Tag Archives: contemporary art

IS TAKASHI MURAKAMI ON DRUGS?

This massive hanging canvas by Takashi Murakami is like nothing else the Japanese artist has exhibited before or that we’ve seen from any contemporary artist. It’s a painting on an epic scale and largely characteristic of Murakami’s 2D style except for elements of graffiti art and tags visually woven into the composition. The painting is two-sided. In that sense, it’s like two paintings on a single canvas, each side different in tone from the opposite side. The artwork is hanging in a way that forms a semi-circle and a kind of alcove for the viewer. As Murakami’s artwork goes, this is distinct vision, a nightmare, strangely compelling and stunning, where the artist’s usual visual grammar and symbolism has been put through a filter, as it rendered in a fever dream or a drug-induced state. In any case, it’s a masterpiece. It’s currently on view at the blockbuster Beyond the Streets exhibition in Los Angeles.

STARSTRUCK: ALEC’S INEVITABLE MARILYN MONROE MURAL

The artist ALEC has made a career of street art and massive murals with images of pop-culture icons and celebrities from New York City to far-flung corners like Bali, Indonesia. It’s fitting — and perhaps inevitable — that in the heart of Hollywood he would paint a mural of legendary film actress Marilyn Monroe, a cinematic icons who best represents the spectrum of Hollywood fame, glitz and glamour, and ultimately tragedy.

HIGH-FLYIN’: 800 VIEWS OF AIRPORT

We — and possibly you, too — are a big fan of large coffee-table art books by the likes of publishers Taschen, Phaidon and Rizzoli, to name but a few. Among our favorite stack of these large tomes is a book by a lesser-known German publisher. It’s a book of photographs by the artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss titled “800 Views of Airports.” And that’s exactly what you get, literally 800 photos taken in airports by the artists over several decades of international air travel. There’s no accompanying text, no explanations, no captions. Just photographs of airports, airplanes, tarmac vehicles, control towers and views looking out of windows from air-terminal boarding lounges around the globe. The book is a mesmerizing document of the airport’s cultural landscape. For those who have traveled widely and often by air, the images in this book may feel in their own way comforting.

SNEAKERS : ARTIST DUMPS USED KICKS ON FLOOR, INSTANTLY CREATES CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED MASTERPIECE

Hey, you! Yes, YOU! You, the savvy reader of this blog. In case you did not know it, you are an artist!

Well, to clarify, if you aren’t, then you can be. Instantly! Yes, INSTANTLY! What if we were to say that you can be an artist within minutes, if not seconds?  

You don’t believe us. Well, let’s a try a little experimental exercise in art production. You have a pair of sneakers, yes? (If you don’t, that’s fine — for this exercise any type of footwear will suffice.) Ok, now grab those sneakers or loafers or mules or flips-flops or whatever, in fact grab a few pairs, as many as you can muster up really. Got ‘em? Great!

Now find some empty floor space, preferably bleached hardwood floor space and pick a spot near a wall, preferably a white wall. Place those pairs of shoes there, and by “place” we mean just dump the shoes on the floor and leave these as they lie when dropped.

And voila, you, savvy ready, have just created a work of art. In fact, it’s a conceptual artwork. It’s kind of like the artwork titled “Skin” by the awesome Moroccan artist Latifa Echakhch pictured in this post. (It’s was recently on view as part of the wonderful and cheeky “Stories of Almost Everyone” exhibition of conceptual art at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.)

You see, you are an artist! (To be more precise, you are conceptual artist!) Great job!

The real artistry here is in the next step: Getting somebody to pay you for this artwork, or at least to devote exhibition space to it.  

Of course, you can always just call the space you dropped those shoes a “gallery” and you’re now an artist with a gallery show. Look at you! You’ve come so far in just a few short minutes.

 

HAVE WE REACHED “PEAK” YAYOI KUSAMA?

We saw this cool street-artsy mural portrait of the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in Santa Barbara, California, while visiting there this past Monday. Kusama is a major international art star who has blown up the past few years as blockbuster exhibitions of her artwork and installations have popped up in art museums around the world and collaborations with brands like Louis Vuitton have made her work more visible to a broader, global audience. That said, we were a bit surprised to see her portrait in a town like Santa Barbara. Which got us wondering, in 2018 have we reached “peak” Kusama? The answer is, yes. Maybe. If not this year, then perhaps next.

MINIMALISM 101: “WHITE” PAINTINGS … OR “I COULD DO THAT!”

This video on Vox does a great job of explaining so-called “white” paintings by artists like Robert Ryman, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, and so on, as examples of Minimalism and where these fit in the story of modern and contemporary art. Some of these paintings — including one that was essentially a blank white canvas — has sold for tens of millions of dollars at auction in recent years. It sparks the never-ending debate about what is and isn’t “art” and brings up the the often expressed sentiment of “I could do that” among the skeptical art-viewing public.

QUIZZICAL: ART MUSEUM OR HOME DEPOT?

It’s quiz times once again, savvy readers! Look at these photos. Is this a Home Depot or an art museum?

If you said art museum, you are correct. The third photo in this post is the giveaway and the wall placard in the first photo is a clue that this is a gallery in an art museum. 

But without that context, this could be a Home Depot or a Lowes or whichever American DIY home-improvement superstore chain you prefer.

