Installation view of Yeni Mao solo booth at Make Room gallery in the Frieze Los Angeles “Focus” section. Photo by Eileen Kinsella

“We’re thrilled by the response,” gallery owner Emilia Yin said. The gallery placed works “in significant private collections” and is “in talks with several U.S. museums,” she said.

There is still plenty of time to turn those talks into deals. Frieze Los Angeles runs through Sunday.

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