October 7th, 2011


Pacific Standard Time, inaugural multimedia show, Getty Museum (photo courtesy Danny First)

The unprecedented Southern California initiative known as Pacific Standard Time (PST) was officially inaugurated on the evening of October 2 at the Getty Center. An extravagant sound and light show worthy of the Acropolis splashed over the J. Paul Getty Museum’s architecture to begin the festivities. Viewed from the arrival plaza, it was spectacular indeed. Guests were then invited for a first view of the exhibition, “Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture 1950-1970”.

David Hockney, "A Bigger Splash", 1967, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 96", Tate, London, at the Getty Museum

The Getty Museum is among over 60 institutions across Southern California that is collaborating to celebrate and to examine the Los Angeles art scene between 1945-1980. The birth of the initiative began modestly in 2001 when the Getty Research Institute launched an oral history project to preserve the recollections of artists, gallery owners and other key players of the period. Subsequently the project grew, gathered momentum and eventually exploded in scope, content and ambition. The Getty Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the J. Paul Getty Trust, funded the effort through $10 million worth of grants. In addition to encouraging fresh scholarship, the goals are to raise the profile of Los Angeles as a global visual arts destination and to attract a broad new audience to venues throughout the region. Individual artists’ careers and their contribution will inevitably be re-evaluated upward and a rewrite of the region’s historical significance will ensue.


Ron Davis, "Black Tear", 1967, resin and fiberglass, 60 x 136", Rowan Collection, at the Getty Museum

The exhibitions around L.A. each offer a different slice of the story, a unique perspective or interpretation. “Crosscurrents….” at the Getty is a delicious overview, featuring many of the key players with mostly excellent examples of their work. The story moves succinctly from hard-edge paintings, assemblage sculpture, and large-scale, abstract ceramics of the 1950’s, to iconic pop images of the city in the 1960’s to the Light and Space works of the 1970’s. Pivotal work by Lynne Foulkes, Ed Ruscha, David Hockney, Craig Kaufman, Ron Davis and many others fill the spaces. The exhibition ends too soon with the feeling of wanting to see more.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Bruce Connor, "Crossroads", 1976, film still, at MOCA

The MOCA show, “Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981”, is a sprawling survey featuring the pluralistic art practices that flourished across the state during the period. It includes 130 artists with over 500 art objects. The show acknowledges the multiplicity of directions and individualism as well as the political climate and social milieu that framed artistic production.   However, the breadth of concepts and processes and the number of artists make the show feel cumbersome. Among the pieces to admire is Bruce Connor’s mesmerizing video, “Crossroads”. It explores the haunting beauty and horror of the 1945 atomic bomb explosion at Bikini Atoll in slow motion. It is both enthralling and relevant. Many other pieces in the show are of their time but seem to have lost their resonance.

Hammer Museum

John Outerbridge, "No Time for Jivin", from the Containment Series, 1969, mixed media, 56 x 60", Mills College, at the Hammer Museum

David Hammons, "Bag Lady in Flight", ca 1970's, mixed media, 42 x 116 x 3", Collection Eileen Norton, at the Hammer Museum


“Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980” is a comprehensive exhibition that explores the pioneering legacy of L.A.’s African American visual artists. From the moment one enters the show, the sense of vibrancy is palpable. Engaging work by artists like Noah Purifoy and John Outterbridge, who have been off the radar screen, shine brightly. More familiar artists like David Hammons and Betye Saar are represented by some of their best works. The show is contextualized by politics and social norms of the day. But it also weaves the artists into the larger fabric of the city’s art scene by emphasizing their relationships with artists outside the Black community. The show is everything PST set out to do – it’s fresh, it educates and it makes a significant contribution to the field.

