What's up on the art scene for the new year? An auction of another late Van Gogh painting, pushing his record prices further into the stratosphere? Another spate of new galleries in Santa Monica? An art boom in Culver City, Hawaiian Gardens or El Monte? The debut of another 22-year-old genius?
Such things can't be predicted with any degree of certainty. What we do know something about is exhibitions. But before getting to the new ones, here's a warning: All the people who have been complaining about the endless engagement of "Individuals" but haven't actually seen it have exactly one week to catch the Museum of Contemporary Art's inaugural show. When the museum closes its doors next Sunday at 6 p.m., it's out with the old and in with the new.
Not immediately, however. MOCA will spend more than a month dismantling "Individuals" and installing the next big attraction, "The Architecture of Frank Gehry," scheduled Feb. 16 to May 18. Full-scale, walk-in architectural constructions will be on view in the 20-year survey of work by the Los Angeles architect, plus drawings, photographs, scale models and furniture. Known for inventive uses of banal material--including chain-link fencing and corrugated cardboard--Gehry has collaborated with such artists as Claes Oldenburg in projects that blur boundaries between shelter and visual art.
Gehry designed the museum's Temporary Contemporary facility, turning a city-owned garage into a versatile showcase that has been critically acclaimed and popular with the public, but his exhibition will not take place there. Instead, it will move into the museum's year-old home on Bunker Hill, a commission that Gehry had hoped to win before it was granted to Japanese architect Arata Isozaki.
Architecture is also on the agenda at the County Museum of Art where the really big event of the year is the mid-September opening of the new Pavilion for Japanese Art. The unusual building (with translucent walls that function rather like shoji screens) was designed by the late Bruce Goff to house a cache of Edo period paintings donated by Joe D. Price, along with other Japanese art in the museum's collection.
The Municipal Art Gallery's architect of choice is Frank Lloyd Wright, whose Hollyhock House is the gallery's neighbor in Barnsdall Park. The Muni will host two shows of his work, Jan. 28 to March 13. "Frank Lloyd Wright and the Johnson Wax Buildings: Creating a Corporate Cathedral" will focus on an innovative project in Racine, Wis., executed in the late 1930s and '40s. "Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles: An Architecture for the Southwest" will examine Wright's work here in the 1920s.
About the same time as the invasion of architecture, the British will descend on Los Angeles in a festival called "UK/LA '88--A Celebration of British Arts." The primary attraction is a huge retrospective of David Hockney's art, at the County Museum of Art Feb. 4 to April 24. The 50-year-old artist who divides his time between Los Angeles and London will fill the Anderson building with 150 paintings, 60 drawings, 30 photographs, examples of his stage sets, plus various prints and books. The catalogue alone is an enormous production that contains new color photography of all his works, essays by critics, scholars and artists and a section designed by Hockney.
Among other events planned for "UK/LA '88" are Cal State Long Beach's presentation of conceptually based contemporary art, in a show called "The Analytical Theatre: New Art From Britain," Jan. 26 to March 6; the Museum of Contemporary Art's exhibition of Boyd Webb's color photographs of specially built installations, March 22 to June 19, and the Long Beach Museum of Art's display of "New British Color Photography" plus a show of Michael Kenna's black-and-white photographs, March 13 to April 17.
Contemporary solo exhibitions--the best public means of getting to know an artist--take a predictably prominent place in the spring season. Most eagerly awaited is a retrospective of Anselm Kiefer's expressionistic paintings, woodcuts, books and collages at the Museum of Contemporary Art June 14 to Sept. 11. A great visual tragedian whose interests extend far beyond his own country and time, Kiefer is considered by many critics to be the best German--some say the best European--painter to emerge in the last quarter-century. The traveling show will contain about 70 works, plus some new sculptures and large-scale woodcuts not shown in other cities.
"Chris Burden: A 20-Year Survey" promises to be the spring's most interesting and extensive examination of a Los Angeles artist. At the Newport Harbor Art Museum April 10 to June 12, the Burden show will "chart the significance of an artist who has uniquely explored the aesthetics of provocation, ambiguity and risk," according to a press release.
"Joyce Treiman: Friends and Strangers," at USC's Fisher Gallery Jan. 20 to Feb. 27, will survey 20 years of figurative drawings and paintings by a Los Angeles Expressionist admired for her deft draftsmanship and prickly wit.
