Culture: High & Low
With Carolina A. Miranda
Datebook: Emigres in Hollywood, trippy video, post-tsunami architecture

Norton Simon's trove, films from the emigres who settled Hollywood and the hallucinatory videos of Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin. Plus: post-Fukushima architecture and the photographs of Alejandro Cartagena. It's all happening now in El Lay:

“Lock, Stock and Barrel: Norton Simon’s Purchase of Duveen Brothers Gallery,” at the Norton Simon Museum of Art. In the early 1960s, businessman Norton Simon set out to buy a painting of a courtesan, once attributed to Titian but later billed as a Giorgione, from the Duveen Brothers Gallery, the New York art dealership that supplied many American industrialists with their Old Masters. That purchase led Simon to acquire seven more items from the gallery, followed by another five. Soon, he went on to purchase the entire gallery: This included 800 objects, the library, the archive and even the building itself (located on East 79th Street in Manhattan). This exhibition gathers numerous items from that trove, including a cape allegedly worn by Charles...

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Round-Up: Hong Kong protest art, an Iraqi photo agency, lots of Gehry

New trustees at MOCA, vandalism at the national parks, early satellite images of Antarctica, and the beguiling installation sculptures produced by the protesters in Hong Kong. Plus, everything Frank Gehry and Cannibal Shia LaBeouf. It's the Round-Up:

— Let’s start with the good news at the Museum of Contemporary Art: The institution has elected four new members to its Board of Trustees, including artist Mark Bradford (who, incidentally, has some terrific pieces on view in the L.A. County Museum of Art’s abstraction show). 

— And on to the questionable: An artist named Casey Nocket has been vandalizing Yosemite and other national parks, signing her graffiti markings "Creepytings."

— Newfound satellite images from the 1960s give the earliest complete view of Antarctica before global warming. 

— Plus: Photographic evidence that contemporary suburban construction techniques are the urban equivalent of mountaintop removal mining.

— "Umbrella Man" and more Hong Kong protest art.


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Making an art theme park for Jack Black's Festival Supreme

Somewhere on a side street near the Hawthorne Municipal Airport, artist Steven Hull is furiously at work on an art installation like no other.

On one side of the artist's roomy studio, a pack of wood sculptures show human figures astride a team of horses, one of which shoots bubbles from its rear end. On the other, a large pink head, with hair flopping in its face, sticks out its tongue. There are puppets, trains and seats for a merry-go-round painted in vibrating op-art patterns. All along the walls, ink sketches of monsters, clowns and freak-show figures crowd the walls.

Hull, an artist known for fantastical installations crafted from brightly painted wood and found objects, is preparing a carnival attraction that goes on view this Saturday as part of actor Jack Black's comedy show, "Festival Supreme," at the Shrine Auditorium. The show will feature eight hours of comedy by the likes of Fred Armisen, Margaret Cho, Cheech and Chong, Janeane Garofalo and many others. There will also be...

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Susan Sollins, creator of PBS series 'ART21,' dies on eve of 7th season

At a time when so much documentary programming can seem downright histrionic, pumped up full of swelling soundtracks, melodramatic narration and too much of ... well, too much, the television series "ART21" has always offered a smart antidote. Its segments -- which cover buzzy blue-chip types as well as lesser-known artist's artists -- consist solely of artists discussing their work and the traditions and ideas that might influence it.

Which is why it was particularly sad to hear the news that Susan Sollins, the show's creator and executive director, died unexpectedly early last week. Sollins was also a co-founder of Independent Curators International, an organization through which she mounted and/or toured dozens of exhibitions, including "State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970," first shown at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach in 2011.

But to many arts aficionados, Sollins will likely be best remembered for "ART21," which is set to kick off its seventh season...

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Getty mosaic program teaches conservation in conflict zones and beyond

The scene shows a fair woman with red curls being abducted on a chariot by a determined, bearded figure. It's not a movie or TV show but an ancient mosaic that tells the story of the Greek goddess Persephone, kidnapped by Pluto and dragged against her will to the underworld. Uncovered this month in Amphipolis, Greece, this exquisite work of art resides in a tomb that dates back to the 4th century BC -- a tomb that may contain the remains of an important figure connected to none other than Alexander the Great

The Mediterranean is home to an unparalleled trove of ancient mosaics such as these, as evidenced by the incredible finds at Amphipolis. The Greeks popularized the art form in the 4th century BC, and the Romans exported it all over their empire, to the northern edges of Africa (present-day Libya, Tunisia and Egypt) and the Middle East (Jordan and Syria). Construction of a highway in Lod, Israel, in 1996 turned up one of the most famous examples of an ancient mosaic: a fantastical...

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Paul McCarthy's 'tree' sculpture may be gone, but it lives on in memes

Since the middle of last week, it's been the sculpture that so many have been talking about: L.A. artist Paul McCarthy's "Tree," an 80-foot inflatable that towered over the Place Vendôme in Paris for just a couple of days before being unceremoniously deflated by vandals on Saturday.

"Tree" bears a striking resemblance to an abstracted Christmas tree. It also bears a striking resemblance to a sex toy (a motif that the notorious McCarthy has explored quite regularly in the past). Since its installation Oct. 16, in advance of the FIAC art fair, scheduled to open on Oct. 23, some Parisians had expressed dismay over the piece on social media, with a tweeter for a right wing group exclaiming, "Place Vendôme #disfigured! Paris humiliated!"

Moreover, during installation last week, McCarthy was attacked by a man who struck him in the face repeatedly as he screamed at him, an exchange that was witnessed by a reporter from the French daily Le Monde. (The paper has a worthwhile 

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