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Paris Photo, Los Angeles 2015

It must be said that Paris Photo, now in its third incarnation at the Paramount Studios in Los Angeles is simply the nicest fair I’ve ever attended. Location, Location, Location! Sure there have been decent tents in Miami. The nineteenth Street Armory in NYC had a certain charm. And for whatever reason I hold the leaky roof at Chicago’s Navy Pier fondly in my heart. But art presented on the faux streets of NYC and on the sound stages of Paramount Studios really sets the bar high, maybe impossible, to top as a venue.

The Great Eight of Paris Photo, Los Angeles, 2015

Mona Kuhn at Diane Rosenstein

Mona Kuhn at Diane Rosenstein Channon, 2013 Chromogenic print 30 x 30 inches AD6016, 2013-2014 Chromogenic print 60 x 45 inches

Mona Kuhn at Diane Rosenstein
Channon, 2013
Chromogenic print
30 x 30 inches
AD6016, 2013-2014
Chromogenic print
60 x 45 inches

Mona Kuhn’s work looks better every time I see it. Kuhn’s visual complexity has matured with each body of work she tackles and each book she publishes. Diane Rosenstein has selected three particularly stunning exposures of light, shadow and reflection. It’s also a great installation pitting three on two competing planes.

Cai Dongdong at Klein Sun Gallery

Cai Dongdong at Klein Sung Gallery Various pieces, 2014, Silver Gelatin Prints with cuts, mirrors and lens respectively. 21 x 24 each

Cai Dongdong at Klein Sung Gallery
Various pieces, 2014, Silver Gelatin Prints with cuts, mirrors and lens respectively.
21 x 24 each

Wit is a powerful conduit for ominous content. Cai Dongdong delivers both. Somewhat pedestrian images in Silver Gelatin are cut and collaged and rolled with great tactile facility. A mirror is placed behind one cut out. A street redacted in another. And my personal favorite, a penis is replaced with a camera lens in a suggestive POV shot. Initially all these act as clever and deft comedy but they also succeed as metaphors for surveillance and privacy. Remarkably intelligent work. At Klein Sun Gallery

James Hyde at Luis de Jesus

James Hyde at Luis de Jesus Channels, 2014 Acrylic Dispersion on archival pigment print, 17 x 20 inches

James Hyde at Luis de Jesus
Channels, 2014
Acrylic Dispersion on archival pigment print, 17 x 20 inches

Deceptively simple but never simplistic, James Hyde also intervenes on the photographic plane. His chosen image party crasher is paint. Three photographs containing circles painted in different colors trump the selection at Luis de Jesus. A double overlaid circle reminds one of binoculars. Other circles have mathematical precision to their placement. And a hole in the surface of a third, gingerly placed on the edge of a painted black circle turns out to be dead center of the square photo. Strange alchemy at work here.

Richard Coldicott at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery

Richard Coldicott at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery B/W Photogram and Paper Negative (39), 2013 Unique, 10 x 16 inches

Richard Coldicott at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery
B/W Photogram and Paper Negative (39), 2013
Unique, 10 x 16 inches

A clean process oriented paradigm. Make cutouts on paper. Use said paper to make a photogram. Frame “paper negative” and resultant Photogram side by side as a diptych. Lather, rinse, repeat! The shapes that Richard Coldicott prefers have a modern beat to them. Their placements are equally jazzy. And there’s a decidedly warm analogue glow to the entire proceeding. While the paper negs that are either red or yellow are striking, the figure/ground reversal of the B/W versions pack the most punch. At Sous Les Etoiles Gallery

William Wegman at Marc Selwyn

William Wegman at Marc Selwyn

William Wegman at Marc Selwyn

Who knows how many generations of Wegman’s Weimaraners have been cast in his photographs! The tribute to him though is that they are as fresh, amusing and resonant as ever! In a new series pairing the deadpan dogs with Eames chairs, Wegman gleefully plays with figure/ground reversal as well. Or should that be dog/ground reversal? Maybe figure/dog reversal? At Marc Selwyn.

Izima Kaoru At Thomas von Lintel

Izima Kaoru At Thomas von Lintel Hasegawa Kyoko wears Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche (414) 2003, C-Print, 70 x 59 inches

Izima Kaoru At Thomas von Lintel
Hasegawa Kyoko wears Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche (414)
2003, C-Print, 70 x 59 inches

While not as old as Wegman’s puppies, Izima Kaoru’s motionless models are equally resonant. Thomas von Lintel has an excellent example from 2003. The complex colors and composition draw you in. The narrative possibilities make you linger. A dozen years have not faded their impact.

