Frank Lloyd’s blog

Art, architecture and the people that I know.

Posts Tagged ‘Getty

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.)

2012: The Year in Review

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Inspired by the Getty’s holiday card – a video narrated by James Cuno outlining the Getty’s accomplishments of 2012 – I decided to take a look at the happenings of the past year here at the gallery.

Pier Voulkos Collection_Group 1_crop copyIn January the gallery opened Peter Voulkos in L.A.: Time Capsule, a show that critic Peter Frank hailed as “…the kind of show Pacific Standard Time has been all too short of: an intimate look at the taste and thinking and working methods of an influential figure. Everything in the show, drawn from the artist’s daughter’s collection, was small in scale and dated from the later 1950s…” in the Huffington Post.

Also early in the year, Clay’s Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price, clays_bookPeter Voulkos, 1956—1968 debuted at Scripps College. I contributed to this major Getty-sponsored exhibition by serving as co-curator and lead essayist for the show, which was singled out by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp on Artnet as “…something of a model for what PST has accomplished, putting into relief the important contributions made by California-based ceramicists during the ‘50s and ‘60s.” By year’s end, Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight recognized the show in his “Best of 2012” list of art museum exhibitions, writing that: “Together, ‘Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California, 1945-1975’ … and ‘Clay’s Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price and Peter Voulkos, 1956-1968’ … made for the most thorough telling of the tale of a distinctive revolution in postwar art. One laid out the rich panoply of modern ceramic conventions, the other cheerfully smashed them.”

FSU024_A copy2Drawing on Japan’s significant history with ceramics, the gallery presented Sugimoto Sadamitsu’s work in February. Sugimoto-sensei is regarded as the greatest living master of the Iga and Shigaraki styles, and his work was highlighted in a 1989 exhibition that celebrated the 400th anniversary of the death of Sen no Rikyu, the legendary early master of the Tea Ceremony. Sugimoto-sensei’s work represented Shigaraki and Iga masterpieces of the Momoyama period for use in the movie made in that year titled Rikyu, a well-received treatment of the life of this master of the Tea Ceremony. Our show was the first appearance of Sugimoto-sensei’s work in the western United States.

We also brought an unprecedented Numbers_Installation7show of paintings from the late 1980s by Craig Kauffman to the L.A. audience in April. Never exhibited together in the artist’s lifetime, these paintings showed Kauffman’s interest in unorthodox application of paint and his love of the physicality of painting, accompanied by his brilliant color sense. Kauffman considered the 1989 works, which became known as the Numbers, to be a continuation of his use of calligraphic line, and an integration of sensuous color with architectural form. It was a memorable show.

FJL053This summer we mounted Jennifer Lee’s fourth solo show in Los Angeles. Jennifer Lee’s pottery is carefully colored with oxides incorporated into the stoneware body of the vessels, so that the interiors and exteriors work together. Referring to her unique pigments, Sir David Attenborough noted: “Because she does not use glaze, her subtle colours and misty shades come not from a veil draped over the pot but from within its very substance, as in the face of a cliff.”

The quiet elegance of her pots never fails to make an impact on viewers. Indeed, Leah Ollman of the Los Angeles Times wrote in August that, “For all the calm they invoke, the pieces are charged with the motion of the swirls that encircle them…Their implicit movement suggests the shy whirl of demure dervishes.”

In the fall, the LACMA retrospective of the late Ken Price was a landmark CPE052 copyexhibit for the artist. In every way, from the innovative design of the exhibition to the superb publication, the tribute to Ken Price signaled the significance of ceramic sculpture in the development of contemporary art in Los Angeles. In a related exhibit, the gallery presented a show of small works, which was described by David Pagel of the Los Angeles Times as a “dazzling solo show at Frank Lloyd Gallery.”

Sensual_Mechanical_cover copy3November brought the release of the gallery’s major monograph on Craig Kauffman, entitled Sensual Mechanical. Written by biographer Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, the publication was praised by Christopher Knight in the Los Angeles Times as “…a gorgeously illustrated and highly informative monograph published by Frank Lloyd Gallery, which represents the artist’s estate. Hunter Drohojowska-Philp’s 2011 book ‘Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s’ sketched the city’s first flush of artistic maturity. Here she chronicles for the first time and in illuminating depth Kauffman’s life and the complete evolution of his luminous art.”

Larry Bell at FLG

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Back in the Fall of 2011, the gallery presented a series of exhibits that focused on artists participating in Pacific Standard Time. Now that PST shows are coming to an end (some will close this weekend), I’ve been reviewing the program that we presented. During late October and throughout the month of November, we had a survey of Larry Bell— just the early paintings and first sculptures that preceded the well-known Cubes.  My intent was to complement the Crosscurrents show at the Getty Museum, and Phenomenal at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

Our show was inspired by the first two rooms of the 2011 Nimes survey of Larry Bell’s work.  I wanted to show the early paintings, and the clear progression of ideas and the visual logic in Bell’s work. His work is integral to the development of the clean, clear look of Los Angeles art. Several series of paintings preceded the artist’s well-known cubes and environments of the later 1960s. These early works, from the years 1959 to 1963, show a progression from paintings influenced by Abstract Expressionism, to early shaped canvases, to Bell’s incorporation of geometric form within paintings.

