Exhibition Inquisition

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

Posts Tagged ‘Your Bright Future

New Topographics: Photos of a Man-Altered Landscape

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art

LACMA’s New Topographics, which runs through January 3, is a recreation (but actually a curation of a curation) of a show that was originally presented in the Rochester New York at the International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, in 1975.  Apparently the originally show drew a limited amount of viewers: it was winter, and there was a lot of snow…The Center for Creative Photography in Tucson decided this show was so pivotal that they wanted to recreate it and bring the show to several venues, one of which was LACMA.

The show at LACMA was curated by Edward Robinson, but Britt Salveson probably had a lot to do with the shows incarnation at LACMA as well.  Salveson was the director and chief curator at the Center for Creative Photography.  Somewhere around the time of this show coming into existence Salveson was sucked up into LACMA and is now the head of both the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography and the Department of Prints and Drawings. Check out an interview with Salveson here.

LACMA has spent a lot of time and effort on this show, as is evidence to the mini webpages devoted to each of the ten artists in the show found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Further tribute to the importance LACMA now places on photography is the space that New Topographics inhabits.  The second floor of the BCAM is half taken up by New Topographics, the other half photographic self portraits (this is the first time the whole second floor of BCAM has been all and only photography.)

The space is actually immense when considering the size of the exhibition.  LACMA brags that the two thirds of total work from the original exhibition is in this reincarnation.  This is an impressive number; however LACMA has two times as much gallery space compared to the Eastman House.  Yikes, this means a lot of white wall.  The many colored walls of Your Bright Future have been reformed back into the blinding white cube.

White cube diagram of New Topographics

Despite the several issues with labeling, and the issue of curating an already-curated show, I mush say I think the curator was very creative in dealing with the issue of massive space and a smaller amount of content.  In some rooms this was done better than in others.

Room 1:

Rows of homes: Adams, “Mobile Homes, Jefferson County, Colorado, 1973”

This room was given to Robert Adams.  A single line of same sized photos hugged two walls drawing the eye along from left to right.  Several vitrines had an awkward presence in the room.  These vitrines were there for context apparently, Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip, and several other Rucha books were included to show how the design of these books influenced the exhibition catalogue of the original New Topographics.  These vitrines seems like a bad way of filling an otherwise sadly empty room, and the things inside the cases were not clearly defined as not being part of the original exhibition.

I love you, but why are you here?--Ruscha’s “Every Building”

Room 2:

Modern city: Nixon, “Buildings on Tremont Street, Boston, 1975”

This room was very evenly spaced: two walls each for the two artists, Nixon and Gohlke. These photos weren’t in any particular dialogue with one another.  I thought the Gohlke spoke more to the Adams in the previous room or to the Wessel in the following room.  Nixon’s photographs of Boston were some of my favorite works in the show, clean and new and seemingly promising.

The Gohlke works brought up an interesting point about the information provided. The work below on the right had a caption which said the photo was taken in ’74, and that it was printed in ’75.  Was LACMA bragging about having one of the original photographs?  I noticed that the curators were irresponsibly inconsistent with providing this information and distinguishing the dates these photos were printed, and informing the viewers what was an original print.

Concrete Jungle: Gohlke, “Landscape, Los Angeles, 1974” x2

Room 3:

Freakishly Empty Los Angeles: Wessel, “Hollywood, 1972” x2

The Wessel photos in the next room spoke volumes to the Gohlke not just because they both featured barren Los Angeles Landscapes.  These amused me for a while trying to figure out their locations, they are all so seemingly familiar, and also very nondescript.

Barren landscape: Baltz, “South Corner, Riccar America Company, 3184 Pullman, Costa Mesa,” From the series New Industrial Parks, 1974

Baltz’s work was also in this room across from Wessel.  His series of buildings from industrial park in Irvine were clustered together in a grid in the center of the wall, which for a minute almost distracted me from the inappropriately high white ceilings.