Francois Fontaine at Leica

Francois Fontaine at Leica

Francois Fontaine at Leica

I will admit to be a dyed in the wool Film Aficionado. So while having a conversation in front of Francois Fontaine‘s salon style installation, faces and body language started catching my eye. Was that Robert deNiro? That’s got to be Clark Gable in Gone With The Wind. North by Northwest! And I bet that’s Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby. By fixing narrative moments and blurring the focus Fontaine has achieved something quite rare with Silenzio ! Mémoires de cinéma: a tribute without being derivative. At Leica.

 

Paris Photo Los Angeles runs May 1st through 3rd, 2015. Click here for show website and schedules.

 

-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, May 2015

 

 

Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2015

ArtLA-Contemp13

Painting can and should have an air of magic to it. There’s an element of alchemy at work when pigment, brush and gesture are applied to a ground. The result, whether representational or abstract, always has the potential to transform into a retinal epiphany. I am unapologetically an optimist when it comes to art and its potential to persuade. Now going to an Art Fair is entirely another matter. My expectations and mood often run somewhere between dread and despair. So why, you may ask, do I go to these social gatherings of rampant financial ambition and social posturing? The answer is simply that I have never walked away from an art fair without finding something of merit. And on some excellent occasions, I get introduced to something fresh, a new voice perhaps singing an old song or an entirely new song altogether.

This year’s incarnation of Art Los Angeles Contemporary proved to be an amiable affair. If the buzzword of the moment is disruptive, there was no evidence of any seismic aesthetic activity. As usual, there was no end of gee whiz technical experimentation all of which impressed those who consider This Is Colossal to be a Fine Art Website (just to be transparent, I do not.) There were several deceptively sexy (well made pieces not actually sexual) works on display each of which had the resonant half-life of a cicada. I puckishly imagined changing several gallery names to Buyer’s Remorse. Yet once again, even with my curmudgeon on full display I spied several works of art that were undeniably GOOD. Here then my Truffles for 2015:

Alain Biltereyst Untitled, 2014 Acrylic on Panels At Jack Hanley, New York

Alain Biltereyst
Untitled, 2014
Acrylic on Panels
At Jack Hanley, New York

I immediately remembered the abstract panel paintings by Alain Biltereyst at Jack Hanley Gallery from previous years. Intimate in scale but monumental in intellect, these acrylic paintings have a modernist gravitas. They might echo Albers and Kelly but they are authentic in every sense of the word. Having seen them several times at this fair in years past cements my fondness and admiration.

Sol Lewitt Lines of Random Length from the top of the Paper, 1972 4” x 7” At Alden Projects

Sol Lewitt
Lines of Random Length from the top of the Paper, 1972
4” x 7”
At Alden Projects

While most of the assembled work on display was created in the past five years, an art historical treat was offered at Alden Projects. Small and almost ephemeral, a Sol Lewitt drawing from 1971 reminded me of the groundbreaking shoulders upon which all these other artists stood. If art can indeed be anything, then some of the credit (or blame, if you wish) must be laid at the feet of Lewitt.

Left: Kirsten Everberg, Afternoon Room (Barragan), 2015, Oil and Enamel on Canvas on Wood Panel, 72” x 60” Right:Paul Winstanley, Seminar (Grey), 2014, Oil on linen, 61” x 63” Both At 1301PE, Los Angeles

Left: Kirsten Everberg, Afternoon Room (Barragan), 2015, Oil and Enamel on Canvas on Wood Panel, 72” x 60”
Right:Paul Winstanley, Seminar (Grey), 2014, Oil on linen, 61” x 63”
Both At 1301PE, Los Angeles

1301PE Gallery in Los Angeles continues to have a challenging and intelligent roster of artists. Paul Winstanley and Kristen Everberg continue to hone both their iconography and sizable painting skills. Each is represented with one large example of their work at the 1301PE booth. The Winstanley is narrative, contemplative and inviting while the Everberg verges on abstraction. Two excellent examples by two extremely talented artists.

At Acme Gallery, Los Angeles Kristin Baker Dog-Eared, 2014 Acrylic on PVC 20” x 24”

At Acme Gallery, Los Angeles
Kristin Baker
Dog-Eared, 2014
Acrylic on PVC
20” x 24”

Represented by a single medium scaled painting called Dog-Eared. Kirstin Baker was a new discovery for me. The Painting, executed in numerous layers of acrylic paint both opaque and translucent, has the tactility of the book it conjures. The colors are boldly juxtaposed into a retinal frenzy. The tight edge-to-edge composition swings with a jazzy authority. I look forward to seeing more in the future. At Acme, Los Angeles.

