From February 5-9, the LA Art Show hit its 25th Anniversary in the downtown LA Convention Center, representing 120 galleries from 18 different countries. As always, there was a strong showing of Chinese and Latin American artists, including Los Angeles based Latinos (or, Latinx, if you prefer).
Opening night was fun. A performance artist named Miss Art World, presented by the nonprofit cooperative 825 Gallery, was one of the more colorful personalities, with a big blue bouffant, a dress like the topping of a cake, and her signature beauty queen sash that says, “Miss Art World,” of course.
Cirque du Soleil performers looking like indigenous-inspired Super Mario brothers characters walked around on stilts, in weird color block mohawks.
Everyone wanted to take selfies or pictures of actress-model type women, and the ALPHACUBE by Lorenzo Marini (presented by Bruce Lurie Gallery) was busy all night with people taking advantage of the sculpture’s colorful interior, which made for a great wall-to-wall backdrop of blocks of letters. Give Los Angelenos a place to pose and they’ll love you forever. Or at least, they’ll post your work on social media that night.
Browsing through one of the Chinese galleries on opening night, I was offered some strawberry hard candies, which I enjoyed. “They’re popular for Chinese New Year,” the gallerist explained. We started talking about Year of the Rat, whether it was good for Year of the Rabbit people or not, and she mentioned that it was a very unlucky year for many Chinese. Only later did I wonder if perhaps she was thinking about the coronavirus.
Art brings people together from all over the world. As one newbie wrote on Instagram, “Can I get season tickets?” There is so much to see, you literally can’t do it all.
I returned to the Show on Saturday and enjoyed meeting the proprietor of the Wyoming Working Group. They have quite a story! The group owns more than 50 canvasses attributed to Jackson Pollack. Attributed to means that, they think they were made by Jackson Pollack but can’t prove it. Their struggle to establish provenance has raged on for decades. The work has many Pollack-like qualities, but it also feels different. The patterns are similar, but the work has a different palette and much lighter touch. My first gut reaction—from a distance—was that they were fake (“Oh weird,” I thought, “there’s a booth called Pollack’s Paradigm. Looks like someone is trying to recreate the Pollack style.” I thought it was like one of those workshops museums do for kids.)
The explanation given for the work being hidden is that Pollack was going to have a major retrospective and had stashed away his “best stuff” in preparation for the show. Also, he was going through a divorce, and wanted to hide the work from his soon to be ex-wife and the dealers he no longer trusted. His untimely demise in an auto accident prevented the work from being released by the artist, the story goes. The work was allegedly gifted to an unknown girlfriend, one of several, allegedly, who sold the work cheaply. But there’s no proof a girlfriend other than Ruth Kligman existed. The work is interesting for the issues it raises about how an artist’s work is authenticated, and who gets to decide what is real and what isn’t. It’s a whole area of the art world that most artists don’t even think about when they’re alive. The Working Group has spent large amounts of money with scientific research to try to prove that the paintings are authentic. And whether they are or not, it’s a fascinating story and one they certainly seem to believe in.
But is it true? If it is, science will tell us, eventually. The Working Group claims fractal analysis backs them up; a quick Google search turns up articles both condemning fractal analysis as unreliable indicator of what is and isn’t a Pollack, and suggesting that new software is better—up to 93% accurate. The Group also claims to have one work with a fingerprint. A fingerprint, a hair, other DNA analysis would be tough to argue with. But the details of the fingerprint on the Group’s website are thin. And Pollack is the most forged post-war artist on earth. Even former members of the Pollack-Krasner Foundation’s authentication board have had public disagreements about other instances of post-humous attributions. To see the work in this collection and judge for yourself, click here: https://wyomingworkinggroup.com/book/#.Xk3ZRy2ZM_U
New discoveries, and sometimes new friendships, is what the LA Art Show is all about. At the KR Martindale Gallery, I had the fun experience of meeting an exhibiting artist, Guillermo Bert, whose work deals with complex social issues stemming from immigration, acculturation, and the Latinx community. He works with indigenous communities in Latin America as well as in Los Angeles, to create works that evoke lived experience through a mix of traditional symbols and contemporary technology (such as woven textile pieces where you can scan a QR code and hear first person narratives, or the videotaped stories of undocumented migrants projected in an installation of live tumbleweed). Most of Bert’s work is curated and displayed through museums rather than galleries; at the LA Art Show he brought smaller, collectable works like “Red States, Blue States, and White Lies,” a seemingly minimalist triptych of “laser, barcodes, and candy colors on Plexi” whose title betrays a conceptual punch.
