Christopher Knight, Art Critic

Walking among saints and sinners at Fowler Museum

5:15 AM PDT, April 23, 2014

Walking among saints and sinners at Fowler Museum

The image of bandit Jesus Malverde turns up as a kind of venerated saint inside "Quitapesares (Solace)," a makeshift chapel by artist Maria Romero erected near the end of a large new exhibition at the UCLA Fowler Museum.

 Review: Rapt in Byzantine gold at Getty Villa's 'Heaven and Earth'

1:00 PM PDT, April 18, 2014

Review: Rapt in Byzantine gold at Getty Villa's 'Heaven and Earth'

Think of Byzantium, and a color leaps to mind. That color is gold.

Art review: 'Floral Journey' at Autry shows beadwork with deep meaning

12:00 PM PDT, April 11, 2014

Art review: 'Floral Journey' at Autry shows beadwork with deep meaning

Unless one is Native American, getting a grasp of complex Native American spiritual cosmologies is not easy. And that distinction, which might be called a quality of profound otherness, is in essence what drives a fascinating show recently opened at the Autry National Center of the American West in Griffith Park.

Review: Mike Kelley retrospective resonates at MOCA

5:00 AM PDT, March 31, 2014

Review: Mike Kelley retrospective resonates at MOCA

Last fall, when the big traveling retrospective of Los Angeles artist Mike Kelley (1954-2012) opened at MoMA PS1, the Museum of Modern Art's outpost in Long Island City, N.Y., the show looked smashing.

Some like it not: Grotesque 'Forever Marilyn' leaving Palm Springs

5:00 AM PDT, April 3, 2014

Some like it not: Grotesque 'Forever Marilyn' leaving Palm Springs

Good news out of Palm Springs this week: Work has begun on dismantling "Forever Marilyn," the grotesque colossus fabricated with typical ham-handedness by sculptor J. Seward Johnson, which has been marring an already vacant lot at a prominent downtown corner for the last two years.

 Mike Kelley's riveting adolescent stage

1:00 PM PDT, March 21, 2014

Mike Kelley's riveting adolescent stage

By 1991, Mike Kelley had emerged as a crucial artist in Los Angeles, at the head of a pack that had pushed into prominence in the previous decade.

Spring arts 2014: Art

6:30 AM PDT, March 14, 2014

Spring arts 2014: Art

MARCH 28-AUG. 25

 Rebirth of Jackson Pollock's 'Mural'

5:00 AM PDT, March 10, 2014

Rebirth of Jackson Pollock's 'Mural'

Myths die hard. Especially creation myths. Messing with the symbolic origins of a world isn't something to be undertaken lightly.

Review: Santa Barbara Museum of Art makes room for Stuart and Aycock

5:30 AM PST, March 6, 2014

Review: Santa Barbara Museum of Art makes room for Stuart and Aycock

SANTA BARBARA — Michelle Stuart and Alice Aycock are very different artists. Stuart is a kind of cartographer, mapping not just the land but our intimate experience of it. Aycock is more literary, transforming familiar themes like the intrusion of technology into nature and society's spiritual discontents into sculptures that are sometimes participatory.

 Review: 'Take It or Leave It' reflects time of choice in the '80s

3:05 PM PST, February 24, 2014

Review: 'Take It or Leave It' reflects time of choice in the '80s

Remember the 1980s? Art museums are starting to. Now that a full generation has passed, curators have some historical distance on that time, when so much changed in American art and American life.

Review: 'Tea and Morphine' a potent mix

5:30 AM PST, February 13, 2014

Review: 'Tea and Morphine' a potent mix

Forget about tea and sympathy. How about tea and morphine?

 Review: '#sweetjane' fuses art, a horrific crime to powerful effect

5:00 AM PST, February 18, 2014

Review: '#sweetjane' fuses art, a horrific crime to powerful effect

"#sweetjane," the newest group of drawings, video and installations by artist Andrea Bowers, takes as its emotionally wrenching subject a widely reported 2012 news story. A drunken 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, was raped after a raucous party by two high school football players not much older than she.

Review: The Getty's 'Canterbury' a potent mark of medieval art

6:00 AM PST, January 8, 2014

Review: The Getty's 'Canterbury' a potent mark of medieval art

As family trees go, the one created inside Canterbury Cathedral nearly a thousand years ago is pretty impressive.

