Frank Lloyd’s blog

Art, architecture and the people that I know.

Posts Tagged ‘Georges Jeanclos

Closing a gallery

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CVS059_A copyThis week, the Frank Lloyd Gallery announced the closing of the public exhibition program at Bergamot Station. As of February 14, the gallery will close its doors, and move to a private space in Pasadena. The current show, of Peter Voulkos and Craig Kauffman, will be the last. After a long and successful program of over 190 exhibitions, the founder and director, Frank Lloyd, sat down to talk with Kelly Boyd and answer a few questions:

Q.: Why would you want to leave the gallery business?

A.: Well, after nineteen years of exhibitions, publications, and sales, I am finally moving on. I consider it more of a transition. I have to leave behind this accomplishment, and forge ahead with another job, as the full-time representative of an artist’s estate. I also have very personal reasons for the move, since I need to be close to my 91-year-old mother.

Q.: But what about your artists? What will happen to them?

A.: When I started the gallery, I had a specific mission of presenting ceramic artwork in a fine art context. The gallery functioned on three levels: as a commercial venue for individual artists, as an educational resource for the community of Southern California. I wanted to preserve a legacy of ceramics in Los Angeles. Finally, the gallery served as a forum for dialogue among artists, collectors and critics. I think it succeeded on all those goals.

Later, as the gallery expanded, I showed artists from other countries, FJL053_C copyincluding England, Mexico, France, Holland and especially Japan. Then, I further expanded the program to include contemporary painters and sculptors, because I thought they all came out of the same time period in L.A., the innovative post-war period. In many ways, ceramics, along with assemblage, led the way back then. Voulkos, Mason and Price were examples of fearless leadership and grew out of a common bond.

Q.: But the artists, what will happen to them? You didn’t answer my question.

A.: Oh, you’re right! I’m pleased to say that, for several reasons, ceramics has regained its rightful spot in the mainstream. Just today I had the pleasure of reading a review in the Boston Globe about an exhibition of 200 years of American ceramics at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Featured were Cheryl Ann Thomas and Adrian Saxe. Also, an artist that I represented for 16 years, John Mason, has now regained his position in the art world, with shows like the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time, the recent Whitney Biennial, and his representation by David Kordansky.

Bell_Installation_2006 copyI’m proud of showing Larry Bell since 2006, and now he’s with an international powerhouse gallery, White Cube. Even a less well-known ceramic artist from Japan, Satoru Hoshino, is having a show with Dominique Levy. Others that I’ve shown, like Betty Woodman and Ken Price, both had retrospective exhibits at the Metropolitan. Back in 2003, Dave Hickey for Artforum named Ron Nagle’s show at my gallery one of the top shows in the world. Now, he’s been in the Venice Bienniale and had a survey at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. Adrian Saxe continues to win awards and recognition from critics and organizations.

Q.: Is that because of what you did? Do you take credit for that?

A.: No, I think the artists should get all the credit, I’ve always thought that. But the art world is increasingly aware of these artists, now, and there is a feeling of some vindication. I get some satisfaction out of seeing these artists, who I showed and believed in, get the change in visibility. I think it’s due to several factors, actually. I just felt it was going to happen, twenty years ago when I started the gallery. The exhibition program was all about the place of these artists and that history.

Q.: What exactly are the factors you’re referring to?

A.: First is the obvious trend: Young artists have been using the ceramic medium, and they have no real material hierarchy. That’s a major factor. Younger artists will use anything; they are, quite fortunately, not bound to the old prejudices against clay. Critics have been champions of this use by young artists as well as the use by recognized artists. And curators have recognized the value of the work—look at the tremendous reception for the retrospective of Ken Price, for instance. The curators at major museums are making a big difference in the public’s perception.

Q.: What other examples?

A.: Well, the gallery showed the ceramic work of a major woman FLB008 copysculptor, Lynda Benglis. We had two quite visible and successful shows of Betty Woodman’s work, well in advance of the retrospective at the Met. We’ve shown a significant number of women, including the early group like Vivika Heino, Laura Andreson and Beatrice Wood, then more contemporary artists like Cindy Kolodziejski, Jennifer Lee, Marilyn Levine, Betty Woodman, and Elizabeth Fritsch, as well as sculptors like Lynda. Cheryl Ann Thomas is another example. We didn’t just show the men!

