Frank Lloyd’s blog

Art, architecture and the people that I know.

Posts Tagged ‘Museums

What are you doing here?

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For the past 35 years, I’ve been going to all kinds of art world events. That means a pretty wide range—everything from really raunchy performance art at the old downtown LAICA to scholarly lectures at the Harold Williams Auditorium at the Getty.

I’ve heard dozens of talks from the podium, endless (and often quite boring) panel discussions, and series after series of conversations, and I’ve seen hundreds of power-point presentations. You might ask, which ones were best?  Clearly, the winners in the category of enlightenment were: Kirk Varnedoe (his final tour included a talk at LACMA); Paola Antonelli (recently at the Brown Auditorium at LACMA); and Adam Gopnik (Winter Scenes, at the Getty on February 23, 2012). All spoke without any notes. I loved those talks, and they reminded me of the stimulating power of the interconnected intellect, which I first witnessed in college: genius, in simple terms.

I’m a big fan of every instance of what I like to call a generous intellect—someone who can present fascinating ideas and connections in a conversational manner. But, lately, I’ve been bothered by something that troubles me from time to time, something I still struggle with in myself, and that I can be deeply offended by in others: for lack of a better word, let’s call it prejudice.

Here are three examples:

I once attended a panel discussion, moderated by Paul Karlstrom, about the paintings of Roger Kuntz. Like many such panels, the event was in conjunction with an exhibit of Kuntz’s work at the Laguna Art Museum. Of the four speakers, I knew three quite well—two of them for 40 years, and one for 30 years. At the end of the panel, I wandered up to say hello—a common courtesy. Before I got to my old friends, though, the museum’s Director came up and greeted me. Then he asked, “But what are you doing here?”, to which I replied, “Two of the panelists were my teachers, one is a friend, and Paul is both a friend and a colleague.” But what I meant to say was, “Isn’t this an educational event for the public to learn about art?”

Around the same time, I attended a talk at the Getty Research Institute, given by Lawrence Weschler (an elaboration on themes first developed in his 2007 book of convergences, Everything that Rises). Weschler is an author, and was in those days the Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. At that time, though, he was on leave from NYU, serving simultaneously as scholar-in-residence at Occidental College and a visiting scholar at the GRI. I’ve often been in the audience for Ren’s talks, going all the way back to our time together in the early seventies as undergraduates at Cowell College of UCSC, when for example he gave a series of talks on his grandfather, the Weimar émigré composer Ernst Toch. For this one, held in the Getty’s smaller auditorium beneath the museum, I arrived early to find a seat. And, as I wandered down the aisle, a Senior Researcher from the GRI said hello, shook my hand and said, “But what are you doing here?” I replied, simply, “I’ve known Ren since college.” But what I meant to say was, “Isn’t this an educational event for the public to learn about art?”

Probably the most disturbing instance was a few years back, at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. In conjunction with Otis College of Art and Design, the City of Santa Monica and the Broad presented a lecture by the annual Otis artist-in-residence. I arrived early, my usual strategy, to get a seat in a packed auditorium. As I walked down the left-hand aisle, I saw the speaker, whose work in art criticism we all know quite well, and who has been a frequent visitor to my own gallery. He said, “What are you doing here?”  That time I didn’t even respond at all.

What are these people saying?  Are they saying that, since I am identified as an art dealer, I shouldn’t have an interest in scholarship? Since I am identified as a specialist in ceramics, that I can’t possibly have an interest in other forms of literature, history or art?  Are art dealers necessarily limited, in their minds, to just being shopkeepers?  Why can’t art dealers also be thought of as people who are passionate about art?

If there is one thing I’ve made perfectly clear at my gallery, our educational mission is about communication between the artist and the public, our exhibition program presents the legacy of artists in the history of West Coast art, and as part of that mission and legacy, our scholarly publications have employed several significant writers.  Someday, I hope that such heterodoxy and such commitment is more widely recognized, is in fact taken for granted—especially by those who should know better.

(Special thanks to Lawrence Weschler for his clarifications about his work.–F.L.)