Lying about their size: Shore, “Proton Avenue, Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, August 18, 1974”

The third photographer featured in this room was Shore.  These photos stood out because they were the only in the show that were color photographs, and they were big.  I was informed that at the time these photos were originally taken such large-sized color photos would not have been possible to print, so clearly these were printed more recently, a fact that LACMA curators did not point out.  Nor did they point out the fact that they had changed the scale of the photos which dramatically impacted my reception of the work.  Shame shame.

Room 4:

Not enough views to fill the space: Deal, “Untitled View (Albuquerque), 1974” x3

Deal’s many untitled views of Albuquerque attempted to flood an entire wall in this room, barely managing to fill the space. And then finally a successful attempt at filling the space.  The curators attempted the same corner-hugging line of installation used in room one with the photos by Schott.  These photos were all from a series where Schott documented Motels along Route 66.   The crazy architecture of these buildings flows from image to image around the corner like following an arrow-shaped street sign.

Kicks on Route 66: Schott, “Untitled,” from the series Route 66 Motels, 1973 x3

Room 5:

This room was entirely used for the husband and wife team Bernd and Hilla Becher, artist nine and ten.  The series of mine architecture and coal manufacturing plants were hung in groupings.  One of the works in this room was from the original New Topographics (the tarnished silver frame signified this) was actually a series set into a grouping in the same frame.  All the other works in addition to being hung on high, stark white walls, were also framed with in white frames.  Oh the little details like frames!

Serial photos: Bechers, “Loomis Coal Breaker Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, 1974”

After this last official room of the works from the original New Topographics came two other (what LACMA would say were) contextualizing rooms.  In the one room with windows opening up onto Wilshire Boulevard were works by Smithson, Graham and my favorite Turrell.  The Turrell piece was a sort of ephemera from his Roden Crater project which makes me go crazy whenever I think about it.

In the final room, which was a kind of screening room was the space created by the Center for Land Use Interpretation.  On the far wall was projected a commissioned piece about oil and landscape with a bench set in front of it. Along another wall were two computers for viewing the Center’s website. Plastered above the computers where poster for some of the center’s previous exhibitions which looked like a college student’s dorm room.  And obnoxiously there was another living room type space.  I mentioned this in the Beuys inquisition were LACMA curators set up an awkward sitting area with cushy chairs and reading materials.

So final conclusions:  The photographs in the exhibition spoke for themselves; there was no need for all the extra stuff that was supposed there for context. Sure there was a lot of white walls, but if the curators had just embraced the white expanse full heartedly instead of half-heartedly the installation would have been far superior.

– H.I.

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Luis Meléndez: Master of the Spanish Still Life

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art

LACMA’s current exhibition: Luis Meléndez: Master of the Spanish Still Life (on view until January 3) has traveled from the National Gallery of Art in D.C. and is currently on view in LACMA’s European painting and sculpture galleries (which are currently closed for reinstallation).  The exhibition was originally organized by the National Gallery to celebrate its new acquisition of Meléndez’s work.  Works from the 18th century Spanish master are on loan from many collections, including the Prado, the Louvre, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Kimbell Art Museum, and a few private collections.  The show at LACMA features 26 still lifes, one self portrait and an odd collection of kitchen artifacts.

Melendez Still Life with Melon and Pears

What nice melons you have.

Because I knew the shorter route to the two galleries the show occupies I initially missed the introductory wall text, so I went back to the front entrance to go through the show the direction in which the curators wanted me to.  The introductory wall text was set on a slab of a wall (on the back of which was hung Meléndez’s self portrait).  A nice gold title seemed fitting for an old master exhibition.  The wall text mostly sang the praises of Meléndez as a mostly-ignored master overshadowed by the formidable Goya.  This show it seems is a way of rediscovering a forgotten master.

walls

LACMA don’t you dare do this to the European galleries

The first thing I noticed about the galleries was the hideous treatment of the walls.  Christopher Knight of the LA Times gave his opinion, as have other bloggers.  And I am not alone in thinking that the walls are only ugly but also out of place in these galleries.  The odd plaster treatment (which LACMA’s Unframed blog claims makes “new walls look old”) are distracting and look like a project on a reality television home improvement show.

