Review: The growing divide between wealth and poverty, as seen through one German artist’s eyes
Andrea Büttner’s first Los Angeles solo exhibition is a bit all over the place: You’ll see a table of art historical reproductions, a wall covered in neon yellow fabric and a large sculpture of a lump of moss.
But the German artist’s efforts come together around themes of wealth and poverty, high culture and low. The work raises questions about our ever-accelerating path of economic stratification.
The moss, which is pure white, like classical statuary, sits in front of a suite of large-scale etchings mounted on the yellow fabric. The etchings look like gestural abstractions but are actually derived from the greasy fingerprint trails we create on our phone screens. The fabric, known as “high visibility yellow,” is used for the uniforms of emergency personnel; here it serves as a kind of highlighter, drawing our attention to phenomena that are typically beneath notice or under foot.
Another suite of works looks at images of beggars. Nine large woodcuts each depict a simple hooded form with two outstretched hands. These faceless figures contrast with smaller reproductions of art historical mendicants (by Rembrandt, David and others) on a low table nearby. They are sourced from auction catalogs, suggesting how art has turned images of poverty into profit.
By refusing to give her own beggars any identifying features at all, Büttner pushes against the condescending impulse to “give a human face” to destitution. But there’s no escaping the market; her beggars are products too.
Where: David Kordansky Gallery, 5130 W. Edgewood Place, Los Angeles
When: Through Oct. 22; closed Sundays and Mondays
Info: (323) 935-3030, www.davidkordanskygallery.com
Follow The Times’ arts team @culturemonster.
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