Larry Bell, an artist still claimed by Los Angeles though he moved to Taos, N.M., years ago, will show his "Vapor Drawings" at the Laguna Art Museum, Jan. 15 to Feb. 28, and Loyola Marymount University will continue its series on underexposed American women with "A Tribute to Claire Falkenstein," Feb. 2 to April 9.
Major shows of work by contemporary Americans from other locales also are scheduled up and down the coast. At UC Santa Barbara Jan. 12 to Feb. 21, curator Phyllis Plous has organized "Terry Winters: Drawing and Painting," the first extensive examination of a New York painter whose work has only been seen here in small samplings.
Those who missed Julian Schnabel's controversial show of paintings (1975-1986) at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York can see it at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Feb. 11 to April 3. The same institution will introduce a traveling show of Bay Area sculptor Stephen de Staebler's figurative bronzes and ceramics, Feb. 25 to April 17. (The mid-career survey was organized by Lynn Gamwell for the Laguna Art Museum and Saddleback College, but it will not arrive at Laguna until 1989.)
Also on tap at the San Francisco Modern, May 26 to July 17, is the first major retrospective of Joan Mitchell, a second-generation American Abstract Expressionist who lives and works in France. "Saints and Other Angels: The Religious Paintings of Audrey Flack," a rather offbeat entry featuring the work of an exacting Photo-Realist, will surely draw art pilgrims to UC Irvine Feb. 11 to March 12; likewise the first Southern California show of Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum's "archaic realism," at Cal State Long Beach March 22 to May 1.
"Andrew Wyeth, the Helga Pictures" is certain to attract crowds and controversy at the County Museum of Art, May 1 to July 10. Unless, of course, people are already tired of the illustrator's portraits of his neighbor, so titillatingly revealed last year as "a discovery."
American artists who made their reputations during the first part of the 20th Century also will get some exposure this year when the Laguna Art Museum shows early works by Charles Burchfield, an inventor of enchanted landscapes, March 10 to April 24, and the San Diego Museum of Art pairs celebrated Iowan Grant Wood with his lesser-known colleague Marvin Cone, Jan. 9 to Feb. 28.
In the field of photography, Gustave Le Gray (1820-1882) is this spring's most imposing figure. The J. Paul Getty Museum plans a show, May 3 to Aug. 31, of 35 works to demonstrate the versatility of the French photographer who influenced Impressionist painters. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art will host a retrospective of Robert Capa's incisive photojournalism, Jan. 23 to March 12, while the County Museum of Art will feature Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, two artists who are perpetually in the limelight. Seventy-five images that Adams deemed his finest will be at LACMA, March 10 to May 15. Weston's centennial retrospective, now on an extensive tour of the country, will check into the museum from June 2 to Sept. 4.
The Long Beach Museum of Art, known for its energetic video program, will look into the history of the medium when it shows seminal works by Bruce Nauman, Peter Campus and Beryl Korot in "Plains of Memory," Jan. 24 to Feb. 28.
Ambitious theme shows and slices of history are increasingly rare, presumably because of the difficulty and expense of organizing them, but three loom large on the horizon. "Paris in Japan: The Japanese Encounter With European Painting," at UCLA Feb. 23 to April 3, will explore the influence of late 19th- and early 20th-Century Japanese artists who adopted Western styles of painting.
MOCA will present 10 artists who "share a self-conscious awareness of the late modern period and a common desire to redefine abstract painting" in "The Image of Abstraction," July 12 to Sept. 25. "The Figurative Fifties: New York Figurative Expressionism," at the Newport Harbor Art Museum July 15 to Sept. 18, will examine the figurative alternative to the dominant abstraction of the 1950s in the work of Willem de Kooning, Robert Goodnough, Grace Hartigan, Jan Muller and Larry Rivers.
That brings us to the subject of collections, another standard exhibition genre. Though relatively small and understated, "Master Drawings From Chatsworth," a traveling show lent by the Duke of Devonshire, promises to be a jewel, at the County Museum of Art April 28 to June 26.
Pomona College will show 30 Japanese paintings from the private Sanso collection in "Zen Through the Ages," Jan. 17 to Feb. 14. A spokeswoman for the Laguna Art Museum promises pleasant surprises, including some Mary Cassatts, in "American Impressionists in Midwest Collections," imported from the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Lincoln, Neb., May 5 to Aug. 14. And beginning Jan. 15 the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art will devote the entire spring season to its collection in a two-part exhibition coordinated with special shows of Krzysztos Wodiczko's projections on public buildings and Judith Shea's figurative sculpture.
We could go on, but you probably get the picture: 1988 will not be a quiet year on the Pacific art front.