Category: Orange County Museum of Art

Art review: 'Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series' at OCMA

February 29, 2012 |  1:30 pm

Diebenkorn Ocean Park 43 detail"Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series" opened Sunday at the Orange County Museum of Art, nearly three years after it was originally planned to debut but was nearly derailed by the national economic crisis. The wait might have been a lucky break. Now, it turns out to be one of those odd and unexpectedly rewarding  museum exhibitions that you might have wanted to see but that you didn't know you really had to see -- until you see it.

Let me explain.

The large abstract paintings Diebenkorn made in his Santa Monica studio between 1967 and 1985, in which translucent veils of vaporous color seem suspended in shifting space from a tremulous linear scaffolding, have always seemed like the culmination of something. On a grand scale, they're the end of a century-long wrestling match between color and line as the dual engines driving Modern painting.

For American art in its ambitious, often aggressive postwar efflorescence, they bring a commitment to abstraction to a virtuoso climax. For the artist, who died in 1993 at age 70, they enfold into one grand and glorious whole everything learned in earlier nuanced series, which shifted back and forth between Abstract Expressionist and figurative canvases.

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Art review: 'State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970' at OCMA

January 5, 2012 |  3:30 pm

Paul Kos, "The Sound of Ice Melting"
The eruption of Conceptual art as a major force is the subject of "State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970," a rambunctious Pacific Standard Time exhibition at the Orange County Museum of Art. In some senses it forms a narrow prologue to the Museum of Contemporary Art's wide-ranging PST entry, "Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981." That show charts the collapse of a linear, monolithic artistic mainstream and the spread of more diverse, pluralistic art forms throughout the state. Conceptual art was its bellwether.

However different the two shows are, they do share something in common: A viewer will be struck by a near absence of color in the galleries, in favor of the prominence of black and white. There are a couple of reasons for this.

One is the pointed distinction many artists were making with contemporaneous Color Field painting, touted by the establishment as art's Next Big Thing.

In 1964, New York critic Clement Greenberg rounded up 31 American and Canadian artists for a sprawling Color Field show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Greenberg preferred the term "post-painterly abstraction," which he used as the exhibition's title, but it meant the same thing as Color Field.) The show traveled to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, two influential outposts where the New York mainstream was often embraced.

Although LACMA's show included some first-rate California artists, such as Sam Francis and Emerson Woelffer, they were added to the roster by a LACMA curator, not chosen by Greenberg. His show was widely seen as representing the voice of authority, which rankled in a newly anti-authoritarian era.

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Curator Dan Cameron heading to Orange County

November 9, 2011 |  4:14 pm

The Orange County Museum of Art has announced its hiring of Dan Cameron as chief curator, effective January.

An internationally known curator with roots in New York who is not afraid to try new cities, Cameron was the founding director of Prospect New Orleans, a citywide art exhibition launched in 2008 that drew critical praise but did not succeed in staying under budget or on a biennial schedule. Previously he had curated the 10th Taipei Biennial, "Dirty Yoga" in 2006 and the 8th Istanbul Biennial, "Poetic Justice," in 2003. From 1995 to 2006, he was senior curator at the New Museum in New York.

Cameron's appointment signals a renewed seriousness of purpose for the Orange County Museum, which has struggled to find its niche in the crowd of contemporary art museums in Southern California since the departure of chief curator and deputy director Elizabeth Armstrong in 2008.

As part of his new post Cameron will be in charge of the museum's "California Biennial," which a museum spokesperson confirmed will be held in summer 2013 despite what could be serious competition from a new 2012 biennial organized by the Hammer Museum.


Calder and Contemporaries at OCMA

Review: 2011 California Biennial

— Jori Finkel

Image: Dan Cameron in front of Peter Saul's "Typical Saigon," 1968, at the Orange County Museum of Art, where he guest curated a Saul exhibition in 2008. Artwork loaned from the Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Festival of Arts Purchase Fund. Image from Orange County Museum of Art.

Calder's legacy more than child's play, says new OCMA show

March 5, 2011 |  9:00 am


Does Alexander Calder's artwork, with its bold primary colors and simple geometry, seem like child's play to you? Just try to make a Calder-style mobile yourself. That's what the 38-year-old L.A. sculptor Jason Meadows did last winter for the nursery of his twin sons.

