Artist’s Estates are charged with the responsibility to protect the legacy, be caretakers of the artwork, and preserve the reputation of the artist. Estates, of course, come in many different sizes and forms—from the large and well-funded Warhol Foundation, to the smaller and penniless widows of the unrecognized. Reputations are placed in trust. I’ve had the sometimes sad—but necessary—task of working with family and friends of several artists after a death. There are the inevitable meetings with lawyers, accounting and record keeping, and there is a significant job of responding to the queries of museums, curators, and collectors. But in the digital age, there is another important position: the protection and presentation of the images and information online.
I’ve written about the prevalence of the internet in the art world before, and it’s something that continues to interest me. The online presence of a gallery or artist can make a big difference in how they are perceived, by the general public, students, critics, and museums. I’ve observed that the first step by many during a research project is to do a quick search on Google or Wikipedia. Unfortunately, it seems that not many people go beyond this cursory overview of a topic. That needs to change.
With that in mind, the Estate of Craig Kauffman, working with my gallery, has launched a new website: www.craigkauffman.com. It features images of artworks, a selected exhibition history, primary-source documents and a chronology to guide visitors through Kauffman’s life and work. It is our hope that this website will be a resource that helps people look beyond the mythology to see the broad scope of his career. We made use of extensive archival materials and interviews, to try—again—to set the record straight.
I’m looking forward to attending the exhibition Helen Pashgian: Light Invisible, opening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on March 30. The show features a large-scale sculptural installation of molded acrylic columns. Visitors will be able to move around and between these forms, creating “an immersive viewing experience that invites meditations on the nature of material and, more importantly, of light.”
I exhibited works by Helen Pashgian in the group show Translucence, presented at the gallery in the fall of 2013. The work pictured here demonstrates how Pashgian’s work has explored the new possibilities offered by industrial mediums to manipulate and explore visual and perceptual phenomena. Dating from the early 1970s, this piece traps, reflects, and diffuses light, much like the columns that will soon be on display. As you move around the piece, colors and shapes seem to advance and recede, which contributes to its perceptual ambiguity. The traditional boundaries between form and color dissolve, leaving the viewer with a subtle, shifting sense of space.
The current exhibition, Roseline Delisle, is an unusual opportunity to see so many of the artist’s works displayed together. The show spans two decades of her career, and illustrates Deslisle’s development of progressively larger forms. The rarity of her work on the market has led to a lot of questions from visitors, some of whom are experiencing Delisle’s work for the first time.
Roseline Delisle’s work was avidly collected by private individuals and major museums during her lifetime. For example, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art owns seven Delisle artworks, including the 1997 piece 8=1 (to the third power), which was purchased in 1998 with funds provided by the Friends of Clay and Decorative Arts Council. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, owns two beautiful works as well.
Delisle’s work is also represented internationally. In her native Québec, the Musée des Beaux Arts, Montréal, owns a beautiful bowl in the artist’s signature cobalt blue. The Tokyo National Museum of Art also has in their collection two Delisle works from 1988. Altogether, Roseline Delisle has works in nearly twenty major museums around the world.
The opening reception for Roseline Delisle last Saturday was a bittersweet moment for the gallery. It had the feeling of a reunion, as friends and family of Roseline and her husband, Bruce Cohen, filled the space. Spanning two decades of her career, the sixteen works on display demonstrate Roseline’s commitment to her aesthetic vision – they grow larger but maintain her characteristic precision and elegance.
Vertical vessels, composed of stacked cylinders that interlock seamlessly, Roseline’s work is almost mechanical in its exactitude. A strict color palette of blue, black, and white is made infinitely variable through her use of horizontal striping. Yet for all its austerity, her work never crosses over into the severe, as her forms refer to the figure. With foot, body, waist, and head, her vessels have a human presence. When installed in groups, these figures form families.
Roseline’s belief in the power of a beautifully designed form ties her work to that of Kasimir Malevich and Oskar Schlemmer, whom she cited as important influences. Her work feels as fresh and modern now as it did when it was made.
It never occurred to me that my career would last this long, but I was recently struck by the fact that I’ve spent the last 29 years perfecting a specific idea. When I ask myself how I’ve stayed with it for so long, I remember a dream I had many years ago. I dreamed I was walking down a long road and that the road was my work. The sun was setting at the end of the road, and all I had to do to get to this exquisite sunset was keep walking.
Otis College of Art and Design is planning a retrospective exhibition on the work of Ralph Bacerra. Titled Exquisite Beauty: The Ceramics of Ralph Bacerra, it will be presented in the Ben Maltz Gallery, and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015. This recognition of Bacerra’s work is well-deserved, as Bacerra was a widely acknowledged master of elaborately decorative techniques. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue.
Influenced by his travels to Japan, China, and Taiwan, Bacerra’s artwork achieved a sophisticated synthesis of surface and form. Speaking about his work, Bacerra stated, “I am committed more to the idea of pure beauty. When it is finished, the piece should be like an ornament, exquisitely beautiful.”
For the installation of Los Gigantes, I included something new – a bench! Although I don’t often place benches in the gallery, this show motivated me to include one. The aesthetic of Los Gigantes is very spare, with only ten pieces on view. The works really fill the space though, and they all benefit from prolonged looking. For example, the more time a visitor spends with a Light Knot by Larry Bell, the more they understand the ephemeral, kinetic nature of the piece. Practically weightless, the Light Knot turns and sways with the slightest breath of air. Because it is so responsive to light and environmental conditions, the piece changes from moment to moment.
I encourage people to sit down and study the pieces, rather than rushing through. From the bench installed in Los Gigantes, you will see a painting by Ed Moses, framed by two luminous wall reliefs by Craig Kauffman. The subtle, translucent colors of the Kauffman pieces beautifully complement the stained surface of Moses’ painting. Viewed together, the works illustrate the impact of shimmering, sensual color in differing media.