Frames

My rendering of the frames, thanks Microsoft Paint

Once I was able to get away from the odd walls, I was able to focus on the numerous still lifes.  What I noticed immediately was that most of the paintings had the exact same frames, gold with a pilaster-look and circles in the four corners.  This frame was used on works from the various collections the exhibition was culled from.  This made me think that most of these works came originally from the same place.

Something that made me aware that these paintings were not all from the same place was the wire partition set in front of only some of the paintings.  The paintings that were “special” enough to warrant the ugly wire partition (same wire from Your Bright Future) were the works from the Prado Museum.  The segments of wire were obnoxious—I felt that if any of the paintings were valuable enough to justify the wire partition they all should have had a partition, just run a wire all around the galleries.  I wasn’t the only one curious about the wire, another visitor asked a gallery guard about it.

Self Portrait_Prado

The Master Himself

The only painting that wasn’t a still life was Meléndez’s self portrait.  The portrait was an amazing addition to the now seemingly generic still lifes.  The self portrait was painted by Meléndez while he was still in school.  It is hung in a way that makes it a real centerpiece of the show, behind the wall with the exhibition title and intro text.  The portrait shows all the skill and technique required of a master painter, and the portrait shows Meléndez’s ambition and genius, which the exhibition claims were never fully realized.

Melendez Layout

I will keep making these diagrams until someone tells me they’re stupid.

The first room of the exhibition features mostly smaller works, and then the second contained both smaller and more extravagant tableaus of apples, grapes, watermelons, cantaloupes, etc.  I did have an issue with the order that one wall was hung.  Two works from the Prado museum, which a wall text clearly said “are probably pendants” were hung at opposite ends of the wall, with two large artichoke works dividing them.  Formally the two works: Still Life with Pomegranates, Apples, Azaroles, and Grapes in a Landscape and Still Life with Watermelons and Apples in a Landscape look like pendants, and I was confused why the curators did not hang the works directly next to each other, there seemed to be no reason why the weren’t.

Still Lifes

So, why aren’t these hung next to each other?

At the end of the second room are two display cases set into the walls of the galleries.  Inside the two cases were objects like wine coolers, chocolate pots, and other vessels which can be seen in the still lifes of Meléndez.

display case

Get it? That’s that thing in that painting.

Through some research I discovered that the addition of these objects was not LACMA’s idea, the curators at the National Gallery are responsible for the inclusion of the objects (however I still don’t forgive LACMA for the walls).  I understand that the objects are there to illustrate the skill required of Meléndez to depict such objects in such a high degree of realism.

more stuff

More stuff from the display cases

This display made me think; well if they’ve included the kitchen objects why not also include fruit from the still lifes in these cases.  This is ridiculous I know, but I think included these objects is just as ridiculous.  A visitor can see that the still lifes in this exhibition are extremely realistic, almost photographic.

Artichokes

Artichokes show the skill of a Master

The skill of Meléndez and this show as a tribute to a forgotten master seems unrealized in the size of this exhibition.  While the collection of paintings from many collections is an impressive feat on its own, I thought that some editing was in order.  Not all of the works in the show were Meléndez’s finest; the show could have been edited down to maybe half the size, with only the best of the works.  Featuring only the best of Meléndez’s work would have done Meléndez more justice, especially when trying to convince an audience that Meléndez is an underappreciated and mostly ignored artist.

Christ in Limbo

Christ in Limbo? What are you doing here?

As a final note, when exiting the Meléndez show one is confronted with LACMA’s Christ in Limbo.  The work, while Spanish, has nothing in common with the Meléndez show.  Christ in Limbo and two other painting remain in the chamber right after the Meléndez exhibition, they are remnants of the reinstallation of LACMA’s European galleries, but no other works are still on view, the curators should really remove the three works as they are out of place and starkly alone.

And please, please LACMA curators do not use the weird plaster technique on the walls in the European galleries once they are reinstalled as you have hinted at, save your money.

– H.I.

Joseph Beuys: The Multiples

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art

In case you forgot...

In case you forgot...

Continuing their hold of the top floor of LACMA’s BCAM, the Broad Art Foundation presents Joseph Beuys: The Multiples.  A collection of 570 multiples (from 1963-1986) fills the east galleries on the upper-most floor of the citadel for contemporary art. Since the second floor is now a venue for temporary exhibition, it seems the Broad Art Foundation is especially concerned with maintaining their stronghold on the top floor, and since it has been more than a year and a half since BCAM opened, its about time that a new installation of Broadwork was rotated in (at least to half of the floor).

Entry / Image of the artist

Entry / Image of the artist

Up the spider (the red, exterior escalator), and in through the colossal glass doors of the building…The first thing one sees is the Barbara Kruger freight elevator.  To the right are galleries with more Broadworks, Warhols and Koons, and only one Baldessari left.  But to the other direction, to the left, is the exhibition of Beuys multiples.

The first thing one sees is a rack with catalogs of the works in the exhibition.  Honestly, to be up front about it, I think that looking through this nicely designed little book would be more interesting and manageable than this overwhelming exhibition.  And then, Beuys confronts the viewer: an image of Beuys (on of the multiples in the show) is blown up and covers the entire wall leading into the exhibition. The title of the installation is superimposed on this large graphic.  Yes this is an installation and not an exhibition, LACMA has made the distinction. What qualifications make something an installation instead of an exhibition are unclear.

The exhibition installation, was contained in six rooms, which are defined by the pre-existing walls.  The plain white walls from which previously hung Rauschenbergs and Johns have now been painted a very, very dreary shade of grey.  The color is oddly familiar, was it the same color used in LACMA’s Art of the Two Germanys exhibition, those crude metal display cases certainly look familiar from Two Germanys as well.

Diagram, thank you Microsoft paint

Diagram, thank you Microsoft paint

The introductory wall text explains several thing, it explains what a multiple is, and the history of multiples including Marcel Duchamp and his Boite-en-valise.  Then came the rationale behind the organization of all those multiples, as well as some not-so-subtle bragging:

This presentation of the nearly complete set of Beuys’s multiples from the Broad Art Foundation is organized thematically within six rooms. The topics explored include Myth, Fluxus, teaching, environmentalism, political activism and the holocaust, and Beuys in America.

Each of the six rooms came complete with a title in white, an educational paragraph, and weirdly integrated quotes. The format was very thorough. And through all of the piles and masses of multiples, I looked always first for the paragraphs, to get some guiding hand through the many, many, many multiples.  (Do you get the point that there are a lot of multiples?)

MYTH: the paragraph addresses the mythology Beuys created around himself, that he was a pilot in the German air force during WWII and was shot down over Crimea, and then was nursed back to health by the Tartars. Well that was educational.  There was a LOT of stuff. Cases and cases, cases against the walls, lots of stuff hung from the walls, a long case (set on hobby horses) aligned along the hypotenuse of the room to allow for eve more stuff to be cluttered into the room.  There was so much stuff, that really it was the odd piece that stood out.  One such piece was Sled 1699, (which had its own descriptive wall text).  The work was set on a short platform that required some very flattering squatting for closer inspection, and was surrounded by black tape so I wouldn’t squat too close.

Room with a view of Fluxus

Room with a view of Fluxus

FLUXUS and PERFORMANCE: This room had the same format of title and wall text.  The quote that was integrated in: “Actions, Happenings and Fluxus will of course release new impulses which will, we hope, create better relationships in more areas”—a vague quotation.  In this room were also display cases, posters, artifacts of performance art, photographs documenting performances. A major difference from the last room was the tiny video monitor set into a short little pilaster-like architectural element.  Some simple dark wood chairs were set in front of monitor; you had to sit close to really see the video.

