Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October Chelsea Roundup

By Charles Kessler

About a third of the galleries are installing new shows that will open Thursday -- it’s going to be a CRAZY night in Chelsea!

Roy Lichtenstein, Entablature, 1974, oil, magna, sand, magna medium, aluminum powder on canvas, 
60 x 90 inches (Paula Cooper Gallery)
It seems like the top-tier Chelsea galleries are competing with each other to present museum-quality exhibitions. Paula Cooper proves her mettle with Roy Lichtenstein: Entablatures (extended through November 12th).

The paintings, completed between 1971 and 1976, are based on illustrations he found in Greek and Roman architecture journals, but I also believe Lichtenstein was making a tongue-in-cheek reference to Minimalism generally and to the the striped paintings of Kenneth Noland in particular. See below:
Kenneth Noland, Via Light, 1968, acrylic on canvas, 54 x 113 inches, (courtesy of Lelie Feely Fine Art).
Richard Pousette-Dart, Cloud Sign, 1950, Oil and graphite on linen, 36 x 74 inches  
(Luhring Augustine Gallery).
Richard Pousette-Dart: East River Studio at Luhring Augustine until December 17th.

This is a show of rarely-seen paintings and wire sculptures he did in the 1950s. One interesting sidelight is the exhibition is organized by the well-known artist Christopher Wool, who studied with Pousette-Dart in college, and Pousette-Dart’s daughter, the painter Joanna Pousette-Dart.

Burning, Bright: A Short History of the Light Bulb, Pace Gallery on 22nd Street until November 26th.
(The Pace Gallery website is so bad I won’t expose you to it; instead, here’s a write up in Art Daily.)

It’s amazing how many artists have used the light bulb as a motif in the last century. As you'd expect, the show has the well-known light bulbs of Jasper Johns and Claus Oldenberg, but there is also work by many others including Man Ray, Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and a delightful small cat lamp by Alexander Calder.

Undoubtably because of Pacific Standard Time there’s been more than the usual number of exhibitions of older Los Angeles art and artists in New York. Here are three that I think are among the most interesting.

Sonia Gechtoff, the Ferus Years at Nyehaus gallery until December 17th.

Sonia Gechtoff, Death of a Child, 1957, oil on canvas, 66 x 97 inches
This is an artist I knew nothing about, and one of the very few women that showed at LA’s now-famous Ferus Gallery. The only other woman artist I can think of is Jay DeFeo and, like her, Gechtoff was from the Bay area and stylistically closer to West Coast Abstract Expressionists like Hassel Smith. 

The gallery is giving away a beautifully printed color catalog of the show. It includes a 2006 interview with Gechtoff by Marshall Price and several photos of the period.

Llyn Foulkes at Andrea Rosen Gallery until December 3rd.

Llyn Foulkes, Happy Rock, 1969, oil on canvas, 88 x 84 1/2 inches

There's been quite a bit of Foulkes's art shown in the last few years, maybe because the surrealistic and conceptual quality of his work is compatible with post-modern sensibilities. The focus of this exhibition is on Foulks’s 1963 to 1991 rock landscapes. These are strange, disconcerting and haunting works.

Pacific Standard Editions, Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl; 465 West 23rd Street - Ground Floor, (temporary location) until November 5th.

During the 60’s and 70’s, all the New York heavies — Stella, Johns, Lichtenstein, Rauchenberg and many others — would come to LA to make prints at Gemini. This show provides a small taste of what was done in those years. Look for the Ron Davis multiple — it’s a knock-out.

I’m looking forward to Robert Graham: Early Work 1963 - 1973, opening November 7th at David Zwirner.
The press release says the show will contain his Plexiglass boxes. The boxes contain small wax sculptures of suntanned bathers at the beach, or small domestic interiors with figures making love or otherwise enjoying themselves. The viewer is very much a voyeur and a giant one at that.  This work was very popular when it was first shown; I remember even Clement Greenberg liked it, but for whatever reason it's hardly ever seen anymore. Unfortunately Graham’s work became more somber and academic as he got older. He died in Santa Monica, California, in 2008.

Robert Graham looking at his wax sculptures in his exhibition at Nicholas Wilder Gallery, 1968. © Robert Graham. Image courtesy of Jerry McMillan and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica. © Jerry McMillan. This photo was taken from the Getty Museum's website.

Younger Artists (sort of)
William Powhida, Derivatives at Postmasters until November 26th
and Allison Schulnik at ZieherSmith until December 17th.

Video has become obligatory for exhibitions by younger artists — and the videos are usually not as good as their other work. The opposite is the case with these two artists. 

I’m frankly getting a little tired of standing and reading Powhida’s work in a gallery setting -- it’s a lot easier to read, and seems more appropriate, on his website -- but, as he’d be the first to point out, you can’t make money that way. His video, on the other hand, is an entertaining extension of the obnoxious art-star persona he created this summer at a performance at the Marlborough Gallery in Chelsea. 

Likewise, even though LA-based Allison Schulnik is 32 years old and a CalArts graduate, this is a very immature artist — talented but sophomoric.  As you can see from the reproduction (below), her work is heavy-handed, melodramatic, sappy and kitschy. But this kind of theatricality and pathos seems to work better in her video. 
Allison Schulnik, Yogurt Eater, 2011, oil on linen, 84 x 68 inches
I saved my favorite for last: Shane Hope, Transubstrational: As a Smartmatter of Nanofacture at the Winkelman Gallery (until December 23rd). 
Shane Hope, "Transubstrational - As a Smartmatter of Nanofacture," (installation view showing his hand-made 3D printer, Winkleman Gallery). Photography by Etienne Frossard.
I recently wrote that some of de Kooning’s works have so much going on and are so complex, they’re like nature itself. Well this applies in spades to Shane Hope’s work. I thought his last show was dense, but now he’s crammed in even more by adding a third dimensions. I can’t describe it better than Ed Winkleman:
For his new series of lenticular-3D prints (titled "Post-Scarcity Percept-Pus Portraiture"), Hope has continued to customize user-sponsored open-source nanomolecular design software systems. He uses this software to modify, manipulate and design groups of molecular models. To build his painterly pictures, he assembles together tens of thousands of these models, resulting in fantastic compositions depicting organic, inorganic, synthesizable, theoretically feasible and nano-nonsensical molecules. The lenticular 3D print format presents holographic-like relief-sculptural depth, providing an extraordinary view into molecular design spaces and how hacking matter happens.
Don’t get the wrong idea, the work isn’t the dry by-product of some intellectual/conceptual conceit; the process is absolutely integral to the meaning and experience of the work, and the result is rich art in every way: beautiful, glowing, mysterious and downright profound.

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