Art market

Frieze Los Angeles bids goodbye to Paramount Studios as art fair is postponed to July

Social distancing rules have limited the number of people on film sets creating a movie production backlog

Will Boone's work for Frieze Projects in Los Angeles last February—the fair will not take place at Paramount Studios in 2021 due to a filming backlog Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy of Casey Kelbaugh/Frieze

Coronavirus put paid to most art fairs in 2020, and the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on shows scheduled for the first quarter of 2021. Earlier today, Art Basel announced it is moving its Hong Kong fair from March to May and now Frieze is postponing its Los Angeles show from February to July.

The West Coast fair is also leaving Paramount Studios, which is grappling with a backlog in movie production due to the pandemic, and adopting a more nomadic format for 2021. For the past two editions, the movie set backlot has hosted the fair's projects, installed in and among the faux brownstones and storefronts of the New York streetscape.

As Frieze publisher and newly appointed director of Americas and content, Rebecca Ann Siegel, points out: “Paramount Studios is an actual studio and, following the pandemic, their filming commitments require limiting the number of people onsite. For the health and safety of everyone involved, we will be introducing a new model.”

The details are yet to be announced, but, broadly speaking, that model entails hosting galleries in empty and “architecturally remarkable” spaces and locations throughout Los Angeles, possibly including private residences built by Midcentury Modern architects Richard Neutra and John Lautner. Dealer participation is expected to reach similar numbers as in previous years.

Siegel declined to comment on whether Frieze would return to Paramount Studios in 2022, only to say: “In 2022, we will be returning to our February dates, and we look forward to updating you on details for that event after July.”

By July, and with the tailwind of several possible coronavirus vaccines, it is hoped the city’s museums will have reopened; many cultural institutions have remained shut since the pandemic took hold in March. “Los Angeles is a city people visit during the summer—galleries are busy, and the shows are great,” Siegel says. “We hope this timing gives us the best chance for a successful event, one that carries forward the momentum we’ve built over the past few years.” Specific dates are still being confirmed, but the fair is now due to take place the week of 26 July.

Meanwhile, 2021 is also Frieze’s 30th anniversary, which will be marked in February with three days of digital programming dedicated to the art and exhibitions that have defined the past three decades.