Los Angeles, CA– As the 2017 LA Art Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center closed Sunday, organizers were tallying record numbers in every aspect. Now in its 22nd year, the fair upped its game, with its broadest range of international works to date and the participation of 8 prominent Los Angeles arts institutions. New downtown neighbor, The Broad, lined up alongside the city’s prominent players–LACMA, The Hammer, MOCA and The Getty to contribute programming in a dedicated 50,000 square foot public programming space and provided special tours for the Show’s visitors.
Turnout for the Opening Night Premiere benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital exceeded projections, the first indication that that city was eagerly anticipating the annual show with renewed fervor. By the time host, actress and art aficionado Emma Roberts had time to walk the fair—both of the works she admired had already been sold—a work by Mab Graves and one by Mark Ryden. An expanded and dedicated Opening Night host committee of more than 25 seasoned collectors, philanthropists and art patrons lent generous support to the Show’s opening activities boosting proceeds to beneficiary St. Jude significantly by more than double last year’s success representing a 122 per cent increase year on year.
Among the thousands of attendees were collectors, advisors, museum directors and professionals, artists, patrons, philanthropists and leading figures in the design, fashion, architecture and entertainment worlds including Chuck Arnoldi, Lubov Azria, Dr. Gabriel and Christine Chiu, Scott Diament, James Goldstein, Natasha Henstridge, Aliona Kononova, Kim Martindale, Andy Moses, Patrick Painter, Melanie Pullen, RETNA, Ralph Rieckermann, Stefan Simchowitz, Mary Ta, Kim Tae-Ho, MOCA Director Philippe Vergne, Alexandra Von Furstenberg and Talita Von Furstenberg.
The weekend saw a steady flow of traffic with lines at the ticket booths, where several large-scale installations teased the diversity of works across all mediums within the Show. Lindsay Scoggins’ politically minded video installation Dichotomy Bifuracation drew the strongest reaction with its timely unbiased take on the Democratic and Republican parties reflected by an endless loop of a donkey and horse consuming one another.
There was agreement among gallerists about an uptick in traffic, as well as sales, with one prominent Los Angeles-based gallerist noting that there were “finally serious collectors in Los Angeles.” Buyers reportedly hailed from London, New Zealand, Switzerland, Paris, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta, but shipments were firmly concentrated in California, with entertainment and tech industry types were among the active collectors.
May Chung, Director of Korea’s C May Gallery, saw a reverse trend reporting that about 60% percent of her sales came from buyers who resided outside the country. Likely among the most photographed works of the Show, Yi Hwon Kwon’s large-scale Three Siblings had the booth teeming with visitors. Kwon’s acclaimed 2005 work BUS STOP greeted fair-goers near the Show entrance. This marked the second time the work has been presented since its debut as the artist’s first public work in the U.S. at West Hollywood Park as part of the City of West Hollywood’s Art on the Outside public sculpture program.
Works by Asian artists have always featured prominently at the Show and the rising demand for Chinese ink painting in the U.S. was evidenced by strong sales across multiple galleries. A Canadian collector walked away with a pair of ink paintings by Wang Fei that were part of a group exhibition presented at the Show by CCMG as part of the National Exhibition of China. East Art Center of Beijing sold two ink paintings by Fan Peng to a local interior designer, while Cospace sold a whopping four Chinese ink paintings by Chen Jiu on the first day of the Fair.
Even for a Show with a reputation for appealing to a wide range of tastes, the depth of the works being sold was impressive. Gallerist Bill Rau of M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans, a featured gallery in the newly-established Roots section, found himself inundated with visitors from the moment the Show opened despite the Show’s emphasis on modern and contemporary art, while a row of crystal Damien Hirst skulls drew people into Other Criteria of New York’s booth, likemoths to a flame.
With accessible points of entry, this year’s LA Art Show attracted emerging collectors, many of whom headed straight to the bustling Littletopia section of the fair. By Sunday, the team at the Red Truck Gallery was toasting robust sales and their most successful year at the Show, including a large piece by Jason Borders and one by Butch Anthony who produces work in a self-described Intertwangelism style. The opportunity to meet living artists from around the world and discuss their works is another appealing aspect of the show. Seoul-based Korean Dansaekhwa master Kim Tae-Ho was on site during the Show to lead collectors on a walking tour of his abstract, monochrome works on view as part of the special exhibition Dansaekhwa III presented by SM Fine Art Gallery, which reported strong interest and sales, and there was a large contingent of artists from Japan, including Ryuma Imai, the son of famous artist Toshimitsu Imai. The artist’s animal-inspired dripped ink works drew consistent traffic to the
booth, where he greeted art enthusiasts all weekend, selling out of books on his work and realizing a two-fold increase in sales.
LA Art Show social feeds mirrored active interest in and engagement with the fair and a takeover by prolific contemporary culture Instagram duo love.watts/watts reached more than 500,000 users as part of a dedicated social media campaign that has significantly expanded LA Art Show’s audiences across its social platforms.
The 23rd edition of the LA Art Show will take place from January 10-14, 2018 and will turn its curatorial focus to African art. Save the date.