The high-profile fanfare surrounding the opening of international megagallery Hauser & Wirth, with the addition of L.A.’s beloved curator Paul Schimmel, may have quieted the arrival of an equally exciting addition to L.A.’s cultural landscape: German gallery Sprüth Magers. Founded in 1998 in Cologne by art-world feminists Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers, the gallery also boasts spaces in Berlin and London. Representing hugely influential established American artists like John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman, among younger artists like Sterling Ruby, the gallery’s A-list roster reads like a who’s who of the contemporary art world. The decision to open the 14,000-square-foot outpost on Wilshire Boulevard in February of 2016 was made to support their artists at home, many of whom live and work in L.A. Magers says of her new space, “The positive response to our program in the United States makes us incredibly happy. Above all, [the L.A.] location has simplified working with our artists on the West Coast, which is of great importance to us.” The interior of the all-female operation is furnished exclusively with midcentury designs by Californian women, including Edith Heath and Dorothy Schindele. A boon for Los Angeles, Sprüth Magers is a bright spot on our increasingly impressive map. 5900 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 323.634.0600
With an explosion of creative talent, L.A.’s diverse art scene can be tough to navigate. Here, five insiders highlight a few of the industry’s rising stars.
Shulamit Nazarian, founder, Shulamit Nazarian, shulamitnazarian.com
“If I had to choose one artist to highlight, it would be Genevieve Gaignard. She is one of the most fearless artists that I know, using self-portraiture to mine her personal narrative while simultaneously investigating relevant cultural issues of race and body image. I’ve watched Genevieve’s progression since she first exhibited in L.A., shortly after graduating from Yale University in 2014. In two short years, she has produced a solo show and fair project with us, and received reviews in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Her first solo museum exhibition is currently on view at the California African American Museum in L.A.”
Jessica Trent, art/culture publicist & consultant, trentpr.com
“One of the great things about working in a creative field is discovering emerging artists organically and living a bit vicariously through their work. Austyn Weiner is a young artist who came to L.A. a year or so ago and set up her studio in Chinatown. Miami-born, she found a lot of attention for her work when she moved to New York, where she began to mix her Parson’s refined photography skills with painting. The move to Los Angeles has informed the evolution of her work further—perhaps the ability to hibernate and dig deep into one’s own world more than creative people are able to in New York. Austyn is prolific and serious as she focuses on a new body of work opening at The Lodge gallery in January. Her large-scale paintings express form, mass and color, and the idea of self in a perfect balance of strength and discovery.”
Chris Adler, co-founder, VACANCY, vacancyla.com
“Aitor Lajarin’s paintings can ensnare your eyes with flatness. Each work is a unique collection of signs, laid bare across a single plane. Imagine a steamrolled haiku. As poems they are delicate but sharp, circuitous yet direct, cool and softly funny. This recent UCSD MFA grad lives and works in Highland Park.”
Aram Moshayedi, curator, Hammer Museum, hammer.ucla.edu
“I remember an invitation from Lauren Davis Fisher to visit an installation at Los Angeles’ Human Resources in 2013 that she’d planned on continuously building, dismantling and reconfiguring over the span of 10 days. At the time it seemed impossible, but I now know there isn’t anything Lauren can’t build, dismantle and reconfigure. In doing so, she imagines a future of institutions, one that allows her to work on altering their structures for as long as it takes to implement change.”
Nancy Gamboa, art adviser, nancygamboa.net
“Kathleen Ryan is an L.A.-based sculptor and recent UCLA grad whose command of materials, including marble, concrete, ceramic and metal, results in bold, visually stunning and playfully elegant forms that are insistent in their materiality. Ryan offers a new perspective on classical and found materials in artworks that promise to keep even a seasoned collector coming back for more.”
“COMPTON CONTRAPPOSTO,” 2016, 32 INches X 38 INches CHROMOGENIC PRINT, BY GENEVIEVE GAIGNARD, © Genevieve Gaignard, Courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los AngeleS; “Inside Upside Out” 16 inches x 20 inches, Wax pastel on archival paper, by Austyn Weiner, image courtesy of the artist and the lodge gallery; “TINAJA (vessel),” 2016, acrylic on canvas, 24 INches x 30 inches, BY aitor lajarin; “SET TESTS,” 2016, by lauren davis fisher, Made in L.A., 2016: a, the, though, only, June 12–Aug. 28, 2016, Installation view at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Photo by Brian Forrest; “UNTITLED BACChANTE (BOWL),” 2015, BY KATHLEEN RYAN, COURTESTY OF THE ARTIST AND GHEBALY GALLERY, PHOTO BY JEFF MCLANE
Michael Govan has directed L.A.’s principal museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, since 2006. Hamza Walker, who recently took the reins as director of nonprofit art space LAXART, curated the citywide biennial exhibition, Made in L.A. Here, Govan’s veteran views battle Walker’s fresh take on L.A.’s growing art community.
Can you describe the growth the L.A. art world has seen in the past six years?
MG: We have this gallery influx, which is a new thing, because the idea about L.A. used to be that there were a lot of artists, but there wasn’t much of a market. It’s not huge compared to New York or London. A lot of people are opening galleries in L.A. as much out of their personal vision and interest in the beautiful spaces as they are about getting rich.
HW: The arrival of L.A. came around The Pictures Generation. That puts the current boom into some context. But that said, it seems like a boom. I would argue that the burgeoning quality has made it so that L.A. is no longer simply accountable to itself, but to a much larger national and international scene.
What do you think would be a good addition to the art world in L.A.?
MG: I think what you’re looking for me to say is that we need another art fair, and I’m not of that school. I’m not against it if an art fair wants to move here, but you’ll get a lot of people who say, ‘Oh, that completes the picture,’ and I just don’t think that’s necessary to complete the picture.
HW: If L.A. were to ever be characterized as provincial, it’s by virtue of geography. It’s all the way off at the end of the country, three hours behind. So to try to bring the world through L.A.—there’s an international current that I suspect might be a welcome edition to the scene.
Can you give someone, who’s recently interested in art, a few tips on where to begin?
HW: At the point of entry, L.A. is extremely accessible. MOCA, The Broad, REDCAT—you’ve got small, medium, large right there on one block. Go to LACMA, the encyclopedic joint. On the West Side, you’ve got the Hammer, you’ve got The Getty. If you start to pay attention to what’s aboveground, you will get dialed in.
MG: LACMA is designed to be a sampler of art history. We’re not here to absorb visitors away from other institutions, but to increase people’s interest in art. We’re trying to structure LACMA as a starting point.
Hamza walker photo by Dawoud Bey, Courtesy of LAXAt