Art Fair Season in Los Angeles

Los Angeles in January is as pleasant as it gets. The forecast for tomorrow is 85 degrees and sunny. The aesthetic forecast for the next couple of weeks is an artistic tsunami of art fairs spanning quite a range of quality and quantity. Here then a shoot from the hip synopsis of the pop up art malls in our future for the next two weeks.

LA Art Show

Held at the convention center, this is a giant fair. As is often the case, larger doesn’t necessarily mean better. What you get when you attend this fair is a smattering of everything that can be considered art. Yes, there are horrendous examples of kitsch and unfathomably bad stuff like giant fortune cookies in garish colors. But here’s what boggles the mind: there’s always something really, I mean really really good. Paul Thiebaud from San Francisco brings a delicious Diebenkorn work on paper and your day is made. Or you discover a painter using street art style stencils to create tromp d’oille building facades on metal and you go into a mini rapture.

Richard Diebenkorn, View from the Studio, Ocean Park, 1978, Charcoal on Paper, 22 x 30, a steal at 750 Grand

You gotta dig long and hard but if you have the stamina, this is a good show.

LA Art Show, January 15th-19th 2014, LA Convention Center/South Hall J and K

The 29th Annual IFPDA Los Angeles Fine Print Fair

Several years back the International Fine Print Dealer Association held their own fair on the third floor of the old May Company Building adjacent to LACMA. With ten or twelve participants it was glorious and most of all intimate. Several years ago the IFPDA threw in with the LA art show and now have a section in the greater caverns of the convention center. Last year I found an amazing dry point selfie by Max Beckmann. And the year before a super embossed litho by Hundertwasser. These print dealers know their stuff and have a connoisseurship that’s mostly wasted on the fair goers. Great material and prices that are often shockingly reasonable.

Max Beckmann
Self-Portrait in Bowler Hat, 1921

The 29th Annual IFPDA Los Angeles Fine Print Fair, LA Convention Center/South Hall J and K, January 16th through 19th, 2014

Photo LA 

Photo LA has moved downtown. Now located in the LA Mart, Photo LA is best considered a lens based show with videos and digital now saturating the “photo” landscape of fine art. The fair is the oldest of the ones mentioned in this article. There’s a lot of gee wiz wizardry on display that resonate like a Henny Youngman joke, that is to say they don’t. But the best moments are when you stumble on a Ruth Bernhard print of two nude women, one black and one white. You pause a moment and you realize that this is radical because it was, and for that matter, still is, feminist, racially charged and lesbian…and this from 1962. A moment like this makes a lot of the current work seem sophomoric at best, infantile at worst.

Ruth Bernhard (American, 1905–2006) Two Forms, 1963, Silver Print, Gelatin silver print, 13.5 х 10.75 in. (34.29 x 27.3 cm.)

Photo LA, January 16th-19th, 2014, L.A. Mart

Classic Photography Fair 

Several years ago, a number of classic Photography dealers left their expected perch of Photo LA and formed a splinter fair now called Classic Photography fair. In isolation, the amazing work is wonderful to behold but strangely stodgy. Maybe seeing the historically relevant images of yesteryear in context of contemporary work makes for a livier dialogue. But quality is abundant and these dealers are passionate, intelligent and sophisticated. Visit Tom Gitterman for a first rate selection and a great chat on a host of topics.

Francis Frith. The Pyramids of Sakkarah from the North East, 1857.
Mammoth plate albumen print from collodion wet-plate glass negative, 1857

Classic Photography Fair, January 18th and 19th, Bonham’s Auction house

 Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair

Now in its second year, Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair is like comic com for the truly art fanatic. Rare monographs rub elbows with self-published zines of all manner of visuals. You can find manifestos and satire. Held at the Geffen annex of MOCA this fair requires time and patience. The more you look the more you’ll find.

Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair

Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair, January 31st through February 2nd, 2014, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA


 Art Los Angeles Contemporary

Art Los Angeles Contemporary, now in its fifth year, is what many believe to be the most Avant-garde of the fairs. It certainly is one of the most pretentious. The word Pretentious has at its root pretend and there are all manner of posers both in the booths and the aisles. But then again where would the art world be without the affected air of importance and competition. Angles, Marc Selwyn, Various Small Fires, 1301PE, Christopher Grimes and M+B are all local LA galleries that mount wonderful selections at this fair. Quint Contemporary and Luis de Jesus are regrettably absent this year. It’s fun and while inconsistent, it strives to be relevant and harder edge than anything else in this lineup. Then again hard edge isn’t always pleasant.

Life Imitates Art?…Leggings and Skirt at the Opening Reception of Art Los Angles Contemporary 2013 and a James Siena Pencil drawing at Daniel Weinberg Gallery

Art Los Angeles Contemporary, Jan 30th-Feb 2nd, 2014, Barker Hanger

Pace yourselves. Drink plenty of water. Art Fairs are not for the faint of heart.


-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, January 14th, 2014









also by Mario M. Muller

One response to “Art Fair Season in Los Angeles”

  1. Mario: I hope you got to the huge opening at photo l.a. last night. Over 3500 in attendance, the largest ever. Great design for the fair in a new location, interesting new galleries and installations. Worth a visit and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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