These wooden objects are part of a series of sculptural works by the German artist Imi Knoebel titled “Vivit” and “Vivimus” and are part of the permanent collection of the Broad Museum of Art in Los Angeles.

LOLS: WILL FERRELL & JOEL MCHALE VISIT CONCEPTUAL ART EXHIBITION, HILARITY ENSUES

This is brilliant. In this short promotional video for the Hammer Museum of Art in Los Angeles, actor-comedians Will Ferrell and Joel McHale take a VIP tour of a conceptual-art exhibition at the museum with its curator. The exhibition is called “Stories of Almost Everyone.” Ferrell and McHale are funny as they’re introduced to various artworks, make comments, and ask questions. The larger gist of the video short is that contemporary — and especially conceptual art — and art museums can be approachable for everyone and are places to ask questions and start conversations about what you see, rather than feel intimidated or confused by the art.

PUMPIN’: STREET ART WITH LOTS OF HEART

We love coffee. You probably do too. But we REALLY love coffee. It’s actually kind of a problem, and, though we may try to curtail our consumption from time to time, we will probably never give it up. Caffeine is a drug.

This addiction has driven us to go above and beyond in seeking out good espresso. Over the past three or four years we’ve visited the cafes, coffee roasteries, and espresso bars of almost every significant purveyor of freshly brewed third-wave coffee in Los Angeles, New York, Amsterdam, and Tokyo. 

In Los Angeles, one of the relatively newer players in the local coffee situation is Alfred Coffee. From its beginnings in L.A.’s fashionable Silver Lake neighborhood a few years ago, it has sprouted several branches.

The most recent outpost is in Beverly Hills and like the Silver Lake cafe, it’s decorated with a mural by British artist JGoldcrown and one of his “Lovewall” (a.k.a., “Bleeding Hearts”) murals. Goldcrown’s street art pieces have popped up all around the City of Angels in the past couple of years.

Goldcrown’s heart-filled street artworks can be found on buildings from Santa Monica and Venice on the the city’s beachy far west  side, to the Valley, to Silver Lake and the Downtown Arts District on the east, and now in between, in one of the poshest neighborhoods in the world.

Each “Lovewall” is a rectangle of cartoony, roughly-drawn heart shapes in various colors. Some are outlines of hearts, others filled in. The effect is like that of a casual array of doodles scrawled out of boredom on a high-school student’s notebook.

These hearts are often on a white background, but recently the artist has created versions on a black background or with words written into the field of hearts. The new mural at the new Alfred Coffee in Beverly Hills is yet another variation. It’s on a pink background, which is the most evocative — and our favorite — color yet.

Goldcrown’s “Lovewall” murals are on the road to becoming iconic landmarks. In Beverly HIlls, it will make it easier to spot the new Alfred Coffee as you navigate Santa Monica Blvd. traffic in search of a stylish flat white with almond milk and an extra shot of espresso. Like we need that extra shot. (We do.)

UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS: AWESOME “BUMBLE BEE LOVES YOU” INVADES OFFICE

We stumbled upon this commissioned mural by the Los Angeles-based artist who goes by the moniker “Bumble Bee Loves You” in the corporate office space for an anonymous entertainment/film production company near West Hollywood.

 

“I WANT A PRESIDENT”

Artist Zoe Leonard’s 2016 public art project under the Standard Hotel building on the High Line in New York City was a powerful political statement. It’s titled “I Want a President”  and it was originally created in the 1990s in response to that era’s political climate in NYC. It was installed as a massive page of text on the High Line to coincide with the 2016 presidential election and 2017 inauguration of the Trump presidency. But it is all the more potent and relevant today in 2018 as it was a year ago or twenty years ago. Few  artists so far have been able to voice the frustration, resistance and anger at the current states of governance and leadership in the U.S. in as captivating a way and on such a grand scale as this. Read the full text of the artwork via this PDF.

YOU’RE SO RETRO: 8-BIT IMAGES OF YOUR FAVORITE PEAK TV-ERA SHOWS

Artist Gustavo Viselner is a so-called “pixel artist,” and he’s brilliant. The artist has made a name for himself by creating retro videogame-style 8-bit images of memorable scenes from some of the most popular television programs of the U.S. peak-TV era, a.k.a., the current “golden age” of more quality TV shows than a person has time to watch. These include images from shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Stranger Things.” More images on his website.

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.

. . .

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.”

HAIRY: WHEN YOUR PERSONAL MODE OF TRANSPORT NEEDS A HAIRCUT

You are looking at this photo and you’re thinking “WTF?” Maybe you’re even mouthing the letters as you think them, a just barely audible sound escaping between your lips.

Maybe you’re vocalizing the question with the actual words instead of the initialism: “What the F*ck?!?!” with an emphasis on the last word. (Assuming you’re at work, your co-workers are glancing towards you for a half-second after you utter this.)

All of these are proper, reasonable responses to the subject of the photo pictured here: A hairy, furry beach-cruisey bicycle parked at the bike rack at the popular Superba restaurant in Venice, Los Angeles.

This hirsute bicycle is either a large fashion accessory, a sartorial lifestyle statement piece extended to one’s transport and/or an art project. Perhaps there’s some functionality — the ride is somehow “softer” (?).  Perhaps it’s all these things. In any case, it looks as if Chewbacca took the form of bike and sprayed Sun In all over his over-follicled body. Amaze.