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October 31 2012

Interview with Automotive Designer Mark Stehrenberger

Interview with Car Designer Mark Stehrenberger. The designer, illustrator and artist talks about his career, his current and future projects, and gives his opinion on the state of current automotive design. Mark Stehrenberger is especially known for his illustration of future cars for car magazines such as Road & Track, Auto, Motor und Sport. He is also called the “father of spy shots”. The video above is an excerpt, the complete interview (51:20 min.) is available after the break.

Car enthusiasts know the work of designer and illustrator Mark Stehrenberger from his illustrations in major car magazines such as Road & Track and Auto, Motor und Sport. In his distinctive drawing style and technique, he reveals the design of future models from the world’s carmakers. He is considered as the father of today’s spy shots. While millions of readers know Stehrenberger’s car illustrations, not as many know the person behind the work and his other activities. His company MSD Mark Stehrenberger Design with studios in Ventura, California, and Montreux, Switzerland, he has established an international reputation as consultant to major car makers, and helped creating new automotive trends. He is also active in other design areas, and for fun, he loves to design, develop, and market novelty/gift products.

VernissageTV visited Mark Stehrenberger in his studio in Ventura, California, to talk with the Swiss-born designer about his career, the current state of car design, and his current projects. In this conversation, Mark Stehrenberger let’s us know why he emigrated to the US, how he got into the business of car illustrations, what the ingredients of good automobile design are, what he thinks about the new Volkswagen Golf and the design of other cars – and why he loves his Fiat Multipla, by many considered as the ugliest car ever.

Interview with Automotive Designer Mark Stehrenberger. Ventura, California, September 17, 2012.

PS: More interviews with Mark Stehrenberger: Persoenlich.com; Vecturamag.ch; VeloceToday.com.

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> On YouTube:

Complete interview (51:20 min.):

Mark Stehrenberger was born in Muttenz, Switzerland, in 1943. Driven by the desire to become car designer, he emigrated to the United States. After his studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, he founded MSD Mark Stehrenberger Design in 1969. In 1983, he opened a design studio with Alain Clenet in Santa Barbara, California, designing and developing concept cars for international carmakers. He went solo again with MSD in 1988, and later opened a branch in Switzerland to better serve European clients. Mark has also taught Transportation Design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and Art Center Europe in Vevey, Switzerland for over 15 years.

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July 21 2012

LA artists fight for soul of one of the city's cultural landmarks

Trustees of Museum of Contemporary Arts split by row over dumbing down of shows

A furious row has broken out at Los Angeles's leading art institution, the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is pitting some of America's most celebrated aesthetes against a billionaire property developer.

Moca, one of the symbols of LA's recent emergence as an art hub to match New York, is dedicated to the presentation and study of recent art and has long been a home to the erudite and esoteric. But the museum has been hit by the defection of high-profile artist board members furious at a perceived dumbing down.

The conceptual artist John Baldessari was first to resign, followed by agit-prop graphic artist Barbara Kruger and "queer-space" photographer Catherine Opie. Then Ed Ruscha, possibly the city's best known artist internationally, followed suit. Their resignations, they said, could be read as a protest at the commercial, pop-culture direction of the museum at the expense of education and scholarship.

"The artists in LA are very upset," said Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, author of Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s. "There's a schism between the trustees. It's a complicated situation."

Angry fingers are being pointed at Eli Broad, a billionaire property developer and art collector who bailed out the financially struggling institution three years ago with a $30m donation, and his choice of director, the pop-art minded, former New York dealer Jeffrey Deitch.

With Broad's backing, Deitch, they claim, effectively engineered the removal of the museum's long-serving chief curator, Paul Schimmel, setting up a confrontation between artists and a deep-pocketed collector allied with museum managers charged with raising revenue and exhibition attendances.

Art in the Streets, a Deitch-orchestrated survey of the graffiti and street art movement, drew a record number of visitors. That was followed by a retrospective of Dennis Hopper's artwork. Earlier this year, the actor James Franco curated a show that drew inspiration from Rebel Without a Cause.

"Jeffrey represents a populist streak that many in the art world consider vulgar. He goes for spectacle more than scholarship," says New York art critic Carlo McCormick. "They feel he's dumbing down the cultural values of the art world."

And behind that, many suspect, is a billionaire whose motives are not entirely clear. While Broad saved Moca and wants to keep it viable, he is also constructing a rival museum across downtown LA to house his own collection.

In addition, the original trustees of the museum have been bolstered by big-money figures such as hedge fund whale Steven S Cohen and Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian who collects Damien Hirst. "The influence of collectors is probably at an all-time high," says McCormick. "Art is highly professionalised and market-determined at every level."

