Monday, February 29, 2016

Abraham Cruzvillegas on Mexico City

The city and environment in which an artist lives and works naturally influences their ideas, their practice and their form. In a new series co-produced with the Guardian we explore the native or adopted cities of a range of major international artists.

We learn how each artist has identified and developed a relationship with the landscape and city they call home and how such connections materialise in their work.

In this episode Abraham Cruzvillegas explains how his practice of autoconstrucción evolved from the contradictory and precarious elements of life which give the city a new shape every day.

Monday, February 22, 2016

"Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

It is very rare that an artist and Hollywood converge to create a meaningful and thoughtful art meant to invoke deeper meanings of life, mortality, and materiality. Catherine Opie's 700 Nimes Road creates a contemporary Vanitas by exploring the property and belongings of the late actress Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor was a beautiful actress whose career included numerous awards including two Oscars Awards for Best Performance for an Actress in a Leading Role. She was the leading lady in many films with some of most leading men in Hollywood, including James Dean, Richard Burton, Rock Hudson and many more. My initial thoughts, while looking at Opie's new portfolio of photography, as well as her approach to the subject of Elizabeth Taylor, was to reflect on the 1950 classic movie Sunset Boulevard.

In Sunset Boulevard, a struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis, played by William Holden, has an encounter with an aging actress of the silent movie era, Norma Desmond. Desmond is in denial of her fading fame. Gillis is both the narrator and the victim. He is found at the beginning of the movie floating dead in Desmond's swimming pool. During the film, the mansion and its interior becomes a character in and of itself; reflecting the decay and decline of Desmond's career. The mansion and Desmond's memorabilia (the photos, the roof brought from Portugal, the paintings of the starlet in the height of her fame) become a self-contained world meant to shield the star from the changes of the outside. The interior and the mansion becomes a symbol of fleeting fame.

The fleeting fame and what is left behind is the focus of Opie's 700 Nimes Road. Influenced by William Eggleston's photographs of Elvis Presley's Graceland, Opie explores the home and belongings of the late Elizabeth Taylor. The photos are rich in color and composition. Unlike Norma Desmond's mansion, with its interior decay, Opie portrays the Taylor home as a beautiful oasis of glamour and fame. Taylor's belongings and furniture show a joie de vivre; items such as Taylor's own paintings and art collection, mementos, as well as jewelry and photos of famous friends gives the viewer an insight into what Taylor enjoyed while she was at her home. Like Norma Desmond's mansion in Sunset Boulevard, Taylor's possessions become a character and more than a subject matter for a photographer's lens. This was the self-contained world of a Hollywood starlet whose height of fame had passed long ago. From the mid-1990s until her death in 2011, Taylor was rarely seen in public. By focusing on Taylor's jewels and belongings, Opie creates a contemporary Vanitas that warns the viewer that life is fleeting, the futility of pleasure and the certainty of death. The pictures are contemplative of both the life of Elizabeth Taylor and the eventuality that all wealth accumulated in time is not taken with us when we pass away. In conclusion, Norma Desmond said "No one leaves a star, That what makes one a star." Opie's work in 700 Nimes Road transgresses Desmond's statement by establishing that Taylor's life and what she left both shined as her fame had dimmed. 

Catherine Opie
700 Nimes Road
MOCA - Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90069

 On View until May 8, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Art Los Angeles Contemporary, Barker Hanger, Santa Monica, California
The Barker Hangar
3021 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Art Los Angeles Contemporary, the International Contemporary Art Fair of the West Coast, returns for its seventh edition on January 28–31, 2016, at The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, the pivotal weekend in Los Angeles’s contemporary art calendar. Drawing over 15,000 visitors in 2015, ALAC continues to reflect the pace of Los Angeles as the fastest growing art market, with rapid expansion as an international force in the art world.

The 2016 edition of ALAC brings together over 70 top established and emerging galleries from around the world, hailing from over ten countries and a dozen art capitals. Many of these galleries show for the first time at ALAC, including Bureau (New York), Christian Andersen (Copenhagen), Galerie Kadel Willborn (Düsseldorf), Kayne Griffin Corcoran (Los Angeles) and MOT International (London). ALAC is delighted to announce a strong presence of exhibitors who return to the fair after successful showings in earlier editions. These galleries include 1301PE (Los Angeles), Michael Benevento (Los Angeles), Shane Campbell Gallery (Chicago), CANADA (New York), David Kordansky Gallery (Los Angeles), One and J. Gallery (Seoul), Tif Sigrids (Los Angeles), STANDARD (OSLO) (Oslo), and team (gallery inc.) (New York/Los Angeles). 

