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Frieze L.A. postpones to July and moves off the Paramount backlot

A crowd of people at Frieze 2020 in Los Angeles
A crowd checks out the art at Frieze L.A. on the Paramount backlot on Feb. 12, 2020. Frieze L.A. 2021 has been postponed until July.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Frieze Los Angeles is postponing its 2021 art fair from February to late July and will not hold the event on the Paramount backlot, where the heart of the event has historically been a tightly packed tent. Rather, Frieze Los Angeles will spread out to a variety of venues and architectural landmarks throughout the city.

The news, expected to be announced by organizers Tuesday, comes as museums and other cultural institutions in Los Angeles are still trapped in the amber of COVID-19 closures. Events such as the highly anticipated Hammer Museum biennial “Made in L.A. 2020: a version” have in some cases been installed but are unable to welcome guests.

Rebecca Siegel, Frieze’s new director of Americas and content, said that it’s still impossible to predict when it will be deemed safe to gather again, but there are high hopes that the week of July 26 will find the art world able to gather once again with health and safety measures in place.

The idea of stringing the fair out to smaller venues throughout the city will go a long way toward reducing crowd size in any given destination and theoretically allow attendees to circulate in a distanced way. The plan also has the advantage, Siegel said, of “bringing the heritage of Los Angeles to everyone’s attention.”

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The Hammer Museum’s 2020 biennial, this year presented with the Huntington, waits for pandemic restrictions to lift. It could take months — or not happen at all.

Frieze is still identifying the spaces it will use, but Siegel said she is talking with the owners of private residences built by Midcentury Modern architects Richard Neutra and John Lautner. The Rudolph Schindler-designed Mackey Apartments near Mid-Wilshire will be one of the locations for the Frieze Projects program, intended to be a curated display of ambitious, experimental work beyond the regular gallery booths.

“I do believe that the fabric of Los Angeles is found in a variety of spaces and places that can’t be replicated in other cities,” Siegel said.

In a normal year, Frieze L.A.‘s 62,000-square-foot tent is packed with more than 70 galleries, complemented by more than a dozen site-specific installations, performances and sculptures. It typically attracts thousands of collectors, dealers, celebrities and culture fans, many of whom dress to impress.

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The BMA paused a sale of artworks that could have violated deaccession rules. But it shouldn’t shelve a plan to pay workers a living wage.


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