LA artists expressed dismay that educational aspects of the institution have been cut from the budget and said they worried that Moca was becoming "a cliche of Los Angeles or a part of the entertainment industry. We want to know the direction of the museum and to know that curators are respected and their shows are being funded."

LA art critic Mat Gleason said: "Deitch is actually inoculating the museum from conflicts of interest with high-wealth collectors." By putting on more pop-culture orientated shows, "he can go to low-level donors and say, 'We throw really cool parties, why don't you donate to us?' " In response, Deitch wrote to museum members saying the institution's programme was "a response to and an articulation of the current art and cultural landscape today". Moca, he said, would continue to engage audiences in a "dynamic and scholarly way".

Friends of Deitch say he's tired of being criticised for placing pop art or shows about disco culture ahead of cutting-edge art. But they also say he's perfect for Los Angeles because it is a city "wrapped up in celebrities and celebutantes".

It's the artists, then, who may have to accept that they live in an entertainment town. "But, of course, they're freaked out that people like James Franco are getting exhibitions because it's not serious and it doesn't matter," says a Moca supporter.

Artists, however, not collectors or institutional managers, may still have the final say. "If showing at Moca means selling out, then no one is going to want to show there," says one.

• This article was amended on 23 July 2012. The original wrongly gave the location of Eli Broad's rival museum as Wilshire Boulevard.


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October 18 2011

Kimberly Brooks: Thread / Taylor de Cordoba Gallery, Los Angeles / Interview

Taylor de Cordoba in Los Angeles presents new oil paintings by Kimberly Brooks. The exhibition is titled Thread and runs until October 22, 2011. In this interview with the Los Angeles-based artist, Kimberly Brooks talks about the concept of the show; the new approach she has chosen to create the works; her inspiration and her development as an artist. The video above is an excerpt; the full-length interview is available after the jump.

Kimberly Brooks was born in New York. She lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France, Otis College of Art and Design, and the UCLA in Los Angeles.

In her latest body of work, Kimberly Brooks continues to explore portraiture, specifically the complexities of representations of female identities. While in her previous series, including Mom’s Friends (2007) and The Stylist Project (2010), the artist used figures to construct narratives, here the female form is part of a broader abstracted landscape. And while earlier portraits boasted an uncanny likeness to their subjects, Brooks’ style has shifted into something that is simultaneously looser and richer. Facial features have been abstracted and bodies distorted. Fashion and costume, a longtime theme for Brooks, is also deconstructed. Once painstakingly rendered folds and drapes have been reduced to their essential shapes and color fields. In these sumptuous new images, Brooks continues to address questions about how we frame beauty, and the phenomenon of fashion as a both pop culture and artistic touchstone. Taken as a whole, the new paintings create a meta-narrative that contemplates “threads” that define, unite and separate us across different cultures and eras.
Kimberly Brooksʼ work has been featured in numerous juried exhibitions organized by curators from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Her work has been featured in myriad publications including the Los Angeles Times, Art Ltd., Daily Serving, The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, Vogue, among others.

Kimberly Brooks: Thread at Taylor de Cordoba Gallery, Los Angeles. Interview with Kimberly Brooks, October 4, 2011.

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Complete interview (11:50):


October 07 2011

Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974–1981 / The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

As part of the The Getty’s Standard Pacific Time initiative, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles has put up the most comprehensive survey exhibition to date to examine contemporary art in California of the years 1974-1981. On display are for example Chris Burden’s The Reason for the Neutron Bomb (1979); and Suzanne Lacy’s Three Weeks in May (1977). During the Member’s Opening of the show, Mark Pauline activated his more than 30 year old De-Manufacturing machine.

Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981. Group Show at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA Los Angeles. September 30, 2011.

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October 04 2011

Trespass Parade Downtown Los Angeles

One of the highlights of the infinite number of events that took place on the opening weekend of The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time initiative was the Trespass Parade. The Trespass Art Parade is a collaborative project between Arto Lindsay, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and West of Rome Public Art (WoR). Trespass started at the art fair Art Platform and ended at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA).

On its way through the historic Broadway Theater District in Downtown Los Angeles artists and residents rallyed together to engage in art, music, dancing, and performance. Among the participating artists are Jon Baldessari, Chris Burden, Mike Kelley, Barbara Kruger, William Leavitt, Jorge Pardo, Kenny Scharf, Pae White, and many other renowned artists. Among the Parade performers are Vaginal Davis, Kenny Scharf, the Newspaper Reading Club, Pedestal & the All-Girl Band, and Yarn Bombing Los Angeles.

Want more art parades? Watch this: Deitch Art Parade New York 2007 / Remaster/Remix; Arto Lindsay: The Penny Parade / Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2009).

