Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: los angeles

Still Making a Splash

On Leonard Koren and WET: The magazine of gourmet bathing

‘If you had to have it explained’, says Leonard Koren, ‘then it wasn’t the magazine for you.’ Many people, when they first encountered WET magazine in Venice, California, in 1976, or later, in the hippest bookstores and clothes boutiques around the world, weren’t quite sure how seriously to take its now famous strapline: ‘The magazine of gourmet bathing’. That was the idea. Read the rest of this entry »

Stewart and Lynda Resnick

Photograph: Amanda Friedman

A chapter in Lynda Resnick’s book Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business is titled ‘The One True Copy of Jackie Kennedy’s Real Fake Pearls’. Resnick tells the story of how, in 1996, Sotheby’s auctioned the estate of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, including her iconic three-strand pearl necklace. It didn’t matter that the pearls were imitation, and that the young Jacqueline Bouvier had picked them up at Bergdorf Goodman for around $35. They were listed by Sotheby’s at $200–$300. Resnick was determined to have them, and persuaded her husband Stewart to bid all the way to the jaw-dropping closing price of $211,000. The couple were the subject of ridicule in the national press. Read the rest of this entry »

Kaari Upson

Life Study

Kaari Upson admits she’s told this story so many times, in so many different ways, that it’s become hard to get it straight any more. Her changing recollection of events has now superseded hard truth. Journalists and critics, falling over themselves to retell the incredible tale, also invariably bungle their facts, and so further pollute her memories. She’ll do her best though. Here goes. Read the rest of this entry »

Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974–81

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

John Divola, Zuma #9 (1978/2006)

Events sometimes tell their own story. 1974: Richard Nixon resigns; Patty Hearst is kidnapped by left-wing terrorists; the U.S. oil crisis continues. 1975: Saigon falls; Gerald Ford survives two assassination attempts, both in California. 1976: Chairman Mao dies. 1977: Elvis Presley dies; Jimmy Carter is sworn in. 1978: Californian cult, the Peoples Temple, commits mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana; Harvey Milk and George Moscone are shot in San Francisco; Proposition 13, limiting Californian property taxation, is passed. 1979: Three Mile Island nuclear disaster; the U.S. embassy in Tehran is seized; revolution in Nicaragua; Soviet Union invades Afghanistan, reigniting the Cold War. 1980: the U.S. and other countries boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow; John Lennon is murdered. 1981: assassination attempt on the Pope; Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated; AIDS is identified; Ronald Reagan is sworn in as president. 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 »

Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy Loses his Shit

‘An inflatable dog turd the size of a house has blown away from a modern art exhibition in a Swiss museum before bringing down an electricity line and smashing a greenhouse window.’ The Telegraph, London, 12th August 2008

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