Archive for the ‘Collectors’ Category
Over the years, my gallery has taken on all sorts of guises, from exhibition space to lecture hall. But perhaps its most elegant makeover is when it becomes a private dining room. We’ve put together the menu, gone over the guest lists, and had the catering company plan the meal for dinners from 20 to 100 people. It’s a great way to get friends of the artists and the gallery’s supporters to gather in the space with the art.
The largest of these dinners was held in 2000, on the occasion of the Peter Voulkos show of bronzes, a massive and monumental group of work. I took the suggestion of my neighbor, Patricia Faure, and set the dinner up in her space—just to the east of the gallery. We had 100 guests—far more than originally planned, but a truly significant group of people who had known Peter during the previous five decades. As usual, the late Henry Hopkins (who had known Voulkos since the 1950s in Los Angeles as well as the 70s and 80s in San Francisco) served as the toastmaster. Guests ranging from Frank and Berta Gehry to Sid Felsen and Joni Weyl gathered to honor the legendary Voulkos.
Another dinner was just under 50 people, honoring artist Larry Bell in February, 2008. Larry was kind enough to talk about his show of new works on paper, and our guests were treated to a fabulous sit-down dinner. We had the honor of hosting the Director of MOCA, Jeremy Strick and his wife, as well as many of Larry’s oldest friends, including Stanley and Elyse Grinstein and John Mason. Among the others were collectors and curators, all seated in a refined and elegant setting amidst the luminous new collages.
More recently, we co-hosted a dinner honoring Ed Moses, during his 2010 exhibition. Ed invited some of his long-time friends, and we invited some of his long-term supporters. This time, the connections made at the dinner resulted in the placement of a Moses painting at a museum! For this event we moved the feast next door, but still the style remained—a kind of transformation of the gallery space into a small and intimate private restaurant. It’s that kind of personal experience, and sense of community, that makes the art world rewarding.
The sight of a big yellow school bus reminds me of field trips. From elementary school forward, growing up in South Pasadena, I went to many museums and galleries. These ranged from the Southwest Museum in nearby Highland Park to the old Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art.
Now I find myself on the other end of the story. Here at the gallery, we often host school groups, college students, and adult education classes. Some students are just kids, some are middle aged, and we’ve often hosted a van from a retirement home. We also provide (free of charge) lectures, artists’ talks, and exhibit walk-throughs. Many museum groups from out of town come to see our shows. We even coordinate tours for those groups.
Today we welcomed a class on “The Fine Art of Art Collecting” taught by Edward Goldman, a host of the show Art Talk, on KCRW. His dozen students got to spend quite some time looking closely at our show of new work by Jennifer Lee, while learning about her background and artistic process.
Another example of the educational nature of the gallery is the short lecture given by Robert Singer in February, at the opening reception for Sugimoto Sadamitsu’s exhibition. Mr. Singer is a well-known expert in Japanese ceramics, and his knowledge was extremely helpful in explaining the subtleties of the shigaraki and iga styles in which Sugimoto-sensei works.
Galleries provide a much-needed educational resource, and many teachers and professors use the gallery as a teaching venue. We welcome the visits from USC, UCLA, Loyola, Santa Monica City College, Crossroads, and dozens of other schools. Our artists are also on the faculties of several major universities, including UCLA and Cal Berkeley.
Here at the gallery, we really believe in the value of an education that includes the fine arts. I’m happy that, through the gallery, I’m able to make this kind of experience and knowledge accessible to the general public.
by Diane Factor
The drape, cut, feel of a fine suit
The brim, fit, weight of a perfect hat
The taste of butter, salt and milk in mashed potatoes
The chewed, moistened, odor of a good cigar
The lines, smell, leather of a classic car
The soft velvet ears, of dogs and horses
The bold, original, penetration of a jazz riff
The drip, ooze, guts of strong painting
The sweetness, balm, elegance of a poem
The subtlety, surprise, nuance, of an off color joke
The relief, breathless, joy of an unmuted laugh
The patience, feedback, leveling, of a long talk
The planted, soft, so there, of a good bye kiss
The warm, swollen grip of an old hand
The forgiving, honest, love of a father
The beautiful, proud manner of a man
The simple, peaceful way of letting go.
Monte Factor, who established the longest-running business in Beverly Hills and was, with his wife Betty, a significant collector of contemporary art, has died at the age of 94. Factor was a member of the formative group of Los Angeles business owners and art patrons that emerged in the post-WWII era in Southern California. He died simply and peacefully at 3:30 am Monday morning at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, according to his daughter Diane.
