A solo outing by a master of lowbrow in Hollywood...bulbous babes in Beverly Hills...and wild architectural schemes in Westwood. Plus: historic portraiture in Laguna Beach, abstraction in Culver City, a collaborative installation in Santa Monica and a giant ax in Venice. Here's what I've got in the Datebook:
John Currin at Gagosian Gallery. The New York-based Currin is known for his paintings of pillow-y women that seem to draw as much from 17th-century European painting as they do from pin-ups and porn. His first show in Los Angeles in more than 10 years features a series of new works that layer erotic scenes one on top of the next. Sounds totes NSFW. Opening reception tonight (Thursday) at 6 p.m. Runs through April 11. 456 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, gagosian.com.
"Robert Williams: Slang Aesthetic" at the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery. The godfather of so-called lowbrow art has a sprawling new one-man show of recent works, including drawings, paintings, prints and sculpture. Though Williams is now in his early 70s, his dark, pop-saturated imagery has hardly gotten tamer. His canvases take on pretension, the suburban landscape and the world of entertainment in weird and psychedelic ways. Also on view is the related exhibition "20 Years Under the Influence of Juxtapoz," which brings together the young artists featured in the popular art magazine (which Williams helped found in the early 1990s). Opening reception Sunday at 2 p.m. Runs through April 19. On Sunday at 3 p.m. is a screening of the documentary about Williams' life, "Mr. Bitchin'." Williams will be in attendance. Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, lamag.org.
"Robert Henri's California: Realism, Race, and Religion, 1914-1925" at the Laguna Art Museum. An exhibit in Laguna Beach gathers the California works of the noted American realist portraitist, who spent long periods in Southern California (mainly San Diego and Los Angeles) painting a wide cross-section of locals — from business leaders to area Indians. Opens Sunday and runs through May 31. 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, lagunaartmuseum.org.
"Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio" at the Hammer Museum. Architectural and industrial designer Thomas Heatherwick has designed everything from a handbag for Longchamp to the dramatic, dandelion-like Seed Cathedral, which was the U.K. pavilion at 2010's Shanghai World Expo. Then there's his London drawbridge, which curls in on itself like a pill bug. (Seriously, watch the video.) A new exhibition at the Hammer — originally organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas — examines Heatherwick's prodigious output, which includes residential architecture and teetering "Spun" chairs. Opens Friday and runs through May 24. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, hammer.ucla.edu.
"Tungsten (Artery)" at the Getty Villa. The classical myth of Persephone — the figure who traveled between the Earth and the underworld — is retold using traditional Japanese puppetry, as well as sound, text and video. The play was written by Erik Ehn and is produced by Automata with Los Angeles Performance Practice. Performances will be held Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 17985 Pacific Coast Hwy., Pacific Palisades, getty.edu.
"Ben Jackel: American Imperium" at L.A. Louver. In his latest exhibition, Jackel produces sculptures that riff on the history of warfare and power, including a nearly 6-foot-tall wooden reproduction of an ax's head — carved with axes. Sounds seductively aggro. Runs through March 28. 45 North Venice Blvd., Venice, lalouver.com.
Brad Eberhard at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. A series of small-scale abstract paintings are pieced together in various ways, with paint, collage, sanded surfaces and frames constructed from found objects. It is the gallery's first solo exhibition with the L.A.-based artist. Opening reception Saturday at 6 p.m. Runs through April 4. 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City, vielmetter.com.
"Thomas Burke: Dutch Jailbreak, New Paintings" at Western Project. Burke's diamond-shaped canvases ride abstraction's hard edge, with bold architectonic color fields that also play with a viewer's sense of depth. Opens Saturday and runs through March 28. 2762 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, western-project.com.
Amir Fallah, "Perfect Strangers" at the 18th Street Arts Center. As part of his residency at the Santa Monica arts center, Fallah is collaborating with area locals on a series of portraits and self-portraits — incorporating everything from painting to photography to sound. These are used to create an immersive installation environment. Exhibition reception Saturday at 6 p.m. Through March 27. 1639 18th Street, Santa Monica, 18thstreet.org.
"Pierre Huyghe" at the L.A. County Museum of Art. This will be your last chance to see Human the dog at the hallucinatory retrospective of the French conceptualist, better known for his experimentations (a site-specific sculpture made out of a beehive) than the production of serial objects. Read our handy unsanctioned guide to the show so you know what you're looking at. Through Sunday. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.
Liz Magic Laser, "The Thought Leader," and Anna Sew Hoy, "Face No Face," at Various Small Fires. Laser creates an unsettling and funny fictional TED talk out of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's "Notes From Underground" while Sew Hoy shows void-filled sculptures that employ materials such as denim in astute and unlikely ways. If you haven't seen it yet, run, don't walk. Through Saturday. 812 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, vsf.la.
"Roberto Chavez: Portraits" at Glike Gallery. If you missed Chavez's retrospective at the Vincent Price Art Museum, now's your chance to catch this important artist and educator's paintings, which often verge on the mordantly funny. Through Sunday, 5890 Blackwelder St., Suite B, Culver City, glikegallery.com.
Mira Dancy, “Is She Is She Psychic,” at Night Gallery. Playing with the psychological and graphic qualities of advertising, Dancy uses a series of paintings to imagine an ad campaign for an invented fragrance called “Herfume Perfume.” Through Saturday. 2276 E. 16th St., downtown Los Angeles, nightgallery.ca.
Jason McLean, “Soda Gardner,” at Wilding Cran Gallery. Drawing, painting and random found objects find their way into surreal landscapes, abstract doodles and cartoon-like figures. Through Saturday. 939 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown Los Angeles, wildingcran.com.
"Agents Provocateurs: A Selection of Subversive Skateboard Graphics and Artworks" at Subliminal Projects. Skateboard graphics produced by an array of skaters, graphic designers and contemporary artists. Through Saturday. 1331 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, Los Angeles, subliminalprojects.com.
Charles Gaines, "Gridwork 1974-1989," at the Hammer Museum. The first museum survey of the L.A.-based artist brings together early works that play with ideas of mapping and gridding, taking images of trees and moving dancers and abstracting them into coolly mathematical pieces. Through May 24. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, hammer.ucla.edu.
"Alien She" at the Orange County Museum of Art. An exhibition tracks the far-reaching influence of the Riot Grrrl movement of the early '90s, when artists, musicians and other cultural figures created a wide range of work that brought together punk music with gender, sexuality and feminism. Through May 24. 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach, ocma.net.
Fred Tomaselli, "The Times," at the Orange County Museum of Art. Since 2005, this L.A.-born/O.C.-raised painter with a knack for the hallucinogenic has taken to reworking the cover photographs of the New York Times in ways that are poignant, funny and just plain weird. Through May 24. 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach, ocma.net.
"Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia: Mis Papeles" at the Vincent Price Art Museum. Brilliantly hued woven paper works include abstract pieces that practically take on the feel of a textile. Through April 18. 1301 Cesar Chavez Ave., Monterey Park, vincentpriceartmuseum.org.
Josef Koudelka, "Nationality Doubtful," at the Getty Center. A retrospective on the important Czech-born photographer gathers more than 180 works from throughout the artist's six-decade career. Through March 22. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, getty.edu.
"Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School" at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Forty-five paintings by the best-known artists of the American landscape movement, including Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church. Through June 7. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.
"World War I: War of Images, Images of War" at the Getty Research Institute. On the 100th anniversary of World War I, the exhibition gathers art about the experience, including propaganda and vernacular pieces. Through April 19. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, getty.edu.
"Islamic Art Now" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Contemporary works from LACMA's permanent collection by 20 artists who live in or have roots in the Middle East look at questions of society, gender and identity. Runs indefinitely. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, lacma.org.
Hammer Projects: Pedro Reyes at the Hammer Museum. The socially minded Reyes has staged a people's United Nations that employs techniques from theater games and group therapy as a way of resolving urgent issues. Through May 24. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, Los Angeles, hammer.ucla.edu.
"The U.S. Constitution and the End of American Slavery" at the Huntington Library. More than 80 objects, including letters by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, explore the tumultuous road that led to the abolition of slavery. Through April 20. 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, huntington.org.
"Bari Kumar: Remembering the Future" at Charles White Elementary. At LACMA's satellite space, Kumar shows a series of paintings that combine bits of imagery that he harvests from fine art and popular culture. Through June 13, 2401 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, lacma.org.
Christine Corday, "Protoist Series, Selected Forms," at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Corday's oversized bendy steel sculptures don't sacrifice playfulness for mass. Don't miss them in LACMA's courtyard area (by Ray's & Stark Bar). Through April 5. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, lacma.org.
"Brian Weil 1979-95: Being in the World" at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. The first retrospective of a photographer devoted to highlighting members of insular and invisible communities — from sexual fetishists to members of New York's Hasidic community. Through April 18. Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, smmoa.org.
Armin Hansen, Jim Morphesis and Lars Jan at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. A trio of exhibitions includes a survey of Armin Hansen (1886-1957), a painter known for his oceanic scenes, as well as a show by L.A. artist Jim Morphesis, a painter whose expressionistic canvases combine elements of assemblage. In the project space, Lars Jan has an installation that explores ideas of disaster and survival. Runs through May 31. 490 E. Union St., Pasadena, pmcaonline.org.
"XX Redux: Revisiting a Feminist Art Collective" at Guggenheim Gallery. A show of important materials by an under-the-radar art collective that was committed to expanding the presence of women artists. Through March 14. Chapman University, Moulton Hall, One University Drive, Orange, guggenheimgallery.org.
"Jessica Rath: A Better Nectar" at the University Art Museum. Rath uses a combination of light, sound and sculpture to channel the experience of a bumblebee in search of nectar. The highlight is a human-scaled beehive with responsive acoustic elements. Through April 12, at Cal State Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, csulb.edu/org/uam.
"Paulo Bruscky: Artist Books & Films," 1970-2013, and "Vivian Suter: Panajachel," at the Mistake Room. A pair of shows feature the work of Bruscky, a key Brazilian conceptualist known for his wry actions and Super-8 films, and the Argentina-born painter Suter, who creates abstract works. Through March 14. 1811 E. 20th St., downtown Los Angeles, tmr.la.
"Sink or Swim: Designing for a Sea Change" at the Annenberg Space for Photography. An exhibition of photographs shows the ways in which humans have been contending with the rise of sea levels around the globe. Through May 3. 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City, annenbergspaceforphotography.org.
"Man-Made: Contemporary Male Quilters" at the Craft and Folk Art Museum. A series of works produced by a loose network of eight male quilters features elaborate pieces depicting everything from heavy metal iconography to biker imagery to sports. To find out more, read this feature on the quilters by my colleague Jessica Gelt. Through May 3. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, cafam.org.
Jonas Becker, "The Pile," at the Craft and Folk Art Museum. A lush multimedia installation includes video, photography and a pile of cushiony hand-crafted sculptures that explore questions of desire. Through May 3. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, cafam.org.
"Jacci Den Hartog: The Etiquette of Mountains" at Rosamund Felsen Gallery. A series of sculptural works depict and explore the nature of the mountaintop. Through March 14. Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, rosamundfelsen.com.
"Nohubito Nishigawara: Seeing" at the Grand Central Art Center. Nishigawara produces ceramic sculptures that draw inspiration from sources such as religious iconography and manga drawings. Through April 12. 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, grandcentralartcenter.com.
Anish Kapoor at Regen Projects. The influential sculptor presents a series of new pieces — some of which bear his trademark shimmering, minimalist lines (a torqued prism made of steel), but the star of the show is an earthy cave crafted from resin and earth that seems to erupt from the gallery floor. Through March 7. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, regenprojects.com.