Art review: Adam Silverman's 'Clay and Space' is vessel for inquiry

7:30 AM PST, December 28, 2013

Art review: Adam Silverman's 'Clay and Space' is vessel for inquiry

Before he became a potter, setting aside a longtime hobby for full-time engagement, Adam Silverman trained and practiced as an architect. Clay vessels and buildings are significantly different, in myriad obvious ways. But Silverman sometimes collapses the two in surprising and provocative installations.

 New MOCA director Philippe Vergne prompts cautious optimism

6:00 AM PST, January 18, 2014

New MOCA director Philippe Vergne prompts cautious optimism

The Museum of Contemporary Art continues to take steps toward pulling itself out of a deep, nearly six-year slump that almost sank the once widely acclaimed institution. With $100 million in endowment pledges and an ambitious plan to up that ante by 50%, MOCA announced the hiring of a new director this week.

George W. Bush tries to paint over a failed presidency

7:00 AM PST, December 20, 2013

George W. Bush tries to paint over a failed presidency

This was the year that George W. Bush, five years after his calamitous presidency, came in from the wilderness and went on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" to say, "I think I'm a painter." He presented his host with a grinning portrait, and the audience clapped.

Review: Alfredo Ramos Martínez, champion of ordinary people, revisited

6:00 AM PST, January 28, 2014

Review: Alfredo Ramos Martínez, champion of ordinary people, revisited

Alfredo Ramos Martínez was a few weeks shy of 58 when he packed up his studio and, with his wife and daughter, moved from Mexico City to Los Angeles in 1929. He arrived just in time for the epic collapse of the economy. Not surprisingly, the Great Depression is either subtext or frame of reference for much of the art he produced in L.A. before his death almost 17 years later.

LACMA's Abstract Classicism tribute: Just call it 'hard-edge'

10:27 AM PST, January 22, 2014

LACMA's Abstract Classicism tribute: Just call it 'hard-edge'

Was there ever a worse stab at naming a movement in Modern art than Abstract Classicism? Talk about self-cancellation.

 Review: LACMA's 'Calder and Abstraction' a wonder of curved space

7:00 AM PST, December 17, 2013

Review: LACMA's 'Calder and Abstraction' a wonder of curved space

If you like Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, you'll love the sculpture of Alexander Calder.

 The Cézanne paintings' escape to safety

5:00 AM PST, December 3, 2013

The Cézanne paintings' escape to safety

The surprise restitution last week of a major Baroque masterpiece looted by the Nazis in 1944 was a stunning finale to a remarkable story. Missing for more than six decades, the bravura painting "Saint Catherine of Alexandria" by Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644) had been tied up in Italian courts for almost five years.

Best of 2013: Christopher Knight picks Charles Reiffel, John Divola

7:00 AM PST, December 20, 2013

Best of 2013: Christopher Knight picks Charles Reiffel, John Divola

In this time when news is disseminated ever more quickly, we asked our critics to list the best of culture in 2013 in tweet form:

 Review: Museo Jumex in Mexico City is an impressive filter

8:00 AM PST, December 1, 2013

Review: Museo Jumex in Mexico City is an impressive filter

MEXICO CITY — The cultural ecology of any great city is a complex organism, its shape shifting over time. But in the modern era, always it starts with the same ingredient. It starts with artists, the yeast that makes the dough rise. Without them, money and talk are all there is.

Recovered Nazi-looted painting on view at LACMA

5:00 AM PST, November 26, 2013

Recovered Nazi-looted painting on view at LACMA

In a remarkable turn of events, a Nazi-looted Baroque masterpiece that turned up on the art market five years ago was returned Friday to its owner, who plans to donate it to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

 Review: 'Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years' proves absorbing

6:00 AM PST, November 13, 2013

Review: 'Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years' proves absorbing

PALM SPRINGS — A modest little painting near the entry to the exhibition "Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1953-1966" is a harbinger of things to come.

 Review: Powerful 'Extreme Measures' is in moment with Chris Burden

1:00 PM PST, November 8, 2013

Review: Powerful 'Extreme Measures' is in moment with Chris Burden

NEW YORK — Chris Burden's sculpture "The Other Vietnam Memorial" is not included in the compelling retrospective of the Los Angeles-based artist's four-decade career, which fills all five floors at the New Museum here as well as the building's roof and façade.

Review: David Hockney takes a drive through art history

5:30 AM PST, November 9, 2013

Review: David Hockney takes a drive through art history

In 1684, the Qing dynasty artist Wang Hui took out his brushes, inks and colors and began to paint a panoramic landscape view.

