Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles art’
Now that I have works on display by DeWain Valentine in our current exhibition, Translucence, I have been thinking a lot about another show of his – From Start to Finish: DeWain Valentine’s Gray Column – on display at the Getty from late 2011 through early 2012. Organized by the Getty Conservation Institute as part of the Pacific Standard Time Initiative, From Start to Finish told the story of the Gray Column’s production, original installation, and subsequent conservation.
This monumental work, cast in polyester resin, was commissioned by Baxter Travenol Laboratories as part of a two-piece installation of columns, each 12 feet high, for their Illinois headquarters. However, a change in architectural plans made it necessary for the works to be displayed horizontally, as Two Gray Walls. It wasn’t until the Getty’s 2011-2012 exhibition that the artwork was installed vertically, as Valentine had always intended.
A related work by Valentine, called Column Gray, 1972-75, is on view at the gallery now. After noting the strong relationship between Column Gray and the larger Gray Column, I did a little research into the background of the two pieces and found out that Column Gray is actually a color study for its large-scale twin. Before Valentine began work on the full-size Gray Columns, he produced a series of maquettes, in order to experiment with various levels of pigmentation and opacity. Standing at just under two feet tall, Column Gray is one of these maquettes, demonstrating a slightly darker color palette and a more opaque base.
I’m often asked by visitors for recommendations to local gallery and museum shows. Although it hasn’t opened yet, I’m betting that the upcoming Norton Simon Museum exhibition, Beyond Brancusi: The Space of Sculpture, is going to be one to remember. Opening April 26th, the show will investigate how Constantin Brancusi influenced some of the great sculptors of the twentieth century through his innovative use of space and material.
I’ve always felt that the Norton Simon is a great local museum with an outstanding permanent collection, which they are drawing on exclusively for this show. Excitingly, they will be including two important works by gallery artists that were not previously on view at the museum. Larry Bell and Craig Kauffman will both have major pieces on display in the show, which will also include artists such as Henry Moore, Donald Judd, and Robert Irwin, among many other artists of note.
The Larry Bell artwork that is featured in Beyond Brancusi is a 40 x 40 x 40 inch Untitled cube from 1969. As one of the largest cubes ever fabricated by the artist, this work is certainly deserving of more attention and I look forward to seeing how it will be installed. Craig Kauffman will be represented in the exhibition by an Untitled Loop, also from 1969. Constructed of a draped sheet of acrylic plastic and spray painted in contrasting blue and red, the work will cast reflections of colored light on its surrounding walls.
I’m really looking forward to the opening of this show, which was organized by Norton Simon Associate Curator Leah Lehmbeck. It’s going to be a great opportunity to see works that are rarely on view, from the permanent collection of one of my favorite museums.
This morning I had breakfast with Larry Bell, and we began talking about London. Bell has had several shows in London, including a group show at the Hayward Gallery in 1971 titled “11 Los Angeles Artists”, curated by Maurice Tuchman for the Arts Council of Great Britain. That exhibit was an eclectic mix, ranging from John Altoon to William Wegman and from Ken Price to Bruce Nauman and Richard Diebenkorn. Bell exhibited three thin, coated glass shelves, illuminated by light that cast a colored shadow on the wall, above and below. Bell was working with large-scale environmental installations of glass, and also made a multi-panel piece for that show, consisting of nine units of standing coated glass, each six feet high by five feet wide.
One year before, in 1970, the Tate Modern mounted a prescient exhibition of three Light and Space artists, simply titled “Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Doug Wheeler,” and organized by Michael Compton. As was noted in both exhibitions, Larry Bell’s work deals with the properties of light, and the large installations used the material of glass to reflect, transmit, and absorb light. While it is true that he had been associated with minimalism and with primary geometric form, the large-scale environments led viewers into a new perceptual awareness of transparency, light and reflection.
The Tate Modern collection includes six Larry Bell works, and this morning I learned that three of those are now on view. Since I’ve been writing about the gallery’s artists in museum collections, this news came as an opportunity for the blog. I’ll be showing new work by Bell in early May. This show will be all new work, from a series of collages and vapor drawings that exploit the brilliant reflective properties of materials made with Bell’s process of thin film deposition of metallic particles. For those who would like to learn more about Bell’s work, last year’s in-depth interview by Tyler Green on Modern Art Notes is a superb way to pick up Bell’s history as a podcast. But don’t miss the large group of photos on the MAN blog and the link to Ollie Bell’s video of the Larry Bell survey in Nimes, “In Perspective.”
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 Frank Lloyd Gallery maintains a Vimeo channel, where we post videos of events held in the gallery. These videos document exhibition walk-throughs or conversations with artists, and allow friends of the gallery who were not able to attend the event in person to experience it nonetheless. So far we have produced five examples.
The first of these videos is an exhibition walk-through of our Pacific Standard Time show, Larry Bell: Early Works. We followed that up with an interview of Larry Bell by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, where he shared the story of his discovery of the thin-film evaporation process.
The gallery’s next video production documented another of our PST shows – Peter Voulkos in L.A.: Time Capsule. Both Larry and Ollie Bell spoke about Peter Voulkos’ historical significance within the Los Angeles art scene, and offered commentary on the show, which presented work from the artist’s personal collection.
Our most recent videos document two shows that we exhibited over the summer. In one, I interviewed Scot Heywood regarding his show Polarities. Scot was great, speaking insightfully about his artistic development. In the other, Larry Bell returned to lead an exhibition walk-through of our Ken Price show. His close personal and professional relationship with Ken really came through as he shared stories about the artist and his work.
If you haven’t seen all of the videos we’ve produced, I encourage you to take a look at them on the Frank Lloyd Gallery Vimeo channel. We’re working on producing more of these, so stay tuned!
