Friday 17 February 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 17/2/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Mark Blower/Frieze

Opinion / Christopher Lord

Boom town

Frieze has once again touched down in Los Angeles, taxiing to its new home in a hangar at Santa Monica Airport. The annual art fair, one of the latest additions to the company’s global roster of events, kicked off yesterday with the usual flurry of early sales. But it has returned to a local market that has changed significantly. Over the past 12 months there has been a steady stream of new gallery openings, many of which have their original outposts in New York. This week, Hauser & Wirth launched its second space in Los Angeles with an exhibition of paintings by George Condo. London’s Lisson Gallery is putting the final touches on a new venue that will open in April. It feels as though the momentum has shifted from the fair to the city itself.

Los Angeles is infamous for its hot-then-not dynamic. Stars rise and fall; some long-standing galleries stay the course, while others move on. The gallery count has oscillated from decade to decade but the city currently has a kudos in the art world that might have seemed fanciful just a few years ago.

The difference this time is that the money is here now. The collector base has swelled with people who have decamped from San Francisco and moved into big houses with bare, white walls. Meanwhile, museums continue to go from strength to strength and the clustering of so many actively acquisitive institutions (the Hammer Museum is expected to unveil its expanded site next month) is a major draw. There’s also the attraction of winter sunshine; some newly arrived gallery owners, especially those from Europe, are clearly glad to have their shorts on in February. Maybe the hot spell will last.

Christopher Lord is Monocle’s US editor. For the latest on everything from art and architecture to business and hospitality, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images

Defence / Germany

Fraying at the edges

This time last year the Munich Security Conference was dominated by a single question: would Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, invade Ukraine? Four days after it concluded, he supplied his answer. At this year’s edition, which begins today, participants will have a clearer idea of what they’re dealing with. Russia’s rampage in Ukraine remains the central topic of discussion as uncertainty grows about how a rules-based order can be maintained if one (or more) power decides to do as it pleases. Among those expected to attend are the US vice-president, Kamala Harris, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen. Look out for conversations on whether to send fighter planes to Ukraine, which are sure to cause tempers to flare.

To hear more from the Munich Security Conference, tune in to ‘The Foreign Desk’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Economy / Australia & China

After the freeze

The commerce ministers of Australia and China will meet in the coming days to discuss the prospect of relaxing trade restrictions between the two countries. After Canberra called for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Beijing slashed its imports of Australian goods. China is Australia’s top trading partner so the move dealt a huge financial blow, especially to exporters of timber, barley, lobster and wine.

But things are changing. Australia’s trade minister, Don Farrell, said in a recent interview that his Chinese counterpart, Wang Wentao, had told him, “The freeze is over and we’re now moving to a warm spring.” While the exchange of coal restarted last week, the strained relationship will need more time to recover. A potential visit by Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, to Beijing this year might help to smooth dispositions further.

Image: Alexis Armanet

Fashion / France

Step ahead

Footwear brand Veja grew so much at the height of the pandemic that by the time the team returned to the office it had outgrown its space. That’s why it invested in a new HQ near Paris’s Gare du Nord that is now home to 200 employees, as well as a showroom and a vegetarian restaurant.

Architect Hugo Haas, who also worked on Veja’s sleek shop designs, decided to keep the refurb in line with the brand’s low-impact ethos. “The materials that we used have minimum expression, which goes well with Veja’s ecological dimension,” says Haas. The open-plan space facilitates Veja’s collaborative spirit while expanding its footprint. “I’m not a big fan of working from home,” says co-founder Sébastien Kopp (pictured, on left, with co-founder François-Ghislain Morillion). “For me, Veja’s strength is in the team. It’s the pleasure of seeing each other every day.” The new HQ is proof that a well-designed building can provide far more than just desk space.

To read more about Veja’s expansion, pick up a copy of Monocle’s March issue, which is on newsstands now.

Image: MAP

Culture / India

New perspectives

India’s first major new museum in 10 years opens its doors tomorrow. The Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) occupies a vast, purpose-built structure in Bengaluru and hopes to become a world-class beacon of South Asian arts. From paintings to sculptures and graphic-design pieces, as well as textiles, photography and Bollywood memorabilia, MAP will house more than 60,000 works as it celebrates more than 1,000 years of Indian history and culture.

In the museum’s approach to curating the displays, founder Abhishek Poddar and his team disregarded the hierarchies separating what is conventionally seen as high art from everyday creativity. “In India, these things coexist and are enmeshed with each other,” he tells The Monocle Minute. “That’s quite a departure from the way that other museums would look at it.” Institutions seeking a broader, more democratic approach to culture and curation should take note.

Monocle 24 / The Menu

Recipe edition: Rosie Healey

Rosie Healey, head chef of Glasgow restaurant Gloriosa, shares a recipe for the Italian staple focaccia.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: March issue, 2023

Is the future electric? That’s the question that Monocle is asking in its future of the car special. Our forward-looking report offers our verdict on self-driving cars, the auto industry’s next moves and the companies in pole position to take advantage. Plus: Australian architecture, Spain’s costume-makers and Spam – no, really. Grab a copy today from The Monocle Shop.


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