Shirley Irons Greene Naftali, 20011 Oil on Canvas At Gallery Lusiotti, Santa Monica

Shirley Irons
Greene Naftali, 20011
Oil on Canvas
At Gallery Lusiotti, Santa Monica

Shirley Irons was also a new discovery. Her empty room painting is far from a portrait of a void. Rather it is flooded with light and potential. That potential is layered by the fact that this painting, one from a series, is sly depictions of galleries. Desire and projection enter the narrative landscape while her brushstrokes are at the service of evocative architectural depiction. At Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica.

Eric Yahnker At The Hole, NYC

Eric Yahnker
At The Hole, NYC

And in the arresting image category, the winner is Eric Yahnker with an uncanny charcoal portrait of Hillary Clinton exhaling a spliff. I must admit, it took me a second to recognize the ex Secretary of State, ex Senator and ex First Lady, but once the synapses fired it was indelible. It’s a great rendering and Yahnker has the technical skill set of Robert Longo in his prime with the added punch of the invented narrative. Yahnker is also a polymath since the Hillary portrait is surround by another installation of his, this time 300 baseballs with forged signatures of distinctly non-baseball celebrities. The names I saw included, Eddie Money, Truman Capote, Annie Liebowitz and T.S. Eliot. I can’t venture a guess as to the meaning however both works charmed the Dickens out of me. I think they will you too. From The Hole, New York

Enrico Bach At Weingrüll, Karlsruhe, Germany

Enrico Bach
At Weingrüll, Karlsruhe, Germany

A final mention must be bestowed on the elegant paintings of Enrico Bach at Weingrüll, Karlsruhe, Germany. Cool abstractions are generally not my cup of tea but Bach won me over with his effective and playful use of compositional shifts. Colors push forward and recede. Planes fold and pivot. And while the larger versions are acrobatic, it was the smaller version that moved me more, both literally and figuratively. I think they would even look better in a gallery or cool home setting, away from the cacophony of the art fair aisles.

Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2015 runs through Sunday February 1st at the Barker Hanger Santa Monica

-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, January 30, 2015

Almonds and Richard Long – Life Imitates Art

Once again, occurrences in my everyday world make me recall art I have witnessed. As many of you know by now, I am pleasantly haunted by images and emotions of the great works of art that I have seen in person over a 30 year span of aesthetic curiosity. This journal of synaptic leaps has become a sub-category of TruffleHunting called Life Imitates Art.

My Toasting Almonds

My Toasting Almonds

The kitchen seems to be an interesting place for these moments to happen. I was toasting almond slivers in a pan on the stove and a wave of aesthetic ennui crashed over me. I had been here before. Without the cheesy special effects of Quantum Leap, I was transported back to 1982 in a town in Germany called Möchengladbach. This is where I first saw the sculpture of Richard Long and my relationship to the land and art was never to be the same. The installation that I walked into there was truly a thing of lasting beauty: A Large square room with eight Gray Paintings by Gerhard Richter, two deep gray squares on each wall, and a round slate circle in the center of the room by Richard Long.

Richard Long, WHITECHAPEL SLATE CIRCLE, WHITECHAPEL ART GALLERY  London 1981

Richard Long, WHITECHAPEL SLATE CIRCLE, WHITECHAPEL ART GALLERY London 1981

The exhibition was at the, then, newly opened Museum Abteiberg. The building sits on a hill in the city. The architect for the building was Hans Hollein who sadly passed away earlier this year. He created a remarkable labyrinth of spaces on different levels. Every time I’ve gone, and I’ve been over a dozen times almost like a pilgrimage, I’ve discovered new artists and new perspectives on artists I had already known. A tribute to the curatorial sophistication and the architectural bravado respectively.

Museum Abteiberg in Möchengladbach

Museum Abteiberg in Möchengladbach

To this day that room in Museum Abteiberg in Möchengladbach remains the most spiritual installation of art I have ever seen. I’ve been to the Rothko Chapel; I’ve seen the complete installation of Barnett Newman’s Stations of the Cross. Christian Boltanski and Antony Gormley may have come close on occasion, but the one two punch of Richter and Long sends me swooning every time. I must admit that I do not know if the room is permanent since the Museum did a major renovation in 2007.

