Frank Lloyd’s blog

Art, architecture and the people that I know.

Posts Tagged ‘Travel

Galleries in the Global World

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I’ve just returned from London, a true crossroads of the world (to say the least) and a center for global markets of finance, commerce—and art. Like many visitors, I strolled parks and avenues, walked along the Thames, and took in several museums—from the National Gallery to the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain. Like many others involved with contemporary art, I attended Frieze and Frieze Masters. I also went to London galleries.

Collecting art, which was once the pursuit of a smaller population of people and a smaller number of museums, has become far more common. The exponential expansion of the art market, due to the broad digital distribution of images and information, as well as concentrations of wealth in emerging economies, has led to a true change in the way that people see and acquire art. Globalization of art (and all kinds of related information) has drawn many new people who may not have the same objectives as the traditional collector. The art fair is now a primary source for them.

The growth of the market is, of course, a welcome circumstance for artists, and it should be for art dealers. After all, it is the dealers who support the system more than any other group—an observation that was echoed in an interview with the organizer of the Frieze art fair, Matthew Slotover. This preeminent art fair, which began in 2003, gives global visitors the chance to see dozens of galleries under one roof (or tent, as the case may be) and the brilliant organizer sums it up by saying, “One of these reasons is that people have less time than they used to, so they’re generally people who work and travel a lot and they don’t have as much time to visit galleries as they used to, so art fairs are very convenient…”

On the other hand, however, one must recognize the value of galleries in the larger ecosystem. It’s a topic that was addressed eloquently in a recent op-ed piece written by Dorsey Waxter, president of the Art Dealers Association of America, published in the Blouin Art Info. I would suggest that anyone interested in art and art galleries read the article, and note the words of Ms. Waxter, “I have tried to imagine a world where there were no art dealers and galleries and what that would be like. Fortunately I cannot. All sectors of the art world are tied to one another, but it seems to me that galleries matter the most. Their impact on artists and their influence in the arts community is irreplaceable.”

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.

Report from Art Basel

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When we arrived in the Basel airport last week, there was no way to tell that thousands of art lovers would be attending the Art Basel fair. The airport terminal seemed deserted, and the taxi ride to the hotel was short. The lovely city of Basel was hardly crowded. A stroll along the Rhine was picturesque.

But by Tuesday morning, hundreds were poised to rush into the VIP opening. As the days continued, there were thousands of collectors and journalists from all over the globe, eager to look and choose from the thousands of paintings and sculptures in the booths. Our presentation, a survey of Craig Kauffman’s work from 1964 to the present, was singled out by museum directors, collectors and journalists as a worthy component of the international group of galleries. Lindsay Pollock, editor of Art in America, called it “museum-ready” in her on-line report, and the Economist noted that Art Features and our booth were “one of the most praised parts” of the fair. Kauffman’s work was also singled out in the Artnet online magazine.

It wasn’t all work for us. So many things were taken care of by our hosts. The fair works perfectly, like a Swiss watch. Art Basel is superbly run by the most professional management in the business. We were welcomed to the Fondation Beyeler for a fantastic show of Constantin Brancusi and Richard Serra. Swiss hospitality was always generous, and the party for the galleries delightful, even in the late afternoon rain. My only regret was that Craig Kauffman was not there to see the enthusiastic response to his work. Sadly, the last time I was at the Beyeler, I went with Craig.

Written by Frank Lloyd

June 26, 2011 at 12:27 am

Travel, Art and Landscape

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For me, travel is like food. I must have it, to sustain my curiosity. Most changes in my life have come from education, travel, and art—and in the landscape of my imagination. Looking out of the window of a train from Nimes to Paris, I realized how my images of France were first taken from paintings and films. Over forty years ago, I saw the French landscape in the paintings of Courbet, Corot and Cézanne. Back then, too, I traveled through the cities and countryside in the films of Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.

As a teenager, I took Art History classes and studied French painting, from the Revolution to the early 20th century. It’s now clear to me: those classes were a formative influence on the way I see the world. Not just the way I see the movements, evolution and revolution within the history of Western painting. More than that, those afternoons of endless projected images burned the French landscape into my head.

Art History, as taught in those days, recounted a series of movements, and the work of artists within a school of painting, the dominant mode. Reactions against academies and reflections of cultural change were the chapter headings. The artists’ names and their works were material for memorization, for making sure that you could pass the test and pronounce the names correctly—from Jacques-Louis David and Eugène Delacroix to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.

But what I saw in the darkened classroom, in paired light-filled slides projected onto pull-down screens, was the romance of the French landscape.  From pastoral precedents for Impressionism to the fracturing of the picture plane that led to Cubism, those images of paintings took my imagination for a ride. I’ve never been the same since.

Written by Frank Lloyd

March 2, 2011 at 12:24 am


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I’m tired of airports. I’ve started to dread traveling just because of the airport hassle. Major airports loom as huge, impersonal places. Security measures are, at the very least, awkward and repetitive. So it was a big relief, and my return to an older and quite civilized mode of travel, when I took the TGV from Paris to Nimes last week.

It was easy. I just walked from my hotel in the Marais, found the right platform at Gare de Lyon, and stepped on to the train. A little while later, on the speeding but quiet train, someone politely asked for—and scanned—my ticket. There was no security line.  There was no baggage check.  Yet, I felt more comfortable than ever.

In a European station, trains arrive and depart on time. Yes, there is waiting, but it is all within view of the platform, in the light of the station, and with the diversity of humanity. Families and lovers kiss as they say goodbye, and wait expectantly to greet and kiss again on arrival. Children travel in groups. Their delight with train travel is clear. In a light-filled, vaulted train station, everyone moves freely.

