The headline on the Art Los Angeles Contemporary art fair website proudly announces:
ALAC returns to the Barker Hangar for its fifth edition, featuring an expanded international roster and a continued dedication to the L.A. art scene
And that it has – it is a sprawling, smart show that is so precisely vetted that there is not a single entrant in the fair who would not look out of place in the back pages REVIEWS section of ArtForum magazine.
MOBY surrounded by art about shapes at ALAC. Photo: Marlene Picard.
While this creates a certain homogenous nature to the fair, ALAC’s job is not to promote diversity in contemporary art as much as it is to connect collectors with galleries. This is the charge of every art fair but many art fairs include a wide variety of art styles under one roof. The mentality is “Hey, its contemporary so it must belong” ignores that good art next to bad art goes as well as good food next to rotten food. Of course these are fairs that qualify a gallery based on their check for the fair clearing at the bank, not the art looking great, and the mix and overall look of the fair suffer. But this is not ALAC. If anything, the art here might suffer from looking too much the same. In the mission of ensuring that there is no weak link – not one gallery here brings any of the others down with tacky art, kitschy art or worst of all, accessible art. No, ALAC reminds us that the event is for serious collectors by giving them only serious, inaccessible artwork for sale.
The fair’s VIP event was all about buying art. While many fairs are notorious for having nonstop free food and gallons of booze for their top tier clients, ALAC had a local restaurant selling food and had an historically long line for booze – the brands of which appeared limited to that of fair sponsors. In a fair that had haphazard selections of participants this would have been an outrage, but in this vetted fair with a narrow range of contemporary art by established if not leading galleries it only seemed to underscore that this was a fair for collectors to buy art and not to party all night long.
The art itself seemed eerily interchangeable from gallery to gallery. Sadly, this is the downside of the well-vetted art fairs. From booth to booth there was little distinction. Sure, one gallery would try to be sloppy and punk with paintings leaning against the wall under other paintings while the booth next to it might be minimal and sleek with lots of space around each artwork. But the art in each booth would be almost the same. ALAC went to great …read more
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