This story first appeared in the November 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
There is a serious love affair between Hollywood and the art world. Exhibit A: In May, a charity art auction organized by Leonardo Di Caprio raised $38 million overnight and set sales records for 13 artists. Exhibit B: A month later, the chairman and CEO of Paramount brad gray stepped up to join Brian Grazer, Michael Lynton and bryan Heavy on the entertainment-laden set of LACMA. Exhibit C: the artist-actor hybrid that James Franco.
Suddenly everyone in town seems to have gone crazy for collecting. In an industry once dominated by a few powerful collectors (David Geffen, Michael ovitz), there is now a deeper, younger bench of art-loving players, agents (AAC Joel Lubin, UTA rock Franciosa) and actors (Neil Patrick Harris) to leaders (HBO Michael Lombardo) and managers (Brillstein Entertainment Partners Joanne Colonna, brown scooter). “There are a lot of people in the industry who have great taste and are exposed to great art,” says the producer and LACMA crew member Steve Tisch. “I know a number of collectors who have gotten into collecting over the past five or ten years, and their passion for building their collection is fantastic.”
It is a convergence that was inevitable. As the entertainment world’s 1% have become more sophisticated – and want the world (or at least their peers) to know it – the Los Angeles art world is booming, generating a buzz in the back -court of Hollywood. Masters such as John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha were joined by a growing rank of wonders who sell shows (Mark Grotjahnwhose paintings are sold at auction for more than a million dollars, sold his last exhibition at the Blum & Poe in Culver City before it opened) and obtained MacArthur grants (painter Mark Bradford) and public (photographer Katherine OpieStreet artist Shepard Fairey). And LA is on a culture-building frenzy, which includes Beverly Hills’ new Wallis Annenberg performing arts center, Eli Broad‘s Broad Museum is due to open in 2014 opposite MOCA and the future Academy Museum.
Entertainment players are also giving back – not just by sitting on boards, but with major donations, including Tisch’s Contribution of $467,500 to LACMA to buy Christian Marclaythe film The clock and old UPN chief Dean Valentinedonation of 50 important sculptures to Le Marteau. ‘LA is finally a place people are proud to call home,’ says Hammer Museum director Anna Philbinwhose board boasts UTA Jeremy Zimmer and rock Benedek, AAC Michael Rubel, by Gersh Bob Gersh and WME George Freeman. “It’s not a place they go through anymore, a place they have to live. I think a lot of them [industry leaders] simply become better citizens, they begin to care about the cultural vitality of the city. The strong ties between the art world and the film industry are growing stronger.” – MAXWELL WILLIAMS
Written by Gary Baum, Merle Ginsberg, Marissa Glück, Tatiana Siegel, Rebecca Sun, Kate Sutton and Michael Walker. Karine Rhee contributed to this feature.