LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles put out a giant welcome mat for the art world last weekend in the form of its latest attempt at a contemporary art fair, Art Platform — Los Angeles.
“You need a bona fide art fair to be a real art city,” said The Museum of Contemporary Art director Jeffrey Deitch on Friday night at the museum’s opening of “Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981” at the Geffen Contemporary.
The million-dollar question among those in the art world was whether Art Platform will make it, as distance and competition have doomed previous attempts in the city. The fair was held in conjunction with the launch of “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980,” a six-month collaboration between 60 different cultural outlets in the region meant to bring attention to its art scene.
Though it didn’t attract the celebrity traffic spotted in the aisles of Art Basel Miami Beach, and though many of the city’s major galleries such as Regen Projects, David Kordansky and Blum & Poe opted out, Art Platform’s 75 exhibitors gave veteran collectors a good excuse to fly out.
“L.A. is affordable, so artists don’t have to sell their souls like in New York,” said collector Michael Hort. “Art has a chance to ferment here.”
Robert Goff, director of Haunch of Venison, a prominent London gallery that expanded to New York in September, said it was worth the trek.
“L.A.’s one of the most important art cities, so we really want to get in front of them,” he said.
After the fair’s packed preview on Friday, MOCA hosted an after party with participating artists like Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Llyn Foulkes and Suzanne Lacy, and attendees Adam Moses, Cameron Silver, Viveca Ferrell, Perrey Reeves and Bettina Korek. A silver-haired Henry Rollins DJed in the courtyard while a vintage video of his punk rock days in Black Flag looped inside.
Saturday’s openings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and UCLA’s Hammer Museum were equally elbow to elbow, as everyone from Ryan McNamara to Anthony Pearson waited in the long line to enter the latter’s “Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980.”
“Like London, it’s a hub for art schools, so it’s where art is taught and made rather than just sold,” said Barbara Kruger, who relocated from New York in 1999. “I had worked up and down Church Street long enough and needed a little bougainvillea in my life.”
In the thick of it, Rita de Alencar Pinto gave new meaning to the term nail art. Her Pacific Standard Time-inspired digits were lacquered with miniature versions of works by David Hockney and Judy Chicago, among others. Pinto previewed Vanity Projects, her art gallery/nail salon that launches next year in New York.
“We’re trying to change how people watch video art, which will play while customers have their nails done,” she said.
On Sunday, Anne Hathaway — in vintage Valentino — and Jennifer Howell, founder of The Art of Elysium nonprofit, sipped Ruinart Champagne at a tea party at The London Hotel. Meanwhile, Eames fanatics were at the JF Chen showroom catching the first glimpse of the largest showing of the designers’ work, according to their grandson Eames Demetrios.
“This is really about the big picture and not just the pieces everyone’s familiar with,” he said, citing a leg splint engineered for World War II.
Also on Sunday, the Getty Center showcased an impressive time line intertwining California art, food and music throughout the decades. At the after party, anyone who still had steam, such as Michael Govan, artist Larry Bell and Reeves made it up to Chateau Marmont’s penthouse overlooking the twinkling city.