Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: ed ruscha

Darren Bader

Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

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Darren Bader, ‘character limit’, installation view, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

 

How much of Darren Bader’s art do we need in the world? The world, after all, is already full of the kinds of objects that Bader brings into his exhibitions: art, words, images, personalities, ideas. Its very fullness is arguably the condition that Bader’s work both critiques and thrives on. “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more,” Douglas Huebler famously wrote in 1970. The question of whether Bader is adding more objects to the world depends on whether you consider two existing objects placed together to constitute a new object, or just a reconstitution of what was already there. It also depends on whether you consider a near facsimile of an existing object to be a new object. It depends—crucially—on whether an object can consist of language alone.  Read the rest of this entry »

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John Knuth, Angeles Crest, 2015

Ultimately, it’s about God, or at least a whiff of the divine. And also about not getting shit on your hands.

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Ed Ruscha

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One Sunday in 1966, Ed Ruscha was driving a Buick Le Sabre back to Los Angeles from Las Vegas with his friends Patrick Blackwell, a fellow artist, and the guitarist Mason Williams. With them they had an old manual typewriter, a Royal ‘model X’, its frame bent beyond repair. For a lark, they decide to heave the thing out of the passenger window, at ninety miles an hour. It exploded on the tarmac, disappearing in the rear view mirror as they sped onward through the desert. Read the rest of this entry »

The Quiet Life

Artists and the Freedom of the Desert

 

A couple of miles into the unprepossessing town of Yucca Valley, in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree, California, is a turn-off for the Sky Village Swap Meet. There’s a sign, but it’s almost impossible to spot from the main road. Open on Saturdays and Sundays, the swap meet has been run for 35 years by Bob Carr, who stepped back from day-to-day operations earlier this year so he can concentrate on making art. Carr is 76. His masterwork is The Crystal Cave (2004–ongoing), a freestanding grotto made mainly from expanding foam and crystals. Customers at the swap meet can peer through circular windows in the structure’s lumpy brown walls and spy a miniature landscape painted green and brown, through which running water trickles over waterfalls and rock crystals sprout like alien flora. Read the rest of this entry »

Joe Goode

Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles

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Joe Goode has long made pictures designed to be looked through, not at. His work is deadpan, and seemingly innocuous. The LA Times critic William Wilson, in 1971, called it ‘neutrality-style art’. Perhaps this mildness is why he never got quite as much attention as his childhood friend Ed Ruscha, who also does deadpan but who usually cuts his neutrality with non-sequiturs (often verbal) that are arresting and funny. Goode only trades in the very lightest of humorous touches – a milk bottle painted mauve, for instance, placed on a shelf in front of a mauve monochrome canvas. That was his early Milk Bottle series, (1961-2), still amongst his best-known work. Read the rest of this entry »

Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha may now regret saying, in 1966, that ‘being in Los Angeles has little or no effect on my work’. He’s been pedaling back from this characteristically contrary statement ever since. After all, the city has been his muse ever since he arrived from Oklahoma City in 1956. What he was perhaps trying to say is that he’s not an ambassador for Los Angeles – a city that, for all its brittle self-absorption, he admits that he loves. ‘Palm trees have a narcotic effect on me’ he says, speaking from his Culver City studio. ‘And all this tropical vegetation. Mix that with, what have you, fast food and movies, and the forward motion of things out here, with respect to artists, it’s a pretty jumpy scene.’ Read the rest of this entry »