Nailed It! – How Paris Photo LA Has Won Over The Art World
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Nailed It! – How Paris Photo LA Has Won Over The Art World

With nearly 200 annual art fairs happening worldwide each year, the last thing we need is a new one. Right? Well, what if the new one is really good

The original Paris Photo earned a strong reputation among European collectors since it started in 1997. Its young Californian offspring, Paris Photo LA, had its inaugural year in 2013 and no doubt there were several eye rolls of “not another art fair” – but when they were able to host the fair on the Paramount backlot, they immediately gave themselves an air of that golden Hollywood elitism. And the success is visible in the numbers: the fair grew from a respectable 16,000 visitors in 2014 to an impressive 20,000 this year.

The Thursday night preview looked like a red carpet, except several celebrities were dressed discreetly, doing their best to blend in. Celebrity sightings included Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Judd Apatow, and Jamie Lee Curtis (who was invited to judge the first ever Young California Photographer Award).

With lectures from art-world-royalty like Paul McCarthy and Allen Ruppersberg, and film screening by Amie Siegel and Pierre Bismuth, the fair manages to combine just dash of art academia, a healthy serving of celebrity culture, and a broad range of truly impressive photography that includes both contemporary and historic elements, many of which are steeped in California – including a truly impressive and poignant series Untitled: The LAPD photo archives.

(Installation of Untitled: LAPD photo archives (photo credit: Abe Ahn / hyperallergic)


It’s easy for visitors to fall in love with this fair. The Paramount backlots feel like old Hollywood magic letting you wonder around looking at fair booths on one side, or grabbing a bite from a food truck and resting on a nearby stoop to eat it.

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(Paris Photo LA)

A friend of mine (a lifelong New Yorker) once warned me not to move to Los Angeles. She said “nothing serious ever happens in warm weather” – and I love her for saying this. But now more and more artists are leaving the boroughs behind and making the move out west where LA real estate is comparatively affordable. Having a new influx of artists, it seems Paris Photo was quite savvy… choosing exactly the right time to embrace the West Coast, and doing it on LA’s terms.

Well played.


(Printed Matter’s Pop Up gallery, Photo LA  (photo credit: Abe Ahn / Hyperallergic)

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