Trespass Parade Downtown Los Angeles, October 2, 2011.

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Participating artists:
Eleanor Antin, Edgar Arceneaux, Lisa Anne Auerbach, John Baldessari, Scott Benzel, Walead Beshty, Andrea Bowers, Nancy Buchanan, Chris Burden, Vaginal Davis, Sam Durant, Charles Gaines, Cheri Gaulke, Amy Gerstler, Piero Golia, Matt Greene, Julian Hoeber, Alex Israel, Glenn Kaino, Dawn Kasper, Mike Kelley, Chris Kraus, Barbara Kruger, Joel Kyack, Suzanne Lacy, Liz Larner, William Leavitt, Sharon Lockhart .
Ann Magnuson, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Dave Muller, T. Kelly Mason, My Barbarian,   Yoshua Okón, Jorge Pardo, Renee Petropoulos, Stephen Prina, Gustavo Raynal, Steve Roden, Nancy Rubins, Sterling Ruby, Aaron Sandnes, Kenny Scharf, Jim Shaw, Susan Silton, Stephanie Taylor, Diana Thater, Kaari Upson, Jeffrey Vallance, Marnie Weber, Pae White, Terry Wolverton.

Parade Performers:

ACE, Dewey Ambrosino, Raul Paulino Baltazar, Dola Baroni, Scott Benzel, Bodycity, Nancy Buchanan, CollectiveCollective, Vaginal Davis, Stephanie Diamond, Corey Fogel,  !mpact people, James Brandon Lewis Trio, JETS a group organized by CHAMPIONS, Dawn Kasper, KILLSONIC, Sylvere Lotringer, Ann Magnuson, Monica Rodriguez Medina, Mobile Mural Lab, Felicia “Fe” Montes, Milena Muzquiz, My Barbarian, Newspaper Reading Club, Anna Oxygen, Pedestal & the All-Girl Band, QW##R <3, Christopher Reynolds, Kenny Scharf, Alex Segade, Sir Richard’s Condom Company, Niko Solorio, South Gate High School, Stella Adler Acting Studio, Yarn Bombing Los Angeles.


October 03 2011

Pulse Los Angeles Art Fair

Pulse Art Fair, too, has made it to Los Angeles. The fair has pitched its tent on the deck of a car park not far from Art Platform. The fair is dedicated solely to contemporary art. It is devided into two sections. The IMPULSE section presents galleries invited by a committee to present solo exhibitions of exhibitions of artist’s work created in the past two years. There are also large-scale installations, a video lounge, performance events, and talks. This video takes you an a tour on the opening evening on September 30, 2011.

Pulse Los Angeles. Press Preview, September 30, 2011.

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October 02 2011

Art Platform Los Angeles / Vernissage

Art Platform is a new art fair in Los Angeles, organized by Merchandise Mart (Armory Show, Volta) at the L.A. Mart in Downtown Los Angeles. The fair presents modern and contemporary art and features dealers such as Max Wigram Gallery, Franklin Parrasch Gallery, Patrick Painter Inc., Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, ACME and Marc Selwyn Fine Art. This video takes you an a tour on the opening evening on September 30, 2011.

Art Platform Los Angeles. Vernissage, September 30, 2011.

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September 12 2011

Los Angeles: art's brave new world

Hats off to the city that launched Andy Warhol, spawned Ed Ruscha and now boasts Frank Gehry's most beautiful building

Los Angeles. The first thing you notice is the light: it's like walking into a David Hockney painting.

But the work of art that makes the most poetic use of the silver and blue optical clarity of Californian sunshine is Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. The way the curved sails of shining metal that shape this beautiful building glitter against the sky is a glimpse of paradise in the middle of the city. Gehry is a truly great architect and this public monument is his masterpiece – an even lighter and more dynamic creation than his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Or perhaps it is simply that California is the true home of his art. His concave and convex, hard-yet-yielding forms seem to belong here, to blow in the breeze like the sails of the Beach Boys' Sloop John B.

LA is not a city with a reputation for a developed public life. It's more famous for car culture than for ... culture, and more renowned for strip malls than civic piazzas. Yet Gehry's generous civic building, loved by locals, could give London some lessons in architecture, with a heart and soul that pour life into a city, instead of sucking it out. Yes, I am once again referring to the Shard. Why is London letting an oversize tower wreck its skyline for no good reason, while here in LA an infinitely more imaginative contemporary building performs a creative instead of destructive role in community life?

The Walt Disney Concert Hall is a classic of modern architecture, a building that proves the social and cultural value of poetry, personal expression and beauty. Architecture does not have to be a corporate trashing of the common life. It can save the world, in the hands of a genius like Gehry.