Lift the veil from the Nazi art cache

5:30 AM PST, November 7, 2013

Lift the veil from the Nazi art cache

Grainy photographs of what appears to be a lithograph by Otto Dix show a bourgeois matron rendered as a ghoulish skull adorned in an outlandish feathered hat, her sunken eyes glowering from beneath a lacy brim and her fur collar a blazing red inferno.

Review: The Hammer's Forrest Bess retrospective a commanding vision

6:00 AM PDT, October 16, 2013

Review: The Hammer's Forrest Bess retrospective a commanding vision

Forrest Bess had his first vision in 1915. He was 4 years old. He kept having them for the next 62 years, often when he closed his eyes to fall asleep at night.

Review: A fine introduction to Sam Francis' Abstract Expressionism

4:45 PM PDT, August 13, 2013

Review: A fine introduction to Sam Francis' Abstract Expressionism

Probably the most significant Sam Francis painting in an American collection is "Basel Mural I," which hangs in Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum.

Andy Warhol's 'Jackie' works were his 'Guernica'

11:30 AM PDT, October 25, 2013

Andy Warhol's 'Jackie' works were his 'Guernica'

For art, the 1963 murder of a president became America's Guernica.

Art preview: An ancient 'bill of human rights' at the Getty Villa

8:15 AM PDT, September 12, 2013

Fall Arts Preview

Art preview: An ancient 'bill of human rights' at the Getty Villa

"I am Cyrus, king of the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world...."

Review: It takes real drive to see 3-part John Divola retrospective

9:30 AM PDT, October 31, 2013

Review: It takes real drive to see 3-part John Divola retrospective

Are photographers vandals?

Review: Tim Youd's 'Post Office' is Bukowski to the letter

8:35 PM PDT, July 24, 2013

Review: Tim Youd's 'Post Office' is Bukowski to the letter

Endurance is a staple of performance art.

Zumthor's LACMA design has potential, but think of the factory model

8:00 AM PDT, September 7, 2013

Zumthor's LACMA design has potential, but think of the factory model

The $650-million plan to remake the jumbled campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire Boulevard is the fourth such effort in the last three decades.

Critic's notebook: John Anderson sheds new light on Barnes' bad move

11:00 AM PDT, October 11, 2013

Critic's notebook: John Anderson sheds new light on Barnes' bad move

Now that the Barnes Foundation has been in its conventional, museum-like new building in downtown Philadelphia for more than a year, one local critic is having second thoughts about the place.

Art review: Huntington's 'Face to Face' reflects deeply on Renaissance

3:41 PM PDT, October 1, 2013

Art review: Huntington's 'Face to Face' reflects deeply on Renaissance

Renaissance art made in Florence, Italy, more than half a millennium ago wouldn't look the way it does without art and artists working elsewhere in Europe.

 Santa Monica bid to remove Paul Conrad's 'Chain Reaction' nonsensical

4:30 AM PDT, September 19, 2013

Santa Monica bid to remove Paul Conrad's 'Chain Reaction' nonsensical

When the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago launched a magazine in 1947, its editors turned to artist Martyl Schweig Langsdorf for some cover ideas.

 MOCA and director Jeffrey Deitch as an oil-and-water mix

6:30 AM PDT, July 24, 2013

MOCA and director Jeffrey Deitch as an oil-and-water mix

The imminent departure of Jeffrey Deitch from the directorship of the Museum of Contemporary Art after three short years was never really a question of "if" but only "when." The arrangement was bound to fail.

Review: A modern Silk Road passes through OCMA's Pacific Rim show

6:00 AM PDT, July 5, 2013

Review: A modern Silk Road passes through OCMA's Pacific Rim show

More than 2,000 years ago, the Silk Road emerged as a network of flourishing trade routes between Asia and Europe, as well as parts of North and East Africa. Cultures crossfertilized. Civilizations prospered, others flamed out. Art recorded the complex new entanglements.

Hang-ups in Cezanne paintings' intended path to the White House

7:00 AM PDT, September 4, 2013

Hang-ups in Cezanne paintings' intended path to the White House

When Charles A. Loeser died in 1928, he was 64, nearly a decade older than the average American was expected to live. He had led a comfortable life of privilege, spent abroad in Italy.