Los Angeles County Museum

Lobster Bathing Suits, Mary Ann DeWeese, 1949, at LACMA

Charles and Ray Eames House, Pacific Palisade, interior, at LACMA

Although the period has been well explored elsewhere, “California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way” at LACMA is the first major museum study of California mid-century modern design. The show explores the state’s influence in shaping material culture across the country through furniture, ceramics, metalwork, fashion and industrial and graphic design. From Barbie & Ken to Heath Ceramics to the Oscar statue, it is a ride down memory lane. The exhibition encourages the idea that these innovations developed organically out of a desire to choose modernity. It emphasizes a postwar optimism and a cooperative spirit, manifest in pieces like the his & hers bathing suits adorned with oversize lobsters. A highlight of the show is a re-creation of Charles and Ray Eames 1949 steel-framed house in Pacific Palisades. The actual contents of the Eames’ living room is on view as the home is currently undergoing renovation.

Santa Monica Museum of Art

Beatrice Wood, "Handled Bowl w/Luster", Collection Carol and Arthur Goldberg, at the Santa Monica Museum

“Beatrice Wood: Career Woman – Drawings, Paintings, Vessels and Objects” injects the Museum with the energy and vitality of the woman herself. Born into high society, Wood lived in Paris and New York before coming to Los Angeles. She was an actress, a seminal figure in the Dada movement, a Theosophist, and a dedicated artist. The exhibition is both a scholarly and commemorative evaluation of Wood’s prodigious career. The ceramics with their amazing luster glazes were the highlight of the objects on view for me. Her long life of 105 years (1893-1998), characterized by challenge and invention, offers a lasting lesson as well.

Fowler Museum at UCLA

Jose Bedia working on installation, at the Fowler Museum

While not a PST exhibition, this museum round-up would be incomplete without mentioning the remarkable Jose Bedia retrospective, “Transcultural Pilgrim: Three Decades of Work” at the Fowler Museum. The show explores the artist’s spiritual journey anchored in his Cuban-based religion and its central African source, as well as his examination of the beliefs of indigenous American peoples. The power and intensity of his work is amplified by the simultaneous exhibition he curated from the Museum’s extraordinary permanent collection. In addition, the exhibition curators installed pieces from Bedia’s personal collection of objects that inform his work. Altogether the eloquent presentation bristles with an earned wisdom and a conviction in realms beyond the everyday.

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August 3rd, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO / Pier 24 Photography

Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco

Pier 24 Photography is the new world-class destination for viewing fine art photography in San Francisco. Pier 24 houses the permanent photographic collection of the Pilara Foundation, established by collector and philanthropist, Andrew Pilara and his wife, Mary. The collection is comprised of over 2000 photographs on view in rotating exhibitions. Located in a 28,000 sq. ft. facility underneath the Bay Bridge, it is a must-see for art lovers of historical, modern and contemporary photography.

Carlton Watkins installation, photographs ca. 1880

Pier 24 is now hosting its third exhibition titled “Here” on view until December 16, 2011. It includes 700 works by 34 photographers who have lived or been inspired by the San Francisco region. Emphasizing late twentieth century images, the exhibition draws from the Foundation collection and includes loans from other institutions and private collections.

Richard Misrach, "GG 3020-2000", 4:05 am, chromogenic print

Ruth Bernard, "Two Forms", 1963, silver gelatin print

A distinguished sensibility in the choice of images and the style of the installation make for an exciting view on a range of subjects. The classic landscape photographs by Carlton Watkins of Yosemite and other locales fill an entire room. The majesty of landscape is further celebrated in the more recent works of Richard Misrach. His engagement with the Golden Gate Bridge and the mystery of the Bay bring magic to the prosaic. Gorgeous photographs celebrating the female form by Edward Weston and Ruth Bernard share a dialogue in another room.

Eduard Muybridge and Mark Klett installation

In 1878, Eadweard Muybridge trudged with his gear to the top of California Street to make a 360-degree record of the city. In 1990 Mark Klett revisited the idea, attempting to match Muybridge’s photographs. The results are beautifully installed on one wall, contrasting the different architecture and development of the city, while revealing the difference in the photographic process and papers of each photographer, separated by over one hundred years.

Todd Hido, "House Hunting" installation

Todd Hido, from "House Hunting", 1997, chromogenic print

The conceptual concerns of contemporary photography are explored by Todd Hido in “House Hunting”. He shot ordinary, manicured houses at night. The houses were lit only from within. The photos imply human occupation but have an eerie, haunted quality that questions the activity inside.

Doug Rickard, from "A New American Picture", archival pigment print

Doug Rickard’s photographs look like straight documentary street scenes. In fact, he sources the locations on Google Street View. He then re-photographs the scenes of choice on his computer screen. It is virtual photography fully utilizing the scope afforded by new technology.

"Bullitt", 1968, video still

An inspired addition to the show includes video of the history-making car chase scenes around San Francisco from the 1968 classic film, “Bullitt”, starring Steve McQueen and directed by Peter Yates. Still considered the gold standard of chase scenes, the context of the show gives the film footage a whole new dimension.

Pier 24 is accessible to the public by appointment only via their website, www.pier24.org. This policy is meant to provide an intimate and contemplative environment to view the work. It is a gift in every way.


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June 28th, 2011


Punta Della Dogana, Venice

The Venice Biennale is the oldest, and remains the grand dame, of the international art expositions for contemporary art. This year it encompasses 89 national pavilions, 37 official collateral shows and other parallel events, on view through November 27. The exhibition is spread between the Giardini, the Arsenale, the six administrative units of the city plus the nearby islands.  The Biennale is a complex weave of aesthetics, politics, competition and mercantilism.  It strives to be meaningful and historic.  The contemporary art plays against the legacy of the great Venetian masters such as Tintoretto which adds to the visual tapestry of it all.


Christoph Schlingensief, the German Pavilion, Giardini

Prizes are awarded for the best national pavilion and the best individual artist.  The Golden Lion for the best pavilion went to Germany for the haunting installation by Christoph Schlingensief, who passed away in August 2010.  The installation involves a recreation of his piece, “A Church of Fear vs The Alien Within” originally conceived in 2008.  Schlingensief portrays his illness, using his own painful experience to examine the existential cycle of life, suffering and death.  Engaging film and music as well as key influences such as the art of Joseph Beuys and the Fluxus movement, maxiumum effect is achieved.  The environment is rarified.

Christian Marclay, "The Clock", Arsenale

The Golden Lion for best artist went to Swiss-American, Christian Marclay, for his astounding film, “The Clock”.  Composed of thousands of movie clips that feature clocks, watches and the conjuring of time, it is literally a 24-hour clock that corresponds exactly to the viewer’s real time.  It is a huge love letter to the movies while being the quintessential work of appropriation art.   The Los Angeles County Museum of Art recently acquired one copy of the film from the edition of six for their permanent collection.


In addition to the German Pavilion, other standouts are the pavilions of the US, Egypt, Poland and Korea.  Death and politics emerge as shared themes.  While the sun shines and the water laps against the docks, challenging content reigns.

United States

Allora and Calzadilla, "Gloria", US Pavilion, Giardini

The US is represented by the team of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla.  The presentation focuses on unedifying aspects of American military presence, domination, and commercialism.  For sheer audacity and ingenuity, it makes an impact.  The installation involves several performative pieces and an interactive piece.  Outside the pavilion an overturned tank is crowned with a treadmill.  Each hour an Olympic athlete runs atop the tank to a cacophony of sound that cannot be avoided or ignored.  Inside a large harp-like structure houses a working ATM machine from which a user can extract euros.  Upon the dispensation of money, music rings out.  While the metaphors are witty and the execution is unique, for this American the whole felt somewhat embarrassing and certainly elicited no pride.


Ahmed Basiony, Egyptian Pavilion, Giardini

Egypt is represented by Ahmed Basiony.  The artist was shot and died in January amid the protests against the Egyptian government in Tahir Square.  This tribute exhibition includes footage of his last performance in 2010, “30 Days of Running in the Space”. He jogged for an hour each day for 30 days in a plastic suit.   His sweat levels and the distance traveled were converted into a digital display.  The video of this piece is displayed alongside footage he filmed during the revolution before he was assassinated. It’s a powerful duo.  The artist running in his suit with echoes of the Olympian running on the tank nearby created an unexpected and eerie dialogue.


Yael Bartana, "...and Europe Will Be Stunned", Polish Pavilion, Giardini

Israeli-born Yael Bartana represents Poland.  She is showing three films based on her provocative invented entity, the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland.  The movement calls for the return of millions of Jews to their Polish homeland.  The startling concept is presented with complete conviction and veracity, so that one questions its reality.  The possibilities give full sway to the imagination.


