The artwork of Los Angeles-based American artist Sam Durant has often addressed social, political and cultural issues in bold ways. His work titled “End White Supremacy” was recently added to the collection of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. The lettering style of this direct, unequivocal message was inspired by the hand-written sign carried by an American civil-rights protester in the 1960s. Durant put these words on the type of backlit commercial signage one sees at businesses and strip malls everywhere. The work amplifies a message of activism through the medium of business and advertising.
“Clear Air Turbulence” is Hong Kong-based British artist Simon Birch’s monumental sculptural installation at his “14th Factory” exhibition in Los Angeles. The artwork is a rectangular black pool planted with the wings and tail fins salvaged from various old airplanes parked out in the Mojave desert at the so-called “airplane graveyard.” At first glance, these aircraft parts appear like the fins of giant sharks or whales lurking just beneath the surface of the water.
In her body of work, Los Angeles artist Liz Craft has created some fascinating and evocative sculptural objects that have death and the human form at the thematic center. In fact, a couple of notable works from her that have been shown in Los Angeles museums the past year have “death” in the title. One is the powerful and darkly comic “Death Rider,” recently on view at the Hammer Museum and pictured in this post. The other exhibitied last year at LACMA is “Death of a Clown,” which you can see here.
The ever-gentrifying Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles is home to lots of large-scale street art, including this classic Shepard Fairey politically-tinged mural on Alameda Street behind the Angel City Brewery. The artwork depicts the late U.S. president Ronald Reagan holding a sign that says “Legislative influence for sale.” Its message — and politically expressive art in general — strongly resonates in the current American political climate.
For years we would see the wheat-pasted artwork of artist Spazmat posted around downtown New York City. His posters were unmissable. His street art was comprised of an iconic image: An illustrated portrait of a skeleton with a cell phone in its bony hand held up to the skull as if talking on the phone. The posters were usually rendered in a stark white on black. Informally dubbed as “Skull Phone,” the image suggested many things, among these the dangers of technology. We hadn’t seen Spazmat’s artwork in many years until we recently spotted one of his skull phone wheaties on a utility box along Pacific Coast Highway in Los Angeles. This one was printed in blue and white with a striped design, almost nautical in style and fitting for its location a few meters across the road from the ocean.