Faces to Watch in 2010: 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, 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 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
Photo credits from top: Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times, the Menil Collection and Johnnie Shand Kydd.