 UCLA Hammer Museum embraces free admission, and it has company

7:40 PM PDT, October 6, 2013

UCLA Hammer Museum embraces free admission, and it has company

If a trend requires three of something, then free admission at prominent Los Angeles-area art museums is trembling on the brink of becoming a trend. Museum-wise, few could be better.

Chasing the White House Cezannes

7:00 AM PDT, August 31, 2013

Chasing the White House Cezannes

Just a week before astronaut John Glenn's maiden voyage orbiting the Earth in 1962, a record 46 million people sat down before their black-and-white sets to watch Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy conduct the first televised White House tour.

Review: Hans Richter's radical revision of time and space at LACMA

11:50 AM PDT, August 16, 2013

Review: Hans Richter's radical revision of time and space at LACMA

Hans Richter, the early 20th century artist whose work is currently on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is an ideal subject for the museum to examine in an exhibition. For LACMA, he's a two-fer.

 Albrecht Dürer's 'Turf' church

8:30 AM PDT, June 1, 2013

Albrecht Dürer's 'Turf' church

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Is Albrecht Dürer's "The Great Piece of Turf" (1503) the greatest European drawing ever made?

Review: Richard Artschwager a success in any dimension at Hammer

7:50 AM PDT, July 15, 2013

Review: Richard Artschwager a success in any dimension at Hammer

Richard Artschwager, who died in February at 89, was that exceedingly rare artist who made paintings and sculptures of virtually equal merit.

 Review: 'Painting in Place' flings open conceptual abstraction doors

5:30 PM PDT, June 13, 2013

Review: 'Painting in Place' flings open conceptual abstraction doors

Before the 1980s, abstract painting typically embraced pure form — gesture or geometry as something self-contained, insulated from outside contamination.

 Critic's Notebook: Seeing L.A.'s MOCA as a company — therein lies the rub

10:15 PM PDT, July 8, 2012

Critic's Notebook: Seeing L.A.'s MOCA as a company — therein lies the rub

If you're confused by the convulsive goings-on at the internationally admired Museum of Contemporary Art, which culminated in the June 25 firing of the illustrious chief curator instrumental in putting the museum on the map, don't be. It's not that complicated.

 LACMA, MOCA fall behind in giving female artists a solo platform

6:00 AM PDT, July 11, 2013

LACMA, MOCA fall behind in giving female artists a solo platform

Right now the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the city's Museum of Contemporary Art are holding a pair of highly unusual solo exhibitions.

Christ on the cross: a violent image as an act of commiseration

12:00 PM PST, February 15, 2013

The culture of violence

Christ on the cross: a violent image as an act of commiseration

No image I know in the history of Western painting is more brutal than the crucifixion scene in the Isenheim Altarpiece. Its violence would make Quentin Tarantino blush.

 Art review: The light through James Turrell's eyes

5:00 AM PDT, May 28, 2013

Art review: The light through James Turrell's eyes

"James Turrell: A Retrospective" is a bit like a dinner party at which the guest of honor is absent. Family members and friends are there, plus lots of conversation about the one who's missing. But the primary impetus for the get-together couldn't make it.

 In art as in music, John Cage reveals the world within

10:24 AM PDT, September 1, 2012

In art as in music, John Cage reveals the world within

John Cage was a leading avant-garde composer for 40 years, but he also made spare watercolors, drawings and prints, plus the occasional painting, especially in the final decades of his life. Infused with the same spirit that characterizes his work as a musician, Cage's pale color washes, Zen circles and delicate abstract markings are often lovely.

Richard Artschwager dies at 89; painter and sculptor

February 11, 2013

Richard Artschwager dies at 89; painter and sculptor

Richard Artschwager, an artist who turned his apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker into a distinctive approach to making sculptures and paintings that defy easy categorization, died Saturday in Albany, N.Y., following a brief illness. He was 89.

Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945-1980

September 18, 2011

Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945-1980

Sometimes we seem to know less about the early years of post-World War II art in Los Angeles than we know about the Pleistocene Age mammals dredged up from the La Brea Tar Pits. In the last 30 years, L.A. pushed to the front ranks of international capitals for new art, a dizzying development widely documented — but what happened in the 30 years before that?

Critic's Notebook: LeRoy Neiman made art safe for Playboy-reading heterosexuals

June 25, 2012

Critic's Notebook: LeRoy Neiman made art safe for Playboy-reading heterosexuals

Without Hugh Hefner's Playboy magazine and its philosophy of unfettered heterosexual hedonism through stimulation of all the senses, there would have been no LeRoy Neiman. Usually mischaracterized as simply a sports artist, he was actually much more than that. Neiman was the painter of the "Playboy Philosophy."

