Qin dynasty, "Kneeling Archer," terracotta, 48" high, 221-206 BC.
The dictionary defines awe as "reverential fear; dread mingled with veneration." Rarely do art viewing experiences literally inspire awe. Yet to contemplate the sheer magnitude of the seven thousand life sized ceramic soldiers from the tomb of Chinese Emperor Qin (221-206 B.C.)--and then actually to see some of them--is to engage awe. An even dozen of the ancient warriors function as the dramatic climax of Eternal China: Splendors from the First Dynasties. Also outstanding in the exhibition are a golden horse recently excavated from the tomb of a Han Dynasty princess, and a pale jade mask, adorned with the mythic creatures assigned to each ofthe cardinal directions, that was buried with one of her generals (Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara).
Mark di Suvero, "Aesop," painted steel, 11' 5 1/4" x 32' 4 1/2" x 13' 7 1/2", 1990.
Six huge and commanding steel structures are displayed on the lawn of Town Center Park, snaking around a garden setting of the Orange County Performing Art Center complex. Four are wind-activated; hulking steel moving gently with the breeze. Several are painted bright red and contrast perfectly against the sunlit green foliage. Others are signature Mark di Suvero, raw girders that look like the guts of a rising superstructure. Each monolith has its own upbeat personality; all are amazingly graceful despite their mass and enormous weight. Some of these same works have been installed in eminent European cities where they outshown Baroque palaces and government buildings. Now they eclipse award-winning modern edifices in a city park. What is it about these pieces that they take center stage in any environment? Size is critical, but the essence of di Suvero's art is the highly charged concentration of emotional content he pours into rigid steel. One feels that di Suvero is making love to the cold, horizontal girders, coaxing out of them the most intriguing of forms and spaces. Their emotional humanness, when set against slick, but functional buildings, takes over the landscape, and you'll respond to their sensual presence at once. For this reason alone, the behemoth steel enlivens any historic or modern locale (OCMA South Coast Plaza, Orange County).
Pablo Picasso, "Three Musicians," o/c, 79 x 87 3/4", 1921. Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The first of two certain crowd-pleasers in a row, Picasso: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, is the closest thing to a career survey of this modernist titan we have seen here (look out--Vincent Van Gogh arrives in January!). Well over one hundred works spanning the years 1904-1971 will deal with every phase of the artist's storied career and includes a number of key masterpieces: Girl Before a Mirror (1932), Three Musicians (1921), and Boy Leading a Horse (1906) to name just a few. This rare gathering will provide all of us with ample opportunity to recall the protean visual intelligence and drive this man possessed. It enabled him to reinvent the thrust of not only his own art over and over again, but to powerfully influence the thinking of artists around the world (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, West Hollywood).
Inspired directly by a series of photocollages done about fifteen years ago, as well as Thomas Moran's retrospective in Washington, D.C., Hockney also began a new series of studies of the Grand Canyon last year. These culminated in a new mural-sized work, A Bigger Grand Canyon, that is the centerpiece of this exhibition. Sixty individually painted canvases (each 16 x 24") comprise a vista view across the firey orange sun-lit Canyon. The distant sky is crowded into a small corner to the upper right. Arching across the lower portion of the image, and filling the entire left fifth, is a nearby outcropping that juts into the grand space. Individual trees and shrubs are decirnable, their diminishing size placing the alabaster foreground itself at a substantial distance from the viewpoint. We are placed by the artist high up and at a distance from the scene, yet we are also kept very much within the image.
Hockney's ability to effect grace, charm, and a feeling of intimacy, all while throwing ambitious art and ideas around is the reason he gained a high pinnacle in the art world. This show demonstrates that he still belongs there (L.A. Louver, Venice).
Martin Kippenberger, "METRO-Net", ventilation shaft, 1998.
Embedded into the grounds of the MAK Center is a concrete structure that resembles a subway vent. This piece, one of Martin Kippenberger's last (he died in 1997 at the age of 44), explores what we usually take for granted. The sound that emanates from the ground, a sound foreign to its L.A. surroundings, will take you off guard. In addition to this outdoor piece there are models and drawings for others among Kippenberger's proposed subway works (MAK Center, West Hollywood).
Burt Payne 3, "Rapunzel," metal
Sherrie Levine, "Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp)",
Jindra Vikova, "Cat Woman," ceramic, 22 x 14 x 3", 1995.
In recommending International Contemporary Ceramics from the Igal and Diane Silber Collection it is impossible to resist noting that this fine summer show sits relatively ignored by the throngs attending the Laguna Arts Festival. While undoubtedly providing a fine entertainment for these thousands, where the crowds are is not where the real action is art-wise. The two main rooms argue convincingly that ceramics is a sculp- tural medium. The figurative selections tend towards the dark and magical. Pure abstraction and forms derived from traditional vessel shapes emanate a strong psychological edge. Up close, expressive distortion of form and subtle shifts and tilts convey human presence that accounts for the overall feel. Several smaller rooms focus on an array of vessels that are traditional in their theme-and-variation acceptance of the model, but represent a textbook's worth of technique innovations. To boot, the inclusion of a substantial European and Asian contingent lends weight to the status of the ceramic medium as broadly compelling to serious artists (Laguna Beach Museum of Art, Orange County).
Barry Oretsky, "Le Cycliste (Alba)," a/c, 30 x 40". Photo courtesy of Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York.
First art fair out of the new season's starting gate is the Fine Art Dealers Association's (FADA) Los Angeles Art Show. About fifty galleries from around the U.S., all FADA member affiliates, will present art dated from the 18th Century to the present. The traditionalist orientation of FADA emphasizes styles associated with movements such as Plein Air, Impressionist, and the Hudson River School. This is a very high quality cross-section of dealers, but please do not make the mistake that the latest cutting edge art will be on view here.
FADA, formed in 1990, serves as an umbrella that promotes business and professional standards among dealers of traditional art.
The Show remains at the John Wooden Center on the campus of UCLA again this year. Exbibition days are Friday, September 12, 2-8pm; Saturday, September 12, 11am-7pm; and Sunday, September 13, 11am-5pm. The admission price, $10, includes admission for all three days as well as a catalogue.
The benefit opening on Thursday evening, September 10, 6-10pm, will support the UCLA Medical Center Medical Art Program. Tickets are $100 for the event, and include admission for all Show days. For further information about the Show contact K.R. Martindale Show Management at 1 (800) 656-9278, and for the benefit call UCLA's Medical Center Development Office, (310) 267-1854.