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Art Explosion at MOCA

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Two weekends in a row, I drove to Downtown LA to see some art. And, both times, I had to completely rearrange my plans because the first encounter was so good, so complex, I didn’t need – didn’t want – to see anything else. 10 days ago, I caught the last day of the Jasper Johns retrospective at The Broad. Yes, I’d seen it before and liked it very much. But this time, I got totally overwhelmed and sort of drunk on his work – diving in, scrutinizing, listening to his art. Last weekend, I planned to see half a dozen museum and gallery exhibitions around Downtown LA. And again, my first stop turned out to be so full of surprises and discoveries that I spent my entire afternoon there – at MOCA Grand Avenue.


Installation shots, Give and Take: Highlighting Recent Acquisitions, MOCA. Top Left: Elizabeth Murray. Top Right: Jenny Saville. Bottom: Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Photos by Edward Goldman.

First, I checked out the exhibition presenting highlights of the museum’s acquisitions over the last few years. Here are three of my favorites – all three, important works by major female artists. Brightly colored panels – half paintings, half sculptures – by Elizabeth Murray. A photo of Jenny Saville’s naked body jammed up against glass – shocking, grotesque, and still totally irresistible. And of course, a large diptych by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, a recent recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award. By the way, if you drive by MOCA Grand Avenue, you can see a gigantic mural by Crosby covering its whole façade. I would be curious to hear from you, my listeners, what your favorites among the museum’s new acquisitions might be.


Installation shot, Jackson Pollock’s Number 1, 1949: A Conservation Treatment, MOCA. Photos by Edward Goldman.

Another exhibition there, which is relatively small in size, tells the bigger than life story of Jackson Pollock. MOCA is lucky to have among its treasures Pollock’s Number 1, 1949 abstract painting. This painting is undergoing a 6-month conservation with help from the Getty Conservation Institute. What’s unusual is that the conservation is taking place in the gallery, for MOCA’s visitors to observe.


Installation shot, Jackson Pollock’s Number 1, 1949: A Conservation Treatment, MOCA. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Some of you might remember this painting was once loaned to The Getty Museum, where it was exhibited in the midst of Impressionist artworks, flanked by Claude Monet paintings.


Installation shot, Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin, MOCA. Works by Diane Arbus. Photo by Edward Goldman.

MOCA is known for its in-depth collection of modern photography. The new exhibition Real Worlds concentrates on three particular artists – Brassaï, Diane Arbus, and Nan Goldin – who couldn’t be more different stylistically, though all three focus on human imperfection.


Installation shots, Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin, MOCA. Works by Diane Arbus. Photos by Edward Goldman.

Here are Diane Arbus’ photos of men, women, and children captured at the moment they reveal their insecurity, discomfort, and craziness.


Top and Bottom (L&R): Installation shots, Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin, MOCA. Works by Nan Goldin. Photos by Edward Goldman.

Nan Goldin’s signature photos of bruised, beaten women and drunken men from the series The Ballad of Sexual Dependency make you want to call 911 to stop the crime. Another gallery has been turned into a screening room for a presentation of more than 100 images by Goldin, accompanied by music from opera to jazz selected by her. Many of these photographs were a total revelation for me.


Top and Bottom: Installation shots, Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin, MOCA. Works by Brassaï. Photos by Edward Goldman. 

And who can compete with Brassaï, and his legendary photos from The Secret Paris of the 30’s? Of course, there is plenty of romance, and plenty of sex. It makes you want to jump into a time machine to have a drink and talk with all these demimondes…

Credits

Host:
Edward Goldman

Producer:
Kathleen Yore

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