Adrian Saxe at the Getty

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1-900-Zeitgeist, view b copyIn early 2000, the Getty presented an exhibition of commissioned works by Los Angeles-area artists called Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty. Organized by guest curator Lisa Lyons, the show invited artists to create works in response to the Getty’s collections. Adrian Saxe was one of the participating artists, with his wildly popular contribution, 1-900-ZEITGEIST.

Using an eighteenth century French table from the museum’s decorative arts collection as a base, Saxe produced an outrageously ornate set of vessels, riffing on the idea of a classic garniture set. Produced in bright colors with exaggerated decorative techniques, the porcelain objects synthesize a number of historical and contemporary references. With forms suggestive of Chinese scholar’s rocks, handles based on French Rococo designs, and finials made of plastic action figures, the work represents a collision between high art and popular culture. Saxe’s decision to use a treasured object from the Getty’s collection as the support for his own work contributes to the genre-defying nature of the piece.

Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty was a considerable success for the museum, as it explored the surprising ways in which contemporary art is informed by art history. It was a critical success as well, with a favorable review by David Pagel for the Los Angeles Times, praising the efforts of the museum and the individual artists.

 

Adrian Saxe website

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FSE075 copyVisitors to Adrian Saxe’s 2011 show GRIN – Genetic Robotic Information Nano (Technologies) were delighted by the artist’s use of digital technology. He created marvelous imagery linked by QR codes placed on his ceramics. Now his fans (and anyone with an internet connection) can take a look at his entire career. The gallery has launched a new website: www.adriansaxe.com. Here, visitors will be able to access images of artworks, selected exhibitions, archival publications, and a biographical chronology.This website will serve as a resource for students, curators, and critics, as it brings together an unprecedented amount of information about the artist.

Using the platform of the decorative arts and the history of ceramics, Saxe has formed a complex body of work that draws on an incredibly diverse set of influences. Pulling from baroque decorative traditions, contemporary popular culture, historical modes of presentation, and futuristic technologies, Saxe’s oeuvre is as conceptually challenging as is it visually appealing. His unmatched technical skill facilitates the creation of fantastically ornate vessels that seduce the viewer while at the same time offering sharp commentary on a number of themes.

Saxe will deliver a lecture at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts on June 21st. Named a 2014 Regis Master by the Northern Clay Center, Saxe will contribute to their ongoing oral history project, which seeks to document artists that have had a major impact on the development of 20th and 21st century ceramics. His exhibition at the Northern Clay Center will run from May 9 – June 29, 2014.

Helen Pashgian at LACMA

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FHP005 copyI’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 FMP005_B copyHelen 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.

Delisle in Museums

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Install_1The 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.

John Mason in Museums

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Whitney_1964_Annual_Exhibition2_Cover copyIt’s always gratifying to learn that an artist is receiving deserved recognition. Especially when the work has been a key part of the history of American ceramic sculpture. This year, John Mason will be appearing in the Whitney Biennial, curated by Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms, and Michelle Grabner, on view March 7 – May 25, 2014. Of course, this isn’t Mason’s first time at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where Mason has a fifty year record of shows. His work has been included in exhibitions such as Fifty California Artists, 1962; the 1964 Annual Exhibition: Contemporary American Sculpture; the 1973 Biennial Exhibition: Contemporary American Art; 200 Years of American Sculpture, 1976; and Ceramic Sculpture, Six Artists, 1981.

The Frank Lloyd Gallery has a long Ember Spear_1998-rv copyhistory with Mason – we had the honor of representing him for sixteen years, and exhibited his work in nine solo shows. Mason was a key part of the gallery’s primary mission to re-contextualize the achievements of the major figures of West Coast Art. In addition to that recorded history, we also worked to place Mason’s work in major museum collections and private art foundations. Looking back, we facilitated the placement of fifteen artworks in seven institutions, including the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Kaneko Foundation, the Anderson Collection, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Buck Collection, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Some of these works, such as the Untitled Wall Relief, 1960, donated by W.D. Fletcher to LACMA in 2007, are on display now!