Those who follow my blog might remember my love of landscape photos. It’s something that I share with Jennifer Lee, our Scottish ceramist who lives in London. Jennifer sent a wondrous picture of the Scottish sky, with a stark silhouette of a tree—a reminder of winter. It’s a picture of the year’s passage.
2012 was filled with accomplishment for the gallery. It’s also been a year of amazing statistics for the blog. As I’ve been noting lately, the gallery has a truly international presence, a fact borne out by the global reach of the blog. In the past year, the blog has been viewed in 114 countries! People seem to be reading quite of few of the 163 blog posts.
The world-wide visitors came searching, mostly for Peter Voulkos, Craig Kauffman, Larry Bell, Gustavo Pérez, and Richard Neutra. While that might seem eclectic, it represents the scope of the gallery and the blog: a concentration of interest in the major artists that emerged on the West Coast during the post-WWII era, and a complementary interest in international ceramics as well as architecture. The posts that were viewed the most times in 2012:
I’m looking forward to the New Year, and want to thank everyone for reading!
After two years of hard work and the efforts of a dedicated team, I am happy to announce that Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman will be completed, and available for purchase, near the end of October!
This 212 page monograph on the life and work of Craig Kauffman was written by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, the author of the recently published book Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s as well as of Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe, and Modernism Rediscovered: The Architectural Photography of Julius Shulman. Drohojowska-Philp has written catalog essays on the work of Kauffman and other contemporary artists such as Robert Graham, Alexis Smith, and John Baldessari. She contributes to Art News and the Los Angeles Times, and is a weekly art critic for KCRW radio in Santa Monica, California.
In Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman, Drohojowska-Philp traces the development of Kauffman’s luminous paintings, which evolved out of architectural rigor and unabashed sensuality. Both traits characterize the extraordinary art and, to some extent, the life of Kauffman. While challenging the accepted norms of art made after the Second World War, Kauffman retained an allegiance to the traditions of Modernism. A sophisticated and self-consciously cultured man, he harnessed his various, and often contradictory, impulses to achieve an unparalleled body of work. Although Kauffman is one of the most significant figures to emerge from the lively art scene that arose in the 1960s in Los Angeles, Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman will be the first comprehensive publication of his work.
When artists get together, they often talk about their peers. Ken Price was someone that other artists talked about. His influence was profound. His work was in artist’s collections. Every artist I know spoke with respect for his inventive, colorful, humorous, and brilliant work.
That respect was evident at the lender’s luncheon two weeks ago at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where Ken Price was honored with a retrospective exhibition and a touching memorial later that day. There was an opportunity for a photo, and it’s an amazing record of the esteem that other artists had for Ken Price.
Shown in the photo are (back row, left to right): Tony Berlant, Doug Wheeler, Larry Bell, Ron Cooper, Ed Moses, Vija Celmins, (front row, left to right): Frank Gehry, Billy Al Bengston, David Hockney, and Allen Jones.
Photo courtesy Suzanne Ponder, Bel Air Camera
It’s easy to think that the birth of the Los Angeles art scene is just beginning to be fully appreciated. After all, the Getty-sponsored Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 has drawn to a close, having given an enormous audience the chance to learn about the range of styles and materials during this period.
However, this view overlooks the ways in which these West Coast artists were appreciated in their own time, and the substantial recognition they gained at a much earlier date. Artists from the Los Angeles area and the West Coast were exhibited throughout the world in shows including Ten from Los Angeles at the Seattle Art Museum Pavilion, 1966, Los Angeles 6 by the Vancouver Art Gallery, 1968, and 11 Los Angeles Artists by the Arts Council of Great Britain in London, 1971.
Not only were these West Coast artists important, they were important together, and could be shown together without making distinctions between media. The image you see here is an exhibition announcement for Kompass, a 1970 show at the Kunsthalle Bern in Bern, Switzerland. The poster announces that the show consists of “American Art of the West Coast,” and lists the artists represented, including Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Bruce Conner, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, Ed Kienholz, Frank Lobdell, John Mason, John McCracken, Bruce Nauman, Ken Price, Ed Ruscha, Hassel Smith, Clifford Still, Wayne Thiebaud, Peter Voulkos, Doug Wheeler, and William T. Wiley.
Seeing such a diverse group of names together really illustrates what was happening on the West Coast. The pluralistic approach of these exhibits reflects an understanding of the multiplicity of styles and mediums that thrived in the Los Angeles scene of that period.
Here at the gallery I’ve recently had the chance to take a closer look at a wonderful work by Adrian Saxe that I haven’t seen in quite some time. Sacred and Profane is a garniture from 1973, and was included in LACMA’s 1994 survey of Adrian’s work titled The Clay Art of Adrian Saxe.
These days, Adrian is known to many as an artist who combines technical mastery of his material with a whimsical interpretation of historical decorative arts traditions and a provocative sense of humor. It’s amazing to see how these qualities were present in his artistic practice over forty years ago, and that his work from that period still maintains its freshness and fun.
This garniture consists of twin vessels in porcelain, with incised and painted glaze decorations, as well as gold luster banding. Atop each vessel stands the figure of a girl, charmingly dressed in skirts and matching bonnet. The innocence and preciousness of these ladies is cunningly subverted however, as one sports devil’s horns while the other blows an enormous bubble with her pale pink chewing gum.
The title provides a natural question – which of these girls is sacred, and which profane? It’s also possible that Adrian is drawing an equivalence here between the two. This of course only opens the work up to more questions. If gum-chewing is analogous to devil’s horns, does the piece function as a playful indictment of gum or an illustration of the banality of horns?
It’s entirely likely that these questions will never be resolved, and they probably aren’t intended to be. Adrian often seeks to provoke as well as entertain his audience by mixing the academic with the irreverent.