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Faces to Watch in 2010: Art

December 24, 2009 |  3:00 pm

MOCA ???, the Next Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art

Who that will be is the L.A. art crowd’s big question for the new year.

The search is on after a year of hunkering down and belt tightening to put the fiscally troubled institution on firm ground. The new leader will face plenty of challenges, but Eli Broad, a founding trustee of MOCA who bailed out the museum with a gift of $30 million, says he isn’t worried.

“We will find the right person,” Broad says. “An unusual person who will create lots of involvement in the community and be a populist. Someone who likes to be out every night talking about art, in addition to being a great curator.”

It isn’t a position for anyone who can’t take being under a spotlight, but MOCA has a great collection, an extraordinary exhibition record and an important place in the cultural life of the city.

Sirmans Franklin Sirmans, the New Curator of Contemporary Art at LACMA

Sirmans, former curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston and curatorial advisor at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, is coming to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art beginning Jan. 1; he will be department head and curator of contemporary art, succeeding Lynn Zelevansky, who left in July to direct the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

The arrival of Director Michael Govan and the Broad Contemporary Art Museum have expanded the visibility of new art at the Wilshire Boulevard museum during the last few years. Sirmans — a critic, editor and writer as well as curator of “NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith,” an exploration of spirituality in contemporary art — is expected to bring a fresh perspective to LACMA’s exhibition and publication programs.

He will oversee a department that concentrates on visual art made in the last four decades. But his record indicates that he’s likely to incorporate music, performance and popular culture when it suits his purposes.

Whiteread Rachel Whiteread, Artist 

Whiteread is known internationally as a sculptor. Her signature works are astonishingly ambitious castings of interiors, including a house, a room, a water tower and a stairwell. But she trained as a painter and makes lots of drawings that she likens to a diary of her work.

“Rachel Whiteread Drawings,” billed as the first big museum show to survey her work on paper, will introduce the relatively private side of her artistic sensibility and creative process. Organized by Allegra Pesenti, curator of the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum, the exhibition will open Jan. 31 at the Westwood institution and travel to the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and the Tate Britain in London.

Don’t expect to see preparatory sketches for sculpture. As Pesenti says, Whiteread’s drawings are “a place where painting and sculpture meet.” The curator has selected 155 drawings and eight related sculptures for the show. In addition, the artist has created a “cabinet of curiosities,” composed of small casts and 200 things she has collected — tree branches, rocks, shoe forms, fossils, buttons, dental molds, you name it.

— Suzanne Muchnic

More Faces:

Faces to Watch in 2010: Architecture

Faces to Watch in 2010: Theater

Faces to Watch in 2010: Music

Face to Watch in 2010: Dance

Photo credits from top: Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times, the Menil Collection and Johnnie Shand Kydd.

Comments () | Archives (13)

I waited to long for anyone to notice this, but in reading the Sunday Arts and books today it really struck me how embarrassing weak contemporary art is that only one artist is mentioned in the artist to watch listings for 2010. Administrators who are good at squeezing money from rich collectors are more important that the artists themselves. Even an administrator that doesn’t yet exist is more important that a real artist. That the symbolic importance of an administrative post is more important than an actual artist frightens me. Sadly this hypothesis is a perfect reflection of the average artists work today.
The concept that an artist comes up with has to have a unfathomable value to the average person that in turn can only be understood by critics then disingenuously defined by them. Then the investment end of art cabal is willing to buy into the new anointed one. The key is if enough approve that the artist is doing something that is a controllable, passion free investment, thus the hot artist is born.
Expansion of museums of junk is what matters to make money from the construction, protect, design and promotion of artists they are heavily vested in. Networking becomes more important for the artist than producing passionate work. Uniquely skilled artists are difficult find and control, better to promote empty vessels that will go with the flow. Next Year will we see any artists listed as being worth watching? Why should there be if they have nothing relatable to say to the world?

William, thanks for responding to my last comment. I'd rather be a cracked pot made of clay than be seen as silly putty in your hands.

Now, I'd like to ask you why you think "junk" art appeals to the administrators and rich collectors. You've said that the majority of these artists' works are unfathomable to the average person (a point I don't fully agree with), and that critics are also participating in this scheme by explaining their meaning to the public in a misleading or calculating way. Your comment leads me to believe that the art world of today has fallen into a state of disgrace, where the only thing that matters is to make money for a select few who control the show.

I agree that true artists are free spirits and are difficult to control. The artists who refuse to be easily manipulated by these power brokers of art, and the general public that won't be fooled and buy into the junk philosophy, are generally ignored and considered outsiders. Dare I say that you believe these few have become the lunatic fringe, the minority of the art world?


Why is it that in the movie section they only talk about actors in their 2010 lists of faces to watch? Why not Producers? Because actors sell tickets. Why isn’t that the same with art? Why are the administrators more important?