Curatorial Excellence

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In recent years, a tremendous interest has developed in Los Angeles artists and the growth of L.A. art institutions. The success of programs at the Hammer Museum and at LACMA are examples of that surge. While some news may have focused on the ups and downs of museum funding and staff changes, there’s one fact that that bears repeating over and over: the shows coming out of Los Angeles have been superb! Today I was reminded of how the efforts of curators at both L.A. museums and local galleries have been nationally recognized.

In 2013, the International Association of Art Critics included an impressive number of L.A. curators and organizations in their annual awards. Headquartered in New York, AICA-USA’s membership comprises over 400 critics, curators, scholars, and art historians working throughout the United States. Take a look at some of the awards given out last year: to Stephanie Barron for “Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art; to Wendy Kaplan and Bobbye Tigerman for  “California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way,” also at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and to Kellie Jones, curator of “Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980,” which opened at the Hammer Museum and traveled to MoMA PS1, New York.

Paul Schimmel’s brilliant final show at MOCA, “Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949-1962,” was given an award as one of the two best thematic museum shows nationally, along with the Hammer’s “Now Dig This”.

This morning I went to Cherry and Martin gallery, which was honored last year for their exhibit “Photography Into Sculpture / The Evolving Photographic Object.”  Based on an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art from 1970, organized by Peter Bunnell, the Cherry and Martin show was favored by critics as part of the Pacific Standard Time series of events.

Tomorrow I will return for another view of “Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting,” the world-class exhibit at the Huntington. It’s the work of Catherine Hess, a scholar and curator at the Huntington, who has managed to put together one of the most perfect exhibits I’ve ever seen. It’s an art history lesson for all viewers, and the selection of examples are borrowed from the Uffizzi, the National Gallery, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and numerous museums in Europe and America. It’s another example of why L.A. deserves recognition: the excellence of the curators.

Gallery Artist Updates

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FJL052 copyFrank Lloyd Gallery artists have been very busy, so here’s a round-up of their latest activities. To begin, Jennifer Lee has been invited to participate in the International Ceramic Festival in Sasama, Shizuoka, Japan. During the festival, November 22 – November 24, 2013, Lee will present a slide lecture and practical demonstration. Gustavo Pérez will join her at the festival, as he is also scheduled to speak to participants. In 2014, Lee will return to Japan for a two-month artist’s residency at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park.

An important work by Craig Kauffman is now on display at the Barbican Art Centre, as part of their exhibition Pop Art Design, which opened on October 22 and will run through February 9, 2014. I was fortunate enough to preview this show during my recent trip to London. Pop Art Design investigates the “exciting exchange of ideas between the fields of design and art” during the Pop Art movement.

Peter Voulkos is currently the subject of a one-man exhibition at the Franklin Parrasch Gallery titled Peter Voulkos: Works, 1956 – 1997. On view through November 23, 2013, this show features ten ceramic artworks drawn from distinct periods within the artist’s long career.

I am also pleased to announce that the Copy of IMG_1455 copy 2Hetjens Museum in Dusseldorf, Germany, has acquired a recent sculpture by Wouter Dam. Founded in 1909, the Hetjens Museum is home to a collection of ceramic works from all over the world, spanning 8,000 years of ceramics history. Finally, The Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico, recently announced a major gift of contemporary art by a private collector. The promised collection contains over 30 artworks by Larry Bell, including two examples of his most recent series, the “Light Knots.”

Galleries in the Global World

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I’ve just returned from London, a true crossroads of the world (to say the least) and a center for global markets of finance, commerce—and art. Like many visitors, I strolled parks and avenues, walked along the Thames, and took in several museums—from the National Gallery to the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain. Like many others involved with contemporary art, I attended Frieze and Frieze Masters. I also went to London galleries.