As a young man, he left UCLA to raise money to pay for his mother’s cancer treatment, taking an entry-level job at Schwab’s in Hollywood. Factor then apprenticed himself to the clothing business, and took pride in knowing the thread count for every shirt, as well as the Italian suppliers of the wool used in every suit. Hollywood agents also had accounts with Factor, and would send aspiring young actors to the store for a wardrobe.
Monte Montefiore Factor was born in St Louis in 1917, the son of Nathan Factor, a Polish immigrant and the brother of Max Factor, the makeup entrepreneur. The family moved to Los Angeles in the 1920s. He served in the Navy during WWII as a lieutenant on a sub-chaser, and participated in the Normandy invasion. Monte became a life-long pacifist after this experience. In 1945 he married Betty Berch. Together they started a men’s clothing business in 1947, Monte Factor Ltd, which operated in Beverly Hills for over 40 years and had a clientele that included many Jewish movie stars and gangsters, including the Marx brothers and Mickey Cohen. The store was a full-service men’s haberdashery with a barbershop and bookie upstairs. It was one of the few stores in Beverly Hills that closed to support the Vietnam War Moratorium.
During the 1950s, Monte and his wife Betty became active in liberal politics, and it was through that association the couple became acquainted with many artists. The curator Walter Hopps introduced Monte and Betty to the LA art scene, and they were involved with the Ferus Gallery, becoming life-long friends with Walter and Ed Kienholz. Monte often traded men’s clothes for art works, developing close friendships with many of the artists.
Early patrons of the Ferus gallery, the Factors became part of the strong early support group that Walter Hopps and Henry Hopkins cultivated, along with Betty and Leonard Asher, Fred and Marcia Weisman, Gifford and Joanne Phillips, Elyse and Stanley Grinstein, Richard and Dee Sherwood and others. His family’s collection included works by Edward and Nancy Kienholz, George Herms, Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, Craig Kauffman, Peter Voulkos, Ed Moses, Lyn Foulkes, Wallace Berman, John Altoon, Richard Jackson, Ed Bereal, Emerson Woelffer, Hassel Smith, Mark DiSuvero, Tony Smith, Jean Tinguely, Andy Warhol, Kenneth Price and many others.
An early purchase was a painting on paper by sculptor David Smith, and as time went on the Factors became major patrons of the work of Ed Kienholz. Back in the early 1960s, as Factor recalled, the couple scraped up a small amount of cash—as well as some clothes and an old boat—to buy a work from the artist, who was to become a close friend of the family. Some years later they purchased the still relatively unknown artist’s piece, “The Illegal Operation”, a powerful and important piece (later characterized by the L.A. Times as “an indictment of back-street abortion”) that was acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2008.
“This was one of the most important postwar sculptures in L.A., and it really belonged at the museum,” said Stephanie Barron, LACMA’s senior curator of modern art at the time, in an interview with Times art writer Suzanne Muchnic.
For the Factors, the piece had resonance as a work of art. “It was the most deeply affecting work of art I had ever seen,” recalled Monte Factor in the same article. “It struck very deep into me. Ed once told me that if he ever made a piece of art, that was it. It worked as a drawing, as a sculpture, even the colors. For me it was also the extreme underside of beauty.”
The Factors were engaged in political and social projects. Together with his wife Betty, who passed away in April of 2006, Factor established a non-profit organization, the Mar Vista Family Center near the Mar Vista Gardens housing project. The center came to be seen as a national model for early childhood development. Also in 1984, he founded the End Hunger Network with Brenda Eddy and Jeff Bridges.
Monte was a walking encyclopedia of jazz music, contemporary art, and political and social ethics. He was known for his great sense of humor and loved engaging, supporting and learning from everyone he met. He leaves a large community of friends and family, including his four children, and five grandchildren. The family requests that donations may be made to the Mar Vista Family Center, in honor of Betty and Monte Factor. Memorial plans will be private.
