Paintings composed by the quintessential French Impressionist Claude Monet in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil, where he lived for several years early in his career, have been collected by the world’s greatest museums, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, and the National Gallery of Britain. This weekend only, Monet’s Argenteuil landscape painting “Effet de Brouillard” (“Fog Effect”) is on view in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, where the 20th anniversary edition of the Los Angeles Art Show is currently in full swing.
“Effet de Brouillard” is one of three Monet paintings being put on display—and offered for sale—by New Orleans’s M.S. Rau Antiques house in what may be the most sumptuously appointed of the approximately 120 gallerist’s “booths” that occupy this art fair’s 20,000-square foot floor. The Rau space is like a micro-museum or salon unto itself, with plush blue walls, upholstered chairs, and several small partitioned rooms where different pieces play off of one another. And what a collection of pieces! In addition to the three Monets, the paintings include a Van Gogh, a Chagall, a pair of Norman Rockwells, a Rosa Bonheur (which at over $9 million is probably the most expensive artwork in the whole place), a Reynolds, a Wyeth, a Turner, a Toulouse-Lautrec and a Corot, among many others. Sculptures include a Rodin and Vincenzo Vela’s “Last Days of Napoleon.”
Negotiations were clearly well underway at the opening night event on Wednesday evening. One of the Monets had already found a buyer earlier in the day, and just while we happened to be there a gallery staffer took a Renoir off the wall to give a potentially interested party a closer look. Third-generation dealer Bill Rau told us that the L.A. Art Show is one of the five or six his gallery attends every year because he appreciates the enthusiasm and the sophistication of the southern California art community he meets here.
There is obviously too much to take in on any single visit to the show, so browsers may be advised just to walk around and stop in wherever their fancy takes them. Not far from the Rau booth, we were particularly attracted to a group of Edward Sorel’s New York Jazz Age-themed “Monkey Bar” murals. A group of posthumously rediscovered paintings by Spanish-American colorist Gil Cuatrecasas, most of whose work was lost in a flood in the 1970s, also grabbed our attention.
The “Modern and Contemporary” art collections reside in a different area of the hall from the purveyors of “Historic and Traditional Contemporary” art. Familiar L.A. galleries representing here include La Luz de Jesus, the Ace Gallery, Coagula Curatorial and Thinkspace. Several of these are grouped in “Littletopia,” a distinctive corridor of exhibitors showing off bolder, more adventurous work curated by Red Truck Gallery owner Noah Antieau. A central sculpture garden includes work by Jordi Alcaraz presented by Jack Rutberg Fine Arts. J.T. Burke’s Paradise Circus tent invites passersby to peer in and catch, well, “a small glimpse of Paradise.” Monochromatic Korean Tansaekhwa paintings by six artists are part of a special two-year exhibition project starting at this year’s Art Show and concluding at the 2016 event.