Great LA Museum Shows During Frieze Week 2024: Paul Pfeiffer, Betye Saar, John Waters

From monumental gallery shows to eerily intimate installations, Los Angeles is packed with brilliant exhibitions during Frieze this year

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BY Chris Waywell in Frieze Los Angeles | 23 JAN 24

Paul Pfeiffer at MOCA 

Across his multidisciplinary work, Paul Pfeiffer dismantles the super-spectacles of US culture—its sports stadiums and gigantic entertainments. His pioneering use of video, often looped, partially erased and reconfigured, challenges the objectivity of contemporary media, linking these epic events to Hollywood, art history and Biblical archetypes in its creation of superhuman figures and mass-market martyrs. This is Pfeiffer’s first US retrospective, and the huge volumes of Moca’s Geffen Center are the perfect setting for his monumentalism.

“Paul Pfeiffer: Prologue to the Story of the Birth of Freedom” is at MOCA through June 16, 2024. 

Los Angeles artists at the Broad

Sayre Gomez. The Whole Wide World is a Haunted House , 2022. Acrylic on canvas. 96 x 144 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. The Broad Art Foundation. © Sayre Gomez. Courtesy of the Artist and François Ghebaly Gallery
Sayre Gomez, The Whole Wide World is a Haunted House, 2022. Acrylic on canvas, 96 x 144.5 x 1.5 in. The Broad Art Foundation. © Sayre Gomez. Courtesy the artist and François Ghebaly Gallery

Taking its title from a work by John Baldessari, this group exhibition of more than 60 works by Los Angeles-based artists is drawn from the Broad’s own collection. It was originally slated to open in spring 2020, just as Covid hit. Four years later, the show has expanded to reflect the post-pandemic world. The big names here include Baldessari himself, Mark Bradford, Mike Kelley, Barbara Kruger, Ed Ruscha and Patrick Martinez. There are also names new to the Broad, including Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Sayre Gomez and Joe Ray, showing how the collection keeps apace of LA’s social change and visual vocabulary.

At the fair: Sprüth Magers is showing work by artists associated with Los Angeles, including John Baldessari, Senga Nengudi, Sterling Ruby, Analia Saban and the late Kaari Upson. The gallery will also present a new wall work by Barbara Kruger, with artworks installed on top of it (also by Kruger) and flanked by footstools by Jenny Holzer.

“Desire, Knowledge, and Hope (with Smog)” is at The Broad through April 7, 2024.

Betye Saar at the Huntington

Betye Saar, Drifting Toward Twilight , 2023 (installation view). © 2023 Betye Saar. Photo: Joshua White / JWPictures.com. The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens
Betye Saar, Drifting Toward Twilight, 2023 (installation view). © 2023 Betye Saar. Photo: Joshua White / JWPictures.com. The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens

A new commission by the Huntington, Drifting Toward Twilight is a site-specific installation that features an antique wooden canoe loaded with found objects including birdcages, antlers and natural material from the museum’s grounds. Saar calls the space aound it a “cocoon-like environment,” with blue-painted walls, lighting that phases throughout the day and a wash of neon at floor level. The work continues Saar’s use of assemblage, an organic accretion of objects that responds to the site’s own collection and questions its dynamics of power, ownership and transferral.

At the fair: Roberts Projects is presenting works on the idea of “oasis”, including Betye Saar’s neon Oasis, which debuted at MOCA Los Angeles in 1984. The gallery also has an exhibition of new work by Saar to coincide with Frieze Los Angeles (“Betye Saar: New Work”, February 24–April 6, 2024). 

Watch: Betye Saar on recreating her mural from 1983, LA Energy.

“Betye Saar: Drifting Toward Twilight” is at the Huntington through November 30, 2025.

The Artists of Gemini G.E.L. at Getty Center

David Hockney working on his Friends series, pinning up cutouts from his lithographs of Peter Schlesinger, Don Cribb, Michael Crichton, Nicholas Wilder, Mo McDermott, Henry Geldzahler, Billy Wilder, and Christopher Isherwood, 1976  Sidney B. Felsen (American, b. 1924) Medium
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2019.R.41
David Hockney working on his “Friends” series, 1976. Photo: Sidney B. Felsen, courtesy Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

The co-founder of Los Angeles’s famous Gemini G.E.L. (Graphic Editions Limited) print workshop, Sidney B. Felsen is 100 this year. Since 1966, Gemini has produced limited-edition lithographs, screenprints, woodcuts and sculpture with a starry roster of artists, including John Baldessari, Sam Francis, Frank Gehry, Philip Guston, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Julie Mehretu, Elizabeth Murray, Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Frank Stella and Richard Tuttle. This show charts these stories of creative collaboration in a uniquely candid way through Felsen’s own photographs of the artists who worked with Gemini.

