When exactly was the birth of the Los Angeles art world? Was it around the Second World War, when European emigrés including Man Ray, Thomas Mann and Bertolt Brecht revitalised Californian culture? Or was it in 1957, when Walter Hopps opened the Ferus Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard? Perhaps it didn’t truly begin until 1961, when the Museum of History, Science and Art was split up, resulting in LA’s first major art museum: LACMA. Some might argue that the city didn’t have a sustainable art market until the boom years of the 1980s, when Larry Gagosian opened his first ever gallery in LA. The current gallery hub in Culver City, however, didn’t really exist until Blum & Poe opened a space on La Cienega in 2003 – but was only consolidated later by their current, much grander gallery, completed in 2009.
The fact is that LA’s art world is in a perpetual state of becoming. This autumn, however, sees an escalation of activity in the city’s gallery community and a continued shift away from the few traditional hubs in the city, Culver City chief amongst them. David Kordansky, one of Culver City’s major players, has decamped from La Cienega to La Brea Avenue, in mid-city, where his huge new gallery opens with an exhibition by Rashid Johnson on 13 September. In addition, Rob Greene, of Greene Exhibitions, recently signed a lease on bigger premises a few minutes north of his current space in Culver City.
Various Small Fires, which closed its Venice Beach gallery at the end of last year, will reopen in newly designed premises on Highland Avenue, near where Sarah Gavlak opened new premises in late June this year (her original gallery is at Palm Beach, Florida). Meanwhile Venice – a rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood popular with tourists and Europeans – has been chosen by José Freire as the location for the West Coast outpost of New York-based Team Gallery, branded as ‘team (bungalow)’. Its inaugural exhibition, by Cory Arcangel, opens the day after Johnson’s show at Kordansky.
If a new gallery hub is forming anywhere (and, arguably, the opposite is happening) then one might look to the back end of Downtown, where warehouses lie empty and new galleries are taking advantage of inexpensive real estate. New players in this area include Grice Bench, just a few months old, and the impressive Chateau Shatto, whose opening show in July featured an unlikely collaboration between the New York duo ‘Body by Body’ and Odilon Redon. Coming soon nearby, in adjacent premises, the new gallery Harmony Murphy will be joined by a satellite of London-based Ibid Projects. Michelle Maccarone’s LA gallery is scheduled to open in Spring 2015 with a show by Alex Hubbard.