Frank Lloyd’s blog

Art, architecture and the people that I know.

Posts Tagged ‘Frank Lloyd

How the Blue Wall Was Built

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There have been some truly pivotal moments in L.A. art history.  Some of the groundbreaking achievements were in ceramics, it’s often noted.  The biggest move, to my mind, was when John Mason and Peter Voulkos rented a studio on the corner of Glendale Blvd. and Baxter Street in 1957. The first things they made were large-scale sculpture.  They adapted industrial technology, and had a huge kiln built that could match their ambitions: “I could stand upright in [the kiln] and a number of friends could stand upright in it also,” Mason has recalled.

Mason’s first sculptures, made in that Glendale Blvd. studio, were vertical, closed forms, with a shape that resembled a spear.  Then, over the next few years, he made several huge steps forward, moving into uncharted territory with the medium of fired clay. Mason began to make massive rough-hewn walls; he soon broke into a kind of totemic verticality. Eventually, he built huge cross forms and solid, mysterious geometric shapes.

He did this by developing innovative ways of working, including pushing clay onto a huge easel to make wall reliefs, and compacting the material around a wooden armature to make the vertical sculptures. By 1959 he would use just the weight, gravity and plasticity of the raw clay to build a major work, which will be shown in the main exhibit at the Getty, “Crosscurrents”:  the Blue Wall.

“It wasn’t until I started to work on the floor that I began to just cut and slam clay down on the floor and then take pieces or parts of slabs and add them to make a more linear organic form. One of the first was the Blue Wall, which was over twenty feet long and eight or nine feet across,” Mason has recalled.

Written by Frank Lloyd

September 22, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Top Ten Reasons to See Sensual/Mechanical

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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:

  1. Come see our show because it will reveal the background for the works you will see in other Pacific Standard Time exhibits.
  2. See this show because it will help you understand the origins of the imagery and forms in Kauffman’s paintings.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. Come see a show that is hot, sexy and playful (maybe this should be #1?).
  6. Several art historians, curators and critics have already seen this show and given it “two thumbs up”.
  7. Learn that Kauffman was influenced by French things: Duchamp, a street in Paris named Git le Couer, and lingerie.
  8. Overcome the stereotypes and mythology about Los Angeles art, which was far more sophisticated than you may know.
  9. See how much Kauffman made use of drawing—in each phase of his work.
  10. We worked our butts off to make this show available, and it’s free!

Late Summer Sky

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Three weeks ago, I heard a late afternoon thunderstorm coming, just before sunset.  The scent of the storm and the crack of thunder took me out of my house and into the street.  There I saw the sky, full of fast-moving forms, and glimpsed the half moon.

Written by Frank Lloyd

September 18, 2011 at 12:41 am

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Lights, Camera…and Research

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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.

Written by Frank Lloyd

September 17, 2011 at 12:34 am

Phenomenal in San Diego

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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.

A Book About Seeing

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Most people know my friend Rob Forbes as an expert in design, and as a businessman. But I’ve known him for more than 50 years, from the time we met in elementary school, so I’ve seen lots of his other talents. He’s a good athlete, a gifted writer, and—here’s the point of our current show—a man with a background in aesthetics and ceramics. As Rob said recently, the task of selecting works for our exhibit is “a great opportunity for me to connect some dots between periods of both my professional and personal life, stretching back to the 1970’s when I was a potter.” Like most potters, Rob had a great admiration for Peter Voulkos (here’s a photo of the two of them).

Rob puts his curiosity and intelligence into the job of curating the show. But he went far beyond the assignment of choosing works. Rob has written and published a booklet titled “See for Yourself”, an amazing little pamphlet. His 20 short chapters break into aesthetic concepts that are abstracted from the practice of making ceramics—Form, Utility, Repetition, Humility, Color, Pattern, and Texture. He’s included dozens of photos that illustrate his points.  I’ve never had anyone take the task of curating a show to this level, and I’m really pleased to have a book to help explain the show.

Like most ceramists we’ve represented, Forbes extolls the direct tactile qualities of the material: “Clay dries, shrinks, and cracks. Your arms get submerged in buckets of creamy glazes and slips. It’s like working in the garden or playing in the sandbox. Soft, unctuous material is converted into one of the hardest and most durable substances known to man. And the finished, fired surfaces range from coarse matte to brilliant glassy textures, many of which need to be handled to be appreciated. Both the process and product are about touch and feel.”

Written by Frank Lloyd

July 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Cycle for Ceramics

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Rob Forbes Selects opens on Saturday, July 16. That’s one of the days the 405 will be closed between the 101 and the 10. It’s true. So, do we pack it in and miss the opening? No – there’s a beautifully appropriate solution: ride a bike to the opening. What could be more perfect than arriving on a bike to see the ceramics show chosen by Rob Forbes, the founder of PUBLIC bikes, and a big advocate for sustainable design in living. So, hop on your bike and pedal on over to Frank Lloyd Gallery to the opening of “Rob Forbes Selects.”

Just in case you didn’t hear, let’s make it clear: the 405 will be closed between the 101 and 10 freeways, starting July 15. Some are calling it “Carmaggedon,” but take a look at this photo of painter Ed Moses. Does Ed look worried about a total car impaction?

Need more motivation? The first 100 people will get free tacos and beer! Still traveling by car? Then take a look at the detour maps provided by L.A. Metro, and start a little early. And remember (if you’re old enough), how easy it was to drive across town during the LA Olympics of ’84 when everyone else was cowering at home avoiding the traffic.

The opening of the ceramics show will be from 5 to 7 PM, Saturday, July 16.

Written by Frank Lloyd

July 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm