Art Platform–Los Angeles and "Pacific Standard Time": Reshaping LA's Art Scene
By Sue Hostetler
Maria Arena Bell and Jeffrey Deitch in front of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans at MOCA
|We’re in This Together by Ryan McGinness, on view at Art Platform–Los Angeles|
Cutting-edge art is nothing new to LA. This city has a rich history of important art schools and institutions and is the birthplace of many significant art movements, but the palpable electricity of the current local art scene, coupled with the newfound international attention it has been receiving, has many wondering: What exactly transformed this city into one of the most influential global contemporary art capitals? Was there a tipping point? Or is it really just about perception and the LA art world becoming more present in the public mind?
As with most things, it all depends with whom you speak. Many feel LA has always been an integral part of the contemporary art universe. Esteemed local dealer Shaun Caley Regen, whose galleries, Regen Projects and Regen Projects II, have been mainstays here for many years and who has helped cultivate homegrown talent including Raymond Pettibon and Lari Pittman, scoffs at the idea of a recent transformation. “The truth is Los Angeles has always had an incredible art scene,” she says. “Nothing in LA has changed to anyone who lives here—only the East Coast journalistic perception of Los Angeles has changed.”
An Art Scene Shift
Yet even Regen can’t deny the shifts within the LA art community, namely expansions and additions: Last year, LACMA built the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion and Gagosian Gallery doubled the size of its Beverly Hills space; in 2013, collector Eli Broad will open his own museum. That is coupled with recent blockbuster shows such as MOCA’s “Art in the Streets,” which has helped make contemporary works more geographically and thematically accessible to Angelenos. And then there is a young group of local artists—Matthew Monahan, Thomas Houseago, Aaron Curry and Sterling Ruby—generating an international buzz.
But LA’s visibility has been most amplified by the Western trek of artworld luminaries. One could go all the way back to 1999, when New York’s The Drawing Center director Ann Philbin moved to the Left Coast to head UCLA’s Hammer Museum. Then Michael Govan bade farewell to the Dia Art Foundation in 2006 to become director of LACMA. And, of course, it’s by now the stuff of art-world legend that East Coast ubergallerist Jeffrey Deitch was hired last year to turn around the then-flagging MOCA. These shifts on the institutional level have brought the simmer on the city’s contemporary art scene to a roiling boil. Other transplants include former Whitney contemporary curator Shamim M. Momin, who moved to Venice Beach and cofounded the nonprofit LAND; stalwart New York dealers Dominique Lévy and Robert Mnuchin of L&M Arts, who opened a gallery in Venice; Matthew Marks of Matthew Marks Gallery, who’s in the midst of creating a space in LA; and art-world publicity doyenne Sara Fitzmaurice, who is opening a West Coast office for her PR firm, Fitz & Co.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTOPHER KILKUS FOR ALLYSSA PIZER MANAGEMENT (GROSS); BETH COLLER (EINSTEINS); CHRISTOPHER KILKUS FOR ALYSSA PIZER MANAGEMENT
(REGEN, BELL, DEITCH); CATHERINE OPIE ARTWORKS COURTESY OF REGEN
PROJECTS, LOS ANGELES © CATHERINE OPIE