—-written by Frank Lloyd, Lawrence Weschler, and Diane and Tom Factor
Ridiculous repeated stereotypes can lead to embedded mythology. Someone recently remarked that Craig Kauffman’s work, like many L.A. artists’, “was never accepted in New York.” My response was something like, “Are you kidding me?” Here’s a short list of the Gotham tastemakers who acquired Kauffman’s work, from just 1965 to 1969: Philip Johnson (a 1965 red and green painting on formed plastic), Frank Stella (a small 1964 formed acrylic painting), Kynaston McShine (legendary curator acquired 2 works for the collection of MoMA, 1965 and 1969), Donald Judd (owned a transparent orange formed plastic wall relief), and Jean and Howard Lipman (a 1967 acquisition for the Whitney Museum, when Lipman was on the Board of Trustees, and Jean was the editor of Art in America). Now, seriously, that would be an impressive group, even for a major New York painter! (Image at left is Philip Johnson, by photographer Arnold Newman, for Look magazine, 1967)
Still not convinced? Then, how about the exhibitions at Pace Gallery–-5 at Pace, a group show in 1965, then four solo shows for Kauffman in 1967, 1969, 1970, and 1972? Maybe Craig’s fame would be more obvious when viewing the cover of Art in America, from 1966. At any rate, recognition is now returning in the form of articles and market prices, which are rising rapidly. That’s one of the subjects of a recent article in Art and Auction, by Eric Bryant. He includes a bit of commentary from another writer: “This myth has developed that it was all about car finishes and surfing,” says Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, an art critic and the author of the recent book Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s. “But East Coast artists like Donald Judd and Robert Morris were making visits to see the latest work, and the artists really were engaged with the theoretical framework of Minimalism.”
It’s also a part of the history of the Whitney Museum of American Art, that in 1987 Richard Armstrong (now Director of the Guggenheim) curated a survey of Kauffman’s work, titled Wall Reliefs from the Late 1960s. In the catalogue essay, Armstrong noted that by the late 1960s Kauffman’s work “had reached an apogee of severe but allusive abstraction.”
I’ve been thinking about doing a series of posts about Los Angeles collections. Does everyone know who the supporters of the L.A. art world were in the early days? It’s a huge part of the Pacific Standard Time history, and is addressed in the first chapter of the Getty’s publication (just issued). Local support is chronicled by authors Rebecca Pebody, Andrew Perchuk, Glenn Phillips, and Rani Singh. They rightfully cite the efforts of Galka Scheyer, who championed the Blue Four (Lyonel Feininger, Alexi Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, and–my favorite since childhood–Paul Klee). Moving forward, the authors also recount the great, devoted collectors Walter and Louise Arensberg (they had as a friend and advisor none other than Marcel Duchamp). It’s just the start of a long story of serious collecting in Los Angeles.
But my thought was to chronicle the many collectors of the burgeoning L.A. scene in the 1960s and beyond. Contrary to the erroneous mythology, there were many, especially those cultivated by Henry T. Hopkins and Walter Hopps in their private classes. One of those was, of course, the Weisman collection. Now known as the Weisman Art Foundation, it’s a treasure trove of great modern and contemporary art, and the Foundation does shows each year throughout the world, often lending to major museums. Take, for instance, the loan of DeKooning’s Pink Angels to the current (and highly praised) retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.
Fortunately for me, William Poundstone has already done a superb job of writing a post about the Weisman Foundation on his blog, Los Angeles County Museum on Fire. There you’ll see photos of the interior of the house and collection. I’ve often taken museum and collector groups to the Weisman Foundation. Though it does require some logistics, it’s well worth it. An easy way to see a selection of works (this one just by California artists) is to head out to the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, on the campus of Pepperdine University. There’s a great exhibition of works on view until December 4th. As you might imagine, one of the star pieces in the show is Craig Kauffman’s Yellow-Blue, from 1965, a superb example of Kauffman’s work.
Last fall, the gallery presented a show of works from the Estate of Craig Kauffman. The same is true this year. As our opening show for the season, we are really proud to have Sensual/Mechanical, an historic survey that traces the development of Craig Kauffman’s paintings, from 1958 to 1964. We are a participating gallery in the Pacific Standard Time series of exhibitions, an initiative of the Getty. We organized our Kauffman show to complement the efforts of the museums, and to provide a backstory, kind of like a “prequel” to the upcoming museum shows. Six of those museum shows include Kauffman’s works. Come to see our show first! Here’s why:
- Come see our show because it will reveal the background for the works you will see in other Pacific Standard Time exhibits.
- See this show because it will help you understand the origins of the imagery and forms in Kauffman’s paintings.
- Our show includes some works that haven’t been seen since 1958, some paintings that haven’t been seen since 1963, and several drawings which have never been exhibited.
- The two 1958 paintings were included in a Ferus gallery show that marks a turning point. “The ‘clean’ Abstract Expressionist work by Craig Kauffman,” critic Peter Plagens has written, “could be the point at which Los Angeles art decided to live on its own life-terms, instead of those handed down from Paris, New York, or even San Francisco.”
- Come see a show that is hot, sexy and playful (maybe this should be #1?).
- Several art historians, curators and critics have already seen this show and given it “two thumbs up”.
- Learn that Kauffman was influenced by French things: Duchamp, a street in Paris named Git le Couer, and lingerie.
- Overcome the stereotypes and mythology about Los Angeles art, which was far more sophisticated than you may know.
