Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Art Review

Betye Saar

Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles

Betye Saar, Museum Het Domein, Sittard, the Netherlands, 2015.

Betye Saar, Pause Here – Spirit Chair, 1996, Mixed media assemblage with metal garden chair and neon, 31.5 x 24.5 x 20.5 in

Betye Saar’s double exhibition at Roberts & Tilton coincides with the opening of her career survey at the Fondazione Prada, Milan. The first exhibition, titled Black White (which opened a month before the second exhibition), is a more concise presentation in the gallery’s project space that arranges assemblage sculptures and collages spanning from the present back to an early etching by the artist – now a nonagenarian – from 1964. Blend, the second and more generously spaced display (actually including fewer works), occupies the main gallery. Its focus is the major mixed media installation Mojotech (1987), which stretches nearly 7.5 metres along one wall and was the outcome of a residency Saar undertook at the List Visual Arts Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge. Read the rest of this entry »

Benjamin Carlson

Park View, Los Angeles

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What more obvious subject could there be for a painting that deconstructs the mechanics of representation than a still life in front of a window? The window, as a picture within a picture, traditionally stands as a proxy for the painting – the painting’s self-image, as it were – while the still life has for centuries been a convenient armature for everything from allegories of mortality to investigations into optical perception. Read the rest of this entry »

Elaine Cameron-Weir

Venus, Los Angeles

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The 14,500 square-foot former warehouse occupied by Venus, two blocks east of the Los Angeles River, is one of the largest spaces for showing art in the city. For certain artists, it must seem problematically vast. Earlier this year, Marianne Vitale responded to the building’s challenge by filling it with 60 tonnes of railway track and stacks of massive pine posts. The fine sculptures of Elaine Cameron-Weir, however, typically operate at the level of the jeweller’s worktable or the scientist’s lab bench. Her exhibition Snake With Sexual Interest in Own Tail could be read as an essay on the elasticity of our perception of scale. Surprisingly, in this outsize building, it worked. Read the rest of this entry »

Martin Kersels

Redling Fine Art, Los Angeles

Barry-Manilow

Brown furniture, they call it. It’s the stuff that nobody wants: wooden wardrobes, dining tables and armoires, too bulky for the contemporary home, once family heirlooms but now superseded by disposable Ikea furniture. When an artist needs some wood, the source closest at hand is usually not the lumberyard but the thrift store. Read the rest of this entry »

Frances Stark

Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

Frances Stark 2010_-_Pull_After_Push

I don’t believe it is cruel or unfair to say that a museum is probably not the natural home for Frances Stark’s work. The artworks that she has made over the past 24 years (the timespan covered by this retrospective) are many things – epistolary, diaristic, notational, self-referential, accretive, serial, slapdash, intricate – but they are not, in the main, the kinds of forms that museums are traditionally built to house. Read the rest of this entry »

Josephine Pryde

CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco

Pryde_08

We all know that Random International’s Rain Room (2012), drawing crowds most recently at MoMA, and Carsten Holler’s slides, coming soon to the Hayward Gallery, signal the end of days for art. Or at least that’s the established view amongst the cognoscenti. Hands-on experiences in art galleries, the argument goes, turn the brain off. Read the rest of this entry »

Mernet Larsen

Various Small Fires, Los Angeles

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What’s the most grindingly dull subject you can think of for a painting? How about a college faculty meeting? 75-year old Mernet Larsen, of Tampa, Florida, has made a whole series of paintings depicting meetings at the art school where she still teaches. Two of them are included in her exhibition Chainsawer, Bicyclist and Reading in Bed, and boring they are not. Read the rest of this entry »