While Felix Art Fair’s poolside setting at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel has always made it the more relaxed counterpart to Frieze Los Angeles, dealers saw more intense crowds this year than ever. Having moved its opening from Thursday to Wednesday, a day before Frieze, Felix welcomed around 4,000 guests during its VIP preview, a new record for the fair.
“It was an absolute crusher from 11am to 8pm,” says Kasmin senior director Eric Gleason, who reported selling 20 works in the space of 24 hours. Although Felix’s cool reputation is built largely on mid-career and emerging contemporary artists, the gallery brought a mixed 20th- and 21st-century presentation, where works on paper by Alexander Harrison, Mark Ryden and Max Ernst hung together, salon-style. Its room also included examples of the exquisite corpse collages that André Breton, Jacqueline Lamba and Yves Tanguy made together one weekend in 1938.
The New York dealer Charles Moffett sold out his presentation of 25 new paintings by Keiran Brennan Hinton during Wednesday’s preview. Inglewood-based Residency Art Gallery placed works from its room in the collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody. Tim Hood of New York’s A Hug From the Art World reported selling 90% of his offerings and receiving more than 50 commissions for the popular art-world figurines by Jeffrey Dalessandro he was showing.
The Los Angeles dealer Charlie James came with works by more than a dozen of his artists, making opening-hours sales of works by Jay Lynn Gomez, Patrick Martinez, Manuel López and Jeffrey Sincich. In his second outing at Felix, James was enthusiastic about the quality of collectors who had turned up. “You’re running heavies through such a small space,” he says. “I found that it’s been fantastic both times.”
The Los Angeles gallerist Carlye Packer also came with a cross-section of artists, including Ireland Wisdom, Taylor Marie Prendergast and Adam Stamp, achieving a personal goal of only selling to new clients. Her strategy, she says, was refusing to pre-sell, a common practice among some galleries seeking to drum up interest and urgency around fairs.
“When I’ve pre-sold in the past, I’ve felt that people come without the intention of buying on-site, which takes out the excitement of buying and selling on the floor,” she says. “It’s also nice for buyers to see works in person rather than in a PDF. This image-based economy creates paintings that are made for photos and look different in real life.”
In-person engagement has always been a defining feature with the Hollywood Roosevelt’s poolside hotel rooms, a decidedly more inviting environment than the typical art-fair stand. “People feel comfortable here,” says Gleason, whose Felix suite includes a generous leather sofa and bar. “The conversations that we have in this room are just far more sustained than we would have in any convention centre setting. They don’t feel the need to be pulled in a million different directions because they’re looking at works at five other booths while they’re in our booth.”
- Felix Art Fair, until 19 February, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles