Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: lacma

Betye Saar

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Black Girl’s Window (1969), Betye Saar. Photo: Rob Gerhardt/The Museum of Modern Art, New York; courtesy the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles; © Betye Saar 2019

Betye Saar greets me, complaining. ‘I woke up in pain, so I’m grumpy today,’ says the artist, who will turn 93 a few days after we meet in late July. Recently she’s had to do so many ‘silly interviews’, she says, she has been left with no time to work. I’m not offended – it’s an understandable grievance. This year, when she might have hoped to enjoy some quiet time in her studio, or to tend her splendid hillside garden in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, she has instead been obliged to prepare for major solo exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (until 5 April 2020) and at MoMA in New York (until 4 January 2020). On 2 November she will be honoured at LACMA’s annual Art+Film Gala, a calendar highlight for Los Angeles’ cultured elite. Read the rest of this entry »

Mary Corse

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, 2019 (installation view, Los Angeles County Museum of Art). © the artist and Museum Associates/LACMA

When good art looks bad in a particular exhibition space, do we fault the artist, the curator, the institution or the architect? Mary Corse’s retrospective A Survey in Light, which travelled from the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is an unsatisfying tribute to the Los Angeles-based painter, who over half a century has devoted herself to a deep but narrowly focused body of work. Read the rest of this entry »

Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery 1959–1971

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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Virginia Dwan at the exhibition Language III, Dwan Gallery, New York, 1969, photograph by Roger Prigent, courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archive

There was no way it was ever not going to be a mess: eleven years of one of the most influential American art galleries, condensed into a 100,000 square foot section of LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion. Consider the fact that many of the artworks in the 134 exhibitions held over those eleven years turned out to be canonical Modernist masterpieces, and were acquired by museums or major private collections around the globe, many now unwilling or unable to lend them. Others were destroyed, or lost, or are too delicate to go on public display. Some – not all of them masterpieces – entered LACMA’s own collection, so of course they wound up in this show, whether they fully deserved to be there or not. Read the rest of this entry »

Agnes Martin

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Agnes Martin, The Islands, 1961, Private Collection © 2016 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo courtesy Pace Gallery

 

On the very last page of Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art (2015), the biography’s author, Nancy Princenthal, admits that Martin would probably have thought her book utterly worthless. She quotes her from a handwritten note reproduced  near the start of Arne Glimcher’s semi-biographical monograph, Agnes Martin: Paintings, Writings, Remembrances (2012): ‘Almost everyone believes that art is from the experience of the artist […] They believe that it is affected by where you live and what you do. But one’s “biography”, character, abilities, knowledge – all of that has nothing to do with artwork. Inspiration is the beginning, the middle and the end.’ Read the rest of this entry »

James Turrell

James Turrell, Afrum (White), 1966, © James Turrell, photo © Florian Holzherr

“This used to be my studio!” announces James Turrell to the customers of Starbucks in Ocean Park, Santa Monica. The coffee drinkers seem nonplussed. Little do they know that this white-haired, extravagantly bearded figure has a triumvirate of retrospectives this summer at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Guggenheim Museum, New York, as well as a solo exhibition at LA’s Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery.

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First published: Financial Times, May 24 2013

Learning by Heart

Ken Price, Echo (1997) ©2012 Ken Price, photo ©2012 Fredrik Nilsen

Ken Price, Echo (1997) ©2012 Ken Price, photo ©2012 Fredrik Nilsen

Adrian Searle once claimed, in the pages of this magazine: ‘Everything I know, I think I’ve learnt from artists.’ In wondering, as I often have, whether what he said could be true and, if so, whether it could be true for me too, I’ve found myself asking what an education solely directed by art and artists would consist of. Read the rest of this entry »