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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Postcard from LA (Annotated Edition)

posted by on August 9 at 10:02 AM

For anyone who loves art, it has, in the past few years alone, become easy to love L.A. I happened to be down there last weekend, thinking about Andrea Zittel and the art of the West Coast, and I found plenty to consider.

L.A. owns sculpture. This was the entire point of the Thing show at the Hammer Museum at UCLA in 2005,

A Touching Moment (Tooting My Own Horn) (2005) by Nathan Mabry

but last weekend there were other sculptors lurking there, too. In Eden’s Edge, Gary Garrels’s show of 15 L.A. artists at the Hammer, I was stopped in my tracks by Anna Sew Hoy’s fired ceramic hives, draped in jewelry, feathers, and other detritus (“feathers are everywhere in L.A. lately,” noted fellow art writer Jori Finkel). They are baroque, sciencey, glam, funk: on fire. (More feathers: Elliott Hundley, Liz Craft.)

Dark Cloud Version II (2006) by Anna Sew Hoy

Black Noir (detail) by Anna Sew Hoy

Ballad of the Hippie (2003) by Liz Craft

The handful of Matthew Monahan’s sculptures and drawings at the Hammer mystified me, but over at LA MOCA, his solo show was like a West Coast, contemporary version of the new Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum in New York: works for the ages on war and mythical subjects, in a space aptly flooded with light. Monahan’s Janus-like figurative columns and his drawings of faces on paper, crumpled and mounted on pedestals made of Sheetrock (one owned by the kingly Michael Ovitz), are contemporary ruins and preemptively toppled monuments.



Making the rounds, I encountered much more than just sculpture worth recommending: video, photographs, and a text piece from artist-writer-activist Allan Sekula’s Shipwreck and Workers (a version of which is also at Documenta) at Christopher Grimes; Chen Xiaoyun’s arresting video Lash, in an impromptu back-room screening from Christian Haye, founder of MC Gallery and New York’s Project Gallery;


and, at Susanne Vielmetter, Allie Bogle’s roomful of movie snow that feels like cool gelatinous tapioca between the toes, and Timothy Tompkins’s still-life paintings of marked-down leftover items at department stores.

Target Still Life - Spring (after Chardin) (2004) by Timothy Tompkins

I missed Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution (it closed July 16 and will be coming to the Vancouver Art Gallery in October 2008), but made Identity Theft: Eleanor Antin, Lynn Hershman, Suzy Lake 19721978, curated by Finkel at Santa Monica Museum of Art. Antin, Lake, and Hershman, all influences on Cindy Sherman and working just before she began her film stills series, are, compared to Sherman, more haunting, funny, and powerfully weird. Not to mention overlooked.

Portrait of the King (1972) by Eleanor Antin

At the Dan Flavin retrospective (at Los Angeles County Museum of Art), I found myself totally reconsidering his reputation as a minimalist. I left reeling. What pathos. Two works stand out: the portrait-like 1962 icon V (Coran’s Broadway Flesh) and, in a dark, dead-end room, his blood-red 1966 monument 4 for those who have been killed in ambush (to P.K. who reminded me about death). I left that room to avoid breaking down in tears.

icon V (Coran’s Broadway Flesh)

RSS icon Comments


I'm sorry. That third one down? That is a parrot toy. I'm sure a macaw would enjoy it.


Posted by Tlazolteotl | August 9, 2007 10:53 AM

Can you please save the pictures for after the jump? Posts with this many pix take up half the slog page and since they're about contemporary art they're a complete waste of space.

Posted by hates long posts | August 9, 2007 11:18 AM

Dear hates long posts:
Reading about art sans photos is pointless and ridiculous. And contrary to your opinion, mere description of contemporary art will not do.
Please learn how to scroll down more quickly if you're not interested.
Ms. Graves: keep the photos, please.

Posted by labronk | August 9, 2007 12:25 PM

Dear labronk

Reading about art, period, is pointless and ridiculous. But if you must engage in such mindwank, Ms. Graves can do the rest of us a courtesy, post maybe one pic and put the rest after the jump. That way mindwankers like you can get off and thoughtful sloggers can keep abreast of slog.

Posted by hates long posts | August 9, 2007 1:35 PM

No, seriously, do you have a mac or a pc? I can teach you how to scroll down pretty fast.
And speaking as someone who works with art for a living, I can tell you that reading about art is not entirely pointless and ridiculous. Art pays my motherfucking bills.
Thanks for the tip, though.
Yr friend,

Posted by labronk | August 10, 2007 7:46 AM

to hates long posts, thank you for showing us how thoughtful bloggers act.

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