From Paul McCarthy's giant inflatable ketchup bottle to Brad Pitt's window-shopping — Frieze LA makes a splashy debut at Paramount Picture Studios

From Paul McCarthy's giant inflatable ketchup bottle to Brad Pitt's window-shopping — Frieze LA makes a splashy debut at Paramount Picture Studios

In the frame

Text: Aravin Sandran

While Singapore debates and deliberates over the ramifications of Art Stage's sudden cancellation of its 2019 edition during the recent Singapore Art Week, the rest of the art world has descended on the West Coast for Frieze's splashy debut at Paramount Picture Studios in Los Angeles. The fair's VIP opening was graced by some of Hollywood's most recognisable faces including Sylvester Stallone, Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster and Michael Keaton. Sandwiched between Tinseltown's historic film sets in-person and its most esteemed award nights on the calendar, a scaled-down offering of 70 contemporary galleries (compared to over 150 in its London edition) were presented in a bespoke structure designed by Thai architect Kulapat Yantrasast. The cash till was ringing off the charts from the get-go and there were plenty of parties to be seen at. We've distilled the mess from the magnificent to bring you the best art that caught our eye, the booth that broke the mould and the celeb that everyone couldn't get their hands off.

Suspended from clotheslines and spanning the fire escapes and windows of two apartment buildings, American artist Hannah Greely's High and Dry (2019) installation of hand-made, cartoon-like paintings of clothing and airborne objects was an animated spin on American domesticity.


American artist Paul McCarthy's provocative giant inflatable works have included the butt plug-shaped Tree (2014) and literal turd Complex Shit (2008) in the past. First exhibited in the Netherlands in 2009, McCarthy juxtaposed his monumentally kitschy sculpture Daddies Tomato Ketchup Inflatable against a city block. The ketchup bottle relates to some of McCarthy's earliest performances and videos that incorporated ketchup such as Bossy Burger (1991), which screened in a room inside the building. 


As a reference to the many psychic and metaphysical shops that line the streets of New York City, Lisa Anne Auerbach's Psychic Art Advisor (2019) is a play on two professions: the mysterious fortune-telling psychic advisor and the bank-rolling art advisor. Housed inside one of the brownstones on the lot, visitors clamoured to book sessions with performance artist Alphine Moon who provided free and informed counsel on the business of art. 


Instead of plucking a few of notable artworks from its world-class roster of living artists and estates, mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth decided to show a single artwork by American artist Mike Kelley in its booth. The installation references an image of an idealised child's bedroom that Kelley found in a women's magazine and features a television set that plays his video work Cross Gender/Cross Genre. It was sold within the first few hours of the fair's opening.


While Leonardo di Carprio is a perennial favourite at the New York edition (inspiring artist Dora Budor to release doppelgangers of his The Wolf of Wall Street and The Revenant characters during the 2017 event), Brad Pitt has undoubtedly taken that mantle in LA. Taking photographs of clients at one's booth might be a huge no-no in art fair etiquette, Pitt was definitely was an exception. He turned up wearing a newsboy cap and a neatly groomed greying beard, and willingly posed for selfies and made conversation with plenty of fair-goers, gallerists and artists. The dashing actor has been finding solace from his publicised divorced from Angeline Jolie in art under the tutelage of British sculptor Thomas Houseago. There's been no word yet on his solo show though.


Frieze LA took place from 14 to 17 February at Paramount Pictures Studios in Los Angeles. 

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