Another genius who has been captivating me in LA is Ed Ruscha. Ever since the 1960s, Ruscha has created art with such indefinable cool that categorising it as pop, or conceptualism – or anything except a deeply brilliant triumph of precision and impersonal style – seems clumsy. He is the west coast's Warhol, the Gerhard Richter of the Pacific. I saw a painting by him yesterday called Annie, Poured in Maple Syrup. It was painted in 1966. The bold letters of the name Annie do indeed seem to be written in gooey syrup – yet the infantilist, supersweet lettering is painted with meticulous conviction in oil on canvas. I find this both a hilarious and eerie work. It seems to do everything pop art ever wanted to do, but better.

Well, not better than Warhol. There is a powerful display at Moca of his soup-can paintings, a reconstruction of the exhibition at the Ferus Gallery, LA, in 1962 when these irresistible paintings were first shown to the world. Warhol made a road trip across America to exhibit in LA. It was the city that gave him his first solo show – an exhibit purely of soup cans, painted as icons. The show was supported by film star Dennis Hopper among others. In LA, Warhol must have felt like he was coming home.


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August 25 2011

Watts Towers: LA's weird masterpiece

The Los Angeles suburb of Watts is notorious for the 1965 riots – and for one of the world's great public artworks

In the same week as the UK riots, a small group gathered 5,500 miles away to remember the Watts riot that began on 11 August 1965. That riot also led to a national outcry, an inquiry and pledges of reform …

But little has changed in the decades since then in Watts, a poor black suburb just south of downtown Los Angeles. It is all sun-baked concrete and small bungalows behind iron fences. The district does, however, happen to be the home of one of the world's great public artworks: the Watts Towers.

Built by a semi-literate Italian immigrant named Simon Rodia, who worked alone for 33 years from 1921 to 1954, the Towers are a 15-minute Metro ride from the city centre. I got off at 103rd Street, expecting to see the Towers – the tallest of which is 99.5 feet – but I had to cross the tracks and walk down a dusty road until they appeared around a corner, three minarets sparkling in the morning sun.

For years, the Towers were closed to the public, caught in a political limbo of funding and restoration. Today there are tours but few Angelenos visit. My guide was Dakota, a piano student at the Charles Mingus Center (Mingus was raised in Watts), part of the modern Arts Center built beside the Towers in 1970 and one of the few positive legacies of the riots. The Center has a gallery showing African-American works, stages LA's oldest annual jazz festival and offers classes in painting, sculpture, music, dance and film animation to local youngsters, taught by professional artists.

Rodia's surprisingly small, triangular site contains the footprint of his modest house (since burned down) and 17 tower-like structures including an outdoor oven and the font where Rodia performed baptisms and weddings, though he had no religious status or affiliation. He built the towers with hand tools as his only equipment. An adjacent railway line (also long gone) was his anvil: he placed metal on the tracks for passing trains to flatten it.

Low walls around the site are studded with blue milk of magnesia bottles in wave formations and more than 25,000 seashells. The three tallest towers are like masts waiting to sail back to the home Rodia left age 15 in Nola, where every year they hold a Festa dei Gigli. The Gigli – huge lilies made of papier maché and wood that are paraded around the town for the feast of St Paulinus – look a lot like Rodia's towers.

Rodia was 46 years old when he started to build. Using nothing but found objects, he was the ultimate recycler. His decorations are broken bottles, mostly 7-Up and Canada Dry green; old crockery collected for him by local children (when they weren't vandalising his work) and tiles. Many tiles came from the Malibu tile company where Rodia worked for 10 years.

A taciturn man, the nearest Rodia ever came to explaining his masterpiece was to say, "I had in mind to do something big and I did it." Typically, at 75, after a fall, he gave the house and the towers to a neighbour and moved away without a backward glance to live the last 10 years of his life with his sister in northern California. It was only when the neighbour sold out to a would-be developer that the City of Los Angeles became aware of the towers and promptly ordered their demolition on safety grounds. Campaigners saved them by devising a strength test. A crane tried to pull them over but the crane and its steel hawser buckled, not the Towers.

Like Rodia's personality, his Towers have proved an awkward legacy for LA: who should pay for their upkeep? And do they symbolise the division or reconciliation between rich white west LA and poor black east LA? This year the LA County Museum of Art took over the conservation effort, a move to which Rosie Lee Hooks, the Watts Towers Arts Center's redoubtable director, gave a cautious welcome.

To stand inside one of Rodia's towers and look up through the spider web of steel and concrete made me dizzy, like standing in a dream. As Hooks told me: "Watts is still a challenged community but what Simon teaches us is the power of art to change things."

