Los Angeles / Early Fall

Resnick Pavilion, Los Angeles County Museum

The Fall season is off and running. Many changes are afoot locally as the art world experiences its own version of consolidation and economic transformation. At the institutional level, the Hammer has announced its collaboration on an LA biennale for 2012 with LAXART, an independent, nonprofit art space in Culver City. LAXART is dedicated to showcasing and supporting challenging work in the visual arts, design and architecture. MOCA is exploring the idea of taking over programming of the LA Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park.   The choice of Jeffrey Deitch as Director of MOCA continues to be debated.  The Los Angeles County Museum is negotiating the conservation of the Watts Towers while Director, Michael Govan, discusses development for the eastern half of the LACMA campus with Swiss architect, Peter Zumthor. The Resnick Pavillion at LACMA designed by Renzo Piano has opened to mixed response. Eli Broad has settled on Grand Avenue as the location for his new museum as design plans move forward with Diller, Scofidio + Renfro.

Mandrake, Culver City

On the gallery scene, there has been a huge shift towards consolidation and strengthening of venues in Culver City. Early adopters from Chinatown included David Kordansky and Micai Nicodim. China Art Objects, Parker Jones, previously of Black Dragon Society, and Francois Ghebaly have now also forsaken Chinatown for Culver City. Angles, Cherry and Martin, Paul Kopeiken and Western Projects have all relocated from elsewhere into spaces on La Cienega. Mark Moore from Bergamot Station follows shortly on Washington Blvd. Honor Fraser expanded into the space previously occupied by Angstrom last season. Blum & Poe and Suzanne Vielmetter pioneered significant new spaces fairly recently.  Meanwhile, everyone hangs at Mandrake for a little refreshment.  Additional gallery energy is generated by New York’s L&M Arts’ branch opening in Venice, initiated with a Paul McCarthy show.  The new space is dramatic and the show of three sculptures is very powerful.   Damien Hirst is up next.

Alexandra Grant, Honor Fraser Gallery

New Fall exhibitions have opened all over town. Among my favorites are Lari Pittman’s paintings and drawings at Regan Projects; David Noonan’s collaged paintings at Kordansky; Alexandra Grant’s paintings which celebrate language and color at Honor Fraser; and Mimi Lauter’s seductive works on paper at Mark Selwyn. The Santa Monica Museum is featuring an elegant survey of the seminal Italian artist, Alberto Burri (1915-1995), emphasizing his production in America from 1951-1990. During the summer, SMMOA presented an impressive exhibition of ceramic sculpture and photography by Andrew Lord. The SMMOA exhibition program has been making a considerable contribution to the local scene.

Andrew Lord, Santa Monica Museum of Art

Title page, "Los Angeles Plays Itself"

Speaking of which, Los Angeles has never been more clearly defined than in the award-winning video essay “Los Angeles Plays Itself” by Thom Anderson. Completed in 2003, it was not released due to rights issues. However, it was screened recently at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. Consisting entirely of clips from other films, it explores the way Los Angeles has been presented in movies with terrific insight, wit and humor. It can been seen at film festivals and in special presentations by the director. Thom Andersen currently teaches film theory and history at the Cal Arts.

Vic Muniz (detail) from "The Wasteland"

The other great documentary soon to be in wide release is “Waste Land”. This fantastic film chronicles Brazilian photographer Vic Muniz’s journey to Jardim Grimache, the world’s largest landfill, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz collaborated on an art project with the pickers that changed both his life and theirs. The film shares the heartbreak, the victories and the existential dilemmas that encompassed it all. It won the the Audience Award in the World Cinema Doc category earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. It is definitely a “do not miss”.

Francisco Goya, "Saturn Devouring His Son"

Lastly, the movie sequel, “Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps”, depicts the financial meltdown of 2008, replete with background inclusion of  artworld darlings preferred by hedge fund managers from the period. Watch for Richard Prince, Andy Warhol and a corner shot of an Ed Ruscha.  The metaphor for the entire film is embodied in Goya’s masterwork, “Saturn Devouring his Son”, which hangs center stage in the inner office of the film’s primary antagonist.  Artworld insiders will appreciate these historical and hysterical details. In a confluence of timing, Sotheby’s just raised $12.3 million in an auction on September 25 of 142 works from Lehman Brothers. LB declared bankruptcy in 2008 and is the model on which the movie is based. Reality and fiction draw ever closer.


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