Coming Attractions

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To appreciate the future, we must consider the past, most immediately the brilliance of Ellsworth Kelly who passed away on December 27. This master of simple yet profound form and color, though hardly a household name, was lauded in national and international media. I had just started at KCRW when I interviewed him on the occasion of his 2012 print retrospective at LACMA. His design for the facade of the Matthew Marks Gallery in West Hollywood lives on as does his work in the Broad museum.

The opening of The Broad last fall generated ever more enthusiasm for LA's art scene, which has attracted ever more galleries. Two of the biggest will be opening this spring.

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John Baldessari, "Maybe the Simplest Way...," 2015
Varnished inkjet print on canvas with acrylic paint
54 1/8 x 71 7/8 x 1 5/8 inches (137,5 x 182,6 x 4,1 cm)
Courtesy the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery and Sprueth Magers

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Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles
Photo: Joshua White

Sprueth Magers, with locations in Berlin and London, opens in the 1966 William Pereira-designed building across from LACMA with an exhibition of new work by John Baldessari on February 24. He suggested they keep the palm trees and fountains on the plaza so in keeping with the spirit of LA. 

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Lynda Benglis, "Wing," 1970
Cast aluminum; 67 x 59 1/2 x 60 in. (170.2 x 151.1 x 152.4 cm)
Art © Lynda Benglis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth and Cheim & Read, New York

Powerhouse Hauser Wirth & Schimmel takes over a 100,000 square foot former flour mill downtown with an opening show Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 – 2016, opening March 13. With Paul Schimmel a partner in the LA branch of the gallery, which also has locations in Zurich, London, Somerset and New York, this exhibition promises to have the insight and gravitas typical of shows that he organized at MOCA, where he was chief curator for decades. 


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Catherine Opie, "Andy Warhol to Elizabeth (Self-­-Portrait Artist)"
from the 700 Nimes Road Portfolio, 2010-2011
Pigment print; 16 1/2 x 22"
Courtesy of the artist, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Lehmann Maupin,New York & Hong Kong

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Catherine Opie, "Glenn," 2013
Pigment print. 33 x 25 in. (83.8 x 63.5 cm)
Image courtesy of the artist
© Catherine Opie,
Courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York & Hong Kong

Could there be a fresh view of La Liz? From National Velvet to the Betty Ford rehab, Elizabeth Taylor was the most photographed of iconic celebrities, yet LA-based photographer Catherine Opie has found an unexpected approach portraits of her possessions in 700 Nimes Road, her new monograph and exhibitions at MOCA PDC opening January 23. And in a mini-trend this spring, area museums are working on connected shows. For example, there is a concurrent exhibition of Opie's Old Masters-inspired portraits of people at the Hammer opening on January 30.

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Catherine Opie, "Untitled," 1999
11/25 Photogravure print
8x8" (20.32 x 20.32 cm)
Los Angeles County Museu of Art, Ralph M. Parsons Fund
© Catherine Opie

At LACMA, there is small show Opie:O, a portfolio of sexually explict work involving sadomasochistic practices in San Francisco, opening February 13.

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Robert Mapplethorpe, "Self-Portrait," 1980
Gelatin silver print; 13 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. (34.93 x 34.93 cm)
Promised gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

In fact, it's all about sex this spring with a retrospective of the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium and Physical: Sex and the Body in the 1980's, both opening at LACMA on March 20.

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Robert Mapplethorpe, "Ajitto," 1981
Gelatin silver print
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation

The Mapplethorpe show is being presented in partnership with the Getty Museum, which owns most of the work, along with The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs both opening March 15. Sam Wagstaff, Mapplethorpe's patron and partner, recognized the importance of photography as an art form and compulsively acquired significant work between 1973 and 1984 when he sold his collection to the Getty. He died in 1987, Mapplethorpe in 1989, both of AIDS-related illnesses. The Mapplethorpe/Wagstaff relationship was admirably documented in James Crump's film Black, White and Gray but these exhibitions should offer a fuller view of their mutual interests both visual and sensual.

But all that is in the future. Tonight, we bid farewell to 2015 and make way for 2016!