Frank Lloyd’s blog

Art, architecture and the people that I know.

Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Times

The Natural

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FKN097Some athletes are legendary because of their innate ability—just think of Ken Griffey Jr. with his gorgeous swing, and the perfection of his follow-through. Sure, lots of players have hit home runs, but that kind effortless movement was truly a thing of beauty.

According to all reports, Craig Kauffman was just as naturally gifted as a young artist. He participated in his first professional group show at age 19, in the best gallery in Los Angeles, Felix Landau. By 1953, still approaching his 21st birthday, Kauffman had his first one-man show at Landau. He also was given a praising review in the national magazine Art News by a leading critic, Jules Langsner, who wrote:

“The exhibition splits into two distinct groups: soft, serene, cerebrally-organized abstractions (like the Ode to Crafts series) and the more recent, highly charged linear evolutions on the other. Either way, Kauffman is precociously gifted.”1

Just five years later, when the seminal Ferus gallery had opened, Kauffman was included in another group exhibition, this time a painting survey of Northern and Southern California abstract artists. While noting the similarities and differences of the two camps, Langsner again singled out Kauffman for praise:

“Craig Kauffman is very much in evidence with an effervescent painting, also untitled. Here vertical rectangles of vivid reds, yellow, blues shimmer on a field of white. Full of bounce, the picture has the added interest of subtlety of line. Exhibiting infrequently, this artist has not received his due”.2

So, it’s not surprising that, after Kauffman’s passing, Philippino_Orchids_1989_Det_1 copyin another group exhibition currently on view at Samuel Freeman gallery, the Los Angeles Times Critic Christopher Knight should single out Kauffman’s work at the conclusion of his review:

“He navigates the void using a delicate, dappled line that constructs a sturdy visual architecture from the most fragile subject matter — orchids, a tropical flower with thousands of taxonomies. His still lifes catalog exotic blooms that are tall, willowy and weird. Kauffman has been called the most naturally gifted painter produced in the first generation of major postwar Los Angeles artists, and here it’s easy to see why.”3

1 Langsner, Jules. “Art News from Los Angeles.” Art News 51, no. 9 (January 1953), p. 53.

2 Langsner, Jules. “Art News from Los Angeles.” Art News 56, no. 10 (February 1958), pp. 47–50.

3 Knight, Christopher. “Uncharted seas in ‘How to Build a Foghorn’ at Samuel Freeman.” Los Angeles Times  (August 9, 2016)

Ceramics on track

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FPZ340_A copyAmong the common questions I’ve heard, since I closed our public exhibition program, is this one: “Who will show ceramics in Los Angeles?” To answer that, it’s time to count the number of current or upcoming shows:

I’m very proud to see that our friends at Latin American Masters have already selected a survey titled Cerámica Contemporánea, an exhibition of twenty-six ceramic works of art by Mexican artist Gustavo Pérez. Their press release states, “Despite a modesty of means and scale, Gustavo Pérez’s ceramics have achieved worldwide recognition, including a 2012 retrospective at Museo Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City.”

Just reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, an exhibit at Acme is titled “Hard and Soft”, and includes the work of four women artists, all demonstrating the flexibility and form of clay, that most plastic of materials. Selected by Vicki Phung Smith, it was characterized by Leah Ollman as a show where “Fluidity and fixity serve as the primary poles between which all of these works dance and tease and strike their own marvelously precarious balances.”

In fact, ceramics shows are all over the galleries. Keep in mind that Shoshanna Wayne Gallery still represents the work of Kathy Butterly and Arlene Schechet. Over at Edward Cella, who is moving to a new location on South La Cienega soon, there is the work of Adam Silverman and Brad Miller. L. A. Louver has, for a long time, presented various artists working in clay. Their sculptor Richard Deacon makes major works in fired clay, and the younger Matt Wedel is prominently featured.

An upcoming show at AMOCA will present approximately 300 works from the permanent collection of the museum. Curated by Jo Lauria, it marks the 10th anniversary of the AMOCA, and presents the wide array of possibilities of the medium.

There are many more, and there will be dozens—if not hundreds—to follow! It’s a great time to see ceramics, from the finely crafted to the freely formed, in Los Angeles. Don’t mourn the loss of our program, just get out and see the art!

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.

 

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.”

Don’t Rain on Our Parade

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Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / June 17, 2009
(Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / June 17, 2009)

We’ve got to honor and respect the place of sports in society.

Following the Lakers’ world championship victory in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, there were reasons for L.A. fans to celebrate. A Lakers victory brought a well-deserved sense of pride to the players, and many messages to their fans. This Lakers team demonstrated some of the time-honored lessons of sports. They showed the beauty of athletic performance, the will to overcome adversity, the value of teamwork and individual leadership, and the determination to redeem oneself.

The arena of sports provides us with focused and measurable accomplishment. The invented constraints of time and regulations give the boundaries, while the immeasurable human forces of competition, determination and frustration give sports its spirit. At least since Greek times and the original Olympics, these things have been valued by Civilization. Kurt Streeter’s eloquent report from Eugene, Oregon on the Prefontaine Classic reminded us (“This is track as it should be”, Los Angeles Times, Monday, June 8, 2009).

But there have been two things to mar the Lakers’ victory, and we should be careful to nip them in the bud. First, of course, was the needless and mindless violence that erupted around Staples Center on Sunday night. Police chief Bratton rightfully called those involved “knuckleheads”.

Times editors must bear the responsibility for the other knucklehead, T. J. Simers (“Idolatry of Lakers is ludicrous”, Los Angeles Times, Monday June 15, page U2).  When the Times continues to employ a sportswriter whose main concern is criticizing professional athletes’ personas (witness his on-going feuds with many a Dodger or Laker player, coach or owner), it does a disservice to the readership. “Winning it all makes them no more appealing, Kobe still over the top absurd in his mood swings, Pau still carrying on like someone swiped his rattle, Phil so above it all it’s surprising he doesn’t demand to be carried off the court like Cleopatra…” writes Simers.

What’s amazing to this sports fan is just how cooperative the athletes can be with television and print journalists. How strong and supremely patient do you have to be, in order to answer all those questions—from the immediate on-court interview at half-time, to the endless questions during the after-game press conference? Not to mention the pre-recorded features, the public appearances, and the competitive pressure of the game itself. And then to have some wisecracking hack write, “a victory doesn’t make unlikable athletes likable.”

The Lakers, with the salary cap, have to decide about bringing back Odom and Ariza. But for the Times, operating at a loss already, there should be no hesitation: Get rid of T. J. Simers. Bring on a brilliant writer, like Dan Neil, to review the sleek performance of the human athlete. Or assign the compassionate and eloquent Steve Lopez to the story of Derek Fisher’s challenges as a parent.

But don’t let us suffer through another column by T. J. Simers.

Written by Frank Lloyd

June 17, 2009 at 7:34 pm