Some days are crazy, and then... there was last week. It actually started on Saturday, at an unholy hour, 8am, a time when I'm not usually ready to face the world. But there it was, a chance to join a group of really smart people - to be a guest at an art conference hosted in Pasadena by the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis. It was intriguing to hear what people with so much insight into the human psyche had to say about art and art collecting. In a nutshell, it was: 'tell me your favorite artist (or what you collect), and I'll tell you who you are.' And if that were not enough, one of the speakers, in a very concise way, brought up a subject of great importance for so many creative people. He spoke of perfectionism as the biggest enemy of creativity. Yeah, I can think of more than a few artists whose work was impeded by an obsession with 'making it perfect' instead of making it true.
The conference ended just in time to rush back to L.A. for an opening at the Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery. For the last decade, the city of Los Angeles has presented annual awards to L.A.-based artists and organized special exhibitions to showcase their talent. If you've never been at the Barnsdal., this is not only a chance to see a good exhibition, but also to discover an attractive park with a spectacular view of L.A. from the top of a grassy hill. Besides, next to the gallery is a famous architectural landmark, the Hollyhock House, built by Frank Lloyd Wright for Mrs. Barnsdall, who later donated it to the City of Los Angeles.
On Sunday, I went to a party celebrating the 80th birthday of remarkable Los Angeles artist, Ed Moses, living proof of my thesis about the importance of taking one's work -- but not oneself -- very seriously. What's more, he delighted me with a wonderful quote from the uncompromising American painter, Ad Reinhardt, who said, "A wealthy artist is not a good artist." Yes, I agree: quite often commercial success comes with a price.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I was up to my ears with a huge task, a complete reinstallation of a corporate art collection that I've been curating for the last 20 years. It occupies five floors of a high-rise tower in downtown L.A., and from the conference room on the 50th floor, I was able to see the amazing swell of humanity, hundreds of thousands of people marching toward City Hall.
On Thursday, I tried to pace myself; after all, that evening I had to face a sold-out crowd at the Getty Center auditorium. I was scheduled to talk about the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and introduce a very special movie, The Russian Ark, which takes place in the halls and galleries of the Hermitage. During the Q&A; following the screening, I was moved by the enthusiasm and energy of the audience. It felt as if they had joined me on a private journey into my past.
Friday morning I was back at the corporate offices of my client to complete the installation of their collection. I knew I had to finish early in order to be on time for the 4pm opening of an important conference at USC's Fisher Gallery dealing with the growing controversy over the ownership of a number of illegally excavated ancient artifacts that have been acquired by American and European museums.
Saturday was spent preparing for today's Art Talk and Sunday I had to drive to Laguna Beach to give a talk: "The Fine Art of Art Collecting." Looking back at this last week I agree: yes, indeed, "there is no rest for the wicked."
Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis
12121 Wilshire Blvd Suite 505
Los Angeles, California 90025
"Ed Moses: Tapestries and Paintings"
May 13 - June 24
Bobbie Greenfield Gallery
2525 Michigan Avenue, B6
Santa Monica, CA 90404
tel 310 264 0640