Review: LACMA's new hunk 'Levitated Mass' has some substance

3:25 PM PDT, June 22, 2012

Review: LACMA's new hunk 'Levitated Mass' has some substance

On Sunday morning, artist Michael Heizer's eagerly anticipated environmental sculpture, "Levitated Mass," finally opens to the public at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. At an 11 a.m. ceremony, ribbons will be cut, speeches made, the artist and donors to the $10-million project thanked.

Critic's Notebook: A new life for the Broad Collection

August 24, 2010

Critic's Notebook: A new life for the Broad Collection

Huntington, Getty, Simon, Hammer, Crocker, Menil, Wadsworth, Phillips, Frick, Morgan, Whitney, Guggenheim, etc. — the list of super-rich Americans who, since the mid-19th century, have established museums or galleries to house their personal art collections is as familiar as the institutions that still carry their names. Their motives have been wide-ranging: altruism, self-aggrandizement, fun, social engineering, commitment, reputation laundering and more, including various combinations thereof.

Pacific Standard Time: Open your eyes to John McLaughlin

October 2, 2011

Pacific Standard Time: Open your eyes to John McLaughlin

Rico Lebrun was probably the most famous Modern American artist working in Los Angeles in the decade following World War II. Yet, when the J. Paul Getty Museum opened "Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970" on Saturday, kicking off the mammoth, region-wide survey of Los Angeles art dubbed Pacific Standard Time, Lebrun's paintings were nowhere to be seen.

'Phantom Sightings' at LACMA

April 15, 2008

ART REVIEW

'Phantom Sightings' at LACMA

THE king is dead. Long live the king!

Critic's Notebook: MOCA's firing of Paul Schimmel is a bad sign

4:25 PM PDT, June 29, 2012

Critic's Notebook: MOCA's firing of Paul Schimmel is a bad sign

Who is the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art? According to the museum it's Jeffrey Deitch, the former New York art dealer who — with virtually no prior museum experience — assumed the top job at one of America's leading institutions two years ago.

L.A.'s growing pains, status

December 20, 2009

NOTES ON THE DECADE

L.A.'s growing pains, status

The six solo gallery debuts in Los Angeles that I admired most this year confirm something about the new millennium that we pretty much take for granted. The city's cosmopolitanism and art's internationalism are here to stay. ¶ Two of the six artists were born in the United States. At L.A. Louver, Ben Jackel showed stoneware sculptures on militaristic themes that fuse brutality, fragility and play, while humility wrestled with grandiosity in Justin Hansch's witty paintings at Circus.

Critic’s notebook: The Getty Trust presidency needs to be abolished

April 25, 2010

Critic’s notebook: The Getty Trust presidency needs to be abolished

In March, a "help wanted" ad appeared on the J. Paul Getty Trust's website. Amid listings seeking an HVAC technician, a security officer and an audiovisual specialist came four succinct paragraphs, highlighted by this description:

MOCA's 'Art in the Streets' gets the big picture wrong

May 29, 2011

MOCA's 'Art in the Streets' gets the big picture wrong

Is graffiti the most influential art movement since Pop burst on the scene in 1962?

Luc Tuymans: Don't take his images at face value

March 14, 2010

ART REVIEW

Luc Tuymans: Don't take his images at face value

Last year, when President and Mrs. Obama were selecting art for temporary White House display, I felt a twinge of regret that they were limited to work by American artists. At least two pictures by 51-year-old Belgian painter Luc Tuymans would offer a lot of contemplative substance hanging in the national residence. Both are now in his remarkable and cautionary traveling retrospective of some 70 paintings at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Kenneth Price dies at 77; artist transformed traditional ceramics

February 25, 2012

Kenneth Price dies at 77; artist transformed traditional ceramics

Kenneth Price, a prolific Los Angeles artist whose work with glazed and painted clay transformed traditional ceramics while also expanding orthodox definitions of American and European sculpture, died early Friday at his home and studio in Taos, N.M. He was 77.

Museum deaccessioning done right

March 15, 2009

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Museum deaccessioning done right

José Clemente Orozco was one of 20th century Mexico's great socially minded muralists. A stark 1929 easel painting made at the dawn of the Great Depression helps to show how. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art bought the modestly sized tempera and oil painting last year -- its first painting by the artist -- and today it hangs on the fourth floor of the Art of the Americas building.