Art (and Architecture) has become a collective culture of deconstruction and marketing. Deconditioned art may be interesting to the intellectual, but it’s not a natural way of creating or enjoying art by the average human.
I think the best way I can make my case is for you to go back thru the older posts on this blog for as long as you can stand it and then tell me if you think this is the best work out there.
I find 80% of it cleaver satire at best, when added up side-by-side becomes numbingly repetitive. The other 20% is good art, but usually goes back a hundred or more years.
I have no idea how the critics don’t get sick of writing about slight variations of the same focus, happily trotting out analogous reviews. How about some bad reviews of good art?
If the CM bolg went back 20 years it would all be more of the same. The bulk of art being some variation on finding objects and re- assembling them. A kind of 3 dimensional form of collage is king. In second place comes art made with appropriated imagery and re- juxtaposed into printed form or film. There is a dominance of obvious commentary on culture by distorting found imagery, but very little original work that come out of a brush and wows us with skill, passion and beauty. If it is painted its energetic abstraction at best, well rounded skill sets being poison. Good drawing is ignored or apologized for, great artists who can draw who have local museum shows with lines around the block are disregarded in favor of a tiny empty galleries with sayings scrawled on Cardboard or naked women covered in mud
To me it’s the same as listening only to Jazz Fusion and saying that is enough variety in music.

The crazy thing is, when you actually get an artist like this with skill, and some passion to what he is doing, he gets ignored. I looked at the NY Times blog and they have an article on William T Wiley who has a show at the Smithsonian, NOT MoCA or the Whitney or the "New' museum. He is actually quite good and interesting, even if he had students I consider the eptiome of vacuous crap and excuses for arrogant narcissim of the wealthy like Bruce Nauman, Hell, Anselm Kiefer was a student of Bueys, so you cant take student/teacher connections too far. Kiefer is great, one of the few today, Beuys, well, go over to the Broad, talk about useless self absorbed rantings. I give him some credit for his ecological stance, but we in the West have been doing that forever, the Sierra Club and most great photographers like the Westons and Adams pushed this for a hundred years.

Critics always are looking for a notch on their belt, to claim the "discover" someone or something new, an Ism to hang their art creds from and so get paid and be amongst the jesters and excusers for the powers that be, who like the status quo, it is no danger to them, art has been defanged. Wiley got his degree in the very last wave of decent artists, 1959, a very good year I might add, besides Kind of Blue, Giant Steps, and The Shape of Jazz to Come albums coming out, yours truly was born. Now, to feed the academic/museo/gallery complex, "new" talents must be revealed, newly minted MFAs egos fed, to keep children spending their parents money for useless degrees, it is a business, not about art. Academic surroundings castrate art, one cannot be in such sterile confines without becoming vacant, passionless, and without passion there is no art. Roger Herman over at UCLA is an example of that. One must be out there, where life is, never a part of a fashionable art "scene", which is about a seperated lifestyle, not seeking the common bond of mankind, what makes us human.

Art abandoned its role, its purpose, its passion, for profit and career long ago. It is about being "clever", not intelligent, which is sifting thourgh the torrents of useless data, and finding connections, not splintering market share for sales. Cleverness is about :"appearing" to be intlligent, "smart;, not wise, as that takes living, no snot nosed 25 year olds knows a damn thing, come back in 20 years after having had kids, lost love, failed, and gotten up again on ones own, developing a soul. We are born empty vessels, with a temperament, life teaches and we learn, or is ignored and we go through life vacuously. Which is what art has become, as thats where the money is. Kissing up to the stupid robber barons of the world like Broad, who hasnt a clue. But sure has alot of Mausoleums going up around town, and in need of decorations to his greatness to fill them.

And Artistes brownose to him and his like, pitiful. Bite the hand that feeds you, its the only way to be free, and all artists must be completely independant, never dependant on grants and patrons, as slavery of mind, body and soul results. Creative arts true purpose. Revealing who WE are as a common humanity, not common beggars.

art collegia delenda est
Save the Watts Towers, tear down the Ivories.

Wiley’s unsophisticated drawing ability puts me off, but what I find interesting about him as how his sixties work looks like much of what is hot today. 45 years later and we are still in the same little boat padding in an ever-tighter circle.

Yes, his drawing quite provicial, but then, isnt prtty much all contempt art made to please a tiny market, a provincial attitude that crosses national boundaries? His 60s stuff is pretty bad, and also pretty much what we still get today, but his later stuff grew, which unfortunantly his fellow art school grads never did as they get the same stale old limited ideas of self as then.

What i like is the textures he creates that work with teh range of colors he uses, his scratchy line of motif is embedded in the works surrounding it, so they are unified yet layerd. Far more sophisticated than what we get no. I would never do anything like this, but he seems to have grown in depth just as his reputation went down, isnt that interesting?

What i see is at least an attempt at emotional response, beyond the typical childish irritating daubles like teenager whering frofanity laden T shirts to piss off their elder. Wow, real mature. The early stuff is adolescent but he at least reached an early manhood, which is more than I can say for stuff in the Broad and constantly littered on this site from local vanity gallereies. The kids come ofut of their MFA programs thinking they are fuly developed, and so are, thats as far as they go as they dont look for more, to feel more, as passion has been banned from the building. Just like god. They never grow becasue they dont think they have to, and kids never do unless they get a good quick kick in the ass from reality every once in awhile, and art schools are created to shield the nice young children from such terrible horrors as truth, sacrifice, commitmeent and constructive self criticism. Paying ones dues is a curse theses days, and so, provincial immaturity reigns. It is a business after all, so who cares?

those outside the art world do.
art collegia delenda est

I care. Despite all this negativity and confusion, I still care. I guess that makes me an "outsider" according to your definition, Donald.

