The Best Art Memories of 2018

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So, my friends – Happy Holidays to all of us. And, of course, Merry Christmas. Are you ready to look back on 2018, and talk about the most memorable moments in art?

Installation shot, Made in L.A. 2018. The Hammer.  Photo by Edward Goldman.

Hammer Museum presented its ambitious fourth biennial exhibition, Made in L.A. There was a remarkable diversity among the 33 participating artists. What appealed to me from the start was that most of the artists came to work in Los Angeles from the four corners of the world, drawn to LA as a unique cultural magnet. I remember how, several years ago, a smart art aficionado said to me, “Do you know that now, LA is to New York what New York used to be to Paris, after WWII?”

L & R: Installation shots, The Artist Observed: Photographs by Sidney B. Felsen. Gemini G.E.L. Los Angeles. Photos by Edward Goldman.

An exhibition of photographs by Sidney B. Felson, the co-founder of the famous printing workshop Gemini G.E.L., allowed us to delve into the intimate creative process by such artists as Baldessari and Serra, Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg, and, of course, Frank Gehry and David Hockney. These photographs capture the artists as they sweat, play, and work hard, giving us the sensation of being a fly on the wall.

L: Francisco. 2018. R: Saul and Lorenzo. 2008. John Sonsini. Long Beach Museum of Art. Photos by Edward Goldman.

For several decades, the focus of John Sonsini’s paintings have been portraits of Latino day laborers. His current solo exhibition at the Long Beach Museum of Art brings together many of these works, which highlight Sonsini’s intention not to beautify these hard-working men, but to focus on their inherent pride and a certain bravado. While all these day laborers quietly sit or stand, staring at us, the artist’s brushstrokes create a storm of color around them.

Installation Shot of Make Art Not Walls at RoseGallery. Bergamot Station. Photo courtesy RoseGallery.

An exhibition at RoseGallery, "MAKE ART NOT WALLS," supported and celebrated the life and art of a group of refugees from Nigeria and Gambia who are seeking asylum in Italy. An Italian organization of the same name provides these refugees with space and art materials to tell their dramatic and painful stories of escape and survival. The paintings in this exhibition were made by six African men who were given the chance to use art as a form of therapy, and I was impressed by each of the works grabbing and holding my attention.

(T) Still image of "La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour)" from "Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back" (2016) Courtesy of director Maura Axelrod (B) Maurizio Cattelan, "America," 2016Photo by Kris McKay/The Guggenheim Collection.

I will leave it up to you to decide what Italian artist and provocateur Maurizio Cattelan meant by titling his fully functional, solid-gold toilet, America. He installed it at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Earlier this year, Trump requested to borrow a Van Gogh painting from the museum for his living quarters, but the museum politely declined. Instead, the chief curator offered an alternative – Cattelan’s golden toilet. The President did not accept.

Top L: Head of Caracalla. Romano-Egyptian. AD 211-217. The Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Top R:  Detail, Mosaic with a View of the Nile. Roman. 100 BC-AD 100. The Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Bottom L: Relief with Bes Dancing. Romano-Egyptian. BC-AD 100. The Getty Museum, Los Angeles.  Bottom R: Acrobat on a Crocodile. Roman. 25 BC – AD 100. The Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Photos by Edward Goldman.

With its exhibition "Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World," The Getty pulled off an unprecedented feat. It borrowed nearly 200 rare art objects from museums around the world, and many of them were on view for the first time in the United States. Take a look at the Roman mosaic, with a scene of Roman tourists relaxing by the Nile river.

Doesn’t it make you envious of the life of the rich and famous 2000 years ago? Or, take a look at the sculptural relief of the dancing and laughing Egyptian god, Bes, with his humongous phallus. OK – stop giggling. Bes was a protector of women and the household. The beauty and the exquisite craftsmanship of many of these objects, and their ability to hold our attention over millennia, raises the question – how many of today’s artworks will still speak to our descendants, thousands of years from now?



Kathleen Yore