Stuff, stuff, lots of stuff own by the Broad Art Foundation

Stuff, stuff, lots of stuff own by the Broad Art Foundation

ENVIRONMENT: If I thought the previous two rooms were crowded, I had no idea what was to come.  The Environment room was the most crowded room, absolutely stuff-full of things. There was very little blank space on the walls, there were so many things hung from the walls that it necessitated a completely separate diagram labeling all of the works.  Some multiples from the same sets hung together, sometimes in rows, sometimes not.  In this room were more of the wooden chairs (no video) just to take in part of the gallery. This room was hung like a Parisian salon; frames rubbing up against one each other.  The work that separated itself from the rest was Hare Stone (1982, Basalt with gold spraypaint), again this piece was displayed on a short platform, but this time was partitioned off with metal wire fence (saw it in the Your Bright Future Show).

Between a rock and a hardplace

Between a rock and a hardplace

TEACHING in the F.U.I.: This was the sparsest room, seemed nicely relaxing on the eyes, especially after the environment room.  This room was nicely packed in, instead of cramped, there was an ease of the packed-in-ness that did not exist in the environment room.

My obsession with seating, some wood chairs

My obsession with seating, some wood chairs

POLITICAL ACTIVISM & The HOLOCAUST: more posters, more cases, more photos, same medium, slightly different subject matter.  The thing that set this room apart was the almost feature on Braunkreuz.  In the 1960s Beuys created this material called Braunkreuz, an opaque reddish-brown medium of paint mixed with other materials. Beuys marks his objects with crosses that allude to the steel cross, reclaiming symbols of Germany and Nazism.  See, I learned so much from the paragraph in that room.  Another video monitor and chairs were in this room in the same configuration as in the Fluxus room.  There was a lot of education in this room, which was really necessary for this exhibition.

I had no idea how high the ceilings were

I had no idea how high the ceilings were

BEUYS in AMERICA:  this room had an ease in the cramped quality of the space as well.  This might have been because the objects hung from the walls utilized the height of the wall: some things high and some things low.  A big banner was one thing displayed awkwardly up on high (like that one photograph in the Collecting History show at MOCA). In this final room was also a wall text likening Beuys to Yves Klein (French) and Warhol (American), claiming all of these artists created a artist-celebrity personality.  This is a nice attempt to create a continuous flow into the corridor which leads to the west-side of the top floor of BCAM.

In the hallway are some photos and objects, displayed in a tall case, from a collaborative project between Beuys and Warhol, but no information in provided, how frustrating. A continual comparison was made between Beuys and Warhol, and then also to Koons.  Two TV monitors with seating, two bookshelves full of books, and more upholstered chairs and a comfy couch created an odd domestic-like space in the cold sterile setting of BCAM.  Continuing with the usage of quotes, the curators include one quote each from Beuys, Warhol and Koons.

At home with Beuys, Warhol and Koons

At home with Beuys, Warhol and Koons

The west gallery on the top floor had been changed from its inaugural form, but only slightly altered and is still full of Broadworks. One wall was removed, which effectively eliminated the space that had previously displayed Baldessari, and now there is only one Baldessari left, on the wall which remains oddly alone in the space. The Koons had been spread out to fill the space. The space behind the lone wall is still only for Warhol: some works have been removed and tons more Kelloggs boxes have added, huge piles of boxes actually, created mountains of faux-cardboard containers.

It is great to see contemporary art in a space that was constructed to showcase exactly that.  The Beuys installation is a fitting example of post war German art because of its nice connection to the Art of the Two Germanys show.  But it also seemed like the installation was a way for the Broad Art Foundation to maintain its claim the top floor of BCAM as exclusive space to display their art. Also the wording of the text seemed to not-so-subtly brag about their near complete collection of Beuys’s multiples.

Some lovely "Urban Light"

Some lovely "Urban Light"

It was also exciting to see LACMA at night, especially the space of BCAM, which is lit so different at night, it really is a must see. Especially when you get to scamper, swing, dance through my favorite public artwork in Los Angeles, Urban Light.

– H.I.