I read that President Obama has proposed a high-speed rail system in the U.S. If there were a fast rail system between my home in L.A. and San Francisco, I would take it. Consider the time: from Paris to Nimes was less than three hours, and a similar distance. It would be far easier than the flight, or the long drive that I’ve made a hundred times. I’d take the fast train to Chicago in the winter, too. I never want to be stuck on an icy runway at O’Hare again. Building this kind of infrastructure seems brilliant to me.

Written by Frank Lloyd

March 2, 2011 at 12:03 am

Posted in Architecture, Commercial

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A Road Trip with Larry

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Back in January of 2006, I first agreed to accompany Larry Bell on a road trip to Taos.  It was shortly after we had decided to have an exhibition at my gallery.  The trip was Larry’s idea.  He thought that I should “check out his scene” at the Taos studio, and learn about the making of his iconic glass cubes.  Two nights before we headed out of town, we had been at dinner at Hal’s restaurant in Venice.  Ed Moses asked Larry, “Are you driving back to New Mexico alone?” Larry replied: “Not if I can convince this guy to go with me.”  I decided to go.

To make it out of Los Angeles before the worst of the traffic, Larry picked me up at my house at 5 a.m.  He was prompt.  He surprised me by picking up my bags, and carrying them to the truck.  I quickly realized: this is a very caring and open host, and we are going to have an adventure.

On that trip, we headed east on the 210 at dawn on Sunday morning.  Larry was driving his white Chevrolet Suburban, which he dubbed “The Mighty Time Machine”.  We were getting close to the intersection with interstate route 15 north.  Larry said, “I love the light in the morning.  Especially like this, or at the beach.”  I realized right then that this is what he’s all about—the perception of light and space—and that this will be the meaning of my road trip with Larry.  He talked again about the morning sky: “Look at those flying saucer clouds.  I’ve never seen clouds like that.”  The sky was full of subtle gradations of radiant color, from a rosy glow to a soft, infinite blue—just like a Larry Bell cube.  There was a vapor trail from a passing jet that ran from the upper right straight back toward the horizon, and just above that were the three flying saucer clouds, smaller in size as they grow more distant, glowing a deep and warm color of a plum.

Last week, almost four years later, Larry and I headed out of town again.  I was going to Taos to attend his 70th birthday.  This time Larry chose his preferred route—up the 405 north to the 14 east, then through the Mojave Desert and into Arizona. I had already taken note of the numbers and capacities of our vehicle. The Mighty Time Machine, our ride through the freezing high desert, holds forty-three gallons of gasoline, has two batteries, and is capable of hauling a whole stack of 4 x 8 foot sheets of plywood. Larry’s rig is outfitted for the road, and everything is within arm’s reach. He’s got two cell phones strapped into the visor, and a CB radio turned on—with the volume down low. There are cigars and CDs close at hand, and drinks are to the right and behind the seat.

We had one passenger this time, Larry’s dog named Pinky. Like a well-traveled old friend, she slept quietly on the back seat. Traveling with a dog is something that I love, as silent companionship and a sense of adventure are perfect for exploring new territory. A well-traveled dog just seems to know when the rest stop is coming up, and can smell the new scents, as well mark some territory of her own.  Pinky and Larry found some great spots to take a short walk and admire the architecture of the Arizona rest stops.

I took my turn driving this time, from the California border to exit 185 in Arizona.  After realizing that I was too sleepy to continue, Larry took the wheel again, and I slept for a good 3 or 4 hours. When I woke up, Larry told me that we were going to stop for a little breakfast and some gas.  We were right at the Arizona—New Mexico border.  I heard him say, “I just want to stop here at this store, and there’s something I want to show you in there.”  I was definitely ready for breakfast, and ready for the next adventure, too. Except I could not imagine why Larry wanted to stop at the Southwest’s Largest Teepee, at the side of the road.

It turns out that the Southwest’s Largest Teepee also houses a huge cigar store. Have you ever seen a picture of Larry Bell without a cigar?  He is indeed a cigar aficionado. And the proof was apparent when we opened the door and walked into the shop. The owners, who were just opening up for the morning shift, quickly said, “Larry, your order just came in.”  I was treated to a little tour of the humid environs of a tax-free tobacco haven.  That was just our first day on the road.

Written by Frank Lloyd

December 19, 2009 at 2:03 am

Posted in Art, Artists

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The Woods

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A friend sent a photograph of the Virginia woods a couple of weeks ago. Dark tree trunks dominate the foreground with dramatic verticals.  A center of light, clear, open space, like looking into stained glass, shows the richly cultivated landscape.  It reminded me of my September trip to rural central Virginia, where my family gathered to bury my oldest brother.  When I think about my loss, I am comforted by knowing that he was laid to rest in his favorite land.

I take landscape photos when I am on the road, and I wonder about my connection to the land of the west. Landscape is such a powerful bond for me. Northern California holds a place in my internal landscape, as I lived there for a decade or so.  A rugged coastline, with expansive views of rocks and water, or a stunning view of coastal mountains, has always been a source of strength for me.

Last week I traveled to Taos, New Mexico. From the interstate highway, there were constant views, and at times it seemed like one could see for a hundred miles. I traveled through some storms, and across sheets of ice. One evening’s storm left new snow, and I walked right through it. In the morning I took this photo of the Taos mountains, as I walked to my friend’s house.  Later I came across a quote from Dharma Bums, by Jack Keroac:

“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream…”

Written by Frank Lloyd

December 19, 2009 at 12:46 am

Posted in Design

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