John McCracken dies at 76; contemporary artist made geometric sculptures

April 10, 2011

John McCracken dies at 76; contemporary artist made geometric sculptures

John McCracken, an artist whose fusion of painting with geometric sculpture in the mid-1960s came to embody an aesthetic distinctive to postwar Los Angeles, died Friday in New York. He was 76.

'Pacific Standard Time': Exhibitions to keep an eye on

September 18, 2011

'Pacific Standard Time': Exhibitions to keep an eye on

A few of the 60-plus shows have already opened, but "Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980" officially gets launched Oct. 1 and 2 with a trio of major surveys opening at the Getty, MOCA and LACMA. Here's an annotated list of some of the more intriguing exhibitions. Start your engines.

'Giorgio Morandi: 1890-1964'

November 24, 2008

ART REVIEW

'Giorgio Morandi: 1890-1964'

" Giorgio Morandi: 1890-1964," the enthralling exhibition of 110 paintings, drawings and prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a bit of a surprise, but not for revealing an overlooked master. The show, as the first Morandi retrospective ever mounted in the United States, was in fact guaranteed to be loved. It includes some landscapes and a couple of dry self-portraits, but his spare still-life paintings, with their pale, sensuously brushed forms, reliably send a shiver down the art public's spine.

Charles Burchfield: A master of American Modernist watercolor

October 11, 2009

ART REVIEW

Charles Burchfield: A master of American Modernist watercolor

Arguably, watercolor was the most important medium sustained by American painters struggling with the new demands and untried possibilities of Modernism in the first half of the 20th century.

REDCAT AT 5: ART

November 30, 2008

ART

REDCAT AT 5: ART

Remember the Pacific Rim? The term isn't heard much in art circles anymore, but in the last dozen years of the 20th century, it was everywhere.

'Wifredo Lam' at the Museum of Latin American Art

July 23, 2008

ART REVIEW

'Wifredo Lam' at the Museum of Latin American Art

IN 19th CENTURY EUROPE, when modern science bumped aside the Christian God as the primary artistic foundation for meaning and moral value, artists lost a subject that had preoccupied them for hundreds of years. "Show me an angel and I'll paint one," the famously combative showman Gustave Courbet told his detractors. A search for truth trumped its declaration in the depiction of religious narrative.

Inauguration ushers in new hope for National Mall

January 18, 2009

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Inauguration ushers in new hope for National Mall

The cascade of extraordinary scenes will officially begin Tuesday, with the nation's first inauguration of an African American president on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, in a city south of the Mason-Dixon Line, as the oath of office is sworn on Abraham Lincoln's bible.

Belgian artist Alÿs reinvents a saint at LACMA

September 16, 2008

ART REVIEW

Belgian artist Alÿs reinvents a saint at LACMA

Seen one, seen 'em all?

Under the gun is no way to view art

June 4, 2008

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Under the gun is no way to view art

The e-mail from a reader was unequivocal. "In all my visits to museums and galleries around the world," it said, "I have never seen an armed guard."

Kandinsky retrospective is natural for Guggenheim

November 22, 2009

ART REVIEW

Kandinsky retrospective is natural for Guggenheim

"Kandinsky," the big exhibition of 95 oil paintings made between 1902 and 1942 by the visionary pioneer of abstraction, Vasily Kandinsky, is a show that looks like it was made expressly for the spiral ramp of the Guggenheim Museum. That's because in a sense it was.

An open letter to MOCA's board of trustees

November 20, 2008

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

An open letter to MOCA's board of trustees

To: MOCA trustees

'Martin Kersels: Heavyweight Champion'

September 18, 2008

ART REVIEW

'Martin Kersels: Heavyweight Champion'

In the 1980s, Martin Kersels was a performance artist.

Jorge Pardo's Pre-Columbian art installation at LACMA

August 1, 2008

ART REVIEW

Jorge Pardo's Pre-Columbian art installation at LACMA

Conceptually sophisticated and visually smashing, the installation design that artist Jorge Pardo conceived and executed for the impressive Pre-Columbian collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was unveiled to the public Sunday. Unlike anything you've seen in an art museum before, it's built on a deep understanding of the potential power of smart decoration.

