Museum of Contemporary Art/”Art in the Streets”
April 17 – August 8, 2011
The much anticipated exhibition at MOCA, “Art in the Streets” created widespread controversy before it opened and continues to do so. Graffitti is blooming afresh around Los Angeles as viewers debate whether the work constitutes “art” and whether the museum is sanctioning and encouraging vandalism, among other issues. The show itself bristles with energy. The downside is its’ tendency to veer towards a Hollywood backlot feel. The upside is a genuine authenticity in much of the work. Controversy aside, this exhibition can be celebrated for its vitality and for its insight into street culture.
The Discovery at Chauvet
Speaking of art on walls, the new Werner Herzog film, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”, is now in theaters. Herzog gained exclusive right to film in the Chauvet Cave located in the valley of the Ardèche River in France. Discovered in 1994, Chauvet contains the earliest known cave paintings created more than 30,000 years ago. It depicts lions, mammoths, rhinos, bison, bears and horses, some of which are now extinct. Perhaps one can say graffiti has a very long history. Man is driven to express himself in the places within his reach and with the materials at hand. He draws to tell his story.
The Getty/”Paris: Life & Luxury”
April 26 – August 7, 2011
A very grand and different story is on view at the Getty. “Paris: Life & Luxury” features the rich, material ambiance of Paris during the mid-18th century. Exhibiting furniture and clocks, dressing gowns and jewelry, musical instruments and games, a picture emerges of elite society in Paris, the fashion and cultural epicenter of Europe at the time. The signifiers of status, the values and expression of wealth, were not so different then than they are today. Read the wall labels as part of the pleasure of this frothy fare. It’s a long way from the streets.
Los Angeles County Museum/Vija Celmins
March 13 – June 5, 2011
While the sweeping exhibitions above tap into large cultural phenomena of their time, focused shows of individual endeavor offer an alternate experience. “Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster 1964-1966″ is an exhibition of exceptional rigor and conceptual depth. Celmins is best known for her night skies, ocean waves and spider webs. They were beautifully presented in her drawing retrospective at the Hammer Museum in 2007. This is the first exhibition to concentrate on the early paintings and sculptures that laid the technical and thematic groundwork for her later work. This show is a jewel and well-worth a visit among the smorgasbord of offerings at LACMA.
Huntington Library/John Frame
March 12 – June 20, 2011
“Three Fragments of a Lost Tale”, the John Frame exhibition on view at the Boone Gallery, is one of the surprise hits of the spring season. A completely immersing exhibition combining sculpture, photography and a film of stop-motion animation, the show represents a huge leap forward for this Southern California artist. The three dozen meticulously carved sculptures are fascinating along with the impeccable still photographs. But the film is absolutely transcendant with its elusive narrative and stunning musical soundtrack. The show is both entertaining and provocative as it encourages each viewer to use his or her own imagination to find meaning in the whole.
And of course, no trip to the Huntington is complete without a stroll through the themed gardens. The Chinese Garden has filled out nicely since its’ inauguration in 2008. The Japanese Garden is currently under renovation. My personal favorite, the Desert Garden, is in bloom and forever a story of sculptural form in nature.
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