- See how much Kauffman made use of drawing—in each phase of his work.
- We worked our butts off to make this show available, and it’s free!
John Mason will be featured in the upcoming Pacific Standard Time series of exhibitions, an initiative of the Getty. Mason emerged in the mid-1950s as one of the leaders of a revolution that transformed clay from a craft to a fine art medium. Since that time, Mason has had a distinguished career as a sculptor. Mason’s work over the past six decades presents one of the most compelling arguments for abstract sculpture. His line of thought and consistency of execution mark the work of a master builder. Mason “knows how to get the most out of a relatively simple three dimensional form,” according to art critic Suzanne Muchnic. Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945 – 1980 is a collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California, coming together for six months beginning in October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene and how it became a major new force in the art world. Each institution will make its own contribution to this grand-scale story of artistic innovation and social change, told through a multitude of simultaneous exhibitions and programs.
A key figure in the development of significant sculpture in Los Angeles, John Mason will be featured in a number of Pacific Standard Time museum exhibitions. At the main exhibit, Mason’s massive 1959 Blue Wall will be prominent. We are pleased to announce the upcoming schedule, and provide links to the exhibitions:
J Paul Getty Museum: Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970
October 1, 2011—February 5, 2012
Laguna Art Museum: Best Kept Secret: UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California, 1964-1971
October 30, 2011—January 22, 2012
American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA): Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California 1945-1975
November 11, 2011—March 31, 2012
Pacific Asia Museum: 46 N. Los Robles: A History of the Pasadena Art Museum
November 18, 2011—April 8, 2012
Scripps College: Clay’s Tectonic Shift: Mason, Price and Voulkos, 1956-1968
January 21, 2011—April 8, 2012
We get a lot of questions about the preparation that goes into an exhibition. Truth be told, it’s endless. First, of course, is the conception of the show and the research. For Sensual/ Mechanical, the research has been going on for over 18 months. I’ve wanted to organize a show that demonstrates the origins of Kauffman’s work, ever since reading several articles published at the beginning of 2010. Critics and authors seemed unaware of Kauffman’s beginnings as a painter, and his intentions as an artist. Equally, the critics seemed to be misinformed about the sensual content of the work.
Our research into oral histories, correspondence, and notebooks revealed a direct connection to Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass, as well as to Frederick’s of Hollywood advertisements. Like Kauffman said, his sources included Dada, Duchamp, Mondrian, Abstract Expressionism and a “sexual biomorphic mixture with mechanical things.”
When the content is developed, we go about communicating the work—by photography as well as words. Moving these paintings around and setting up the photo shoot is a job for expert art handlers—and our photographer, Anthony Cuñha. We spend a lot of time and effort in setting up the shoot to create the pictures, but here’s a little peek behind the curtain—to show how the magic is made.
Art handlers are also called in when it’s time to hang the show. Carefully moving around these irreplaceable works of art, they place the pieces throughout the gallery. By the time their white-gloved hands are holding the work, a fully conceived layout has been made by the gallery director. All the works have been inspected and cleaned. The result is something that has been a big revelation for all viewers so far. Our show’s meaning and historical importance wasn’t lost on Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, who talked about the link to Marcel Duchamp on KCRW yesterday.
On Thursday and Friday I made a quick trip to San Diego, at the invitation of Robin Clark, a curator at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. I had a preview of several of the installed rooms for their Pacific Standard Time exhibit, Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface. Of course, I have more than a passing interest in the show. That’s because the Estate of Craig Kauffman has loaned two major works and three drawings to the exhibit.
Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface is the largest exhibit ever undertaken by MCASD. It encompasses all of the buildings downtown, as well as the La Jolla space. The exhibit includes, as one can guess by glancing at the list of 13 artists, some extremely complex and finely tuned installations—such as those by James Turrell, Larry Bell, and Robert Irwin. As curator and project director, Robin Clark also was responsible for the research on the project, the selection and installation of the art, plus the editing and management of the publication. She has succeeded admirably.
I was stunned by the installation, all of which was done with pristine attention to detail, and intelligent organization. I asked Robin about several aspects of the show. Our conversation ranged, and touched on some pretty fascinating aspects of museum work. For instance, just consider an historical overview of the criticism: The topic was difficult to write about because of its very nature: ephemeral, transparent, phenomenological, and intangible.
It’s well worth the trip to San Diego, and high on my list of exhibits to see again and again. Fortunately, too, there will be a book. The publication is intended as the first critical reader on the subject, and a key addition to the source material. Robin did not follow the format of an exhibition catalogue, but rather the format of a critical reader on the subject. I was introduced to the photographer, who must be a wizard of light and space himself, to be able to capture the phenomenal.