It is historically known that artists must either be rich in their own right or in the pocket of conformity. Look at pretty much all art up until the Industrial Revolution, who was commissioning artists? the church. They have money to burn on extravagant architecture, murals and sculpture that appeases their views and ideals. Since then, free markets have allowed artists to produce a stable income from business or real estate that can then finance their art. If you want to be a free artist, then stop distracting yourself with rebelliousness and finance yourself.
Donald Frazell, regarding the comment about "no snot nosed 25 year olds knows a damn thing," you must either be disgruntled at the lack of talent in the youth or jealous that someone has more talent than you in one brush stroke than you've been able to muster in 40+ years of soul searching. Stop blaming others for your own inadequacies or your inability to find an income other than through your godlike but unnoticed artistic abilities. Baby-boomers really are the "I want, I deserve generation" and their children have grown up in the house of selfishness. At least this recession is humbling some of us.
I agree art is a beautiful whore but this is our time, don't waste your energy drowning in the absurd value on crappy art. If you don't like the art in a museum, stop going and maybe they'll wake up or shut their doors; yes, it's a business like any other.

Touched a nerve, eh? Artists have often worked to make a living, in real jobs. Romare Bearden,a hundred times the artist of anything in the Broad, was a social worker all his life. Weston and Adams worked in real jobs, all their lives doing commercial work as well as art.

art now is just a whore, period, one with warts and diseased, no beauty at all. But she looks in her Dorian Grey mirror and ses a gorgeous entity, when really filled wiht puss and self loathing. Adults do what is necessary, we raise kids, the ultimate rcreation beyond the weak anorexia of the artistes, and build a life, independant, not needing to brownose and live a lie to be noticed. Bite the hand that feeds you, and trains you into Pavlovian responses to safe kitsch, it is the only path to truth enlightenment, independance, and not having to kiss up to jackalopes.

we are coming out of our most recent gilded age, where the Acadmies of the salon have been rebuilt, the pharisees in charge once more, about to go down again. to rise someday, cant kill em, but can overwhelm when art is needed. It hasnt been, but is now. only takes one cezanne to get the cards falling. And it is periously perched on self absorbed fantasy. Imperial Clothing.

Shhh. It is not permited to speak to the helmsman.

art colegia delenda est

save teh WAtts Towers, tar down, or paint, the Ivories.

the comments art world were informative and helpful me to find words to describe what i see and feel the lack of meaning of the art that fill museum wall in la. enjoyed reading the comments. how do i get aboard ....

So ViaNavitas wants to just give up eh? Must not be an artist who experienced any real passion. Accept a corrupt system; let the tiger eat its tail? Amazing when one is entrenched so deeply in apathy any strength can be mustered to beg the flies to go away. I don't what to passively let the whole dinosaur die when I think reform is possible. It’s only strayed off the path for 60 years. When the apathy takes over and I let the art cabal make me a zombie, please bury my head in the sand too. Be a rebel with the rabble ViaNavitas, tear your dress a little.

Things are in the works Marsha, besides my Judgment Chapel before the Vatican for the 2011 Venice Biennale. It needs those who see and feel to step forward, there are artists all over the world who are shunted aside. click on my name below and follow my blog, i will let you know. And do your part, we all must. Support or create your own good will to man on earth, in whatever skill set you possess. Not of the decadent arts, as you have seen there is little if anything about the Holiday season on this blog, it is about the New Year and past "clever" works of the year. Nothing about how art serves man. Thats is all that matters, words are hollow, its what you do that counts.

It is time, for those who are moved by art, derive passion from it, to understand why it is in its souless state at the moment. Creative Art has been excluded from the academies, it cannot be taught, and so ignored. art is needd once more, slowly it will arise like teh Phoenix it is, just as thedecadent Academic Salon type will come back as the plague it is, neither an be rid of. Art does reflect the time, but not in how the Academy thinks. They are not creative artists, they are careerist opportunists, more concerned with lifestyle than passion. Kowtowing to the powers that be, lacking in character, jesters to their masters.

art collegia delenda est
Fine art colleges must be destroyed
Save the watts Towers, tear down the Ivories

When did I ever say, "Give up"? I am shocked at the lack of passion and talent in todays' successful art. I agree with you more than you think, but I think age has nothing to do with talent as Donald Frazell was alluding to. It's like saying that Michelangelo's early masterpieces are not worthy because he was 16. It's like saying that all of Da Vinci's work is passionless because he never had kids, therefore wasn't mature enough to know what hardship is. To William Wray, how can you even begin to know my life, you have no idea the shamefulness you show by assuming that which you do not know. I don't accept the art industry, but I'm smart enough to finance my art for ME, not for you, not for a blind and deaf museum of mouth breathing coke heads. Go ahead and suffer, but since you are making the conscience decision to do so, don't come online and bitch about it.


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