"The mobiles look really easy, but they are very difficult to balance," he says. "It takes only one try at making a mobile to understand that Calder was a marvel at engineering. His inventiveness is amazing," he says. Meadows is one of seven contemporary artists in a show that tries to chart some of Calder's influences in contemporary art, “Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy,” opening at the Orange County Museum of Art on April 10.

Click here for more from Meadows on Calder, the modernist so ubiquitious he almost seems invisible.

-- Jori Finkel

Image: Pig Latin, 2008, by Jason Meadows; painted and welded wrought iron, steel, and rebar; courtesy of the artist and Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles.


Culture Watch: 2010 California Biennial catalog

February 23, 2011 |  7:00 am

California-Biennial-Front-Cover The Orange County Museum of Art's 2010 California Biennial catalog has been published, complete with the on-site installation photographs of the survey that delayed publication until now. (The show, which continues to March 13, opened in October.) It's not the best statewide biennial that OCMA has done, but it does feature a respectable number of first-rate artists.

One nice feature of the catalog -- in addition to those installation photographs, plus a back-of-the-book floorplan of the show's layout -- is the inclusion of interviews with all 45 individual artists and collectives. The 209-page book is available from the museum for $39.95.

-- Christopher Knight

Donald Bren on his love of art

February 18, 2011 |  9:45 am

Bren Donald Bren, head of the Irvine Co. real estate firm, is the wealthiest man in Southern California and one of its more generous philanthropists -– but is also one of its least-known, with a well-established reluctance to talk to the press.

But when he opened up in a series of recent interviews with the Los Angeles Times, one of the surprises was that this 78-year-old businessman has had a serious, personal passion for art for more than six decades.

It dates to his teens, when his stepmother, the Oscar-winning actress Claire Trevor, brought him a signed Matisse poster from a trip to Europe. Trevor was very plugged in to the East Coast art scene when she married Bren’s father, and she knew many artists in the New York School of abstract expressionists. She introduced her stepson to them and their work, creating in him a lifelong love of that period.

“She was interested in all forms of art and she told me, ‘Donald, you have a curiosity about art ... you should broaden that,’” he recalled. “And for a while I didn’t know quite what she meant about that, but she was right. She got me started through art posters and I’d put them up on my wall at college and they’d always brighten my day. That was really the start of my interest in art.”

These days, Bren works with the Orange County Museum of Art and he’s given millions to the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine. He’s also on the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

“That is a growing museum, and I think this new director is going to take it somewhere,” he says of LACMA and it's director, Michael Govan. “I think that is going to grow into a true world-class museum. It’s not quite there yet, but it will be.”

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Orange County Museum of Art rescues Jack Goldstein show scrapped by MOCA

July 12, 2010 |  4:00 pm

Fans of the late Montreal-born, L.A.-based artist Jack Goldstein, who recently learned that MOCA scrapped plans to organize a survey of his work, will be happy to know that the show has found a home. Director Dennis Szakacs of the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) tells Culture Monster that his institution will present the first U.S. Goldstein retrospective in the summer of 2012.

"This kind of show is right in our wheelhouse, because it's about a very important artist who has not been recognized widely enough," says Szakacs. He calls Goldstein, who died in 2003, "one of the instigators of what many people consider one of the last cohesive, avant-garde movements in American art: the Pictures Generation."

Mgmlionfinal The subject of a 2009 show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Pictures Generation artists like Richard Prince and Barbara Kruger are known for using appropriation strategies and wrestling with the rise of mass media such as television in their work. Goldstein, who once made a film remix of the MGM lion roaring (again and again and again), shown at right, was not only part of the sprawling Met show but one of the five artists included in the original "Pictures" show at Artists Space gallery in New York in 1977 that helped solidify this loose movement.
Szakacs says he contacted Philipp Kaiser, an adjunct curator at MOCA, about the show a few months ago."I had heard like everyone else that the MOCA show was canceled, so I called Philipp to see what we could do. He had been given the green light to bring the show elsewhere."

OCMA's lineup for 2012 includes a retrospective of another pioneering L.A. artist, Richard Jackson, who has experimented for years with making various machines for painting. Also that year is "Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series," billed by OCMA as the "first major museum exhibition to explore the artist's most celebrated series."

Meanwhile, OCMA is ramping up for one of its most wide-ranging biennials yet, including more San Diego and San Francisco artists than in years past, opening Oct. 24.

--Jori Finkel

Image: a still from Jack Goldstein's 16-millimeter film "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer" (1975)


Orange County Museum of Art Announces Artists in the 2010 California Biennial


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