1727 East 107th Street, +213 847 4646, wattstowers.org, tours Thurs-Sat 10.30am-3pm, Sun 12.30pm-3pm, adults $7, children aged 13-17 $3, under 13s free


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March 17 2011

William Leavitt: Theater Objects at MOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

With “William Leavitt: Theater Objects” the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles presents the first solo museum exhibition of the work of Los Angeles-based artist William Leavitt. The retrospective at MOCA Grand Avenue surveys William Leavitt’s 40-year career and includes paintings, photographs, works on paper, performances, and installations from the late 1960s to the present. The works in the individual galleries are arranged around key mixed-media installations: Forest Sound (1970), Red Velvet Flame (1974), California Patio (1972), Manta Ray (1981), Planetarium Projector (1987), Warp Engines (2009), and Cutaway View (2008).

William Leavitt was born in Washington, D.C., in 1941. He is considered as an important figure among the first generation of Conceptual artists – including Bas Jan Ader, Michael Asher, John Baldessari, Bruce Nauman, Allen Ruppersberg, Edward Ruscha, and William Wegman – that emerged in Los Angeles during the late 1960s and 1970s.

“A key figure associated with the emergence and foundations of conceptual art in Los Angeles during the late 1960s and 1970s, Leavitt is primarily concerned with narrative and its forms. His works employ fragments of popular and vernacular culture and modernist architecture to produce narratives that are simultaneously disjunctive and achingly familiar. The culture and atmosphere of Los Angeles has played a significant role in Leavitt’s ongoing interest in ‘the theater of the ordinary’ and the play between illusion and reality, nature and artifice that characterizes the city.”

William Leavitt: Theater Objects at The Museum of Contemporary Art MOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles. Media Preview, March 11, 2011.

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March 16 2011

Allen, Campbell and Shapiro at LA Louver Gallery, Venice / California

Three exhibitions opened last week at LA Louver Gallery in Venice, California, presenting works by Terry Allen, Rebecca Campbell and Joel Shapiro.

Titled “Ghost Ship Rodez: The Momo Chronicles“, Terry Allen presents a new multimedia work that includes two video / sculpture installations, a sound-based environment, and multi-paneled works on paper. The basic idea behind the exhibition is a fictional investigation of what may have happened in the mind of French artist, playwright and actor Antonin Artaud during his journey on a freighter in 1937 from Ireland to France. Terry Allen was born in 1943 in Wichita, Kansas. He studied at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.

The second exhibition at LA Louver, “Romancing the Apocalypse” presents new paintings by Los Angeles-based artist, Rebecca Campbell. Campbell’s subjects are drawn from both nature and the man-made: The paintings show the ephemeral light of rainbows and the radiance of young girls as well as the spectacular light of fireworks and the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb. Rebecca Campbell was born in Salt Lake City. She earned her B.F.A. at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon.

Finallly, LA Louver presents Joel Shapiro’s bronze sculpture Untitled, 2005-2006 in the Skyroom of the gallery. An installation of new and preexisting works is currently on view at the Museum Ludwig (until May 29, 2011).

Allen, Campbell and Shapiro at LA Louver Gallery, Venice / California.

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October 27 2010

Interview with Bettina Korek (ForYourArt, i21c.org)

Bettina Korek is a very active figure in the contemporary art scene. She founded the Los Angeles-based art resource ForYourArt and her Institute for the 21st Century organized Hans Ulrich Obrist’s The Now Interviews performance at this year’s Architecture Biennale in Venice. VernissageTV met with her at the place where all began, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LACMA. In this interview, she talks about the beginnings of her career, how she founded ForYourArt, and Hans Ulrich Obrist and the Institute of the 21st Century.

Interview with Bettina Korek (ForYourArt, i21c.org) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art LACMA, September 23, 2010.

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October 21 2010

Misericordia. Group Show at Prism, Los Angeles

Misericordia at Prism, Los Angeles, is an exhibition that brings together Masters from the Renaissance and work by contemporary artists. Curated by Birte Kleemann, it juxtaposes 15th to 17th Century Old Masters with performance video from the 1970s and contemporary artworks. For the show, Birte Kleemann, Director at The Pace Gallery, selected works that examine the treatment of Mercy as represented from devotional paintings to the use of the artist’s body as a metaphor for the suffering of humankind in contemporary works.

On display are works by the artists Marina Abramović, Joseph Beuys, Monica Bonvicini, Louise Bourgeois, Chris Burden, James Lee Byars, Lucio Fontana, Terence Koh, Anders Krisár, Giovanni di Marco, Jonathan Meese, Giovanni Battista Naldini, Olaf Nicolai, Jen DeNike, Angel Otero, Antonio di Pietro, Sterling Ruby, Katharina Sieverding, Bill Viola, and xhafabdessemed (Sislej Xhafa and Adel Abdessemed). Misericordia emphasizes how these artists explore pain, fear and penance, in the sense that today we either fail to rejoice in God’s Mercy or that we are too occupied with personal matters to be merciful towards others.

