Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: moca

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

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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 iStockphoto.com 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 »

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William Pope.L

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles

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The sheer physics involved in keeping something like this off the ground are staggering. The flag is nearly five metres high by 14 metres long, and weighs God knows how much in polyester and reinforced stitching. It should be noted that, in American flag terms, William Pope.L’  s Trinket (2008/2015) is not an XXL or even an XL but, in the warehouse galleries of the MOCA Geffen, where it flies only a couple of metres off the ground and reaches nearly to the ceiling, it feels colossal. Four thundering Ritter fans, their blades as tall as a man, keep it perpetually roiling in the air. Read the rest of this entry »

Urs Fischer

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los AngelesUrs Fischer Horses Dream of Horses 2004

When asked about scale in a recent interview, Urs Fischer said that ‘the physical size of the art work doesn’t make it big or small.’ The scale of an object, he argued, is the size it assumes in the viewer’s mind; not its size in the gallery space. Fischer has become known for making very large art works – often from seemingly small ideas – as well as small works based on big ideas. This discrepancy has won him as many admirers as detractors. 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 »

George Herms: Xenophilia

MOCA at the Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles

George Herms must get tired of being referred to as the last of his generation. Born in 1935, he was amongst the youngest of the Beats and a pioneer of the California Assemblage movement. Like many of his peers he saw his lack of art school training as no impediment to combining found objects in the way that he might compose a poem, or jam with jazz musicians. By reputation, and by the evidence of his unkempt but literary art, he’s a free spirit, a mystic. He stands (especially in younger minds) for a now rare artistic archetype, pure of heart and innocent of commercial ambition. Herms is regarded with affection, and, as ‘George Herms: Xenophilia (Love of the Unknown)’ proposes, his work remains a touchstone for a slew of artists working today. Read the rest of this entry »