Category: Mixed Media

Calendar. 05.19.09.

Chusma, 2008 by Luis Gispert. (Image courtesy of Fredric Snitzer.)

Art That Loves You Back: Ernesto Neto at the Park Avenue Armory.

Drippy nutsacks as far the eye can see. (Photo by C-M.)

We love art. We hold it in high esteem. We write about it. We talk about it. We fix it when it’s broken. But what does art ever do for us? (Besides provide us with something to look at while sipping bad chardonnay.) Well, in the case of Ernesto Neto’s piece at the Park Avenue Armory, in NYC, it loves us back. His sprawling installation — think: mom’s pantyhose gone fantastically amoebic — contains various chambers that embrace you in the most womb-tastic ways.

A small, red-tinted tent (on the right), is filled with a squishy soft floor and lavender pillows. Perfect for midday naps. A testicular-looking chamber towards the back features a giant Barney-purple pillow that engulfs you in a spongy bear hug. And a Chuck E. Cheese-style ball pit, filled plastic spheres, suspends you above the ground, while providing needed acupressure. (It’s incredibly restful, provided you’re willing to fight off the three-year-olds.) Connecting all of these sensual delights are monstrous intestines lined with dangling organs that are scented by a line-up of aromatherapy-worthy spices like ginger and clove. 

What’s it all mean? Who gives a crap? All I know is I haven’t felt this good since I chilled out on those labial pillows at the Pipolotti Rist exhibit at MoMA earlier this year. 

The show is up until June 14. Do not miss.

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Calendar. 04.28.09.

Children’s Bedroom, 2009 by Ronald Morán at Bronx River Art Center. (Image courtesy of Bronx River Art Center.)

Calendar. 03.26.09.

Net-Works, 2008 by Penny Hes Yassour at Stux Gallery, in NYC. (Image courtesy of Stux.)

Do not miss: Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures at LACMA.

Detail of Nibelungen (Nibelung), a triptych by Lutz Dammbeck. (Image courtesy of LACMA.)

Take a culture. Fill it with the desire to build empire. Then put it through a vicious trench war. Follow this with a period of cultural openness and decadence. Afterwards, hand control over to a bunch of genocidal maniacs. Bomb it to a rubble. Divide it between East and West. Then put it back together. That, in an oversimplified nutshell, is the history of Germany in the 20th century. We are all familiar with the political implications of this back-and-forth. But what kind of art is produced by a nation that is built and destroyed and built again, each time in a somewhat different guise? The answer to that question lies in the jaw-dropping exhibit, The Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures, at LACMA, in Los Angeles.

This sprawling show, curated by Stephanie Barron, covers 44 years of 20th century German history, from 1945-1989. It begins in the immediate aftermath of World War II, taking viewers through the eras of the Nuremberg trials, its Solomonic split, as well as the subsequent periods of tumult and soul-searching. There are artists famous (George Baselitz, Gerhard Richter, Martin Kippenberger, et al.) and unknown (Hermann Glockner) — many of them struggling to come to terms with who and what they represent. It is heart-breaking, appalling and totally edifying all at the same time.

This will be the exhibit’s only U.S. showing (it travels to Germany afterwards), so if you are anywhere near the L.A. area, it would be a crying shame to miss it. You’ve got ’til April 19.

As always, a few extras:

Kick Ass: Vik Muniz’s ‘Rebus’ at MoMA.

The End, 1991, by Edward Ruscha at MoMA. (Photos by C-M.)

You know a show has to be good when it opens up with a video of a Rube Goldberg machine. And that is exactly what kicks off Vik Muniz‘s “Artist’s Choice” show at MoMA, one of the more deft and entertaining exhibits I’ve seen in a while. Avoiding complicated wall texts and impenetrable catalogue essays, Muniz simply and cleverly tells a story by using the images at his disposal — works from MoMA’s permanent collection — linking one to the next through visual or thematic similarity. Bubble shapes lead to other bubble shapes lead to spheres lead to rocks lead to scissors. It’s as if he’s turned the gallery into one giant Rube Goldberg machine and the viewer is the little metal pinball that gets prodded from one piece to the next.

In one stretch of gallery, for example, a vintage New York City subway map is followed by a photo of a man on a subway by Philip-Lorca diCorcia. The yellow in the photo’s subway seats is then echoed in a yellow canvas by Ellsworth Kelly, which is followed by a sculpture of an egg yolk by Kiki Smith, which is linked to an egg timer by a ’60s industrial designer from Italy… The show, titled Rebus (a visual riddle), manages to ultimately (and seamlessly) connect a stack of Post-It notes to a felt suit by Joseph Beuys. It is totally Wallace & Gromit, in the best of ways.

I snapped a few photos of the exhibit and have arranged them here to create my own rebus. I call it The Artist’s Last Thoughts.

The show is up through February 23rd. Do not miss.

Click on images to supersize. More after the jump.

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The crunch of gravel: Sadegh Tirafkan at LACMA.

Persepolis Part II by Sadegh Tirafkan at LACMA. (Photo by C-M.)

There is something about the crunch of boots on gravel that I find indescribably appealing. It’s something I associate with being a kid, when, every evening, I’d hear the sound of my dad’s pick-up pulling up outside our house, followed by the percussion of his boots all the way up our gravel driveway — and I knew that it was time to eat. (I was born hungry.) Which is why I was so excited to run into Sadegh Tirafkan‘s video piece, Persepolis Part II in the Ancient Iran galleries at the L.A. County Museum of Art

The piece consists of two monitors, each with video of Tirafkan walking silently through the ruins of Persepolis, the ancient Persian capital. The video is rather dreamlike: the two images of the artist continually walk deliberately towards each other, but never meet. And all that is audible is the scraping sound of his feet on dry rock. It transforms the gallery, which is filled with lifeless shards of ancient pottery, into something more dynamic (if nostalgic).

If you happen to be popping into the museum to check out Art of Two Germanys, a detour to the Ahmanson building to check this out is totally worthwhile. The installation will be up through March.

In other news: I’ve got a lot going on workwise, so I’m cutting The Digest back to four days a week, Monday through Thursday. Thanks for reading, xox, C.

Calendar. 01.15.08.

System of Recovery, a sculpture made with First Aid tape, drinking straws, crinoline, cardboard and wood, by Kristina Lewis at Johansson Projects in Oakland, Calif. (Image courtesy of Johansson Projects.)