Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: William Copley

Man Ray’s LA

Gagosian Beverly Hills

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Man Ray, Igor Stravinsky with Juliet and Selma Browner, 1945, Vintage gelatin silver print, 9 15/16 × 7 3/4 inches © Man Ray Trust/ADAGP 2018

There he is, in the corner of the room: a dark, malevolent presence, glowering at the camera from under heavy lids, his crazily crooked nose and uneven eyes lending the photograph a quasi-Cubist appearance. It was an intense look that Man Ray often assumed in self-portraits. (An alternative guise was that of the debonair dandy, smoking in sharply tailored suits beside a sporty automobile.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Tinseltown in the Rain

Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles

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Man Ray once commented that ‘there was more surrealism rampant in Hollywood than all the surrealists could invent in a lifetime’. The line comes to us via William Copley, who, in 1949, exhibited canonical works by Max Ernst, René Magritte, Man Ray and others in a short-lived gallery in Beverly Hills, to almost universal indifference. There were, however, a handful of Los Angeles artists who took notice, including Lorser Feitelson, Helen Lundeberg, Peter Krasnow and Knud Merrild. These artists and many more are brought together by curator Max Maslansky in ‘Tinseltown in the Rain: The Surrealist Diaspora in Los Angeles 1935–69’. 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 »

What Nerve!

Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence

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Jim Nutt, Her Face Fits, 1968

The rambunctious exhibition “What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present” began life as an idea for a show about the Hairy Who. Seeking to broaden the scope of the project, curator Dan Nadel traced the lines of influence around the 1960s group of Chicago Imagists to include an alternative, subversive history of modern art that is little studied in art colleges and under-represented in museum collections. Read the rest of this entry »

The Surrealist Bungalow: William N. Copley and the Copley Galleries (1948-49)

William N. Copley with his own paintings in Paris, 1951, two years after he closed the Copley Galleries and left Los Angeles. Photo: Mike De Dulmen. Courtesy the Estate of William N. Copley.

William N. Copley with his own paintings in Paris, 1951, two years after he closed the Copley Galleries and left Los Angeles. Photo: Mike De Dulmen. Courtesy the Estate of William N. Copley.

“No one in their right mind would have considered trying to open a Surrealist gallery in the California environment, which, of course, is what we decided to do late one whiskied evening,” wrote the artist and collector William N. Copley. “In the white haze of the morning after, we were both too proud to perish the thought.” 1 Read the rest of this entry »