Q.: What part of the gallery are you most proud of?

Sensual_Mechanical_cover copy4A.: Oh, that’s easy: the publications. I’ve taken that job seriously, working with writers and a legendary graphic designer. In many ways, I was lucky to work with a superb graphic designer, the late Joe Molloy, and he mentored me through the process of publishing. I still have a huge stash of our publications, in which we published the writing of Kristine McKenna, Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, and the art historian Frances Colpitt.

I’d also have to say that every day in my gallery was enhanced by the architecture, designed by Fred Fisher. It’s a sad thing to leave this space, so perfectly designed.

Q.: So, that’s a regret. What was your biggest disappointment?

A.: Lack of attendance. We work our butts off, and then the attendance is poor.

Q.: Were there shows that drew in the audience?FJS028 copy

A.: Yes, and it’s a great memory. The big crowd pleasers were clearly deserving: Adrian Saxe’s shows—any of them! And then, we had people return again with their family, just to see the stunning and heartfelt works of French sculptor Georges Jeanclos. The first show of Peter Voulkos in 1999, that had people lined up just to get in. All were extremely gratifying to present. But lately, the attention has shifted and we are working on other projects.

Q.: Will you be busy? Is there enough work in your new job to keep you busy? Or are you retiring?

A.: This is a common question. The truth is, with an artist of this significance, Craig Kauffman, there is more than enough research, conservation, and publication to keep a full staff busy for a decade. The representatives of artist’s estates, and many foundations, are dedicated to the job of preserving and protecting the legacy and work of an artist. We’ll have plenty to do.

Q.: Won’t you miss the gallery business?

DSC_0646 copyA.: I’ll miss the people. I have a number of passionate colleagues. That’s something I learned: many art dealers are passionate and committed individuals. We are fortunate to have them. I must say that there should be more recognition for the patrons and the dealers. I started by coming from the artists’ side—and now I’ve learned more about the collectors and the dealers. Art world news is often about hot young artists, the big money that is spent, and the connections to celebrity, all of it coming in a steady stream on new portal sites, traditional news media, and social media. But the thing that sustains it all is the hard work and passion of the artists, dealers, and patrons. I’d hate to see an art world without art galleries.

Q.: How would you sum up the last 19 years?

A.: In five words or less? A lot of hard work. But seriously, when I started, I wanted to make a statement: a gallery with a sense of history, that presents itself as a strong and relevant component of the contemporary art world.  Although it was originally media-specific and became known as a specialty gallery, everything we exhibited had a relationship to painting and sculpture.  We presented ceramics as a vital part of the regional and national scene and we also proposed links between historical precedents and contemporary ceramics. That was the reason for the expanded program, and it succeeded in many ways. I think the last show is a good way to finish the statement, and I’ll continue to try to set the record straight.

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A French Connection

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Sometimes I look for unifying themes within the gallery’s exhibition program. It’s obvious that we specialize in contemporary ceramics, and we clearly favor a sense of place—the West Coast of the U.S. But what’s fascinating to me is that several of the gallery’s artists have a connection to France, and to French culture.

How? Let me explain.

Adrian Saxe was influenced, even early in his career, by Sèvres porcelain. He saw examples at the Huntington, when he was in his early twenties. Saxe was attracted to the soft-paste porcelain characteristic of the factory,as well as the inventive forms, delicate painting, and skillful gilding. Then, in 1983, Saxe was selected by Georges Jeanclos to be the first resident at the Atelier Experimental de Recherche et de Création de la Manufacture National de Sèvres. Saxe returned to Sèvres in 1987 for a second residency, where he continued his explorations of the factory’s traditional techniques and materials.

Craig Kauffman made many trips to Paris. His firstFKN275 copy was right after his graduation from UCLA’s master’s program in 1956. During his six month stay, Kauffman took classes at the Alliance Française and visited museums and galleries. He returned to Paris in 1959 to 1961, while also traveling to other cities including Copenhagen and Ibiza. During this more extended visit, Kauffman met Darthea Speyer, who would later become his Paris dealer. Kauffman went back to Paris in 1973 for a solo show at Galerie Darthea Speyer, and lived in a studio in the Cité Internationale des Arts through the fall of 1975. After spending the spring of 1976 in California, he returned to France, to work in his studio and exhibit new works at Galerie Darthea Speyer.

