Category Archives: Art

ICONIC: OFFICIAL PORTRAITS OF BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA UNVEILED

The official portraits of former U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama we’re unveiled Monday at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. It’s a tradition for outgoing presidents to have their portraits painted and hung in the museum for posterity. For official portraits, the paintings of the Obamas are remarkable, formidable works of art on their own, visually arresting and groundbreaking in style and provenance for the genre.

President Obama’s portrait was painted by a Brooklyn-based African-American artist from Los Angeles, Kehinde Wiley, whose work we’re fans of and we’ve posted here before. The First Lady’s portrait was also painted by an African-American artist, the Baltimore-based painter Amy Sherald. Continue reading

LEGENDARY: GODDAMMIT DON’T ASK ARTIST JASPER JOHNS WHAT HIS ARTWORK MEANS — NOBODY KNOWS WHAT IT MEANS!

One of modern art’s greatest painters and arguably America’s greatest living artist, Jasper Johns is a giant of the contemporary art world. Recently on the eve of “JasperJohns: Something Resembling Truth,” a massive new exhibition of his work at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, Johns was interviewed by the New York Times. As he has explained in previous interviews, he doesn’t like offering explanations of what his artwork means. The Times article underscored his sentiments and revealed John’s jokey side with what is now one of our favorite quotes.

Mr. Johns himself is loath to offer biographical interpretations of his work — or any interpretations, for that matter. He is famously elusive and his humor tends toward the sardonic. He once joked that, of the dozens of books that have been written about his art, his favorite one was written in Japanese. What he liked is that he could not understand it.

SIZE MATTERS: EPIC 82-FOOT LONG MURAKAMI PAINTING STEALS SPACE FROM OTHER ARTISTS

This massive painting by Japan’s most successful and well-known contemporary artist Takashi Murakami is displayed in the primest spot of the Broad Museum in Los Angeles. It’s huge. It’s epic. It’s unmissable. Anyone entering the museum’s main galleries, where the core selections from the permanent collection are exhibited, will see it as they arrive from the lobby, whether they come via escalator, elevator or a stairway.

So exactly how big is this painting? And what’s it called? Continue reading

PAINTERLY: SARAH CAIN’S MASSIVE MURAL AT ICA FILLS EMPTY DEAD SPACE

“Now I’m Going to Tell You Everything” is the title of this site-mural at the recently opened Institute of Contemporary Art, or ICA, in Los Angeles. The painting is by L.A.-based artist Sarah Cain, and it fills what otherwise might be an unremarkable empty dead space in an exterior courtyard in an unremarkable strip of anonymous industrial buildings in the city’s Arts District. The ICA (the renamed and relocated former Santa Monica Museum of Art) re-makes the space, makes it “remarkable” as does Cain’s massive and energetic mural. The artwork is best viewed in the early daylight hours when the sun directly illuminates it and supercharges the colors.

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ロサンゼルスの現代美術研究所のSarah Cain芸術家による壁画。この作品のタイトルは、「今、私はあなたにすべてを伝えようとしています。

DRIVEN TO ABSTRACTION: THE INCREDIBLE DEPTH OF ELLEN GALLAGHER’S “BLACK” PAINTINGS

These paintings by artist Ellen Gallagher speak to us in deep, immediate, profound ways. The black abstractions of these canvases are beguiling in their darkness and textures. They change hue and tone as the viewer inches closer to the artwork and the reflection of light off the surface of oil paint brightens and reveals previously unseen layers of shape and color. These are on view at the Hauser & Wirth Gallery in Los Angeles’s Arts District. Another one of her “black” paintings is on display as part of the permanent collection of the Broad Museum a few blocks away in Downtown Los Angeles. The artwork pictured here is titled “Kapsalon Wonder.”

BROMANCE: THAT TIME WHEN MICHAEL AND BUBBLES WERE BESTIES

In 1988, the artist Jeff Koons created the  brilliant porcelain sculptural object “Michael and Bubbles,” a kitschy, super-sized 3D depiction of late man-child and mega-pop-star Michael Jackson and Bubbles, his famous chimpanzee pet-as-sidekick.

Michael and Bubbles were kind of like best friends for a while. Human and chimp as pals. Cross-species buds. Besties. BFFs way before BFF was even a term that would be abbreviated. Continue reading

LOVE: ELI BROAD’S DECADES-LONG LOVE AFFAIR WITH BASQUIAT

Among the vast art collection of billionaire businessman, philanthropist and art collector Eli Broad is a large collection of artworks by the late, great artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Pictured here are a handful of those Basquiats currently on view at the eponymous Broad Museum of Art in Los Angeles. (Note: You’ll see round, blurry shadow in the lower left of each image. Sorry, that’s due to dust in the camera of our iPhone. Time for a new iPhone!).

Broad is one of the biggest art collectors in the world  and has one of the world’s greatest private art collections, especially of contemporary art, post-modern and pop art. Most of it at his museum in LA. 

Broad was one of the early collectors of Basquiat and has many of the artist great works. You could call it a keen eye for a great artist and great artwork.Or you could call it a love affair.

CAPITALISM: JEFF KOONS AND LOUIS VUITTON MAKE A BABY BUNNY

The unthinkable has happened. Yes, savvy reader, bona fide post-modern rockstar artist and art-world darling Jeff Koons has collaborated with major, global luxury brand Louis Vuitton, installing his iconic stainless-steel inflatable-bunny “sculptural object” titled “Rabbit” in the brand’s boutique display windows alongside special-made stainless-steel balloon versions of the LV logo. Pictured here is his studio’s handiwork as it currently appears in the display window of a store in Newport Beach, California.

Ahh … And with that we say “Good-bye 2017! Hello, 2018! Happy New Year!”

ART OF OUR TIME: “MERELY DECORATIVE”? JAPANESE ARTIST YAYOI KUSAMA’S BALLOONS

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s current exhibition at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles is a sensation. It’s a huge bona fide hit. In large part this is due to her super Instagrammable and severely FOMO-inducing art installation known as the “Infinity Room.” Continue reading

ADVENTURES IN NEON: HOW “DOUBLE AMERICA 2” IS THE PERFECTLY SYMBOLIC ARTWORK FOR THE TRUMP ERA

Artist Glenn Ligon‘s “Double America 2” is among the most profound works of contemporary American art, and it is profoundly American. It’s absolutely brilliant.

The artwork can read on several levels. At its core is the idea of there being two different Americas or American experiences largely due to race, and, more pointedly, to racism, discrimination and its place in the nation’s history.

It points to the psychology of identity, the sense of black and white, rich and poor, haves and have-nots, exterior image and interior reality, something bright — and brightly lit — and ideal versus something gravely wrong, upside down, dark and flickering.

We’ve seen this artwork several times over the years elsewhere in museums around the U.S. and the world. We recently viewed it at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles (pictured here). It’s the first time we’ve seen Ligon’s artwork since the U.S. Presidential campaign and election of Donald Trump, an event that brought the startling breadth of the nation’s cultural, economic, racial and political divides into the sharpest focus. 

“Double America 2” seems a perfectly pointed and symbolic visual meme for the times, for the condition of the United States in the politically divisive, ugly “Trump Era.”