For this show, the gallery has three exceptional works by Emile Antoine-Bourdelle, Felice Ficherelli and Alessandro Gherardini on loan from the Haukohl Family Collection, a world-class private collection based in Houston, Texas. It is the largest private collection of Florentine painting in America.

The catalog that accompanies the exhibition features essays by academic writers David Carrier, Alex Gartenfeld and Dimitri Ozerkov, and is designed by Jonathan Zawada.

Misericordia. Group show at Prism Gallery, Los Angeles, September 25, 2010. The exhibition runs through December 4, 2010.

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October 05 2010

Paul McCarthy: Three Sculptures / Inaugural Exhibition at L&M Arts Gallery, Los Angeles

On September 25, 2010, New York gallery L&M Arts opened a branch in Los Angeles. The inaugural exhibition Paul McCarthy: Three Sculptures features three new large-scale sculptures by Paul McCarthy. The artist’s first exhibition in his hometown in a decade features Apple Tree Boy Apple Tree Girl (2010), Ship of Fools, Ship Adrift (2010), and Train, Mechanical (2003-2010).

Paul McCarthy was born in Salt Lake City, UT in 1945 and lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Recent major exhibitions of his work include “Central Symmetrical Rotation Movement – Three Installations, Two Films,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008); “Paul McCarthy – Head Shop/Shop Head,” Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2006), which toured to ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, and S.M.A.K., Ghent (both 2007); and “Paul McCarthy: LaLa Land Parody Paradise,” Haus der Kunst, Munich, which toured to Whitechapel Gallery, London (both 2005).

A fully illustrated book, Hummel, and a catalogue, Three Sculptures, accompany the exhibition L&M Arts Gallery Los Angeles, with essays by the artist, Diedrich Diederichsen, and Benjamin Weissman.

Paul McCarthy: Three Sculptures. L&M Arts Gallery, Los Angeles. Preview and opening reception, September 24/25, 2010. The exhibition runs through November 7, 2010.

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From the press release:

“Train, Mechanical (2003-2010) is a fully automated tour-de-force that features a George Bush/pirate hybrid mounting a pig from behind, while another pig humps the same pig’s skull, finding aural penetration. This scenario then repeats itself in a figurative “train.” The work finds visual precedent in earlier sculptures with the same cast of characters and related configurations, such as Train, Mechanical, Pig Island (2007), Mountain (2009) and Static (2004-2009). All of these works stem from Pig Island; this perpetual work in progress, inspired by the Disney ride Pirates of the Caribbean, emphasizes process as sculpture. Many sculptures were spawned from this fertile environment full of political satire, cultural commentary, and playful experimentation with various modes of art production. In Train, Mechanical, McCarthy has also found inspiration from an ongoing fascination with carnival rides and mechanized mannequins, first seen in his seminal work The Garden (1991-1992). Train, Mechanical takes this early interest to new heights. Here, one experiences fully articulated body parts, right down to the male figure’s pursed lips and the pigs heaving chest – all in the service of a mesmerizing tableau that redefines sculptural form.

Also included in the exhibition are the latest works from McCarthy’s Hummel series, writ large and executed on a monumental scale. The mid-century Germanic kitsch figurines of the same name inspired the Hummels, first shown in Zurich in 2009, depicting rosy-cheeked children in idyllic repose. In McCarthy’s world, however, this Aryan innocence becomes a target for parody, and ultimately, defilement and disfigurement. Their deformed innocence suggests the conditioning of children, from Hitler youth to contemporary, TV-addled teen consumers. Ship of Fools, Ship Adrift (2010) derives from a saccharine nautical scene, and is reworked as an eight ton, black-bronze carnival at sea. The figures of children are decomposed; their lyrical voices halted by pipes ripping through their youthful vocal cords. It appears adorable and obscene all at once. In Apple Tree Boy Apple Tree Girl (2010), a miniature Adam and Eve find themselves reborn as an eighteen foot überkinder; they remain only a suggestion of their former selves, almost sweetly deformed and just to the point of abstraction. These darling figures teeter between portraits of childlike purity and a Garden of Eden gone terribly wrong.”

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October 04 2010

For sale: Dennis Hopper's house

The Easy Rider star's sleek mansion, designed in part by Frank Gehry, is up for sale. But no one is buying. Could its edgy location in Venice, LA, be putting people off?

