Posts Tagged ‘Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’
One of the most gratifying aspects of my work at the gallery is seeing our artists’ works included in museum exhibitions and collections. Whether the pieces are on display for a temporary show or are being added to the permanent collection, it’s great to see artists get the recognition they deserve. I’m also interested in the ways curators perceive and present works that are familiar to me – often shedding new light on their significance or illuminating connections with other artists.
Right now, Canton Collection by Richard Shaw is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as part of their exhibition “New Blue and White.” Referring to the tradition of blue and white porcelain, a practice with its roots in the Islamic world as well as Asia, Europe, and the Americas, the show explores how contemporary artists draw inspiration from this rich history. A signature trompe-l’oeil work, Canton Collection is a great example of appropriating historical practices for contemporary purposes. Shaw hand-painted original designs in the style of Chinese blue and white porcelain on the vessels he fabricated for this piece, but they can’t be used for their traditional purposes. Permanently attached to each other, the vessels allude to functionality but ultimately deny it.
Another gallery artist on display at a major museum is Craig Kauffman at the Museum of Modern Art. With several works in their permanent collection, Kauffman’s 1968 Untitled bubble has a prominent position in MoMA’s fourth floor gallery. Acquired for the museum by legendary curator Kynaston McShine, Untitled was first exhibited in the 1969 show “Five Recent Acquisitions,” alongside works by Larry Bell, Ron Davis, Robert Irwin and John McCracken. This ground breaking show was re-staged by P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in 2010 as part of their large-scale “1969” exhibition, which sought to explore the art of this tumultuous period. Back home at MoMA, Untitled really makes a statement about the early critical response to Craig Kauffman’s work.
Larry Bell also has great representation in museum collections across the country. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has on display a 1964 Untitled cube, bequeathed to the museum in 1981 after the death of Joseph Hirshhorn. Bell has an installation on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum as well. Made in 1987-1988, this ten foot high room installation can be seen on the third floor of the east wing, where its reflective properties play with visitors’ visual perceptions. A large-scale installation was recently included in the PST show “Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface,” held at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in late 2011.
I’ve written about the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s exhibition Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface before, but I recently stumbled upon a couple of videos that reminded me of the beauty of the show. MCASD has produced five beautifully shot and insightfully narrated videos that document some of the challenges and successes of their 2012 exhibition. Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, Craig Kauffman and De Wain Valentine are all highlighted in these videos, which give viewers a chance to relive Phenomenal.
Curator Robin Clark and research assistant Christie Mitchell provide illuminating commentary, on the works as well as the kinds of practical decisions that needed to be made. The discussion of natural versus artificial lighting is particularly interesting, as many of the artworks are inherently light-responsive.
I especially like the video that pairs Robert Irwin with Craig Kauffman, as the artists were friends and colleagues who enjoyed an exchange of ideas. The Larry Bell video explains the delicate process of setting up his five-paneled installation from 1970. It’s great to hear Larry talk about the experience of installing an older work, and to see the pleasure he still takes in the piece.
If you haven’t seen all of the videos produced by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego for Phenomenal, I encourage you to take a look at the following link: http://www.mcasd.org/exhibitions/phenomenal-california-light-space-surface-0. Just click “Media” to find the available videos.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.