Bell’s inquiry was driven by his sense that the image should relate directly to the plane of the canvas. In these early works, Bell focused on visual perception and his questions led him to eliminate distractions such as gesture and tactile layering of paint. That focus on planes and the reduction of gesture meant that the image could suggest volume.

By January, when critics had viewed the Pacific Standard Time shows, some came to the conclusion that Bell’s work was deserving of a closer look. One of those was Tyler Green, the most prominent art world blogger, who posted a lengthy article, and interviewed Larry. For a look at the whole show, we produced a video that was skillfully shot and edited by Larry’s son, Ollie:

Written by Frank Lloyd

April 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Two Insights from Knight

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Yesterday, a pair of writers from back East asked for recommendations on Pacific Standard Time shows.  I urged them to take the trip to San Diego (and La Jolla) for Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface at MCASD. Robin Clark’s show simply should not be missed. I singled out the shows that I’ve seen at LACMA: first, Five Card Stud, Ed Kienholz’s stunning and unforgettable installation about race and violence in America.  Also (for entirely different reasons) Asco, the well-documented look at the Latino collective performance group, and California Design: Living in a Modern Way, LACMA’s delightful and rich presentation of design.

However, I forgot to send these visitors to a show that is a sleeper hit or hidden gem: Artistic Evolution: Southern California Artists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 1945—1963. Perfectly chosen and presented by Charlotte Eyerman, this exhibit is the most faithful to the stated purpose of the Getty’s project: original scholarly research leading to an exhibition about Los Angeles art from the period of 1945 to 1980. Ms. Eyerman deserves a huge round of applause for a tightly curated and thoroughly researched show, presented in the rotunda of the Natural History Museum—quite similar in location to the old LA County Museum’s annual exhibits.

I was reminded of Eyerman’s contribution to the PST cause today. I read a review by Christopher Knight, and he has superb way of looking at the Artistic Evolution show. After reading Knight’s review, scroll down and read his post about Larry Bell, Frank Gehry and architecture. It’s a brilliant linking of those three elements, and Knight rightfully cites the long-term friendship of Bell and Gehry, who have often worked together on projects.

Haiku Review, More Sky

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Boundless blue sky and poetic prose from the critics are arriving daily. Peter Frank has glowing words about Sensual/Mechanical, our current show of early work by Craig Kauffman. Today’s Huffington Post includes Peter Frank’s haiku review (well, it’s a bit longer than traditional haiku consisting of 17 on, but that’s what they call it on Huffpo). Hunter Drohojowska-Philp covers a number of the Pacific Standard Time shows in her Artnet post, singling out the excellent installation of Kauffman’s 1969 Loop in the main show, Crosscurrents, at the Getty Museum. For sheer visual delight, it’s fun to take a look at the slide show on the MCASD’ website of Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface.

But for the most extensive review of that great San Diego exhibition, don’t miss Christopher Knight’s excellent and praising prose in the Los Angeles Times. Curator Robin Clark has totally earned everyone’s respect  for the show that she organized with Hugh Davies. It’s a show for everyone, from kids who will delight in the James Turrell installations, to adults who will discover the Bruce Nauman corridor. When you go, be sure to shimmy through the skinny green Nauman and emerge into the open light-filled Irwin room. It’s an amazing combination, and…well, it’s phenomenal.

Rainy Weather Reading

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Another myth about Los Angeles is that there’s nothing but sunshine. Today we had a good stong rainstorm, followed by some great cloud formations. It’s days like this that make me want to stay home and read a book…or two.  There are so many books being published about the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions—I’m told that there are over 20 highly researched publications coming out. I’ve been lucky enough to read MCASD’s “Phenomenal” book, and I highly recommend it. This book gives more information about Light and Space than any previous publication. I’m also well into the 4th chapter of the Getty Research Institute’s history, and it, too, is a must read.

Another way to catch up on the publications—for free!—is to take the tram to the Getty’s reading room, conveniently located next to the gorgeous installation of DeWain Valentine’s “Grey Wall”, a project of the friendly Getty Conservation Institute’s Tom Learner, Emma Richardson, Rachel Rivenc—and the whole team. The Grey Wall, too, has a wonderful book. Here’s a little picture of the welcoming reading room, with the growing library of recent publications.

 

Written by Frank Lloyd

October 6, 2011 at 2:09 am

Revisting Sunshine Muse

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Last weekend, the best thing I read was Peter Plagens’ response to the use of his book Sunshine Muse. Plagens wrote the first edition way back in 1974, and added a preface for the 1999 second edition, when he refused to revise what he called a “period piece”. In Sunday’s “Perspective” piece for the Los Angeles Times, Plagens offers the fascinating story of his deal with editors from Praeger, as well as a substantial bit of self-criticism: “Sunshine Muse has major flaws. I was a critic, not an art historian, writing art history, so the book has too much criticism in it and not enough history, particularly concerning Latino, African Amercian and “Women’s Movement” (as it was called back then) artists.”

I’ve used his book for quotes in essays, referenced it several times in press releases, and even posted a choice quote on the wall for our current show—concerning the work in Craig Kauffman’s 1958 show of abstract paintings.  So I read Plagens’ response to the authors of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time volume with great interest, and I highly recommend reading both. I am hoping there are many more exchanges, viewpoints and publications that address the history and the influences of West Coast art. Bring ’em on!

Written by Frank Lloyd

September 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm