Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

Posts Tagged ‘Getty Foundation

Chapter 3 (Part1): Collector-Created Cultural Capitals

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Los Angeles in my view is becoming the contemporary art capital of the world.”[i] – Eli Broad

LA, or certain people who write about the art scene in LA, or people who get quoted about the art scene in LA, seems to have an inferiority complex.  Everything that happens in the arts (a new exhibition, a new art fair, a new museum director…) is deemed the thing that will finally turn LA into an/the art capitol.  William Poundstone did a survey of this decades-long mentality[ii] this week inspired by an article in The Economist titled, “2014 may prove a turning point for art museums in Los Angeles.”[iii] But come on – LA, people who write about the art scene in LA, people who get quoted about the art scene in LA, and the people of LA have nothing to prove.  The Getty squashed that issue a few years ago, didn’t it?

Getty_Pacific Standard Time_PST_Street Banner_Palm Tree

Do you remember?

Back in 2011, the Getty’s ten-years-in-the-making endeavor, Pacific Standard Time (or PST as it has come to be known) opened.  Over 60 institutions across Southern California presented exhibitions focused on the region’s art scene between the years of 1945 and 1980.  The Getty’s goal was to record, preserve, and present the many contributions Southern Californian artists and arts organizations made to contemporary art during the time period.  Initial grants were given to arts organizations to catalogue archives from the period, followed by exhibition grants.  Some of these exhibitions traveled to other venues in the country and some traveled internationally.  Catalogues from these exhibitions were published and quickly integrated into university curriculums.  Besides this trove of scholarship, another goal of PST was to present Los Angeles as an artistic capital.

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Rothko Chapel

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I was in Houston last week for the American Association of Museum’s annual conference.  It was my first time attending, and I learned a lot and networked a lot. (Thanks for the fellowship Getty Foundation!)  As a Californian, my perception of Houston is a bit skewed from reality.  It didn’t help that my freshman year roommate was a frat boy from H-Town, who was fond of boxed wine and drunk driving.   All of my conceptions of Houston were changed during my trip.  Total strangers smiled at me and made eye contact (a strange thing for me).  More importantly, Houston is FULL of art institutions.  I managed to squeeze a major art mecca into my trip and was blown away with the amount of things I saw.  (This was easy to accomplish because of Houston’s concentrated museum district.)  I got to see the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s traveling summer exhibition Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting.  It was kind of dinky, and I’m glad I didn’t have to pay the extra $7 dollars to see it.  What really blew my mind at the MFAH was the Carlos Cruz Diaz show (post to follow soon); I loved it so much, I saw it twice in four days.

Titian’s “Diana and Actaeon” – The Painting that almost got away.

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How Many Billboards? Art in Stead

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MAK Center for Art and Architecture

Kenneth Anger in caps

Nobody walks in LA; a similar number of people visit art galleries and museums in this city.  In an effort to correct this second problem the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House has organized a new exhibition How Many Billboards? Art In Stead; an exhibition you might not even know you’re seeing, and one you can visit without having to leave your car.

The MAK Center commissioned 21 artists to create new artworks which have been installed on billboards across town.   Given the blank canvas of a large blank billboard, the artists were given little direction, and the result is 21 very different projects which soar above gas stations, freeways, mechanic shops and McDonalds.

David Lamelas next to the golden arches

Some of the artists took similar directions.  Several focused on embracing the medium: Kenneth Anger’s billboard shouts “ASTONISH,” Brandon Lattu’s billboard is taken from actual ad for a used car, and Kenni Tribe’s billboard features clouds that remain static as the sky behind the billboard constantly changes.

Is that a snowball in your mouth Kori?

Race and ethnicity were another major issue in several works.  Kori Newkirk predictably utilized snow as a latent metaphor for black vs. white, Kira Lynn Harris featured the Watt Towers in her work, and Ken Gonzales-Day used images of sculpture (a black man and a white man, though both black in color) from the Getty Museum’s collection.

Two black men – Ken Gonzales-Day

Also noteworthy is Allen Ruppersberg’s billboard.  The huge sign features an exhibition catalogue from LACMA’s well known Art and Technology Program, with the words “Pacific Standard Time.”  This is of course an advertisement for the much-anticipated Getty Foundation-funded initiative Pacific Standard Time, which will culminate in more then 20 simultaneous exhibitions focusing on post-war California art at museums all over Southern California. Ruppersberg has created art, but has also used the billboard for its primary function; he has used it to promote a product that is “coming soon.”

PST is coming soon - Allen Ruppersberg

Inverting the highly visible commercial utility of the billboard and using it as a way to make art visible everyday, is especially timely task when considering how Los Angeles is reconsidering city ordinances about oversized and digital billboards, and the most-loathed-of-all supergraphics.

The MAK Center provides a handy google map with flags marking the locations of the billboards.  Trying to see all 21 of the billboards is ambitious, so use the google map to find a few that are grouped together.  Or, even better, don’t plan a route and stumble on the billboards unintentionally.  Image how many people see these billboards everyday and do not event realize it.  The MAK Center has brought art into Angelenos’ everyday lives.

– H.I.