The West Coast
When my plane broke through the Los Angeles smog on an afternoon in early spring, I imagined I had willed the town into existence by nothing more than my arrival. It’s the city’s foundational myth—perpetually born yesterday. I was there to cover an art fair called Paris Photo, which was being held at that most mythic of L.A. landmarks—Paramount Studios—and to report on the city’s art world. If New York had a say in the matter, it was something of an accident of history that there were ever artists in Los Angeles at all. The dealers and collectors were always in New York. And who could force the entertainment industry to care? For decades, the most noteworthy thing about successful Los Angeles artists—aside from a core group—was that they left for the East Coast.
The reality is more complicated. New York changed. Downtown ceased being a squatter’s free-for-all and became an outdoor shopping center. The S&M clubs and taxi garages of Chelsea gave way to galleries stacked on top of one another. Increasingly, the creatively minded transplants who migrated each day to New York from all over the country came with expiration dates. Ten years would go by, if you were lucky, before the inevitable fatigue set in. So many migrants have gone to California as a solution to some problem that it’s become an American trope. But in a town where the front page of the largest daily newspaper reports the unsubstantiated rumor that industry blogger Nikki Finke would be fired from Deadline Hollywood, the arts have quietly carved out a home. New York just got more and more expensive.
Perry Rubenstein Gallery in Los Angeles announced this week that they now represent photographer Iwan Baan. As part of the news, the gallery also announced that Mr. Baan’s instantly-iconic aerial photograph of New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy–The City and the Storm, which graced the Nov. 12 cover of New York magazine–will be sold in an edition of 10, with each photograph priced at $100,000. All proceeds will go to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which supports Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. In addition, the design store at the Museum of Modern Art in New York will sell posters of the image, priced at $20 a piece with all of the money going toward Hurricane Sandy relief in perpetuity.
GalleristNY in LA
Last spring, when New York-based art dealer Perry Rubenstein announced that he and his wife Sara Fitzmaurice, head of the PR company Fitz & Co., would be making the move to Los Angeles, he said he’d be opening a gallery there in fall 2011. Well, it’s been a bit delayed, but Mr. Rubenstein’s gallery is set to open its doors on June 1, with “Helmut Newton: Sex and Landscapes,” an exhibition of 40 large-scale photographs that come directly from the fashion photographer’s estate. June 2 will bring an event with Neil Young and street artist Shepard Fairey, on the occasion of the release of Mr. Young’s new album.
GalleristNY in LA
“Hollywood is so much sexier than the art world,” Berlin-based art dealer Javier Peres was telling The Observer. “There’s much more hype, there’s more cash flowing at it. The art world in Los Angeles has always competed with Hollywood, and it’s always been a tough struggle.”
We were speaking with Mr. Peres in the convention center in downtown L.A. that last week housed the brand new art fair Art Platform Los Angeles, a venture of Merchandise Mart, the same company that owns New York’s Armory Show. It was the opening day of the fair, and Mr. Peres was exhibiting there; visitors were pouring through the doors at a steady clip. Meanwhile, the well-funded Getty Foundation was opening “Pacific Standard Time,” a series of exhibitions on postwar California art that spans scores of museums and commercial galleries and runs for the next six months.
It looked like art might be giving Hollywood a run for its money. Or, at least, that’s what a group of New York dealers setting up shop here are hoping.
As museum exhibitions open for previews across Southern California, as part of the Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time” initiative, many of the area’s dealers are joining international colleagues at the L.A. Mart downtown, readying their booths for the inaugural edition of the city’s Art Platform Los Angeles fair, which has a VIP preview opening scheduled for tomorrow at 2 p.m. (Gallerist will be there.)