Category: Art

James Franco packs MOCA for lecture and book-signing

April 15, 2012 |  8:00 am


James Franco is as meta as it gets, the ultimate in creative cross-pollination. He’s an actor-turned-artist-turned-author-turned-actor-playing-an-artist-named-Franco in the soap opera “General Hospital." His new self-referential filmic offshoot, “Francophrenia” documents that experience. He’s also been cast in the upcoming Seth Rogen movie, in which he plays -- who else -- the actor-artist-author James Franco.

Drawing on all those areas of interest, Franco appeared at MOCA on Saturday in conversation with art theorist and Rhode Island School of Design digital culture lecturer Francisco Ricardo. The sold-out event –- which drew an appropriately young, hip-looking crowd of roughly 200 -- marked the release of Franco’s new book, “The Dangerous Book Four Boys.” The book is a companion to the 2010 New York exhibition of the same name and collects interviews, photographs and multimedia artworks around the themes of childhood and media, among other things.

Not surprisingly, however, Saturday’s conversation defied compartmentalization and strayed much farther afield. After a somewhat heady and hilarious dissection of Franco’s short film “Dicknose in Paris” (a clip was shown), the conversation ricocheted among topics, including Franco’s love of Faulkner; insider stories about director Nicholas Ray; Natalie Wood and Dennis Hopper during the filming of “Rebel Without a Cause”; and the upcoming MOCA show called “Rebel.” The latter, a high-concept group show that Franco conceived, is inspired by the iconic James Dean film and opens in May. It’s brimming with art world star power with works by Ed Ruscha, Harmony Korine, Damon McCarthy, Paul McCarthy, Douglas Gordon, Terry Richardson, Aaron Young and Franco.

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Art Review: Firelei Baez at Richard Heller Gallery

April 14, 2012 | 10:00 am


The work of Dominican-born, New York-based painter Firelei Báez, on view in her L.A. debut at Richard Heller Gallery, is a captivating fusion of lightness and heft, agility and brawn. Her figures — nearly all of them female — are fleshy and substantial, with an animalistic quality, in several cases, that suggests a mythological undercurrent. Yet they’re entangled in wreathes of wispy ornament: curling hair, leaves, fur, birds, patterned drapery and decoration.

Most of the works are gouache on paper, with elements of graphite, ink and silk-screen, and the figures float as if weightless across the white space of each page, with the air of being in constant motion, whether barefoot or in heels (as many are).

Only two years out of graduate school, Báez has packed the work with erudite allusions — the press release cites such works as Dick Hebdige’s writing on British punk subcultures, Islamic miniature painting and black Creole fashion in 18th century New Orleans — geared to fleshing out tangled concepts of race and the formation of cultural identity.

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Art Review: Sarah Braman at International Art Objects

April 14, 2012 |  9:00 am

Calling Wendy - Braman
The work in New York artist Sarah Braman’s first solo show in Los Angeles, at International Art Objects (formerly China Art Objects), confronts viewers with one of the great existential questions of contemporary abstraction: Is it a painting? Or is it wood with paint on it? Is it a sculpture? Or is it scrap wood?

If we consider a painting to be an object in which paint and wood (or, in the case of one of Braman’s works, cardboard) are mysteriously synthesized, whether by effort, skill or accident, into an object of energetic resonance clearly in excess of the sum of its parts, only one of the four contenders in this show leans toward qualifying: an unaccountably lively piece called “Tuesday,” in which a thin wash of blue on one panel balances nimbly against several darker patches of blue on an adjoining panel.

The show’s four sculptures — large-scale plywood and Plexiglas cubes that tip and tilt across the floor with little apparent interference from gravity — fare somewhat better, filling the space of each room with a degree, at least, of companionable bulk.