It was one of those Hollywood-in-the-hood myths, part of the fabric of living in a town with a single industry: entertainment. Deep inLos Angeles's Venice district, it was said, less than a mile inland from the heft of the Pacific, was the house. It stood in the hood, down on Indiana and fourth, past Broadway, past Brooks – an area that scared the lights out of Charles Bukowski, the drunken postie-turned-poet who was afraid to look out of the window when he lived there, for fear of the eyes peering back in at him.

A haven for low-lifes and low-riders, crackhouses and gangbangers, that spit of Venice was immune to the polite society emerging around it. Instead it revelled in the fear; the fear where black met Latino and joined together to glare at the Anglo. The first time I came here, the estate agent I was following stopped her car, got out and clack-clacked her way back to me to profess that she was lost. Then she looked around. "I can't believe I got out of my car!" she screamed. "I'm a white Jewish princess out of my car! Here!"

In a frenzy of sequins she skanked back to her car and we sped off, bouncing through the storm drains, crossing the crucible of fourth-fifth-sixth-seventh avenues before arriving at Lincoln Boulevard and the security of its third-world shanty.

I often wondered if it was really Dennis Hopper's house there on fourth and Indiana. By then I was living a few blocks away, in one of the safely gentrified parts of Venice. Julia Roberts lived across the block, Ed Ruscha had his studio at the end of the street, and I never walked as far as Indiana. But still, you could drive past – and I did, peering at the fences, the walls, the hedges. And then I found it: deluxe, A-list-size palms towering overhead, skewed building blocks piled one upon the other.

The giveaway that there was some big mother of a star living there, behind the barrier, was that this was a triple lot. Want to tell people you've arrived in this town of infinite real estate? Bag a double lot, or bigger. Then they'll notice you, even in little old Venice. Frank Gehry did it (out-did it, even) by seizing his own triple-lot a few blocks away. The lot's still there, in fact, ringed by chain-link and as bare as the day he bought it – the planners, the zoners and the permit department having aced the hot-shot architect with his wibbly-wobbly planes and crow's-nest shtick.

Gehry also designed parts of the Hopper Compound, as it is known, to house the actor's formidable art collection. Forget about Hopper's own pretensions, his abstract fancy-pants photos of street paintings, those candid snaps of his fellow myths in their heyday and his papier-mache banalities. That was just dabbling. His eye as a collector – now that was for real. His early investments in art, when he played the penniless punk (long before he played the advertising icon), helped pay the debts and move him up the ladder. Hopper, he would tell you, was the first to buy one of Warhol's Campbell's Soup paintings. For $75.

I met him once, and told him about my interest in his house, how we were near neighbours, and he told me the story of how a Guardian journalist had come to his house for an interview and fucked him over. Invitation aborted.

Now that he's dead, the Hopper Compound, one of the stranger remnants of his idiotic reign, is on page 15 of the local rag's property listings; the fruit of a dispute between Hopper's estate and his estranged widow. To date, there are no takers. The price has dropped from $6.245m to $5.194m, and the Hopper myth is reduced to a banality that might serve as a motif for the death of celebrity: the knowledge that his house had "dishwasher, dryer, garbage disposal, refrigerator". TS Eliot probably had something to say about it all. Or Charles Bukowski.

This article was amended on 5 October 2010. The original referred to Charles Bukowski as the drunken Polish postie-turned-poet. This has been corrected.


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Kalup Linzy: Fantasies, Melodramas, and a Dream Called Love / ltd los angeles

Currently the gallery ltd los angeles presents video and performance artist Kalup Linzy’s first solo Los Angeles exhibition, titled Fantasies, Melodramas, and a Dream Called Love. The show features three videos, Keys to Our Heart, Melody Set Me Free (the series Episode 3), Lil’ Myron’s Trade, new works on paper and film stills. The above video shows impressions of the opening and the performance by Kalup Linzy. The exhibition runs through October 23, 2010.

Kalup Linzy, along with some 67 other artists, also participates in the quintennial exhibition Greater New York, organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Connie Butler and Neville Wakefield at MoMA PS1. The exhibition runs through October 18, 2010.

Kalup Linzy: Fantasies, Melodramas, and a Dream Called Love / ltd los angeles. Los Angeles, September 18, 2010.

PS: Kalup Linzy’s channel on YouTube: Click here!