The roster of exhibitors includes a dynamic cross-section of influential galleries from Los Angeles, reflecting both the fair’s long-term presence in its home city, and the arrival of the city’s thriving contemporary art community on the international stage. “This is a proud moment for Art Los Angeles Contemporary as we enter our seventh year,” says Tim Fleming, Director. “Seven years of presenting the best, most influential galleries from Los Angeles, and seven years of supporting a community of artists, collectors, dealers, and institutions that is fierce, intellectually rigorous, and constantly changing and expanding. Even as the fair grows to be more international and varied in scope, supporting Los Angeles remains at our core.” “Now we’re introducing significant new features to ALAC. I cannot think of an individual who’s more thoughtfully attuned to independent publishing than Miriam Katzeff, who will be traveling to Los Angeles from the Brooklyn offices of Primary Information to organize a special section featuring the latest and most compelling artist’s books, editions, and publications. I’m delighted about the renewed energy and focus brought to our talks and lectures program by curator Marc LeBlanc, who will be investigating what is happening now in artmaking in L.A., and presenting a romantic, sharp-toned history of how we got here. “Along with the release of The Reader, our art newspaper that presents original texts from some of the city’s most engaging arts writers, these features take the ALAC weekend to the next level. We hope you’ll join us.” 

ALAC 2016 Exhibitor List: 1301PE (Los Angeles) ACME. (Los Angeles) Alden Projects (New York) Altman Siegel (San Francisco) Christian Andersen (Copenhagen)* Michael Benevento (Los Angeles) Galerie Hervé Bize (Nancy) Brennan & Griffin (New York) Bureau (New York)* Shane Campbell Gallery (Chicago) CANADA (New York) Galerie Bernard Ceysson (Luxembourg/Paris)* Cherry and Martin (Los Angeles) China Art Objects Galleries (Los Angeles) Cooper Cole (Toronto)* Thomas Duncan Gallery (Los Angeles) Anat Ebgi (Los Angeles) Edel Assanti (London) Derek Eller Gallery (New York) Evelyn Yard (London)* Ever Gold Gallery (San Francisco)* Feuer/Mesler (New York)* fiebach, minninger (Cologne)* Carl Freedman Gallery (London) Gillmeier Rech (Berlin)* Greene Exhibitions (Los Angeles) Jack Hanley (New York) Ibid. (London/Los Angeles) Louis B. James (New York) Galerie Kadel Willborn (Düsseldorf)* Kayne Griffin Corcoran (Los Angeles)* Klemm’s (Berlin)* David Kordansky Gallery (Los Angeles) Galerie Christian Lethert (Cologne) Josh Lilley (London) Gallery Luisotti (Santa Monica) M+B (Los Angeles) Michael Jon Gallery (Miami/Detroit)* MIER Gallery, Los Angeles MONITOR (Rome) MOT International (London)* Galerie Nagel Draxler (Berlin/Cologne)* Neon Parc (Melbourne) Neumeister Bar-Am (Berlin)* Nicodim Gallery (Los Angeles/Bucharest) Night Gallery (Los Angeles) On Stellar Rays (New York) One and J. Gallery (Seoul) David Petersen Gallery (Minneapolis)* The Pit (Glendale) Praz-Delavallade (Paris) Regards (Chicago)* Clint Roenisch (Toronto)* Marc Selwyn Fine Art (Los Angeles) Tif Sigfrids (Los Angeles) SMART OBJECTS (Los Angeles)* STANDARD (OSLO) (Oslo) Starkwhite (Auckland) Sutton Gallery (Melbourne)* team (gallery, inc.) (New York/Los Angeles) Valentin (Paris) Various Small Fires (Los Angeles) Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects (Los Angeles) Workplace Gallery (Gateshead/London) *Indicates first time exhibitor (list in formation)
Here are some highlights of the fair.

An Interview with Katja Seib

  Katja Seib No Title 2020 Oil On Canvas 20.3 x 20.3 cm / 8 x 8 in Credit: © Katja Seib, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photo: Elon Schoe...