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EDITORS' PICKS

“Ellen Gallagher: Accidental Records”

through January 28, 2018

According to the International Organization for Migration, nearly 3,000 people perished in 2017 trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe. In far different circumstances, at least two million African captives died during the Middle Passage, between the 15th and 19th centuries, some of them thrown living into the Atlantic. The terrific new paintings at the center of Ellen Gallagher’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles continue her exploration of the history of that earlier tragedy and of the ocean as both graveyard and birthplace. In them, fragmented brown faces drift against sea-green backgrounds, conjuring the Afrofuturist myth—invented by the electronic music duo Drexciya—of an underwater realm inhabited by the unborn progeny of drowned pregnant African women.

Image: Ellen Gallagher, Aquajujidsu, 2017, oil, ink and paper on canvas, 74 x 79 1/2 inches. Copyright © Ellen Gallagher. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Ernst Moritz.

“Condemned to Be Modern”

through January 28, 2018

Titled after Brazilian critic Mário Pedrosa’s comment about Brasilia—the city designed and developed in the late 1950s by Lúcio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, and Roberto Burle Marx, and since 1960 the capital of Brazil—this excellent show takes a look at the history of modernist architecture in Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico through the work of 21 contemporary artists. Jonathas de Andrade, Carlos Garaicoa, and Héctor Zamora, among others, reflect on the gap between modernism’s utopian ideals and the real life of nations, cities, and communities.

Image: Mauro Restiffe, Empossamento #9, 2003, gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the artist and Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo.

“Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell”

through February 10, 2018

As its contribution to this year’s Pacific Standard Time, which is dedicated to Latin American and Latinx art, the Vincent Price Art Museum surveys Chicana artist Laura Aguilar’s thirty-year career. Since the 1980s, in nude photographs of her own plus-size body and in portraits of members of Los Angeles’s gay and lesbian community, Aguilar has addressed the struggles of women like herself who have been marginalized because of their appearance, their sexuality, or their ethnicity, insisting on more inclusive definitions of beauty and family.

Image: Laura Aguilar, Nature Self-Portrait #10, 1996, gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 inches. Copyright © Laura Aguilar. Courtesy of the artist and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

PACIFIC STANDARD TIME: LA/LA

September 2017–January 2018

This fall, exhibition venues throughout Southern California are participating in Pacific Standard Time, a massive program organized by the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles, which has granted $16 million to forty-two institutions for research, publication, and exhibition costs. Past editions of Pacific Standard Time in 2011 and 2013 addressed the history of contemporary art in Los Angeles from 1945 to 1980 and modernist architecture, respectively. This time, some seventy shows, many independently funded by their host venues, focus on the art and design of Latin America and their ties to Californian culture. Exhibition topics include geometric abstraction in South America in the 1950s and ’60s, Japanese and Chinese diaspora communities in the Western Hemisphere, and newspapers spawned by the Chicano Movement in the 1960s and ’70s. There are also monographic exhibitions spotlighting Argentine conceptualist León Ferrari, protean Brazilian feminist Anna Maria Maiolino, LA-based photographer Laura Aguilar, and Chilean video-art pioneer Juan Downey, among others.

 

“A Universal History of Infamy”
Borrowing its title from Jorge Luis Borges’s diverse collection of crime tales, this show presents new commissions by fourteen 
artists and collectives, including Mariana Castillo Deball, Carolina Caycedo, and Michael Linares. Many of the artists work across both national and disciplinary borders, and the resulting exhibition is a multifarious, multimedium affair. In keeping with PST’s spirit of inter-institutional collaboration, the 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica, which provided the artists community-based residencies, displays small works under the subtitle “Virtues of Disparity,” while LACMA hosts the larger-scale pieces.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, through February 19, 2018; 18th Street Art Center, Santa Monica, through December 15, 2017.

 

“Martín Ramírez: His Life in Pictures, Another Interpretation”
Self-taught, Mexican-born artist Martín Ramírez (1865–1963) spent the last three decades of his life in Californian mental hospitals, where he made collages from found paper and drew obsessively with pencils, burnt matches, and whatever else he could find. This survey of his work, the inaugural show at the new Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (previously the Santa Monica Museum of Art), questions the category of “outsider art” and its relationship to the mainstream. The exhibition’s centerpiece is a seventeen-foot scroll that tells the story of the artist’s emigration from Mexico to California in the 1920s.
Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, through December 31, 2017.

 

“Lina Bo Bardi and Albert Frey: A Search for Living Architecture”
In the twentieth century, immigration caused by political turmoil in Europe enriched the culture of the Western Hemisphere, indelibly changing the appearance of its cities. Lina Bo Bardi left Italy in 1946 and designed several iconic buildings in São Paulo (including the São Paulo Museum of Art), while Swiss architect Albert Frey emigrated to California in 1930, where he built private homes and municipal structures that defined the look of Palm Springs. This exhibition offers a comparison of the legacies of these two under-known masters, highlighting how they helped transform modernist design through close attention to natural and social contexts.
Palm Springs Art Museum, through January 7, 2018.