One of my favorite sections this year was INK. With mostly Chinese and Japanese artists from foreign and domestic galleries, the section explores calligraphy rooted in both traditional and experimental forms. The important, avant-garde calligraphy artist Yuichi Inoue was presented by Japanese gallery Zeal House. Shoen Tominaga, another important avant-garde calligrapher, whose work inhabits the spaces of painting and writing, was presented by S.E.A. (Los Angeles and Tokyo).
I particularly enjoyed seeing work by Yang Xiaojian presented by the Shanghai based COSPACE Gallery. These works synthesize an Eastern, calligraphic-based sensibility with the Western painterly tradition; Chinese characters are imbued with weight and and a cartoonish heft like the objects in a later Philip Guston painting. This work, by itself, was worth the trip.
Moira Cue is an award winning artist, singer, and actress whose works are in collections worldwide.
©2020 Hollywood Sentinel
One Plus One, more commonly known as Sympathy for the Devil after it was re-edited by its producer, is one of the most complex and provocative films of 1968. Director Jean-Luc Godard intercuts footage of the Rolling Stones working on the song “Sympathy for the Devil” with other scenes examining capitalism, activism, and political conflict. Godard’s original edit, which was screened in its first year but not regularly distributed in the United States since, has been restored by ABKCO and made its Los Angeles premiere at MOCA. The film was shown on a 4K projector with Dolby sound. This program is part of Filmforum’s 1968: Visions of Possibilities, which presents films that reflect on the turbulent global events of 1968 fifty years later. (source: MOCA)
The film screened on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018, at 7pm at MOCA Grand, Los Angeles, to a nearly sold out theatre. Legendary 1+1 Cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond was present to introduce the film, who has also lensed such classic films as; The Rolling Stones: Rock and Roll Circus, The Beatles: Let It Be, The Man Who Fell to Earth (David Bowie), Heart of Darkness, Indian Runner (Director; Sean Penn), the classic Clive Barker horror film Candyman, and countless more.
Blending rare, compelling footage of the Rolling Stones in a large, rough studio working on take after take of “Sympathy for the Devil,” Godard and Richmond bring unforgettable shots of the Stones in unpredictable, entertaining compositions, compelling for any Rolling Stones fan.
With dynamic, outstanding sound that soared beautifully in MOCA, the music of the Rolling Stones brilliance, with their rare cuts here, are boldly juxtaposed with Godard’s sporadic and notorious enfant’ terrible aggression upon the audience with an occasional blasted reverb feedback, and the political philosophical musings by bands of outsiders. Revolutionaries including Black Panther-esque militants, an actress wandering in a UK forest who answers nothing but “yes” or “no,” and a radical voice-over narrator whose audio track is generally overlaid directly on top of the other vocal track of the scene the viewer is watching, makes the foley track of this film as daring as the motion picture itself.
This technique, mastered by Godard, results in the colliding voices of a devious, hallucinogenic, audio assault upon the viewer / listener, that while at times dreadfully annoying, is simultaneously brilliant. Godard at times moves the microphones from one scene closer and farther away, creating a parade of sound coming and going, as the narrator track fades in and out, signaling not only time and space, but the destruction of space-time, and form itself.
A car graveyard, filled with the beautiful destruction and decay of chipped and smashed colors of metal, stacked and lined beautifully in rows of life and death, blend into the dirt of the Earth, as Richmond pans back and forth as revolutionary black brothers throw each other machine guns ready to take down the man. A montage of art itself, the wasted vehicles symbolize a dying industry; a broken and collapsing society, re-appropriated by revolutionaries ready to take back their power by any means necessary, yet later talking it out and discovering–after a few sacrificial deaths–violence is “not” the answer.
As notable Hollywood Sentinel art and literature critic Moira Cue comments, “Godard exemplified in One Plus One the fact that rock music had become the new form of political revolution to get the message to the masses.”