Collecting art, which was once the pursuit of a smaller population of people and a smaller number of museums, has become far more common. The exponential expansion of the art market, due to the broad digital distribution of images and information, as well as concentrations of wealth in emerging economies, has led to a true change in the way that people see and acquire art. Globalization of art (and all kinds of related information) has drawn many new people who may not have the same objectives as the traditional collector. The art fair is now a primary source for them.

The growth of the market is, of course, a welcome circumstance for artists, and it should be for art dealers. After all, it is the dealers who support the system more than any other group—an observation that was echoed in an interview with the organizer of the Frieze art fair, Matthew Slotover. This preeminent art fair, which began in 2003, gives global visitors the chance to see dozens of galleries under one roof (or tent, as the case may be) and the brilliant organizer sums it up by saying, “One of these reasons is that people have less time than they used to, so they’re generally people who work and travel a lot and they don’t have as much time to visit galleries as they used to, so art fairs are very convenient…”

On the other hand, however, one must recognize the value of galleries in the larger ecosystem. It’s a topic that was addressed eloquently in a recent op-ed piece written by Dorsey Waxter, president of the Art Dealers Association of America, published in the Blouin Art Info. I would suggest that anyone interested in art and art galleries read the article, and note the words of Ms. Waxter, “I have tried to imagine a world where there were no art dealers and galleries and what that would be like. Fortunately I cannot. All sectors of the art world are tied to one another, but it seems to me that galleries matter the most. Their impact on artists and their influence in the arts community is irreplaceable.”

Fall Updates

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FBL020 copyI’m happy to announce that Larry Bell will be the subject of an upcoming solo exhibition at White Cube in London. On view from October 16th through December 22nd,  the show is timed to coincide with the Frieze London Art Fair. Bell will be presenting recent works in the North Galleries, as well as in the central 9 x 9 x 9 meter exhibition space that the gallery is known for. This show will increase Bell’s already considerable presence in London – he currently has two cubes and a very early box on display in the Minimalism Gallery at the Tate Modern. A photograph from 1972 can also be seen in the Prints and Drawings Study at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Another gallery artist, Wouter Dam, FDM090_A copyhas been included in the group show In Dialogue with the Baroque at Schloss Schleissheim, near Munich, Germany. This exhibition presents contemporary artists in the context of the baroquely decorated Schleissheim Castle. The sinuous, curving lines of Dam’s ceramic sculptures recall the formal principles of baroque ornamentation, making his work a natural fit. In Dialogue with the Baroque opened on September 1st, and will be on display through October 13th.

FPZ342_B copyMeanwhile, Gustavo Pérez’s international reputation continues to grow – he was included in Erskine, Hall & Coe’s Summer Show in London, and was featured in their earlier spring show, Classic and Contemporary. Pérez’s work will also be on display at the Galerie Capazza in Nançay, France, from October 5th – December 5th, 2013. This solo exhibition will include new works by the artist, who continues to pursue inventive methods of engaging with clay.

Scottish artist Jennifer Lee will open a self-titled solo show FJL059_B copyat Erskine, Hall & Coe on October 9th, which runs through November 1st. She was previously included in a group show alongside Pérez earlier this year titled Classic and Contemporary, also at Erskine, Hall & Coe. Lee’s work continues to evolve, her elegant vessels combining the geological power of nature with the beauty of human artifact.

Group_FTI068_FTI069 copyAkio Takamori has had a busy summer, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down for the fall season. Takamori recently opened a solo exhibition titled Portraits Ordinaires at the Musée Ariana in Geneva, Switzerland, which will remain up until October 27th. He will also be included in Body and Soul: New International Ceramics, a group show at the Museum of Arts and Design, on view September 24th, 2013 – March 2nd, 2014.

Scot Heywood will be the the subject of two FHD051 copycomplementary solo shows, both opening in October. The first of these, titled Scot Heywood: A Survey of Large Paintings, 2006-2013, will open at Santa Monica College’s Barrett Gallery on October 22nd. It will remain on display through December 7th. His second show this fall, organized in concert with the first, is called Scot Heywood: A Survey of Small Paintings, and it will be on view here at the Frank Lloyd Gallery from October 26th – November 30th.

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