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.
It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the innermost workings of one of the world’s greatest art museums as it prepares to mount a major exhibition. It’s documentary-like, but only to a point. The tone is more cinema-verite in a reality-TV-show way, but produced in ultra-understated, high-minimalist style. There’s no narration. No explanation. No formal sit-down interviews. When staff do talk to the camera, it’s while they’re working, doing the mundane daily tasks of their jobs, like the way witnesses in an episode of “Law and Order” always answer detectives’ questions at their place of work while continuing to do whatever it was they were doing (unloading a truck, wiping down a bar, butchering meat, etc.).
“At the Museum” may have documentary and reality TV bones in its basic visual-narrative architecture, but its manner is the polar opposite of the chaos, Real-Housewivery or Kardashian-Jennerisms we’ve become accustomed to from contemporary reality TV. And it’s far away from anything by Ken Burns or Werner Herzog. No pans, no scans, no slow zooms, no German accents, no depressive anecdotes.
Each episode of “At the Museum” is about ten-minutes long and focuses on some aspect of the museum from the mundane to the important, e.g., shipping and receiving of the artwork. There’s high drama, too, but it’s not obvious and it’s largely confined to the nuances of the art world and its culture and codes. There’s much being said and interpreted in the raised eyebrow or long pause in speech by one of the many MoMA staff, some of whom seem like walking-talking art-world cliches straight outta Central Casting.
But these are real people. The type of people who live, breathe, eat, drink, fuck and poop art, and the type who love their jobs, for whom displaying a small Max Ernst sculpture a quarter centimeter higher on a platform makes all the difference. And we love it! Watch this series.
Some will hate it. Some will love it. Many will be confused. More to the point, it’s creepy AF! But “The Theater of Disappearance,” a recently opened exhibition by the Argentine artist Adrian Villar-Rojas at the MoCA Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles, is a stunning, ambitious, intriguing and unsettling show on a massive scale and must be seen. Or rather, it must be experienced. The exhibition amounts to a giant art installation of geological and human cultural artifacts presented in some post-human future. Villar-Rojas presents stark vision of humankind’s legacy that is fascinating and terrifying.
Pity the beleaguered museum gallery attendants who get assigned the shift to keep watch on the art installation by artist Carmen Argote at LACMA. The art in question is titled “720 Sq. Ft.,” and for good reason.
The title references the 720 square feet of carpeting ripped from the artist’s childhood home and displayed on the wall and floor of a high-ceiling BCAM space as what some might like to call a “sculptural object.”
About half of the artwork lies on the floor like a … well, like a carpet. This can cause confusion for some museum visitors, unsure whether they’re allowed to — or are supposed to — walk on the carpet (you know, the one that’s on the floor, as it were).
Sometimes for certain kinds of works, artists encourage or expect viewers of their work to physically interact with it — to touch it, walk on it, sit on it and so on. But not here. Not for “720 Sq. Ft..” Casually sauntering across the re-purposed and modified floor covering would amount to vandalism. It’s verboten.
The gallery attendants have their work cut out for them here, ’cause a lot of museum visitors think they can and should walk on carpet or don’t even realize it’s a work of art. There are many “Excuse me, sir”s and “Please don’t walk on the artwork!”s uttered in the cavernous white space where “720 Sq. Ft.” is on view.
These utterances are often spoken quickly, firmly but politely. But on occasion you sense the exasperation in the attendant’s voice and a curt and mildly-aggressive tone seeps in. It’s kind of #sad but a little entertaining too.
But take note: Encountering this adds yet another dimension to the experience of Argote’s artwork (though it may not have been intended). This makes “720” one among our favorite set of artworks on view at LACMA.
Take a look at the photo below. Well, the answer is pretty fucking obvious, right? This colorful selection of curtains pictured below is at the Bed, Bath & Beyond on Pico Blvd. in West LA.
“No! I don’t believe you!” you exclaim with a healthy dose of culture-savvy skepticism tinged with seen-it-all world-weariness.
Ok! So we’re joking! You’re right. It’s NOT at BB&B, clearly. (And, take note, if it was it wouldn’t be at the one on Pico in West LA.We mean, c’mon … blech!) But, admit it, for a hot sec, we had you.
The curtain is in fact a sublime and subtly evocative site-specific installation artwork (<— BTW, that’s a bit of IAE … “International Art English”) at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. The work is titled “For Instance” and is by the artist Yunhee Min, and we love it. It’s the kind of contemporary art that not only invites contemplation but also searing, snarky jokes about how it could be on sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
We’re not religious. But museums are our cathedrals, our churches and temples, our shrines. MoMA may be the modern art world’s Vatican, but in terms of pure open space, MoCA’s Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles comes closest to a giant cathedral like Notre Dame with its massive, cavernous structure. We’re not saying that this museum is equivalent to Notre Dame as far as degree of architectural achievement and historical significance. We’re saying that it is a big fucking space and one that invites reflection and a kind of awe.
The Geffen was kind of a happy accident. The building wasn’t purpose built to be a contemporary art museum. The structure is in LIttle Tokyo in Downtown LA and was originally built in the 1940s for the city as a warehouse and LA Police Department garage accommodating hundreds of vehicles. At the time, MoCA’s use of the space was purely practical.
While the main landmark MoCA branch was being built on nearby Grand Avenue in the early 1980s, the warehouse/garage in Little Tokyo was used as a temporary exhibition space dubbed the “Temporary Contemporary.” Its purpose was to host art shows until construction of the new main MoCA would be completed. The acquisition of the building made sense. The Temporary Contemporary was a success.
It was repurposed as a permanent exhibition space and extension of MoCA. Architect Frank Gehry led the effort. The Geffen’s location is walking distance to the main MoCA location in Downtown LA, and the former LAPD garage offers the kind of space that allows for sprawling exhibitions and epic, large-scale sculptural artworks and installations that might be more diffciult or impossible to mount in other museums.
This colorful flurourescent-light sculptural object at San Francisco MoMA is a minimalist classic by the late artist Dan Flavin. Regular visitors to GlobalGraphica may have noticed that we’re suckers for minimalism (it’s true). Works like this really appeal to our sense of a lean, clean, pared aesthetic and the power of empty space. Like much of the work that marked the latter and better-known part of his artistic career, Flavin’s SF MoMA installation makes use of readymade materials — tubes and fluorescent lights — and is composed within site-specific architectural spaces.
The artwork of the late American conceptual and minimalist artist Sol LeWitt dominates the new mezzanine-level ticket lobby of the expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA). This massive, painted installation is titled “Loopy Doopy” and is another example of LeWitt’s use of bold color and lines in his body of work. The artwork is fresh and exuberant and its curva-linear lines compliment the clean geometric lines of the architecture.
One of the distinct features of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ( SFMoMA ) is its architectural design, which includes an oculus structure that funnels natural light through a massive cylindrical space into the museum’s lobby and mezzanine galleries. A bridge traverses the space near the top. There’s nothing quite like it at any museum or major building we know of in the United States.
We’re fans of German visual artist Gerhard Richter, perhaps best known for his “capitalist realism” and his photo-realistic and “blur” paintings. But Richter has explored several distinct visual styles and themes throughout his career. Among his body of work are his “color” (“farben”) paintings, such as this one titled “Farben 256” we saw recently on view at the San Francisco Museum of Art.