Bell Retro Nimes-64 copyThree years ago, Larry Bell was honored by the Carré d’Art de Nîmes with a very significant survey exhibition. Yet this is not the first time Bell’s work was shown, or collected, by the French. History shows that Larry Bell exhibited in France many times, including at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in 1967 and 1974, the Palais du Luxembourg in 1993, the Centre Pompidou in 2006, and the Galerie Daniel Templon in 2010. It’s interesting to note that Larry’s brother, a famed economist, maintains a residence in Paris.

The gallery has also shown a major French artist: FJS035_A copyGeorges Jeanclos. It was an honor to exhibit the work of such a renowned international artist on two occasions. His emotional work profoundly affected visitors, as the artist’s deft handling of his terra cotta materials evoked a powerful sense of the tragedy of human experience.

 

Saxe at Sèvres

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FSE092_A copySome of our American artists are international, too. Though he was born close by in Glendale and still lives in L.A., Adrian Saxe is internationally known. Once dubbed the “Global Potter” by the Los Angeles Times, Saxe has fused together traditions from many cultures, and produced works that are seductive, humorous and intelligent. He often playfully refers to luxurious and regal French culture. But his experience with that culture came firsthand – back in 1983 he was selected by sculptor Georges Jeanclos to be the first international resident at the Manufacture de Sèvres. Sèvres, the centuries-old French home of court porcelains, opened its doors to foreign artists, allowing them to use the formulas and facilities located just outside Paris.

Saxe first encountered Sèvres porcelain in the Huntington’s eighteenth centuryFSE090_A copy2 ceramic collection, and was enthusiastic about the opportunity to study Sèvres techniques in person. During his time in Paris, he experimented with the hallmark soft-paste porcelain and French-style mold making, and grew bolder in his use of gold lusters and gilding. Using the white surface of the material to explore glaze and luster effects, Saxe incorporated the factory’s traditions into his eclectic practice. His time at Sèvres was so productive that he returned to Paris in 1987 for a second fellowship.

FSE035_AI’ll be presenting three works by Adrian Saxe from the Manufacture de Sèvres in part two of our group show, Frank’s International House of Ceramics. These Théières were cast in molds from the distinctive soft-paste porcelain, and their surface decoration was applied by the factory’s master China-painters according to Saxe’s patterns. Riffing on the quirkiness of Sèvres forms, Saxe has created a series of Théières that resemble Pac-Man, a playfully irreverent use of traditional resources. They are whimsically crowned with gilded lids, referring to the royal patronage enjoyed by Sèvres at the time of its founding.

Written by Frank Lloyd

December 14, 2012 at 12:17 am

Georges Jeanclos’s Dormeur

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Georges Jeanclos is one of the most universally admired ceramic artists, particularly by other artists.  A few years ago, when Akio Takamori was asked by a publication to name his influences, he cited Jeanclos, and so have many others. The way that Jeanclos delicately manipulated the thin grey terra cotta, and imbued his figures with such strong emotion, has an essential and powerful presence.

I first encountered George Jeanclos’s work through his association with Adrian Saxe. Saxe was selected by Jeanclos in 1983 to be the first international resident at the Manufacture de Sèvres, when the centuries-old French home of court porcelains opened its doors to foreign artists, allowing them to use the formulas and facilities just outside Paris.

Through the gracious cooperation of the Jeanclos family, the Frank Lloyd Gallery produced two solo shows of the stunning work of Jeanclos. The first was for the Los Angeles International, in 2001. We followed up one year later with another exhibit, and both were critically acclaimed.

I am very happy to be presenting a work by Georges Jeanclos in my next show at the gallery. Dormeur, from 1992, depicts a single figure, his head and hands emerging from a pile of blankets. His serene expression and smooth skin contrast with the rough-hewn, dusty textures of his protective coverings. Jeanclos himself said that he conceived of the face as “a point of persistence…exempt of all wounds and offenses…” Shrouded in the refuge of sleep, this Dormeur is safe and at peace.

Written by Frank Lloyd

November 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm

The Presentation Room

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At the gallery, we hold an average of ten exhibitions a year, presenting the work of West Coast and international artists. These shows are held in the three main rooms of the gallery, and are a mix of solo and group exhibitions that may explore certain themes, materials, or ideas.