Lee Yong-baek, "Pieta:Self Death", Korean Pavilion, Giardini

Lee Yong-baek represents Korea with a mixed media installation titled “The Love is Gone but the Scar Will Heal.  “Broken Mirror” is a room of mirrors that engage a high-speed camera and complex electronics.  The mirrors shatter by shot from flying bullets and then dramatically and repeatedly reconstitute themselves.  Two large-scaled sculptures have a non-threatening presence but perpetuate a theme of death and violence.


Urs Fischer, Statue of Rudolf Stingel, Arsenale

Urs Fischer, "Rape of the Sabine Women", Arsenale

In addition to the remarkable Christian Marclay work, Arsenale pieces by London-based Urs Fischer and sisters Shadia and Raja Alem from Saudi Arabia are memorable.  Urs Fischer created a full-scale wax copy of the 16th century sculptor Giambologna’s  “Rape of the Sabine Women”.  Facing this work is a wax portrait statue of friend and artist, Rudolf Stingel.  Both works have wicks integrated within them. When lit, the pieces gradually burn down and assumedly will be a puddle of wax.  When I was there, the head had come off the Stingel figure.  Both pieces were rendered majestically and had a commanding, ephemeral presence.

Shadia and Raja Alem, "The Black Arch", Saudi Arabia, Arsenale

Shadia and Raja Alem are officially representing Saudi Arabia with a sculptural stage-like work titled “The Black Arch”.  The work integrates the artist’s collective memories of blackness from their home in Mecca.  The references of blackness originate from the black silhouettes of Saudi women, the black cloth of the Al Ka’ba and the black stone which is said to have enhanced their knowledge.  As a counter point, the second part of the installation is a mirror image, meant to reflect the present and the light of Venice.  Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive a car.  They must seek permission from their husbands to attend school or to travel.  And yet, the government finds women suitable to represent their country in this international exhibition.  Is it a comment on the insignificant regard in which they hold contemporary art?  Or perhaps they have overlooked the power inherent within it.


International mega-collectors have pushed the public/private sphere onto center stage in Venice. Since 1980, Peggy Guggenheim’s spectacular collection of European and American art of the first half of the 20th century has been an anchor in Venice.   The museum’s current exhibition of the late Ileana Sonnabend’s collection is a splendid view of another astute female dealer’s personal choices.  Featuring Italian and international artists, it makes an informative complement to the other collateral exhibitions.

Privately Funded Initatives

Maurizio Cattelan, Pinault Collection, Punta Della Dogana

In 2005, Francois Pinault, one of the largest collectors of contemporary art in the world, acquired the Palazzo Grassi.  He has subsequently presented three distinct exhibitions showcasing works from his collection there.  In 2009, Pinault opened a second location, the Punta della Dogana, where his collection will be on permanent display.  Works of seminal artists, impeccably installed, fill both locations and offer an excellent picture of some of the top artists from the last two decades in contemporary art.

In 2006 Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, established the PinchukArtCentre, the first and largest contemporary art center in Central and Eastern Europe.  In Venice, the PAC presented the Future Generation Art Prize, the first global art prize to discover and offer long-term support to a future generation of artists.  The show is strong on video, including international favorites, Nathalie Djurberg and Cao Fei.  Of the works on view, 13 were made especially for Future Generation and 7 were premiered at the venue.  This may not be a must-see for the art, but for the ambition of the venture, take note.

Pino Pascale, Prada Foundation

Jeff Koons, Prada Foundation

Key among the privately funded initiatives is the Prada Foundation.  Housed in a restored 18th-century palazzo, the exhibition highlights  the collection and the architectural plans for the Foundation’s new headquarters in Milan, designed by Rem Koolhaas.   Italian Art from 1952-1964 forms the core of the presentation.  Individual works by Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Thomas Demand, among others, glorify the spaces.  A discerning sense of choice and acute sensitivity pervades the exhibition and it is wonderful.