So there I was, knocked back on my heels by toasting almonds. The Macro/Micro shift between the almonds and stones made me giggle. Once again Life Imitates Art.

I recommend Richard Long’s Website and Gerhard Richter’s website as fantastic resources for discovering the breadth of their artistic grace.

Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, June 25th, 2014

 

Pink and Francis Bacon-Life Imitates Art

double teeth

I am first and foremost a fan of looking, a fan of art, a life long student of visual expression and insatiably curious about how people see. Which brings me to an intriguing inversion of experience in my daily life. There have been many times in the last ten years that life has reminded me of art rather than the other way around. Such is my encyclopedic retention of visual art experience that often my primary source material for recognition of a world around me has been interpretive and not factual. Thus Life imitates Art.

pink

Driving down Fairfax on one of these crystal clear LA days I stopped at an intersection only to look up at a billboard for Pink’s new album or tour. I’m a fan. She’s an intrinsically good pop music artist. But Whoa! The shape of that mouth, a scream or high note, sent me immediately to Francis Bacon.
Here then three examples of Francis Bacon portraits, each of which exude more terror than sustained crescendo.

Francis Bacon 1909-1992 Left: Study for a portrait, 1952 Tate, London Center: Study after Veláquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953) Right: Three Studies of George Dyer'(detail)| Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark

Francis Bacon 1909-1992
Left: Study for a portrait, 1952
Tate, London
Center: Study after Veláquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953)
Right: Three Studies of George Dyer'(detail)| Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark

Life continues to imitate Art.

-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, June 5th, 2014

 

 

Artwork from Israel with Soul and Spirit

Moran Fisher 
Body and Clothes, 2014
Watercolor on paper 
35 x 45 cm (13.78 x 17.72 in) 
Courtesy of The Artist

The world of art-making is so vast. After I lived in Europe in the mid 80’s, I was floored by the ignorance in America of what I considered monsters of creativity that were household names on the European continent.

So it was not surprising that I should stumble across a treasure trove of excellent, engaging and rigorous work of Israeli artists currently featured on a benefit auction on Paddle8. The selection was curated with non-dogmatic vision by Sharon Zoldan an astute art advisor who specializes in artwork from Israel. The sale benefits the Stephen S Wise Temple here in Los Angeles.

In an effort to embrace good work, especially good art that might fly under the radar, I’m going to highlight nine artists’ work, all of whose art appears in the BENEFIT Auction. The work and the artists are all new to me. It is both the appreciation of evocative fine art and the sense of discovery that has motivated me to broadcast this post. Furthermore for those of you in the Greater Los Angeles Area I would urge you to visit the works in person on Sunday May 4th, 2014 from 10am to 3pm and again the following day May 5th, 2014 from 7:30am to Noon. RSVP with Melanie Fisher (mfisher2@WiseLA.org) at the Stephen S. Wise Temple.

 *****

Tirtzah Bassel  The Gallerists, 2013 Duct tape on Plexiglas  48 x 36 x 3 cm (18.9 x 14.17 x 1.18 in)  Courtesy of Slag Gallery, Gitler &____ Gallery and the Artist  Signed on verso

Tirtzah Bassel
The Gallerists, 2013
Duct tape on Plexiglas
48 x 36 x 3 cm (18.9 x 14.17 x 1.18 in), Courtesy of Slag Gallery, Gitler Gallery and the Artist

The graphic line is most often associated with graphite or crayon or charcoal but there is nothing that says other media cannot be engaged. Tirtzah Bassel takes up just this challenge by drawing with Duct Tape. She has made large-scale installations of populated scenes in this medium. She is represented in this auction by a piece on Plexiglas titled The Gallerists. The figures have character and body language. The space in which they sit is economically delineated by perspective lines in yellow tape and a pedestal executed in the same color. The uncommon medium that so transfixes the viewer is merely an on-ramp to a remarkable tableau.

Click here for more Images by Tirtzah Bassel. Bassel’s Page in the Paddle8 Auction.

