Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: laura owens

Rachel Kushner

The writer on what she takes from art and artists

Rachel Kushner at home in Los Angeles. Clifford Prince King for The New York Times

At one point in Rachel Kushner’s recently published novella, “The Mayor of Leipzig,” the narrator, an American artist, reveals: “I personally know the author of this story you’re reading. Because she thinks of herself as an art-world type, a hanger-on.”

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Charles Gaines

‘Numbers and Trees: London Series 1, Tree #6, Fetter Lane’ (2020), photo: Fredrik Nilsen; © Charles Gaines, Hauser & Wirth

When Charles Gaines was in elementary school in Newark, New Jersey, in the 1950s, he showed an aptitude for drawing. His well-meaning teacher suggested to his mother that perhaps he should be an artist. He could be the first black artist in the history of the world, she said.

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‘With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art, 1972–85’

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

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View of “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972—85” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2019–20. Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles. Photo by Jeff Mclane.

Pattern and Decoration (P&D), a tendency which crystallized into a movement in New York in the mid-1970s, is one of the few movements of modern art to have self-designated, rather than been identified either by critical champions (think of Germano Celant and Arte Povera) or by sneering skeptics (Finish Fetish, Fauvism). Its members, though heterogeneous in their work, were united in their artistic tastes and temperament: they espoused a maximalist aesthetic that drew from global traditions and sources, also often aligned with feminist art practices that embraced domestic handicrafts. They had no manifesto, but critical allies including Amy Goldin and John Perreault have written eloquently about their work and aims. According to Perreault, “Pattern painting is non-Minimalist, non-sexist, historically conscious, sensuous, romantic, rational, decorative. Its methods, motifs, and referents cross cultural and class lines.”1 Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Owens

356 South Mission Road

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You should have seen them at the opening. The people, that is – moving slowly through the large warehouse and thronging around two bars, a taco stand, a ping-pong table and a dance floor in the yard behind the building. The paintings, too, looked terrific. Twelve huge canvases, each approximately three-and-a-half metres high, faced each other on opposite walls of the space. They seemed to smile down on the bustle of sociability that unfolded between them. Read the rest of this entry »

Made in Space

Night Gallery, Los Angeles
Made in Space 1

Is it possible to talk about art made in Los Angeles without crediting the city with everything that makes its art unique? Why are artists in Southern California so often asked to explain how their work is influenced by its infrastructure or climate? Is “Made in Space,” the exhibition curated by artists Peter Harkawik and Laura Owens, an antidote to these tendencies or is it a symptom? Read the rest of this entry »