At the fair: Marc Selwyn is showing a 1960 print by Philip Guston, and Craig Starr two prints by Ed Ruscha from 1966 and 1969 at Frieze Los Angeles. Gladstone Gallery is showing artists including Robert Rauschenberg.

“First Came a Friendship: Sidney B. Felsen and the Artists at Gemini G.E.L.” is at Getty Center, February 20–July 7, 2024.

Luna Luna

Keith Haring with his painted carousel. © Keith Haring Foundation/licensed by Artestar , New Y ork . Photo: © Sabina Sarnitz. Courtesy Luna Luna, LLC
Keith Haring with his painted carousel, Luna Luna, Hamburg, 1987. © Keith Haring Foundation/licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: © Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna, LLC

Opening in Hamburg in 1987, Luna Luna, “The World’s First Art Amusement Park”, boasted works, rides, attractions and installations by—among others—Jean-Michel Basquiat, Salvador Dalí, Sonia Delaunay, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Rebecca Horn and Roy Lichtenstein. But it closed less than two months after opening, and was consigned to some shipping containers in Texas for more than 30 years. Its rediscovery made headlines, and this display in LA offers the chance to see Haring’s carousel, Delaunay’s entrance archway, Dalí’s pavilion and Basquiat’s ferris wheel.

At the fair: Gladstone Gallery is showing artists including Keith Haring at Frieze Los Angeles.

Read: Is Keith Haring’s Art for Everybody?

“Luna Luna: Forgotten Fantasy” is at 1601 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90023, through spring 2024.

John Waters at the Academy Museum

John Waters: Pope of Trash , Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Photo by: Charles White, JWPictures/©Academy Museum Foundation
“John Waters: Pope of Trash”, Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Photo: Charles White, JW Pictures, © Academy Museum Foundation

This is the first major exhibition devoted to the legendary/notorious Baltimore-born artist, writer, director and pitiless eviscerator of America’s clammy underbelly (and former Frieze London keynote speaker). 

Taking its title from William Burroughs’s moniker for Waters, “Pope of Trash” tackles his filmmaking process, obsessions and singular style, with sets, costumes, props, original handwritten scripts, posters, scrapbooks, photographs, film clips and more. Prepare to be repelled and beguiled.

“John Waters: Pope of Trash” is at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures through August 4, 2024.

Experimental Art from Korea at the Hammer

Lee Seung-taek, Untitled (Sprout), 1963/2018. Six painted earthenware sculptures, dimensions variable, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. © Lee Seung-taek. Photo courtesy Gallery Hyundai
Lee Seung-taek, Untitled (Sprout), 1963/2018. Six painted earthenware sculptures, dimensions variable. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. © Lee Seung-taek. Photo courtesy Gallery Hyundai

The Korean War was a bitter, bloody and divisive struggle, but in its aftermath a new generation of artists responded to their country’s turmoil by embracing the avant-garde and experimental to look forward rather than back. This show at the Hammer—transferred from the Guggenheim in New York—considers this shift of attitude and approach as Korean artists ventured into assemblage, installation, happenings, performance and conceptual art, in a deliberate and sometimes provocative departure from traditions of Korean art and in the face of an authoritarian state. “Only the Young” features around 80 works across painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, video, installation and film to present a portrait of a culture in crisis.

“Only the Young: Experimental Art in Korea, 1960s–1970s” is at the Hammer Museum, February 11–May 12, 2024.

Frieze Los Angeles 2024

Frieze Los Angeles is at Santa Monica Airport, February 29–March 3, 2024.

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Main image: Paul Pfeiffer, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (30), 2015. Fujiflex digital c-print, 121.9 x 177.8 cm. © Paul Pfeiffer. Courtesy the artist; Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; carlier | gebauer, Berlin/Madrid; Perrotin; and Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Chris Waywell is Senior Editor of Frieze Studios. He lives in London, UK.

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