Palazzo Fortuny

The Palazzo Fortuny transformed its’ four floors into a treasure trove of viewing, titled “Tra.Edge of Becoming”.  Organized by a curatorial team that included Rosa Martinez and Axel Vervoordt, the exhibition is a seductive cross-section of time, cultures and aesthetics meant to encourage the viewer to read the world through art.  If you love objects, this is your show.  Some of the artists included are Rodin, Abramovic, Fontana, Kapoor, Tapies, and Neshat, juxtaposed in a manner that enlivens them anew.


Barry X. Ball, Ca Rezzonico

Ca Rezzonico is one of the most beautiful museums in Venice, dedicated to 18th Century Venice.  As part of the Biennale contemporary artist, Barry X. Ball, integrated his classically inspired sculpture into the collection.  With exquisite execution and placement of the work, his sculpture creates an even more gratifying experience.

Antonio Canova's Tomb, Frari Church, Venice

One cannot depart Venice without a visit to the rich collections of the Accademia, the Frari Church and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.  Two other favorite churches are Santa Maria della Salute near Puntal della Dogana and Il Redentore on the Guidecca, designed by Palladio.

Ciao Venezia!  On to Basel!


Once again, the Basel Art Fair proved to be recession-proof.  The first days were a frenzy of buying activity.  Buyers at the fair are highly educated and selective.  The early vibes are intense and competitive. The quality, variety and depth of the work on show is simply breathtaking.  Since many acquisitions are made in the first hours and days of the fair, dealers come prepared to change their booths.  New pieces are put on view daily throughout the fair.  In addition, dealers are selling works that may be at their galleries or in other exhibitions.  Every dealer has an iPad – the most effective presentation tool on the planet.

Jason Rhodes, Art Statements, Basel Art Fair

Anish Kapoor, Art Statements, Basel Art Fair

Art Statements, the venue for large scale sculpture and video, has become one of the most compelling sections in the Fair along with Design Basel.  Both venues open the day before the main fair, so increasingly the audience arrives in advance for these first views.  With nearly 300 galleries, it takes two days to make a single, focused pass through the entirety of the Fair.  With all of the lectures, films, satellite fairs and local museums, check off a few more days.

Constantin Brancusi/Richard Serra, Beyeler Foundation, Basel

The Basel museum exhibitions were not as exciting as in other years.  However, a visit to the Beyeler Foundation is de rigueur.  The current exhibition “Constantin Brancusi and Richard Serra” seeks to create a dialogue between these two giants of sculpture.  I found the concept to be a stretch, but either artist alone inspires.  The Brancusi’s were sublime.

David Keating, "I Like for You to be Still", 2010, carpet, steel, pigment

Among the satellite fairs, Liste is the most salient for me.  It’s a good place to identify new talent, whether or not you’re buying and even if works have been sold out.   Mark Barrow’s paintings on linen that deal with the structure and geometry of weaving sold out at Elizabeth Dee.  The Zurich gallery, RaebervonStenglin, was making their debut at Liste and won a prize for the best booth which included the sculptor, David Keating.


Franz Gertsch, "Winter", Kunsthaus, Zurich

The Franz Gertsch Retrospective is on view at the Kunsthaus in Zurich through Sept 18.  The Kunsthaus is considered one of the most important museums in the world for modern and contemporary art.  It is always part of my Basel itinerary.  Gertsch is counted as one of Switzerland’s leading contemporary artists. The exhibition features approximately 30 large-scale paintings and woodcuts, culminating in his recently completed “Four Seasons Cycle”. Initially the exhibition seemed quiet and unsurprising.  But it opens up with a great fullness.  The meticulous work and thoughtful installation rewarded a contemplative viewing.


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May 17th, 2011

Los Angeles / Spring Highlights

"Art in the Streets", Journal page detail, MOCA

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.

Chauvet Cave, drawing detail

The Discovery at Chauvet
Current Release

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.

Francois Boucher, "Lady Fastening Her Garter", 1742, Getty Museum

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.

Vija Celmins, "T.V", 1964, LACMA

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.

John Frame, sculpture detail, Huntington Library

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.

Desert Garden, Huntington LIbrary

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.


A consultancy in modern and contemporary art, guiding clients with

access and expertise,throughout the international art community.