Second Nature: The Valentine-Adelson Collection

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Hammer Museum

Second Nature is a display of a selection of a large gift of contemporary sculpture.  The works were produced from 1995 to the present.  The opening wall text uses several catch-all phrases (my favorite) to describe the collection and the exhibition: “three-dimensional objects” (duh) in a “variety of media.”  So the only think linking these works together is they are all sculpture made in Los Angeles from 1995 onwards. The wall text also explains the importance of the show is being “two fold.”  First is a personal collection vision (important?), and second is a cultural legacy of contemporary Los Angeles sculpture (which is important).

I would like to give credit for the educators of this exhibition for doing the best job they could with the artworks they were working with.  Not every work had an explanative text, but every third work probably did.  Some of the works spoke for themselves, and for the works which did not, the writers did the best they could to make me believe these works were actually interesting.

Pedestal Inquisition: Greely’s “Weaver,” Benson’s “Figure 8” & Ruby Neri’s “Untitled (Lioness)”

Pedestal Inquisition: Greely’s “Weaver,” Benson’s “Figure 8” & Ruby Neri’s “Untitled (Lioness)”

The first room features works of various sizes and mediums, as promised.  What struck me immediately was the various ways of displaying art.  Hannah Greely’s Weaver, was displayed on a very low white pedestal. Next to it was displayed Jonathan Pylypchuk’s Guy Peeing in Heart Plant was displayed hung from the wall, resting on a simple, rough wooden pedestal, which was part of the work.  To add to this assemblage of pedestals were the polished wood of Frank Benson’s Figure 8, and the garish, neon green pedestal on which sat Ruby Neri’s Untitled (Lioness). Both Benson and Neri’s pedestals were part of the artworks. The collection of pedestals was almost distracting, and I focused more on them than I did on the art in the room.

Sculpture not-in-the round: Curry’s “Fragments from a Collective Unity (Standing)”

Sculpture not-in-the round: Curry’s “Fragments from a Collective Unity (Standing)”

Aaron Curry’s Fragments from a Collective Unity (Standing) is also displayed in this first room.  The work is made up of two parts: a tall wooden abstract sculpture and a movie poster set upside-down against a wall.  I have to say I was disappointed with the way the piece was installed; the wooden piece was set too close to the wall so a viewer could not walk around it or appreciate from all angles.

Concert Hall: Johnson, “The Pianist”

Concert Hall: Johnson, “The Pianist”

A nicely displayed work is Matt Johnson’s The Pianist (Designed by Robert J. Lang, and Folded by Matt Johnson). The large work needs a lot of space, as it is impressively large, and the space was given.  It was set alone in an appropriately-sized room allowing a viewer to completely ambulate around the artwork and appreciate all of its blue folded angles, at all angles.

Color-coded room

Color-coded room

A large room features several works by various artists.  All of the works are unified in color scheme: blacks, beige, and some silver.  The works include Evan Holloway’s Dichotic Sculpture, Sterling Ruby’s 2 Stacks of Husbands, Patrick Jackson’s Black and Midnight Blue, Evan Holloway’s Black to Purple, and Nathan Mabry’s A Touching Moment.  The works are nice together because they invite formal comparisons.  This can be done in peaceful, silent contemplation.  At least until Dichotic Sculpture turns on.  When it started making a horrible, vibrating, electric sound I understood what the ugly black cord connecting the artwork to the wall was for.

Plug it in: Holloway, “Dichotic Sculpture”

Plug it in: Holloway, “Dichotic Sculpture”

The normally pleasing sounds of Pachbell’s Canon started ringing off the metal cans and pots inside the speakers of the work.  This elicited the following reaction from my friend: “We learned how to make speakers out of household items in my physics class too” (said with feigned enthusiasm).  The sound was so assaulting on my ears that it made me forget my formal comparisons and I quickly left the room.