 

“Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985”
The postwar period was famously fruitful for both innovative art and impassioned social movements. “Radical Women” spans North and South America, examining how Latin women responded to adverse sociopolitical conditions with pathbreaking work in photography, video, installation art, and other burgeoning mediums. With works by over a hundred artists from fifteen countries—including the likes of Ana Mendieta and Lygia Clark as well as lesser-known figures such as Colombian sculptor Feliza Burztyn and Brazilian video artist Leticia Parent—“Radical Women” bolsters the international history of contemporary feminist art.
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, through December 31, 2017.

 

“Video Art in Latin America”
Recognizing video’s potential for technical innovation and socio-political critique, artists from Chile to Cuba embraced the medium from its inception. In the 1960s and ’70s, for example, Brazilian artists including Sonia Andrade, Anna Bella Geiger, and Leticia Parente were among the first in Latin America to make formal experiments. This exhibition, co-organized with the Getty Research Institute, features more than sixty works produced between the ’60s and the present, revealing how video gave artists throughout the region a new level of international visibility.
LAX Art, Los Angeles, through December 16, 2017.

 

“Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas”
Early Andean cultures made extensive use of metal for adornment and status. “Golden Kingdoms” presents over 300 objects of royal refinement, exploring both the origins of metallurgy in South America some three thousand years ago and the trade with cities in what is now Mexico, which flourished at the time of Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century. In these precious works, gold stands on equal footing with jade, shells, and other materials.
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, through January 28, 2018; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 27-May 28, 2018.

 

“Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas”  
From the dystopia of colonialism to the utopias of speculative fiction, “Mundos Alternos” presents radically imaginative artworks from the last two decades. Works by thirty-one participants highlight dialogue among Latino artists throughout the Western Hemisphere, revealing how common experiences shape their visions of technology and culture.
ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside, through February 3, 2018.

 

“Below the Underground: Renegade Art and Action in 1990s Mexico”
In the 1990s, Mexico City captured the attention of the international art world through the work of superstars like Gabriel Orozco and Francis Alÿs. But art production extended far beyond the projects of globetrotting figures, to marginal activities like zines, new media art, and pirate radio programs. “Below the Underground” offers an overview of lesser-known Mexican art of the period, while considering how it was kept from public view both by divisions of class, race, and gender, and by political and economic turmoil in the country at the time.
Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, October 15, 2017–January 21, 2018.

Image: Martín Ramírez, Untitled (Train and Tunnel), c. 1960–63, gouache, colored pencil, and graphite on pieced paper, 13 × 32 1/2 inches. Collection of Mary Lee Copp and Peter Formanek. Copyright © The Estate of Martín Ramírez; courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York. Image courtesy of Ricco/Maresca. In “Martín Ramírez: His Life in Pictures, Another Interpretation,” Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

“Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth”

through May 13, 2018

“Discovered” by gallerist Leo Castelli in 1958, Jasper Johns has since become famous for his lexicon of flags, targets, numbers, maps, and light bulbs. Over the artist’s sixty-year career, his open-ended aesthetic, which fosters perceptual ambiguity and semiotic play, has influenced American art movements from Pop to postmodernism. Arranged thematically, this survey presents more than 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints.

Image: Jasper Johns, Target, 1961, encaustic and collage on canvas, 167.6 x 167.6 cm. Copyright © Jasper Johns / VAGA, New York / DACS, London. Photo: Copyright © 2017 The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY / Scala, Florence.

VOICES

Art in America talks to artists, curators, and other leading figures about their favorite current exhibitions.


MOCA director Philippe Verne recommends three shows in Los Angeles

“I love it when I go to an exhibition and see art I don’t know and maybe don’t even understand.”

Image: Aria Dean, Two Cotton Bales Bound Together At 250lbs Each, 2018, raw cotton, ratchet e-strap system, 53 x 44 x 22 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Ghebaly Gallery. Photo: Brica Wilcox.

Hammer chief curator Connie Butler on shows in Los Angeles [Published 2017/12/12]

“The first show I would recommend would be “Below the Underground: Renegade Art and Action in 1990s Mexico,” which covers a really important moment in the history of Mexican contemporary art.”

Image: “The first show I would recommend would be “Below the Underground: Renegade Art and Action in 1990s Mexico,” which covers a really important moment in the history of Mexican contemporary art.”

Artist Tala Madani on the shows she’s looking forward to in L.A. [Published 2017/09/19]

“Because of Pacific Standard Time, it’s going to be a really exciting art season in Los Angeles.”

Image: Juan José Gurrola, Señora con pan (Woman with Bread), from the series “Dom Art,” 1962/2014, transfer on canvas, 72 by 70 by 2 inches. Courtesy of House of Gaga.

MUSEUM CALENDAR

Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911–2011

June 26, 2018–October 21, 2018

REVIEW ARCHIVE

March 19-May 14, 2017
by Ciara Moloney

Jacqueline de Jong is perhaps best known for her affiliation with the leftist Situationist International, for which she edited the Situationist Times between 1962 and ’67, giving particular attention to the wildly spontaneous work of CoBrA.