'Vanity Fair Portraits' at LACMA

October 31, 2008

ART REVIEW

'Vanity Fair Portraits' at LACMA

Founded in 1856, London's National Portrait Gallery is a place where the people in the pictures, not the pictures themselves, are what count. The museum's website explains: "The National Portrait Gallery was established with the criteria that the Gallery was to be about history, not about art, and about the status of the sitter, rather than the quality or character of a particular image considered as a work of art. This criterion is still used by the Gallery today."

Peter Saul at the Orange County Museum of Art

July 4, 2008

ART REVIEW

Peter Saul at the Orange County Museum of Art

Peter Saul is some kind of national treasure. Just what kind of national treasure is hard to say.

A renovated Huntington Art Gallery

May 25, 2008

ART

A renovated Huntington Art Gallery

THE PAVED terrace behind the Huntington Art Gallery is 80 paces wide. By my stride, that's more than 165 feet. Stand at the center and look south, with the imposing Beaux-Arts mansion and its striped green awnings at your back, and infinity rolls out before you.

'The Cool School'

June 10, 2008

TELEVISION REVIEW

'The Cool School'

If there had been a flash grease-fire at Barney's Beanery in West Hollywood circa 1960, the entire L.A. art scene would have been wiped out.

July 24, 2005

CRITIC'S CHOICE | BERLIN

A portal to the new Berlin

For Westerners, the center of Berlin suddenly shifted east when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. The geographic heart of the metropolis still lies in the bohemian neighborhood of Kreuzberg, with its big, loft-like apartments and sometimes raucous night life. But reunification of East and West has meant that the city's spiritual core has returned to Museumsinsel — Museum Island — a spot of land in the Spree River that is home to an array of seminal art museums stuffed with astounding collections. Nearby, the once drab East Berlin neighborhood around Auguststrasse, just a short walk across the river, has metamorphosed into the liveliest contemporary gallery scene in Europe.

Kippenberger retrospective at MOCA

September 24, 2008

ART REVIEW

Kippenberger retrospective at MOCA

A WICKED sculpture at the entrance to the retrospective exhibition of Martin Kippenberger's work at the Museum of Contemporary Art crystallizes the manic tone that made the German-born Conceptual artist such an influential force, beginning in the 1980s. Then, in the show's first gallery, a thoroughly flat-footed installation also demonstrates what made his work so maddeningly uneven. Kippenberger died of cancer in 1997, at age 44, so we'll never know whether his early achievements would have been multiplied or divided over the long haul, but MOCA's sprawling, 250-work show gives a welcome overview, warts and all.

Bernini's genius is revealed in Getty exhibition

August 5, 2008

ART REVIEW

Bernini's genius is revealed in Getty exhibition

NOTHING would seem more dull than an exhibition of portrait busts, those stone-faced dust-catchers representing obscure generals, long-dead clergymen, government functionaries and preening aristocrats that one sometimes encounters tucked away in museum hallways or lobbies but rarely in prominent galleries for painting and sculpture. Typically, the sitter's wearisome vanity outdistances the artist's skill with a chisel and a drill.

Critic's Notebook

America's Maul

By Christopher Knight, Times Staff Writer

Carleton Watkins on the frontier of U.S. photography

October 17, 2008

ART

Carleton Watkins on the frontier of U.S. photography

Conventional wisdom is that the Civil War didn't have a dramatic impact on American art. The preservation of the Union and the end of hideous intramural hostility supposedly generated an illusion of continuity, reflected in dreamy landscape painting and monumental sculpture celebrating American history and myth.

May 2, 2007

ART REVIEW

With new space, Seattle Art Museum expands its vision

SEATTLE — When the Seattle Art Museum turns 75 next year, it intends to be not only the most important general art museum in the Pacific Northwest but to be nationally prominent too. It might just get its wish.

June 21, 2006

CARS / 125 YEARS / COMMEMORATIVE EDITION / GALLERY

Classic paint jobs

Set out the flares: It's important to approach the subject of cars and art in L.A. with considerable caution. The road is dotted with potholes. We learned that the hard way. In 1984, the Museum of Contemporary Art opened a high-profile exhibition titled "Automobile and Culture" that chronicled the interplay between cars and art in Europe and the U.S. throughout the 20th century. To the surprise of many, masterpieces were few and far between. Minor works by minor artists filled the show, together with minor works by major artists, and the exhibition demonstrated just how incidental the car has been as an image for Modern artists.