*****

Sivan Reuven  Untitled (White Series), 2011 Archival inkjet print  80 x 118 x 0.5 cm (31.5 x 46.46 x 0.2 in)  Edition of 5 Courtesy of The Artist  Signed on verso

Sivan Reuven
Untitled (White Series), 2011
Archival inkjet print
80 x 118 x 0.5 cm (31.5 x 46.46 x 0.2 in)
Edition of 5, Courtesy of The Artist

Black and White Photography can often seem so laced with nostalgia or preciousness. Sivan Reuven wrestles the medium from its quaint trappings. Her work is featured by several examples of her White Series. Reuven composes her shots as a modernist, stark lines and divisions observed in everyday settings. What is not shown is every bit the subject as what is. The Ping Pong Table is easily initially read as a landscape, horizon line with Moon. The table and net are registered and the perspective changes. Under further scrutiny, the player is playing by himself with the opposing side laid perpendicular to the surface. Each of these adjustments affects a parallel shift in metaphor. And in the hands of this remarkably gifted artist, the ordinary becomes sublime.

 Reuven’s page in the Paddle8 Auction.

*****

Orly Maiberg  Kinneret Crossing, 2013 Oil on canvas  140 x 180 x 3 cm (55.12 x 70.87 x 1.18 in)  Courtesy of The Artist

Orly Maiberg
Kinneret Crossing, 2013
Oil on canvas, 140 x 180 x 3 cm (55.12 x 70.87 x 1.18 in), Courtesy of The Artist

Orly Maiberg applies paint with an authoritative touch to evoke swimmers and a churning sea. Vacation and leisure time might be one’s first read. And one wouldn’t be wrong. But Maiberg’s subject is known in Hebrew as ha’tzlicha, the crossing of the Kinneret Lake, an annual sporting event. With this knowledge it’s not far to imagine the seeking of refuge, exile and escape. The Sea of Galilee is a site that holds great religious, cultural and national importance. Maiberg taps these allusions while never being illustrative. The metaphors are multiple and the tactile experience mellifluous.

 Click here for more Information on Orly Maiberg.  Maiberg’s page in the Paddle8 Auction.

*****

Ofir Dor  Woman With Big Head, 2013 Oil on canvas  33 x 28 x 2 cm (12.99 x 11.02 x 0.79 in)  Courtesy of The Artist

Ofir Dor
Woman With Big Head, 2013
Oil on canvas, 33 x 28 x 2 cm (12.99 x 11.02 x 0.79 in), Courtesy of The Artist

Ofir Dor’s brushstrokes have velocity. Colors accelerate across the canvas and careen in twists and turns that offer the viewer’s eye a racing track of immense pleasure. That these brushstrokes congeal into expressive figure portraits of women can almost seem secondary but they do. The women, sometimes sensual often suggestive, are strangely anonymous. They are form and movement rather than feature or identity. But herein lies the electricity they exude. Dor, needless to say, battles masters like deKooning but he carves out a relevance all his own.

More infomation on Ofir Dor. Dor’s page in the Paddle8 Auction.

*****

Ofer Lellouche  Geraniums, 1995 Etching on paper  110 x 150 cm (43.31 x 59.06 in)  Edition of 19 Courtesy of The Artist  Signed

Ofer Lellouche
Geraniums, 1995
Etching on paper, 110 x 150 cm (43.31 x 59.06 in)
Edition of 19, Courtesy of The Artist

Ofer Lellouche by all accounts is considered a master and elder statesman of Fine Art in Israel. Having been introduced only recently, I can only agree with the moniker and the respect it evokes. Lellouche is represented in the auction by a tactile etching of Geraniums in black and white. The scale of the print is large placing the viewer deep in a flowerbed and at eye level with the plants. More leaves are drawn than flowers, which gives the pieces either the anticipation of pre-blossom or the ennui of post-blossom. The artist is obviously a classicist, which is refreshing indeed. Lellouche is also ample proof that the gold to be mined from the classic still life, portrait or landscape genres has yet to be depleted.

More Information on Ofer Lellouche. Lellouche’s page in the Paddle8 Auction.

*****

Neta Harari  Now they're all coal, 2011 Oil on plywood  160 x 120 x 3 cm (62.99 x 47.24 x 1.18 in)  Courtesy of Inga Gallery and the Artist

Neta Harari
Now they’re all coal, 2011
Oil on plywood, 160 x 120 x 3 cm (62.99 x 47.24 x 1.18 in), Courtesy of Inga Gallery and the Artist

Neta Harari’s paintings hover between illustration, fantasy and nightmare. The depiction of violence is damn near impossible to pull off without pathos but Harari achieves it handsomely. Chaos and cacophony are present too. And those horses place the event either outside of history or in an out-take of Game of Thrones. One thing is for sure, impact is intended and achieved. An effective implementation of terror is the idea that the aggressors are visible but the victims not. This paradigm immediately puts the viewer into the roll of the victim. By not seeing, the heart is galvanized into empathy.

