New York Galleries Flock to Los Angeles Ahead of Frieze

February 15th, 2022

As art fair Frieze Los Angeles prepares for its 2022 iteration, to open February 17 at its tony new Wilshire Boulevard address, it seems that each day brings word that a storied New York gallery is opening an outpost there there or, if they’ve been prescient enough to have established a presence in the City of Angels, expanding. Among those entering the fray are Lisson Gallery, which represents recently departed Cuban hard-edge legend Carmen Herrera; megagallery Pace, which is getting the deed done by merging with LA standby Kayne Griffin; and the decidedly scrappier Hole, which presents the work of young and emerging artists. Additionally, the blue-chip David Zwirner is increasing its footprint in the city, having recently tapped Alexandra Tuttle, a former director at the respected and now-defunct 356 Mission.

Los Angeles has been steadily heating up these past few years, and not just because of climate change (though it’s certainly something to consider when signing a lease). Though Frieze’s attempts to establish an art fair there, beginning in 2019, have been necessarily hobbled thanks to the continuing Covid-19 crisis, the mere fact of its presence signals confidence in the LA art market, and that has been highly attractive to East Coast galleries hungry for sales and sun.

“A huge number of artists that I find fascinating live in Los Angeles and more and more are moving there, everything’s accelerated,” Lisson Gallery founder Alex Logsdail told the Financial Times. “LA’s museums and institutions are very active and involved. And ultimately, I was attracted to LA for the same reasons as to New York [where he opened the gallery in 2016]: a large number of our artists don’t have representation there, or haven’t had a show there, or at least for a very long time.”

“Los Angeles has always been a magnet for artists, and its position as a center for world-class contemporary art has been growing stronger,” said Pace chief Marc Glimcher in a statement.

“We have represented more than five LA artists the past decade and need to be closer to them. We sell art to awesome collectors in LA and want to engage with them in person—and show we care to bring the goods to them!” Kathy Grayson, founder of the Hole, explained to Artnews.

“Los Angeles, and California as a whole, is booming and an ever more important part of the gallery’s ecosystem,” noted Zwirner.

Like the comparatively upstart Felix Art Fair, taking place at downtown LA’s Roosevelt Hotel Feburary 17–22, the same span of dates during which Frieze will be occupying 9900 Wilshire Boulevard, just a stone’s throw from the Beverly Wilshire, the Hole will piggyback its launch on Frieze’s run. The gallery opens February 15 at 844 North La Brea, with a group show. Pace will take over Kayne Griffin’s ivy-covered South La Brea Avenue gallery in April, while Lisson will wait until autumn, inaugurating its North Sycamore Avenue space, a former gay bar, with an exhibition of Herrera’s work. Zwirner has not yet announced a space; whether this is a function of a measured approach or the result of a more laid-back California-style attitude remains to be seen.