While Godard’s fleeting brush with Communist Marxism is exemplified in the film; the message that “all progress is rooted not in the industrialized masses controlled by the state, but rather in those achievements by the individual,” may not be accurate in literal interpretation; as one ponders the creation for example, of Egypt’s great pyramids made by the dreadful toil if the Egyptian slaves; and yet, we can irrefutably agree, that all good “moral progress” is rooted ‘not’ in the coercive exploitation of the ruling political class, but rather; is found in the egalitarian ideal of the freedom of the individual to pursue his or her own unrestrained creativity, without regard for the whims, wishes, or commands of the tyrannical powers that be.
It is with the beauty of that such anarchist ideal, with the celebration of freedom at its core, that Jean Luc Godard ascended to his heights of greatness, and forever stays as one cinema’s most stunning, innovative, daring, and brilliant voices of all time.
A very special thanks to the vision of MOCA and FILMFORUM for bringing this masters work to the museum, along with Anthony B. Richmond.
MOCA’s New Board Members
The Board of Trustees of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), announced Monday the addition of five new members: Dr. Adrian Cheng, Marina Kellen French, Simon Mordant, Sean Parker, and Julia Stoschek. The members bring an international outlook, various industry backgrounds, and deep commitment to the arts. They each add strength to an expanded and invigorated MOCA Board.
“I am thrilled and proud to welcome such an esteemed group of new trustees,” said MOCA Board Chair Maria Seferian. “Each of our new trustees is a leader in his or her industry and a deeply dedicated philanthropist who has contributed to many important causes around the world. MOCA is embarking on a new chapter, and we are all very excited about what’s to come.”
“I am humbled and grateful to welcome five extraordinary philanthropists, leading art specialists, and pioneering supporters of the arts and social causes to the board of MOCA,” said Klaus Biesenbach, the Director of The Museum of Contemporary Art. “Each, in their own way, brings a unique knowledge and experience to the Board that will broaden and strengthen the growth of the museum going forward.”
Dr. Adrian Cheng joins the MOCA Board from Hong Kong. Mr. Cheng is an internationally-renowned businessman. He is currently the Executive Chairman and General Manager of New World Development and the Executive Director of the Chow Tai Fook Capital Limited. Mr. Cheng is also the founder of the K11 Art Foundation (KAF) and has been awarded the prestigious officier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres. Mr. Cheng is active in contemporary art; he is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Museum of China Foundation, Director of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum (CAFAM) Funds, and a trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts, is a member of TATE’s Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee, among others.
Marina Kellen French joins the MOCA Board from New York City. Ms. French is an internationally-recognized, lifelong philanthropist and avid supporter of the arts. She has been a trustee of the Metropolitan Opera and on the trustee council The National Gallery in Washington, D.C. for thirty-eight years. Ms. French is also on the Board of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, The Hospital for Special Surgery, and The American Academy, Berlin and is a Life Trustee of both the Morgan Library and of WNET, Channel 13. She is the Vice President of the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation and the President of the Marina Kellen French Foundation. Ms. French was awarded the Officers Cross of the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany for all she has done for German American relations.
Simon Mordant AM joins the MOCA Board from Sydney, Australia. Mr. Mordant is Executive Co Chairman and co-founder of Luminis Partners, a leading corporate advisory and investment banking firm associated with Evercore. Mr. Mordant is a decades-long, passionate collector of contemporary art. He is Chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), a Trustee of the American Academy in Rome, a director of MoMA PS1, a member of the Tate and MOMA International Councils and was twice Australia’s Commissioner at the Venice Biennale. Mr. Mordant was awarded an AM, being made a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for Services to the Arts.
Sean Parker joins the MOCA Board from Los Angeles. Mr. Parker is an internationally-renowned entrepreneur with a record of launching genre-defining companies and organizations. Together with his wife Alexandra Parker, he is an avid collector of contemporary art and committed philanthropist. The Parkers founded the Parker Foundation in 2015 with a focus on large-scale systemic changes in life sciences, global public health and civic engagement.
Julia Stoschek joins the MOCA Board from Berlin, Germany. She is the founder of the Julia Stoschek Collection, which is a leading international collection of time-based art. The collection is based in Dusseldorf and Berlin and includes more than 800 works of time-based, performance and installation art from the 1960s onward. She is a world-recognized philanthropist and affiliated with many institutions, including the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, where she serves as Vice Chair. Furthermore, she is a member of the acquisition committee at Kunstsammlung NRW, Duesseldorf, Tate Council, London and Committee of Performance at the Whitney Museum, New York.