Click here for more information on Neta Harari. Harari’s page in the Paddle8 Auction.

*****

Moran Fisher  Body and Clothes, 2014 Watercolor on paper  35 x 45 cm (13.78 x 17.72 in)  Courtesy of The Artist

Moran Fisher
Body and Clothes, 2014
Watercolor on paper, 35 x 45 cm (13.78 x 17.72 in), Courtesy of The Artist

Moran Fisher may just be my personal favorite of this selection. It quite obvious that Ms. Fisher is a painter of remarkable talent, instinct and skill. Her recent work has involved what only appears to be effortless depictions of fabric, folds and drapes. But the subject is the human body underneath these fabrics. The watercolor here is liquid and assured. The translucence suggests silk or rayon. Pattern remains pattern. But the compositions electrify the eye and transcend the possible banality of subject matter. There’s so much sensuality to Fisher’s painting that it could make you blush. By my take, Fisher may be the freshest artist in this exhibit, but to my eye her touch holds the most fascination. I literally can’t wait to see more of her work.

Click here for Moran Fisher’s Facebook Page.  Fisher’s page in Paddle8 Auction.

*****

Maya Gold  Untitled, 2013 Oil on canvas  127 x 150 x 3.5 cm (50 x 59.06 x 1.38 in)  Courtesy of The Artist  Signed on verso

Maya Gold
Untitled, 2013
Oil on canvas, 127 x 150 x 3.5 cm (50 x 59.06 x 1.38 in), Courtesy of The Artist

I must admit to having an extreme fondness for any work of work that coaxes from me a macro/micro perspectival shift. Maya Gold’s painting does this in spades. The honeycomb-like grid pattern initially reads like a tile of a bathroom floor. Of course this same shape is also used in paving stones so it’s natural that one’s read changes when seeing the reclining figure placed in the center. But is this figure injured or relaxing? And the figure does not entirely lock the perspective as landscape either. The bird’s eye view is unusual for landscape anyway. And even though the hues are rather grisaille, the allusion to honey comb never completely fades away. Gold’s image and technique resonate like a passage of music by Mozart that you find yourself inadvertently humming.

 Gold’s page in the Paddle8 Auction.

 *****

Eran Shakine  Pool, 1996 Oil on cardboard mounted on canvas  56 x 57 x 4 cm (22.05 x 22.44 x 1.57 in)  Courtesy of The Artist

Eran Shakine
Pool, 1996
Oil on cardboard mounted on canvas, 56 x 57 x 4 cm (22.05 x 22.44 x 1.57 in)
Courtesy of The Artist

Eran Shakine is the one artist whose work I was familiar. His line drawings, more like line paintings are narratively evocative. Some contain text that is often both witty and disturbing. The economy of touch could recall Julian Opie at times but in a more organic/analogue way. Shakine’s piece in the auction is from an older Pool series. Here he favored architectural depictions of Roman Baths. The execution also makes a strong turn away from the economical line drawing/painting of his recent work. Texture, saturated hues, drips and splashes match the moisture and liquid subject matter. The feel is a little less contemporary and delves into the timeless allusions of history and containment.

Shakine’s earlier work. Shakine’s page in the Paddle8 Auction.

The entire auction can be viewed here. I have included links to the artist’s own websites when available. And click on the individual images to view larger/higher quality images of the works.

Please join the conversation in the comments section.

Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, April 21st, 2014

So Sublime, my head hurts a bit.

Two Days! Today and Tomorrow! That’s all that’s left.

The Exhibition, which closes this Saturday, April 12th, 2014, is a massive installation by the Swiss Artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss and is succinctly titled Polyurethane Objects. The gallery is Matthew Marks, here in Los Angeles on North Orange Grove.

Peter Fischli David Weiss: Polyurethane Objects Installatiuon Matthew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles

Peter Fischli David Weiss: Polyurethane Objects
Installatiuon Matthew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles

Entering the gallery one might easily mistake the greater tableau as an installation day at the gallery. Pedestals, buckets of paint, cigarette butts, power tools, coffee cups, a boom box, tires, moving palettes and box cutters lie around in varying concentrations of clutter. The detritus of a studio. The milieu of a work-in-progress workshop. But everything on display is placed with purpose. And everything, I mean everything is hand carved and painted. Trying to describe the sensation and the synaptic firestorm is perhaps futile. However, awe would not be a overstatement.