Karaoke Machine: Kersels, “MacArthur Park”

Karaoke Machine: Kersels, “MacArthur Park”

I turned my attention to find the source of more noise: the disco music which had been bouncing off the gallery walls since I entered the exhibition.  (This reminded me of my previous visit to MOCA’s galleries were the sound from an artwork permeated through an entire exhibition.)  I found the source of the disco and was disappointed to see it coming out of Martin Kersels’s MacArthur Park.  Regardless of my disappointment, the sound permeating out of its ugly exposed stereo did draw me to it. I was glad to see that this piece was one of the lucky ones; it had an informative wall label.  From the label I learned the piece mixed low and high forms of art (where the high art aspect was I couldn’t identify) and the piece was also a self portrait…

Literacy Test: Craft, “Untitled (Lazy Daze)”

Literacy Test: Craft, “Untitled (Lazy Daze)”

Another work which I felt rightfully deserved space to circumvent it was Liz Craft’s Untitled (Lazy Daze).  Viewers can walk around the piece and see all of the letters in L-A-Z-Y D-A-Z, with the E being chased off by a little creature.  The effort in viewing the work made it briefly amusing, until I was distracted away by the less-then-amazing works displayed elsewhere in the room.

Swept into a corner & Up in a corner: Lapinski, “Nothings of Such and Such a Sort” & Rocklen

Swept into a corner & Up in a corner: Lapinski, “Nothings of Such and Such a Sort” & Rocklen

Lisa Lapinski’s Nothings of Such and Such a Sort was pushed up into a corner like a heap of trash swept up into a pile waiting to be brushed into the dustpan. While at the same time a work by Ry Rocklen was elevated up on high by a video projector aimed at a corner of the ceiling, placed like a forgotten spider web.

Small-Large-XXL: Greely, “Molly and Johnny,” Ruby “Monumental Stalagmite” and Meadows, “Untitled (Picnic Table and Beehive)”

Small-Large-XXL: Greely, “Molly and Johnny,” Ruby “Monumental Stalagmite” and Meadows, “Untitled (Picnic Table and Beehive)”

In the following room was the best installation of work.  It combined small approachable works like Hannah Greely’s Molly and Johnny and Paul Seitsema’s sneakers, with large-scale works like Sterling Ruby’s Monumental Stalagmite and Jason Meadows’ Untitled (Picnic Table and Beehive), and then also combined artworks that invited the viewer to interact such as Mateo Tannatt’s Turkish Kitchen (where the viewer was invited to don headphones) and Chris Finley’s Damn Mosquitos (which kindly requested in the wall text a viewer to use a flashlight illuminate the painting on the interior of a wooden box).  The combination of small intimate objects, with overwhelming large objects, and also with interactive art objects made for an actively installed room.

Touch Me: Finley, “Damn Mosquitos” and Tannatt, “Turkish Kitchen”

Touch Me: Finley, “Damn Mosquitos” and Tannatt, “Turkish Kitchen”

The final artwork that caught my attention was in the last room of the exhibition, it was Paul Sietsema’s Rococo Room.  When you approach the work you don’t know what to expect as all you see is a large black box.  Only after circling around the object (thank you to the curators for allowing this space) do you come to a window in the structure to look through. Inside the unrecognizable structure is a luscious miniature Rococo interior.

All the remodel budget went into the interior: Sietsema, “Rococo Room”

All the remodel budget went into the interior: Sietsema, “Rococo Room”

This work was sticking to me because of its extreme attention to detail: from the tiny gilded stucco work to and the crystal chandelier.  The work reminded me of another work I saw recently at LACMA.  In the recent exhibition Your Bright Future, there is a work called Fallen Star by Do Ho Suh.  These works both have a maniacal attention to detail and it was interesting to me to see that sculpture perhaps concerned with similar ideas was being produced by both Los Angeles artists, and Korean artists.

Echoes across LA: Do Ho Sun, “Fallen Star”

Echoes across LA: Do Ho Suh, “Fallen Star”

Leaving the exhibition I felt I did not have a greater understanding about what contemporary Los Angeles sculpture is all about.  If there was a message, theme or statement about sculpture, I’m not sure it was communicated well.  There is not really a curator’s statement since what is on display was not really of a curators choosing.  Instead the statement made is the collector’s statement.  As acknowledged in the opening wall text the vision is all the about the collector’s taste rather then an informed curator’s vision.

– H.I.