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Art Review: Elad Lassry at David Kordansky Gallery

April 14, 2012 |  8:00 am

CarLassry Install 01

Elad Lassry has received a lot of attention in recent years for his engagingly odd photographic work, which blends a keen instinct for the language of images — the kooky and awkward as well as the luscious — with a calculated disregard for traditional photographic boundaries of the sort that keep the activity of taking pictures cordoned off from the activity of appropriating them. (He does both, indiscriminately.)

In his second exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery, it’s clear that he’s angling to get past photography into the more fashionable territory of the multi-disciplinarian, and is evidently being given the resources to do so.

He’s moved the gallery’s walls around, replaced roughly half of the photographs with drawings (of whose authorship isn’t clear), and thrown in a strikingly inconsequential sculpture. Just before the show’s opening, he orchestrated a performance in which members of the New York City Ballet tottered en pointe around a number of big rolling sculptures painted the color of Easter eggs — a lackluster endeavor that left one longing for a choreographer.

Despite a press release filled with illustrious nonsense — Lassry “anchors tangible artworks in an elusive experience to which direct access can no longer be granted,” we are told — the production falls so flat as to risk calling into question even the appeal of the earlier work.

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Apparently stolen photos part of London digital art exhibit

April 13, 2012 |  8:15 am

The term “art thief” has taken on new meaning.

A pair of artists has turned 10,000 private photos they say they stole from 100 hard drives into a public slideshow. The exhibit, on display at London's Carroll/Fletcher gallery, also features intentionally tattered works by Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons.  

Curator Barbara Rodriguez Munoz told the Associated Press that the show is meant to question public versus private, as well as what falls under the "art" umbrella.

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Art Review: Jason Kraus at Redling Fine Art

April 12, 2012 |  6:45 pm

Kraus 3

The premise of Jason Kraus’s second solo show at Redling Fine Art, appropriately titled “Dinner Repeated,” is an exercise in compulsive reiteration. On each of the first seven nights of the exhibition, the New York-based artist served a nearly identical meal: the same four-course menu to the same 12 people, on a plywood table of like design with matching dishes, glasses and flatware.

After each meal, he dismantled the table and used the wood to build a free-standing shelving unit, then cleaned all the dishes and stacked them neatly inside. At the end of the week, the installation was complete: seven apparently uniform cabinets, each stocked with 12 identical place settings, spaced around the floor of the gallery.

The concept of residue has had a lot of currency in recent years. Many a work has been generated from the marks or stains made by the unfolding of a performance or event. (Note Cai Guo-Qiang’s recent firework paintings at MOCA.) In a curious twist on this familiar trope, Kraus has done the opposite: made every attempt to erase the imprint of the events, emphasizing the generic nature of his mass-produced materials.

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Olafur Eliasson work rejected by London Olympics

April 12, 2012 |  7:00 am


Officials with the London Olympics have rejected a proposed work by a major contemporary artist, saying that the piece doesn't meet their criteria. As reported by the BBC News, the work was intended to be a centerpiece for the London 2012 Festival, a gathering of artists and cultural groups coinciding with the Summer Games.

Olafur Eliasson -- a Danish-Icelandic artist known for his conceptually grand projects --  was expected to create an interactive installation where people would breathe on behalf of "a person, a movement or a cause" and record it on a website in a personal "breath bubble," according to the BBC News.

But the artist's application for a 1-million pound ($1.6 million) grant for the work has been rejected by the Olympic Lottery Distributor, an organization created by the British government to use National Lottery funds to create infrastructure for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Eliasson is said to be working a new project, with funding coming from alternate sources.

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Arts on TV: Julius Shulman; Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble

April 12, 2012 |  6:00 am

Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble Movie: “Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman” (2008) 6 and 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Sundance: Narrated by Dustin Hoffman. Photographer Julius Shulman helps bring architecture's Modernist movement to the forefront and collaborates with architect Richard Neutra and others on many important projects.

“SoCal Insider With Rick Reiff” 1 p.m. Thursday; 7 p.m. Friday; 11:30 a.m. Sunday, KOCE; noon Wednesday, KOCE: Opera legend Placido Domingo. 