Peter Fischli & David Weiss: Polyurethane Objects Installation Matthew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles

Peter Fischli & David Weiss: Polyurethane Objects
Installation Matthew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles

Just go and see for yourself. This is one of those rare opportunities to witness something in person that defies the imagination. And even when you’re there, it defies comprehension. An heroic endeavor that elicits wonder, laughter and ennui.

Matthew Marks Gallery, 1062 North Orange Grove, Los Angeles  Through April 12th, 2014

Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, April 2014

 

 

Hotel Texas

About fifteen years ago my dear friend Amy Weingartner introduced me to a particularly interesting term she coined. The descriptive phrase, as I remembered, was simply “Kennedy’s Children.” After a quick phone call, I was corrected. Her alliterative turn of phrase was “Camelot Kids.” Regardless, both descriptive monikers refer to those of us who were born during John F. Kennedy’s brief presidential administration. It places us squarely at the tail end of the Baby Boom generation, which is mostly defined as the post war surge in births from 1946 to 1964. I am a Camelot Kid.

President Kennedy speaks to the crowd outside the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, Texas, November 22, 1963. William Allen, photographer/Dallas Times Herald Collection Courtesy of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

President Kennedy speaks to the crowd outside the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, Texas, November 22, 1963. William Allen, photographer/Dallas Times Herald Collection Courtesy of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

It’s November and I just turned 51, one year shy of a full deck I’m fond of saying. I was one year and one week old when President Kennedy was assassinated. And I’ve been thinking a great deal about those fateful 34 months of his presidency. The intersection of personal and American history has always been of some intense interest to me. The intersection of art and political history is even more eclectic.

Jasper Johns. Diver. 1962-63. Charcoal, pastel, and watercolor on paper mounted on canvas, two panels, 7' 2 1/2" x 71 3/4" (219.7 x 182.2 cm). Partial gift of Kate Ganz and Tony Ganz in memory of their parents, Victor and Sally Ganz, and in memory of Kirk Varnedoe

Jasper Johns. Diver. 1962-63. Charcoal, pastel, and watercolor on paper mounted on canvas, two panels, 7′ 2 1/2″ x 71 3/4″ (219.7 x 182.2 cm). Partial gift of Kate Ganz and Tony Ganz in memory of their parents, Victor and Sally Ganz, and in memory of Kirk Varnedoe

Take 1962 alone. Jasper Johns executed Diver, one of my favorite drawings ever. Andy Warhol had his first one-man exhibition here in Los Angeles in July of that year. Yves Klein died of a heart attack five weeks earlier at the inconceivably young age of 34. Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Ian Fleming’s The Spy Who Loved Me were both published in 1962. Lawrence of Arabia was the top grossing film that year but Lolita, Days of Wine and Roses and The Manchurian Candidate were also in the top twenty. On October 13th Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf opened on Broadway. Nine days later my father whisked my mother, then eight months pregnant, off on a four-hour drive away from Manhattan, to upstate New York, Bolton Landing to be precise. The reason: the Cuban Missile Crisis.

To dip one’s toe in this simultaneity makes for a richer understanding of an era. Art history is almost always taught without popular or political context. Conversely, history is too often taught without the richly accompanied texture of (high and pop)culture’s offerings.

On Friday, November 22nd we mark the fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. What few people know however is that President Kennedy travelled to Texas a full 30 hours before his ride in the open-air limousine at Dealey plaza. He and Jackie didn’t overnight in Dallas but rather 34 miles to the west at Hotel Texas in downtown Fort Worth. The reason for his trip was political. The upcoming year’s reelection campaign was already starting and his goal was to mend rifts between the liberal and conservative factions of the Texas Democratic Party.

Living Area, Suite 850, Hotel Texas  Living Area, Suite 850, Hotel Texas, Fort Worth, Thursday, November 21, 1963 Pictured: Lyonel Feininger, "Manhattan II," Franz Kline, "Study for Accent Grave," Morris Graves, "Spirit Bird"

Living Area, Suite 850, Hotel Texas
Living Area, Suite 850, Hotel Texas, Fort Worth, Thursday, November 21, 1963 Pictured: Lyonel Feininger, “Manhattan II,” Franz Kline, “Study for Accent Grave,” Morris Graves, “Spirit Bird”

