Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: alex israel

Los Angeles Reflections

Alex Israel and Brett Easton Ellis, Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Catherine Opie, MOCA Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles

“West Hollywood”, AA|LA, Los Angeles


Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis: Different Kind of Star, 2016, acrylic and UV ink on canvas, 7 by 14 feet; at Gagosian Beverly Hills. © Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis; image courtesy iStock and Gagosian Gallery. Photography: Jeff McLane.

Type “Los Angeles” into the search box of and you will see over seventy thousand images, many of which look very much the same. For the works in a recent exhibition at Gagosian in Beverly Hills, Alex Israel spent what must have been many grueling hours scouring the database, finally selecting a group of images that distill the clichés underwriting the romantic fantasy that—for some—is Los Angeles. He then UV-printed the photos on large panoramic canvases, with words by Bret Easton Ellis, his collaborator for the show, displayed across them. Read the rest of this entry »

Standard Operating Procedures

Blum and Poe, Los Angeles

What is the difference between a “standard operating procedure” and a formula, an algorithm, a set of instructions, a program, a system, a recipe or a run book? This exhibition, which takes SOPs as its theme, never makes it quite clear. But its curator, Piper Marshall, contends in her press release that “Today, SOPs are determining the conditions of everyday life,” through such esoteric formulations as search engines, dating sites, self-help books, and targeted advertising.

Read the rest of this entry »

Alex Israel

'As It Lays', 2012. Photograph: Joshua White

The last question that Alex Israel asks each of his celebrity subjects in his video interview series ‘As It Lays’ (2012) is the same: ‘What do you want the world to know about [subject’s name]?’ A surprising number have exactly the same response: ‘Nothing.’ Surprising, because these are people whose very livelihood relies on public visibility, and who are voluntarily submitting to the Los Angeles-based artist’s deadpan interrogation. Their answer points to the open secret of the celebrity system: that the illusion of self-exposure can be the best defence for intensely private personalities. Read the rest of this entry »