Hurry up before it closes

Hosted by

Last Sunday, I went to MOCA on Grand Avenue to see, once again, an amazing retrospective by the major American painter, Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955). First shown in Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, then at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, it came here in Spring to Los Angeles for its final stop. The exhibition received glowing reviews, which should come as no surprise to those of us who have had the chance to experience the diversity of subjects and theatricality in Marshall's figurative paintings. When I saw it again a few days ago, I was pleased to see the exhibition packed with a very diverse and mostly young crowd.

(L) Kerry James Marshall, "Untitled (Club Couple)," 2014
MOCA, promised gift of Mandy and Cliff Einstein
(R) Kerry James Marshall, "Untitled," 2009
Yale University Art Gallery

All of the characters in Marshall's compositions are black, and the artist makes you stare deeply into their faces to read their emotions. Whether it's a multi-figured composition set at an artist's studio or at a neighborhood beauty school, one slowly becomes aware that Marshall tells his stories through the prism of the Italian Renaissance and art of the Dutch Golden Age. As we know, all good things come to an end, and this great exhibition is closing at the end of this week, on July 2. So, my friends, hurry up – you don't want to miss it.

"Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010"
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Another wonderful exhibition that I encourage you to see this Fourth of July weekend is Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary. There is an interesting tension and lively dialogue between the museum's industrial architecture and Carl Andre's exquisitely austere geometric sculptures, often composed of such basic materials as bricks and 2x4s.

Can you imagine being in a museum and intentionally stepping on the artwork spread across the floor? Believe it or not –– Carl Andre wants us to walk across his monumental sculpture comprised of hundreds of metal plates. I have to confess that in my first encounter with his sculptures decades ago, I couldn't make sense of them. But after a while, his art with its bricks –– figuratively speaking –– hit me over the head. And I'm grateful to Carl Andre for challenging me and opening my mind. Make sure you see this exhibition before it closes on July 24.

(L) Jasper Johns, "Ventriloquist," 1983
Encaustic on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
© Jasper Johns / VAGA, New York / DACS, London 2017
(R) Jasper Johns, "Spring," 1986
Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection
© Jasper Johns / VAGA, New York DACS, London
Photo courtesy the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Last week, I talked about the major retrospective of Jasper Johns coming from the Royal Academy of Art in London to The Broad here in LA, in the beginning of next year. This news made me wonder if another great retrospective – this one, dedicated to Robert Rauschenberg – will ever make it to LA.

Still from "Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends | MoMA LIVE"

It originated at Tate Modern in London, and is currently at MoMA in New York. Then, it travels to San Francisco. So, I wonder… why did none of LA's museums have the courage and conviction to bring this major exhibition here? Can you imagine reuniting Johns and Rauschenberg – great artists, friends, and lovers – through their exhibitions here in Los Angeles?

(T) The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's "Tchaikovsky"
Photo courtesy of Evgeny Matveev
(B) The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's "Tchaikovsky"
at The Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Last weekend, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, we had a chance to see a new version of the ballet Tchaikovsky, presented by the Boris Eifman Ballet company of St. Petersburg. Originally staged in 1993, the ballet emphasizes the personal drama of this great composer, who was a deeply religious person, tortured by his closeted homosexuality.

Behind the curtain for the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's "Tchaikovsky"
at The Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

I had the rare chance during Intermission to go behind the curtain, where I spoke to Mr. Eifman. He told me that years ago, when the ballet was first performed, there were protests on the streets outside the theatre, and personal threats made against him. While listening to him, I couldn't help but stare at – and snap some photos of – the dancers preparing themselves for the second act. Seeing them in this very particular, intimate moment reminded me of the privilege of seeing artists working and sweating in their studios.

All photos are by Edward Goldman unless otherwise noted.



Benjamin Gottlieb