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The Anxiety of Originality

Made in L.A., 2012 Hammer Museum Biennial – Until the beginning of the 20th century, the education and subsequent “originality” of an artist  depended heavily on the practice of copying from the Masters. Even Cezanne and Matisse openly acknowledged their artistic debts. As epater le bourgeoisie became a requirement of serious Modernist art, however, significations of genius and inventiveness were tied less to technical mastery and more to unpredictability, novelty and eccentricity. Heavily dependent on a cult of individualism and its supposed position outside of mainstream culture, the myth of originality propelled the succession of Modernist movements with its serial overthrowing or “clean breaks” with tradition. The artist’s … [Read more...]

Inside the Artist’s Studio – Maren Hassinger

Inside the Artist’s Studio is an-ongoing series exploring issues  on contemporary art through direct encounters with the artists themselves.  Now Dig Into This – There are opportunities for sculpture everywhere. In a field, in a room, on a stage, in the street, on the ceiling, in front of a camera, etc. Every place inspires a different response. Some responses locate us in space and time and link us to particular people in particular places. These last offerings might be political. There are reactions to given events…..There are sculptures acting like sculptures and people acting like people and sculptures acting like people and people acting like sculptures. There’s stillness and motion. There’s the … [Read more...]


Pacific Standard Time Arrives – Initiated by the Getty Museum along with the Getty Research Institute, Pacific Standard Time has blossomed into a comprehensive collaboration of 60 cultural institutes whose focus will be the art and artists of Southern California from the years 1945 to 1980. While the official kickoff date is October 1st, the festival has already taken on wings with gallery exhibitions of works by such L.A. original as Beatrice Wood, Maria Nordman and John Outterbridge. I was thrilled when Scott Hobbs, brought to my attention that the work of Marjorie Cameron was to be included as part PST's inaugural Getty exhibition "Crosscurrents" and featured as part of the Getty's "Explore the Era" web archive. Scott along … [Read more...]

Inside the Artist’s Studio – Nuttaphol Ma

Inside the Artist’s Studio is an-ongoing series exploring issues  on contemporary art through direct encounters with the artists themselves.  A River Runs Through It – Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest point in the continental US, is flat, empty, surrounded by desolate, desiccated mountains, and yet the near blinding whiteness of the valley floor symbolizes and enlarges upon the traditional ground zero for the artist—the vacant white studio wall. Or as Jean Baudrillard described the desert, it is the place of “superficial neutrality”, a “challenge to meaning and profundity.” Here on May Day this year Thai American multi-disciplinary artist Nuttaphol Ma began a 6 day, 138.3 mile documented … [Read more...]

Origin Stories

Cheryl Ann Thomas, New Work, Frank Lloyd Gallery, January 8-February 5, 2011 – The suite of porcelain and bronze pieces by Cheryl Ann Thomas that comprise her latest show at the Frank Lloyd Gallery seem to find their locus as “objects” neither in the art world proper – the province of museums, educators and critics, nor in the decorative arts – where we find the beyond-functionality of material beauty.  The interest of these works exists in the space between these often mutually exclusive domains – worlds with their own historical lineages and arbiters of taste. These objects seem to exist independently of any progenitors, their origin story elusive and mysterious. Thomas terms these works “artifacts” and “relics,” and there is a … [Read more...]

Tim Hawkinson’s Eternal Return

Tim Hawkinson at Blum and Poe Gallery, Los Angeles, May 22-June 26, 2010 In contrast to the morbid formality and enforced quietude of the Blum and Poe gallery space, the cold, dead hand (culled from rotten apples and banana peels), that greets the visitor at the start of the Tim Hawkinson show, seems comparatively warm and welcoming as it emerges, zombie-style, from its hygienic white display column, more alive in its organic state of decomposition than anything else that is to follow. This literal reveal of the hand is a thematic precursor for the show, as it foregrounds the play between the animate and inanimate, motion and inertia, the useful and the useless, entropy and evolution, craft and junk. In the next room, a sculpture of … [Read more...]

Quotidian Los Angeles

Quotidian Los Angeles, maybe a bit undone. Dingbats and Mid-Century endure in a poetic, defiant state of the remiss. Nothing apocalyptic, more poised as a silent reclamation of purpose. Photography by Paul Cabanis. … [Read more...]


There has been much said about the satire and punster atmosphere of the work of Adrian Saxe. But when asked point blank "What interests you about your work?" Saxe responds without pause, "the space, how you operate it... you know, how you drive the car." Like most, I have have focused on the shear visceral and astounding technical prowess of Saxe's ceramics. His mastery of historical appropriation played against tongue in cheek post-modernism is what catches our attention, but for Saxe it is covert feasibility that keeps him up at night. Saxe's vessels are operational. His ewers pour, maybe only for the most rarified of ritual, but that is up to the collector's discretion. “...operation … [Read more...]