Less than a week before his arrival, descriptions of Suite 850 at Hotel Texas were released to the public. Fort Worth Press art critic Owen Day thought the accommodations lacking and came up with the idea of decorating the three primary rooms with significant art that would properly convey to the President and First Lady the cultural sophistication of Fort Worth. He recruited prominent collectors and civic leaders, including Samuel Benton Cantey III, Ruth Carter Stevenson, Ted Weiner and Amon Carter Museum Director Mitchell Wilder. This ad hoc curatorial bravado included paintings by Claude Monet and Lyonel Feininger, an oil on paper study by Franz Klein and bronze sculptures by Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso. And this was just the parlor. Jacqueline Kennedy’s bedroom had a distinctly impressionist feel with works by Pendergast, Van Gogh, Marin and Dufy. And the President’s bedroom carried a more manly sartorial flair including Thomas Eakins, Marsden Hartley and Charles M. Russell.

Ruth Carter Johnson and Lucile Weiner with "Angry Owl" by Pablo Picasso, 1963  Courtesy of the University of Texas at Arlington Library, Arlington, Texas, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, Special Collections

Ruth Carter Johnson and Lucile Weiner with “Angry Owl” by Pablo Picasso, 1963
Courtesy of the University of Texas at Arlington Library, Arlington, Texas, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, Special Collections

This story has moved me tremendously ever since I heard it about a year ago. It speaks to me as a heroic act of generosity on the part of the inspired and ambitious civic leaders who pulled it together. It moves me as a grace note to the events of the following day and the tremendous scar that it left on a nation. It also, with great significance, is a reflection of the leadership role that the President and the First Lady played in championing the arts. It can be argued that no President before or after paid the respect to arts that John F. Kennedy did in his lifetime. The proof of this might be best witnessed in the linguistic fireworks of his speeches. Kennedy wielded metaphor and images at the service of inspiration, hope and aspiration. This attitudinal shift from the bully pulpit of the White House happened right at a time when the capital of the fine art world had immigrated from Paris to New York; from the old school of European tradition to the wild west of American Avant Garde.

Franz Kline (1910–1962)  Study for Accent Grave, 1954  Oil wash on paper © 2012 The Franz Kline Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Franz Kline (1910–1962)
Study for Accent Grave, 1954
Oil wash on paper
© 2012 The Franz Kline Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

I have, over the last several months, gone through what some might call a crisis of confidence. No feeling artist is immune to these occasional bouts of ennui. Some of this existentialism was based on the transposition of the financial inequities of the American economy versus the role that Fine Art plays in society in general. In a nut shell: if there is a 99%-1% split in the American economic landscape then perhaps, just perhaps, there is a 99.9%-.1% split in the American Societal landscape for those who consider that Fine Art is essential. Crunch the numbers and this comes out to around 313,000 people for whom Fine Art might matter. Glass Half Full? Or Half Empty?

But the lessons of Hotel Texas hold firm. Fine Art, and culture in general for purposes of this argument, is not only cause, it is effect. It is not only the light which illuminates our soul but also the mirror with which to judge the human condition. It is also both symptom and disease. In the end it is a catalytic converter of empathy. Most people may be intimidated by art, but the transformative potential never wavers.

For me, Art matters.

The Beatles in 1963.

The Beatles in 1963.

By mid December 1963 a Washington D.C. DJ named Carroll James started playing the Beatles on WWDC Radio. In today’s lingua franca, it went viral. On December 26th, a few days more than a month after those shots rang out in Dealey Plaza, the Beatle’s first album I Wanna Hold Your Hand was released in America, administrating, many could say, a most fortuitous pop culture salve of optimism, hope and tuneful distraction.

Art Matters! Culture Matters! Pop Culture Matters! Pop Art Matters!

Art, Music, Film, Dance, Books, Poetry are not luxuries, they are essential to the fiber of human spirit. They create the weave of experience. They afford us insight that allows us to move forward.

Mario M. Muller, November 2013, Los Angeles

Postscript #1:
The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth currently has an exhibition reuniting all the works that were displayed in the Presidential Suite #850. The Exhibition, Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy continues through January 12th, 2014

Postscipt #2
Click here to hear a three minute interview with actor Bill Paxton as he remembers hearing John F. Kennedy on the morning of November 22nd, 1963 in front of Hotel Texas.

Postscript #3

One significant catalyst for my near obsession with the interdependance of art and political history is a fantastic book called The Judgement of Paris. In it Ross King traces the trajectory of Manet’s career in Paris from 1850’s through 1890’s. But far from a standard monograph, he weaves societal, economic, political and art history in a way that makes one wonder how any area of expertise can be appreciated without this wide angle lens. NY Times Review and Amazon page.

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