“Exploring the Arts With Gloria Greer” 6:30 p.m. Thursday, KVCR: Jackie Autry's Private Collection.

“Open Call” 9 p.m. Thursday, KCET: Colburn School Orchestra. Hosted by mezzo-soprano opera singer Suzanna Guzman.

“Orchestra Kids 2011” 10:30 p.m. Thursday, KCET: Behind the scenes with the All Schools Elementary Honor Orchestra as it prepares for its annual concert in renowned Schoenberg Concert Hall in UCLA.

“SoCal Connected” 9 p.m. Friday; 6 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, KCET: Herbie Hancock: All That's Jazz: Correspondent Michael Okwu shares what it was like to spend time with jazz artist Herbie Hancock.

Santa Monica On Stage8 p.m. Friday, City TV Channel 16, Santa Monica: Barbara Bain ("Why We Have A Body"). Writer Rex Pickett and director Amelia Mulkey ("Sideways, The Play").

“Art in the Twenty-First Century” 10 p.m. Friday, KOCE: Change: Artists Ai Weiwei, El Anatsui and Catherine Opie. (Season Premiere)

“Dudu Fisher: In Concert From Israel” 1:30 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday; 8 p.m. Wednesday, KCET: Dudu Fisher performs Broadway tunes and Israeli songs. 

“Laguna Beach Live Presents: Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble With Calder Quartet” 11 p.m. Saturday, KOCE: The Jazz Chamber Ensemble is a synthesis of jazz and classical chamber music.

“My Generation” 10 p.m. Monday, KLCS: Opera singer Denyce Graves; Cheech Marin.

“Independent Lens” 11 p.m. Sunday, KOCE: When the Drum Is Beating: Haiti's past and present is explored through the music of the country's oldest and best-known band.

“Grand Canyon Serenade” 5 a.m. Tuesday, KVCR: A visual tour of the Grand Canyon is set to classical music by Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Dvorak.

-- Compiled by Ed Stockly

Photo: Billy Childs. Credit: Javiera Estrada 

Sweden's Robyn joins 'day in the life' photo project

April 10, 2012 |  3:26 pm

Swedish pop star and platform shoe enthusiast Robyn will be able to add amateur photographer to her résumé by signing on to be a part of the ongoing global art project

The singer joins Virgin Chief Richard Branson, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and thousands of people around the world in an attempt to document details of everyday life and show the commonalities of the human experience, organizer Jeppe Wikstrom told the Associated Press.

“A few months ago we were looking for everyday pictures of Paris from a major photo agency, the first thing we got was thousands and thousands of pictures of Paris Hilton,” Wikstrom said. “It's an indication of our time.”

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Thomas Kinkade -- loved by many, loathed by art critics

April 9, 2012 |  8:15 am

Click for more photos

Thomas Kinkade, who died unexpectedly on Friday at age 54, was an artist whose paintings of idyllic landscapes and biblically themed scenes garnered a huge popular following. But there was one pack who had nothing but disdain for Kinkade and who seemed to take pleasure in belittling the man and his success  -- the critical establishment.

Whether lambasting his paintings or his mass-market business technique, critics reserved a special contempt for Kinkade. Times art critic Christopher Knight has described his paintings as "schlocky" while the San Francisco Chronicle's Kenneth Baker wrote that Kinkade  "has a vocabulary, as most painters do... It's a vocabulary of formulas, unfortunately."

Joan Didion once wrote that a typical Kinkade painting "featured a cottage or a house of such insistent coziness as to seem actually sinister, suggestive of a trap designed to attract Hansel and Gretel."

PHOTOS: The work of Thomas Kinkade

Kinkade was a politically conservative Christian. Those traits are scarce among cultural critics. The artist's boastful demeanor -- he claimed to be the most collected living artist -- did not enhance his reputation in the eyes of the critics around the country.

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