Mark Tribe's Port Huron Project via Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions

July 25, 2008

AROUND THE GALLERIES

Mark Tribe's Port Huron Project via Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions

Early Saturday evening, Providence, R.I.-based artist Mark Tribe orchestrated a reenactment of a 1971 speech by Chicano labor activist César Chávez protesting the Vietnam War. On the South Lawn of Exposition Park, midway between the Natural History Museum and the Coliseum, a call went out for "organized and disciplined nonviolent action," aimed squarely at those "seeking [their] manhood in affluence and war."

Kori Newkirk at Museum of California Art

September 5, 2008

AROUND THE GALLERIES

Kori Newkirk at Museum of California Art

Ephemeral, transient, fugitive -- a central theme in Kori Newkirk's Conceptual art resonates through various forms. Thirty-one photographs, beaded curtains, neon lights, murals, collages and video projections made since 1997 constitute his modest traveling survey at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. If the show feels somewhat thin, look again: The subject of dislocated estrangement makes it so.

Why this actor's art shouldn't be at LACMA

July 2, 2008

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Why this actor's art shouldn't be at LACMA

I'm no fan of public art museums exhibiting private collections. The negatives so far outweigh the positives that such shows hurt, rather than help, a museum's mission.

'Masterpieces of San Diego Painting'

April 8, 2008

ART REVIEW

'Masterpieces of San Diego Painting'

OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- The exhibition celebrating a building expansion at Oceanside Museum of Art is titled "Masterpieces of San Diego Painting: Fifty Works From Fifty Years, 1900-1950." If that doesn't stop you dead in your tracks, nothing will.

April 8, 2008

ART REVIEW

'Masterpieces of San Diego Painting: Fifty Works From Fifty Years, 1900-1950'

OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- The exhibition celebrating a building expansion at Oceanside Museum of Art is titled "Masterpieces of San Diego Painting: Fifty Works From Fifty Years, 1900-1950." If that doesn't stop you dead in your tracks, nothing will.

Can a museum -- even MOCA -- contain this work?

April 17, 2008

ART REVIEW

Can a museum -- even MOCA -- contain this work?

If an artist makes art intended to function outside the confines of an art museum, does it make sense for an art museum to present a retrospective exhibition of that artist's work?

Marlene Dumas subject of MOCA retrospective

June 25, 2008

ART REVIEW

Marlene Dumas subject of MOCA retrospective

THE LARGE mid-career survey of paintings by South African born, Amsterdam-based artist Marlene Dumas that opened last weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art represents, in effect, her Los Angeles debut.

Jennifer Steinkamp dazzles at ACME

June 13, 2008

AROUND THE GALLERIES

Jennifer Steinkamp dazzles at ACME

Jennifer Steinkamp is among the most consistently inventive artists working today. Digital animation has been her medium since the early 1990s, which also makes her an important pioneer.

'This Side of Paradise' at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

June 18, 2008

ART REVIEW

'This Side of Paradise' at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

A1991 photograph by John Humble shows Selma Avenue at Vine Street as a jumbled, architecturally constructed Hollywood landscape of office buildings, stores, asphalt and advertising billboards. Dominating the center is Angelyne, the cosmetically manufactured "human Barbie doll," who adorns one enormous sign.

Dike Blair at Mary Goldman Gallery

May 16, 2008

AROUND THE GALLERIES

Dike Blair at Mary Goldman Gallery

A dozen gouaches and a matched pair of installation sculptures by Dike Blair continue the New York artist's eccentric dialogue between perception and objects. His second show at Mary Goldman Gallery nicely elaborates long-standing concerns rather than breaking new ground.

Portrait of a cultural battle

April 4, 2006

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Portrait of a cultural battle

As a celebrated Modern painting goes on temporary view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art today, the masterpiece becomes the latest work looted by the Nazis during World War II to have been returned to its rightful owner. Ninety-year-old Cheviot Hills resident Maria Altmann successfully sued the Austrian government for return of the treasure, seized from her uncle's home after he fled Vienna in 1938.

Artist mixed paint, sculpture, cast-offs

May 14, 2008

Artist mixed paint, sculpture, cast-offs

Robert Rauschenberg, the protean artist from small-town Texas whose imaginative commitment to hybrid forms of painting and sculpture changed the course of American and European art between 1950 and the early 1970s, died Monday night, according to New York's PaceWildenstein Gallery, which represents his work. He was 82.

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