"When the Future Had Fins: American Automotive Designs and Concepts, 1959-1973" at Christopher W. Mount Gallery. Car concept drawings from the Big Three American automakers — back when power and futuristic lines were rendered in pen and ink. Through May 20. At the Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, christophermountgallery.com.
Robert Overby, "Absence as Presence: Trace, Erasure, Eradication and Lack," at Marc Selwyn Fine Art. Ghostly latex castings of architectural elements (such as doors) and the reproduction, in plaster or concrete, of quotidian household objects mark the work of the late California artist. Uncanny and surreal. Through April 11. 9953 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, marcselwynfineart.com.
Deanna Thompson and Michael Auder, "Mixing Up the Medicine," at Kayne Griffin Corcoran. This two-person exhibition captures a dialogue between Auder and Thompson — the former sends the latter photographs of himself that she turns into altered portraits. Through March 14. 1201 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, kaynegriffincorcoran.com.
"Tom of Finland: Early Work, 1944-1972" at David Kordansky Gallery. Kordansky has an array of drawings, gouaches and inked storyboards by the renowned illustrator of erotica, known for the confident and virile ways in which he depicted gay male sexuality. Be prepared for racy images if you click through. Through March 7, 5130 W. Edgewood Place, Los Angeles, davidkordanskygallery.com.
"After Living in the Room of Réalités Nouvelles" at Sonce Alexander Gallery. A group exhibition gathers a network of artists bound by social and intellectual connections — be they as mentors, friends or colleagues. Through Feb. 26. 2634 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, soncealexandergallery.com.
"Laura Krifka: Reap the Whirlwind," and André Goeritz, "Schadenfreude," at CB1 Gallery. Now in a new location just south of the 10 Freeway, the gallery has a show of Krifka's exuberant figurative paintings, all full of sex and death, balanced by the precise and cerebral abstract installations of the L.A.-based Goeritz. Through Feb. 28. 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown Los Angeles, cb1gallery.com.
"Amy Elkins & Jona Frank: In Position," at De Soto Gallery. Photography by Elkins and Frank looks at notions of gender in young dancers and boxers, respectively. Through Feb. 28. 1350 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, desotogallery.com.
"Don Bachardy: Hollywood," at Craig Krull Gallery. Drawings by Bachardy featuring high-profile Hollywood figures such as Natalie Wood, Jack Nicholson and most recently, Marion Cotillard. Through Feb. 28. Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, craigkrullgallery.com.
"Elemental: Seeing the Light," at Descanso Gardens. Taking on the subject of light, this group show looks at the ways in which artists are inspired by ethereal rays. Through April 5. 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, descansogardens.org.
"The Soboroff Typewriter Collection: Hemingway, Lennon, Capote and Others" at the Paley Center for Media. An exhibition of the typewriters used by notable writers and other well-known figures, including Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles and John Lennon. Through Feb. 28. 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, paleycenter.org.
"Boticelli, Titian and Beyond: Masterpieces of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums" at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Drawn from the outstanding collection of Italian art at Scotland's Glasgow Museums, this exhibition tracks the evolution of painting in Italy over five centuries — featuring works by Bellini, Boticelli and Titian. Through May 3. 1130 State St., Santa Barbara, sbmuseart.org.
"Guerilla Girls: Art in Action" at Pomona College Museum of Art. Posters, handbills, books and newsletters chronicle the actions of the longtime feminist art-activists. Through May 17. 330 N. College Ave., Claremont, pomona.edu/museum.
Carolyn Castaño, "Mujeres Que Crean/Women Who Create: Medellin, Colombia," at the New Americans Museum. Known for lush paintings that touch on the drug war, Castaño has created a site-specific installation that features survivors of Colombia's armed conflict reenacting poses from historical artworks. Through March 21. 2825 Dewey Road, San Diego, newamericansmuseum.org.