LA in London

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You don’t need to come all the way to London to see the work of some great LA artists, but I did. Larry Bell, known for his association with the Light and Space artists of LA in the ‘60s, was showing his new work with the esteemed White Cube Gallery on Bermondsey Street in London. In the industrial scale white galleries, there hang a number of his Light Knots, large sheets of transparent acetate folded into loose shapes and coated in the prismatic shimmers made by his own vapor-coating technique. They set off big Mirage paintings of translucent and iridescent color, also made by vapor coating. Of course, Bell is no stranger to London. He was included by artist Peter Blake on the cover the The Beatles’ Sergeant Peppers album.  Sixties icon Allen Jones, known for his irreverently erotic Pop sculptures, came to the opening to pay his respects as did columnist Janet Street-Porter. 


Larry Bell
Light Knot, 2013
 Larry Bell F 66 2009 (high res).jpg
Larry Bell; F 66; 2009
Vapor-coated mixed media on canvas; 57 x 44 in. (144.8 x 111.8 cm) (unframed) (to be confirmed)
© Larry Bell; Photo: Ben Westoby; Courtesy White Cube

Larry Bell with Allen Jones at White Cube


LA’s Mark Bradford’s work, Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank, brings fresh meaning to notions of monumentality and White Cube’s huge galleries give this work the necessary space. Using his technique of layering and abrading sheets of paper, text and paint, most read not only as landscapes but as topographies of meaning. In this case, they are based on the national highway system instigated in the 1950s by President Dwight Eisenhower that connected prosperous, populous and largely white regions but circumvented poorer areas where African Americans lived. As an ironic souvenir, the gallery had pins with the old “I Like Ike” logo in red, white and blue recalling the history if not any actual affection for that president. The shows continue through December 22. 


Mark Bradford; Dusty Knees, 2013
Mixed media on canvas; 102 x 144 in. (259.1 x 365.8 cm)
© Mark Bradford; Photo: Ben Westoby; Courtesy White Cube


Meanwhile, Re-View: Onnasch Collection at Hauser & Wirth Gallery, includes a number of rarely seen early 1960s Ed Kienholz sculptures built from cast-off bits of metal, wood, old tvs and dolls. They are shown to great advantage by Paul Schimmel, who has brought his curator’s skill to bear. Yes, late of MOCA, Schimmel also included rare early work by Claes Oldenburg, George Brecht and others, including Bell, from the collection of Reinard Onnasch, one of the first Germans to open a gallery in New York after World War II. This impressive show is something of a debut for the new LA branch of the gallery to be called Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. Schimmel said that he is close to choosing a location for a branch of the gallery in the downtown arts district. It is on view through December 14. 


Edward Kienholz; The Widow, 1962
Mannequin parts, paint, wood,  metal, aluminum foil
114 x 110 x 41 cm / 44 7/8 x 43 1/4 x 16 1/8 in
© Kienholz; Courtesy Onnasch Collection


Plenty of Los Angelenos were in London due to the opening of Frieze, the two-part art fair held in Regents Park from October 17 to 20. At Frieze Masters, Blum and Poe Gallery and Michael Kohn Gallery both returned but there was a surprise newcomer, Thomas Solomon Gallery. In LA’s Chinatown, Solomon has a very small gallery but his involvement in contemporary art goes back to his childhood. His  mother was Holly Solomon, who had an important gallery in New York. His show of work by Gordon Matta-Clark stems from the artist’s friendship with his parents and he showed a rare sculpture cut from an old pier as well as photographs and drawings. 

Thomas Solomon with work by the late Gordon Matta-Clark at Frieze Masters


At Frieze London, meanwhile, some of L.A’s more adventuresome galleries were invited to present including Marc Foxx, David Kordansky, Overduin & Kite and Various Small Fires. The Box, true to their interest in overlooked figures in the recent history of contemporary art, showed the media collages of the late experimental filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek.  

Mara McCarthy of The Box with collages by Stan VanDerBeek at Frieze


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