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

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October 01 2010

Glenn Kaino: Safe / Vanish at LAXART Los Angeles

This year, the independent nonprofit art space LAXART in Los Angeles celebrates its 5th Anniversary. In these five years, LAXART has produced and commissioned over 100 projects. One of them is the current show, a solo exhibition with works by Los Angeles-based artist Glenn Kaino. For the show, titled Safe / Vanish, Glenn Kaino produced new pieces that deal with art and magic. “Immersing himself in the study of magic over the past two years, Kaino’s inquiry unveils the restructuring of the social contract between art and audience, generating new conceptual strategies that bridge contemporary systems of art production and exhibition with the mythical and mysterious dimensions of magic. For Kaino, this interdisciplinary process unveils new potentialities of conceptualism in contemporary art—providing new structures of analysis that function from the point of contact between criticality and wonder.” (Excerpt from the press release).

According to the gallery, the exhibition Safe / Vanish marks a significant shift in the trajectory of Kaino’s practice and encompasses a new dimension of his considerations of the role of the artist in our current landscape of contemporary art. This exhibition runs until the 30th October 2010 and is accompanied by an upcoming publication that will feature newly commissioned essays as well as documentation of this phase of Kaino’s ongoing project.

Glenn Kaino received a BFA from UC Irvine and an MFA from UC San Diego; he currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Kaino’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at various institutions. He has had solo exhibitions at museums and galleries such as the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; ArtPace, San Antonio; REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA;  the Whitney Museum of American Art, Altria, New York, NY; Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monica, CA;  and The Project, New York, NY.

Glenn Kaino: Safe / Vanish at LAXART Los Angeles, September 23, 2010.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

In Gallery One, Kaino presents a series of site-specific works that formally construct slippages between artistic practices and magic. A taxidermic goat, echoing Rauschenberg’s seminal experimentations, is juxtaposed to a sculptural portrait of magician Ricky Jay made with playing cards. A series of wand sculptures that pay homage to important historical figures of conceptual art is brought into dialogue with an optical illusion installation that takes the form of a magician’s table. A wall text piece assembled with newspapers that announce eccentric historical events responds to a new lightbox sculpture depicting Baldessarini the conceptual magician. Mobilizing formal tactics through the lexicons of magic, Kaino blurs both theoretical and methodological approaches to conceptual art—giving way to a complex and layered environment where the critical apparatus of art history is charged with multiple points of access for new audiences and for new compositions of meaning.
 
Extending from this series of works, Gallery 2 features a safe that houses secrets Kaino has been collecting over the past months. The secrets – ranging from the trite to the personal, from the corporate to the criminal, from the artistic to the magical, represent another facet of Kaino’s project—his interest in the archiving of conceptual power; the brokering of and the power of secrets. The gesture of collecting recorded secrets in tapes and then archiving them in the safe furthers Kaino’s deconstruction of the process through which the value of art is generated. In this work, mundane objects are fueled with value through ephemeral recordings—putting forth a poetic meditation of what art is in the context of a market-driven economy and what art has the potential to be.

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September 29 2010

Resnick Exhibition Pavilion (Los Angeles County Museum of Art LACMA) by Renzo Piano

Last week, the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art LACMA was pre-opened to selected guests with a gala benefit dinner to honor long-time museum patrons Lynda and Stewart Resnick.

The Resnick Pavilion was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano. Renzo Piano’s Resnick Pavilion is a key feature of LACMA’s ongoing Transformation project and offers a major expansion of the museum’s exhibition space. It’s a single-story, 45,000 square foot structure. According to the museum, the Resnick Pavilion is the largest purpose-built, naturally lit, open-plan museum space in the world.

Robert Irwin’s Palm Garden installation surrounds the Resnick Pavilion. The palms, some quite rare, come in a wide variety of sizes, colors and shapes. They are set into orderly grids, articulated by Cor-ten steel walls and containers.

The Resnick Pavilion will open to the public on October 2, 2010, with three exhibitions: Eye for the Sensual: Selections from the Resnick Collection; Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico; and Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915.

Since its inception in 1965, LACMA has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography – and represent Los Angeles’s uniquely diverse population. Today, the museum features particularly strong collections of Asian, Latin American, European, and American art, as well as a contemporary museum on its campus.

Resnick Exhibition Pavilion (Los Angeles County Museum of Art LACMA) by Renzo Piano. Press Preview, September 23, 2010.

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September 28 2010

Julie Rofman: Memory Claim / POVevolving Gallery, Los Angeles

POVevolving Gallery in Chinatown’s arts district in Los Angeles currently presents a large-scale installation by the artist Julie Rofman. The work, titled Memory Claim consists of a “cloud” of objects made of sewn and glued canvas and a conveyor system that constantly brings down objects from this cloud. VernissageTV covered the opening reception of the show and met with Julie Rofman. In the above video, she talks about the concept behind her work. Julie Rofman was born in Boston, MA. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

Julie Rofman: Memory Claim / POVevolving Gallery, Los Angeles. Interview with Julie Rofman, September 18, 2010.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

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