However, a part of the gallery that is sometimes overlooked by visitors is the presentation room. Here, we feature a variety of artworks that are not part of the major exhibits. These pieces are diverse in style, size, and material, and give a fuller picture of the artists represented here. They are also frequently rotated to showcase a greater number of artists and keep visitors coming back to see what’s new.

Right now, we have on display drawings and a sculpture by Larry Bell as well as ceramics and sculptures by Adrian Saxe, Robert Graham, Sugimoto Sadamitsu, Svend Bayer, Richard DeVore, Satoru Hoshino, Georges Jeanclos and Goro Suzuki.

The presentation room also has a small viewing area, where visitors are invited to watch one of the documentaries we have, including The Cool School and Revolutions of the Wheel: The Emergence of American Clay Art. We have also begun producing video interviews with some of our artists, and these will be available for viewing.

I like to use this space to continue to raise awareness for the artists, even when they are not the subject of an exhibition at the gallery. It’s fun to improvise here, switching out works and watching how they affect visitors and the other pieces of art they are displayed with. I sometimes find relationships between works that might not have occurred to me had I not combined such a disparate collection of pieces.

International Relations

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Today I talked by phone to a consultant.  One of the topics was the variety of exhibitions at the gallery. As I look back on the shows, I can see differences in scale and medium, as well as the more obvious variety of individual artists. But one big thing stands out: it is the international scope of the ceramics exhibitions.  Over the past 15 years, I’ve brought ceramics to Los Angeles from several countries: Georges Jeanclos from France, Jennifer Lee from England (though she is truly Scottish), Wouter Dam from Holland, Gustavo Pérez from Mexico and Goro Suzuki from Japan.

Last Friday, two of those artists—Gustavo Pérez and Goro Suzuki—met for the first time.  Just before the opening, I introduced Suzuki to Pérez, and they had a brief conversation. Gustavo Pérez was extremely pleased to meet Suzuki, an artist that he greatly admires.  I stood back and looked at the two of them, and realized how proud I was to have both of them represented at the gallery.

Someday I’ll be able to count a few accomplishments of the many years of the gallery.  I expect that international exhibits will be high on the list.  Showing and placing the work of major talents from other countries has been an education for me, and an opportunity to expand my worldview.   If there are intangible benefits from running an art gallery, this has got to be one of the best.

Written by Frank Lloyd

March 24, 2011 at 1:13 am

Kids

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My favorite gallery visitors are kids—the younger, the better. With enthusiasm, delight and open eyes, they see a lot.  Adults (yes, I’m included) tend to over-think art. We might want to make an historical connection, talk in terms defined by art critics, or question the methods and materials. Trust me, after owning a gallery for a long time, I’ve had a lot of conversations about art with gallery visitors.

But I’ve seldom seen adults take sheer delight in art the way that lots of kids do. There have been some truly memorable times. I recalled a few recently. One day, a little girl came and responded to the color in an exhibition by Betty Woodman. She seemed moved, to the point of singing. Then I realized that she was dressed in the same colors as the art, and those colors were her favorites.

Another time, during a show by Adrian Saxe, two boys bounded in to the gallery and exclaimed “Look Mom! Aladdin’s Lamp! Let’s make a wish.” Indeed, make a few wishes boys, I thought.  Unprompted, they understood that the exhibition was all about desire in contemporary culture, and that the artist was presenting a series of Magic Lamps, titled “Wish I may, Wish I might”. While critics saw scatological references, and ceramists focused on the unorthodox use of plastic toys, those two boys nailed the essence of the show.

Certainly one of my favorites was during our show of works by French sculptor Georges Jeanclos, several years ago.  Visitors would bring their families, because the extremely touching terra cotta figures evoked a sense of primal, shared human experience. One day, the door opened and two girls walked in with their mother. Sensing the fragility of the work, their mother calmly said, “Now look with your eyes and not with your hands. Tell me what you see.”

The older girl, about seven years old, said “I see two people in a boat,” to which the mother replied, “And where are they going in that boat?”

“They’re going to heaven,” said the girl.

I was knocked out by that distilled view of the work. After all, the Jeanclos piece was titled “Barque” and was made by the artist in response to his mother’s death.

Today I read another statement by artist Larry Bell, and it seems to fit here:

“I wish all of my audience could be kids. The kids who come in the studio have quite a different reaction to the presence of the place and the projects than the older people who come in.”

Written by Frank Lloyd

March 26, 2010 at 12:10 am