LOS ANGELES – photo l.a. is the longest-running international photography fair on the West Coast and has hosted over 700 galleries, private dealers, and publishers since its inception in 1992. The 28th edition of photo l.a. took place on January 30–February 2, 2020, and featured photography from more than 60 local and international galleries and dealers. The annual event welcomed over 10,000 attendees from the international photography and art community, including collectors, curators, and art lovers. In addition to galleries, the historic Barker Hangar’s sweeping 35,000-square-foot space hosted a curated roster of collectives, leading non-profit organizations, art schools, and global booksellers.
“photo l.a. has made a name for itself as a source for discovering the most innovative contemporary photography alongside important and rare historical images,” says Claudia James Bartlett, Director and Owner of photo l.a. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be nearing three decades of bringing the world’s best photography to Los Angeles.”
photo l.a. 2020 galleries presented new, recent, and iconic works by photographers from across the globe. An international roster of galleries from China, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary, Peru, and more will participate. Highlights included:
• Galerie XII (Los Angeles/Paris) presented Norwegian self-portraitist Anja Niemi’s celebrated series She Could Have Been a Cowboy (2018) alongside the debut of her forthcoming monochromatic series The Blow (2019). In her new series, Niemi continues to investigate the self through her unique style of visual narrative and elaborate staging. Also, Beijing-based artist Quentin Shih, one of China’s most celebrated contemporary photographers, will presented his dramatic new series titled Familiars. The new work is a confident departure from the artist’s fashion background; exploring impactful memories from his youth, with a unique use of colored lighting, symbolically often red, in each image.
• Monroe Gallery of Photography (Santa Fe) featured photographs documented by the new wave of fearless frontline photojournalists that are covering 21st-century events. Works by this new cohort of photojournalists were presented alongside photographs by Ida Wyman (1926–2019), whose work for Life, Look, and other magazines went unrecognized for decades. In the 1940s and ’50s, Wyman roamed Los Angeles, New York, and other cities to capture compelling images of everyday people working, playing, idling, dancing or selling newspapers.
• A special installation in conjunction with Danziger Gallery (New York) showcased Paul Fusco’s critically acclaimed RFK Funeral Train series documenting the people who lined the rails to pay their final respects to Robert Kennedy, as the train carried his body from New York to Washington where he was to be buried at Arlington Cemetery in June of 1968. In the years since they were taken these photographs have become a beloved, influential, and seminal series in photography. While in some ways they represent the end of the hopes and dreams of the sixties, at the same time they celebrate the idealism and diversity of America. Each photograph carries its own weight and tells its own story, but cumulatively the series is an epic vision of America.
The fair’s renowned lectures, panel discussions, special installations, and docent tours with distinguished members of the arts community addressed the state and future of photography and the art of collecting. The 2020 programming, organized by Los Angeles-based artist and curator Carter Mull, explored a variety of topics, including immigration, environmental issues, the history of Photoshop, collecting, and much more. One of the cornerstone programs of 2020 featured a panel discussion with curators from The J. Paul Getty Museum’s Department of Photographs, an artist featured in The Getty’s collection, and an outside curatorial voice to speak to the very ways in which art history and cultural legacies are made. The Getty is an official cultural partner for photo l.a.
After a successful partnership in 2019, photo l.a. was proud to name Venice Arts as the Opening Night beneficiary for the 2020 edition. Proceeds from photo l.a.’s Opening Night Preview ticket sales benefited Venice Arts’ mission to ignite, expand, and transform the lives of Los Angeles’ low-income youth through photography and film education, and use participatory storytelling practices to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities around the world.
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