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Time for a museum extravaganza of celebrity art?

July 12, 2010 | 11:19 am

Phyllis Diller 2 file photo Recession got you down? The oil-volcano making you blue? Sick of the blatant racism seeping into our national political discourse?

Help is at hand. With the 40-year retrospective of Dennis Hopper's art finally opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown L.A., and a joint Steven Spielberg/George Lucas exhibition underway at Washington's Smithsonian American Art Museum, we now have coast-to-coast Hollywood celebrity art museum shows to distract our battered spirits.

The question is: Which major art museum will be the first to go all the way out on a precarious limb and mount a full-scale celebrity survey-palooza?

If you think not enough material is available, think again. Tons of celebrities paint, sculpt, draw and snap shutters. You can find about 100 famous candidates here -- including drawings and paintings by the brilliant stand-up comedy legend, Phyllis Diller.

And I've even got an idea for a guest curator: Arianna Huffington. Her 1989 trash-wallow biography of Picasso was made into a Hollywood potboiler starring Anthony Hopkins.

Some of this stuff is seriously worth looking at too: Hopper's 1960s photographs, say, or Martin Mull's poignant paintings of suburban alienation and Herb Alpert's colossal sculptural monoliths. The rest? Well, maybe we'll only know for sure when a courageous art museum steps up to the plate and gives us a chance for deep engagement.

Or, on second thought, maybe not...

-- Christopher Knight

Follow me @twitter.com/KnightLAT

Photo: Phyllis Diller; Credit: Los Angeles Times file photo


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