Art News to Keep Our Spirits High

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Last time, we Californians encountered him in a prison. Yes, it was at Alcatraz, where his installations sprawled all over the building. Of course, I am talking about the most famous Chinese dissident artist, Ai Weiwei. Now, we are happy to learn that in the upcoming months, not one, but three exhibitions by Ai Weiwei are going to pop up in LA this Autumn.

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Portrait of Ai WeiWei. Image courtesy Alfred Weidinger on Flickr.

The former Director of MOCA, Jeffrey Deitch, will inaugurate his new Hollywood gallery with an Ai Weiwei show. The Marciano Art Foundation will give Ai Weiwei its sprawling ground floor space for yet another bigger-than-life project. And last, but not least, the United Talent Agency engaged Ai Weiwei to redesign its new Artist Space in Beverly Hills, where he will show his marble sculptures. According to the artist, these are his first exhibitions in LA, and he, like all of us, is very excited about it.

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Ed Moses, Untitled. 1986. Image courtesy LACMA.

Last week, during a celebration of the life of Ed Moses at LACMA, I learned from Mayor Eric Garcetti, one of the speakers, that he has, in his office at City Hall, three artworks on loan from the County Museum by LA artists Ed Moses, Catherine Opie, and Ed Ruscha. Not every politician would be comfortable and open-minded enough to surround him or herself with such challenging artworks. So, here is another reason to have respect for our Mayor.

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Van Gogh, Landscape with Snow. 1888. Image courtesy Wikipedia.

Obviously, Eric Garcetti was luckier than our President, Donald Trump, whose request to borrow a Van Gogh painting from the Guggenheim Museum for his private living quarters was politely declined. Instead, the chief curator offered an alternative – the artwork America by the famous Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan – a solid gold, fully- functioning toilet. The President did not accept.

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Exterior, Melnikov House. Moscow. Alex 'Florstein' Fedorov. Wikimedia Commons.

Here is more welcome and surprising news, coming – of all places – from Moscow. Thanks to a Getty Foundation “Keeping It Modern” grant, the famous 1929 cylindrical building by avant-garde Russian architect Konstantin Melnikov will undergo a thorough examination of its condition in preparation for conservation and maintenance.

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Interior, Melnikov House, Moscow. By Trasprd, from Wikimedia Commons.

Nothing like the Melnikov House has been built anywhere else, so it’s understandable why the Getty chose it as one important piece of modern architecture to preserve.

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Installation shot: Kerry James Marshall: Mastry. MOCA. Photo by Edward Goldman. 

My program last week celebrated various current exhibitions at MOCA on Grand Avenue. A few days later, surprising news surfaced about MOCA’s Director Philippe Vergne resigning at the end of his 5-year contract, in March of 2019. With the recent firing of MOCA’s Chief Curator Helen Molesworth, the museum seems to be in the midst of turmoil yet again. Though, somehow, recent exhibitions, including a spectacular show by Kerry James Marshall, were a huge success with critics and the public.

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Kerry James Marshall, Past Times. 1997. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By the way, last week, one of the monumental paintings by Kerry James Marshall, Past Times, was sold by Sotheby’s for a record 21.1 million dollars – wow – the most money paid for an artwork by a living African American artist. The buyer turned out to be record producer and entrepreneur Sean Combs.



Kathleen Yore