Art Here and Now: New Acquisitions by Zoe Crosher and Mark Flores

July 7, 2011

Artists Mel Edwards, Chris Burden, Mary Corse, Tim Hawkinson, Pae White, Mark Bradford, and Elliott Hundley have more in common than you might think. Once upon a time, as emerging artists, they were all recognized by LACMA as Art Here and Now (AHAN) artists (or by the Young Talent Award program that preceded AHAN). Funded through the Modern and Contemporary Art Council (MCAC) at LACMA, this program has supported local emerging artists since 1963. At first in the form of the New or Young Talent Award, a purchase award based on the cost of a year’s rent for a studio in Venice, it was renamed Art Here and Now in 1986. (You can see a full list of past AHAN artists in this previous Unframed post.)

Spring 2011 marked the inauguration of Art Here and Now: Studio Forum. The program retains its studio visit format: AHAN members accompany the Modern and Contemporary Art curators to the studios of a handful of selected emerging artists, resulting in a commitment to acquire work by one or more of them. Now, through the generosity of the AHAN: Studio Forum members, an increase in acquisition funds allows the curators to acquire more work for the permanent collection. This past spring the AHAN: Studio Forum members and the curators visited nine artists’ studios over two intensive days. The group reconvened for a lively and focused discussion about the artists, their practices, and the collection in order to pinpoint the most critical directions for LACMA’s acquisitions at this particular moment.

We are thrilled to announce the 2011 AHAN artists: Zoe Crosher and Mark Flores.

Zoe Crosher, Tilt of her Head, Over Analog Time (detail), 2011, set of 9 works in a unique grouping from the Michelle duBois series, purchased with funds provided by AHAN: Studio Forum, 2011 Art Here and Now Purchase

Born in Santa Rosa, CA in 1975, Zoe Crosher lives and works in Los Angeles. She completed her MFA at CalArts in the Photography and Integrated Media Programs in 2001, and has exhibited at LAXART and Margo Leavin Gallery (2010) and Las Cienegas Projects (2011), and was included in the 2010 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art. Playing with fictional documentary, the fantasy of expectation and the false promise of travel, an obsession with transience, and the reconsidered archive, her work has been shown internationally in Vancouver, Rotterdam, and New York City as well as in Los Angeles.

Crosher’s The Reconsidered Archive of Michelle duBois clusters tourist, performative, and posed images shot in post-WWII Pacific Rim cities from the late 1960s to the 1990s by Michelle duBois, a woman who photographed herself over three decades, later reconfigured by Crosher. As critic Andrew Bernadini playfully writes, “Zoe Crosher has got lost in the archive,” which consists of hundreds of expressive, iconic “Cindy Shermanesque” originals. For LACMA, Crosher has created a unique grouping of nine Michelle duBois images. The title, Tilt of her Head, over Analog Time (from the Disbanding of Michelle duBois), describes the repeated pose in the images, and depicts duBois roughly from her twenties through her fifties.

Mark Flores, See This Through (4), 2010, Purchased with funds provided by AHAN: Studio Forum, 2011 Art Here and Now Purchase

Mark Flores, born in Ventura in 1970, studied at the California Institute for the Arts where he received his Masters of Fine Art in 2002. His work has been included in various group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Orange County Museum of Art among other venues. See This Through is based on images from digital photographs taken by the artist on various lengthy walks across Sunset Boulevard, stretching from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica. On these journeys, the artist photographed natural phenomena as well as locations linked to media culture (e.g. the Beverly Hills bathroom where pop singer George Michael was arrested for a “lewd act”) and memorials (e.g. the spot where photographer Helmut Newton died). The multiple panels that comprise See This Through literally mobilize the viewing experience horizontally and vertically, recreating the experience of moving through space and zooming in on objects and incidents.

These panels were first developed as part of a larger body of work, comprised of ninety-nine paintings, one drawing, and a slide show of digital photographic source images. All four sets of See This Through were exhibited as one lobby installation at the Hammer Museum as part of the Hammer Projects in the spring of 2011. Flores’ talents as a painter are displayed through various formal techniques, among them photorealist, washy abstract extrapolations of imagery, as well as a number that the artist refers to as “halftone paintings.” In the latter, Flores layers and dries colors from the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key black) spectrum to create the illusion of the half-tone printing process. 

Christine Y. Kim, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art


Changing Perspective on Photography

April 13, 2011

If you wander through the current exhibition Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection,  you will find photography, video, and installation work in amongst the usual suspects—painting, drawing and sculpture.

Hannah Wilke, S.O.S. Starification Object Series (guns), 1974 Purchased with funds provided by the Judith Rothschild Foundation, the Modern and Contemporary Art Council, and the Ralph M. Parsons Discretionary Fund

That wasn’t the case so long ago, when photography, as a practice or when displayed, was considered in terms that separated it from the rest of the contemporary dialogue. Then Cindy Sherman and a few others happened.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait, 1980, The Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

Now we have photo imagery everywhere and, I hope, a greater appreciation for the medium—though one could make a case for oversaturation—and its challenges. In fact, a lot of artists using photography (see Baldessari) are creating work that retells photo history or plays off those very elements that initially entranced, namely the depiction of the real.

Yinka Shonibare, Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 21.00 Hours, from the Diary of a Victorian Dandy Series, 1998 Purchased with funds provided by the Modern and Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund and the Ralph M. Parsons Fund

No longer are we able to look at photographic imagery and have an expectation of truth, and there is an understanding that a photographer “makes” his/her images rather than “takes.”

Nikki Lee, The Hispanic Project (25), 1998 Ralph M. Parsons Fund

With photography incorporated into the larger picture of modern art history, a different story of influences, themes, and concepts emerges.

Eve Schillo


Video: Human Nature, contemporary art from the collection

April 11, 2011

On view through July 4th, 2011, our exhibition Human Nature features selections from the permanent collection of contemporary art. In the short video below, Franklin Sirmans talks about various themes of the show, including the use of language, the development of conceptualism, and a growing internationalism in contemporary art. He touches on neon work by Bruce Nauman and Glenn Ligon, body art from the late 1960s and 70s, and new directions in painting, including De Style, by one of my favorites, Kerry James Marshall.

There’s also some great footage of Haegue Yang’s Doubles and Couples, a large scale mixed media installation that uses components of domestic appliances, like a stove and a washing machine, and takes up most of the center of one of the largest galleries.

Amy Heibel


Contemplating Color and Form

November 18, 2010

Interesting interactions between art and architecture are diverse and plentiful on this campus. Right now, you can contemplate architectural minimalism as a foil for ancient Olmec sculpture in the Resnick Pavilion; study a wall of Impressionist masters in a gallery illuminated by a bank of windows overlooking the palm trees of Wilshire Boulevard; and be captivated by the emotive brushwork of seventeenth-century Zen monks in the luminous natural light of Bruce Goff’s Pavilion for Japanese Art.

But a new installation on the top floor of BCAM has me ascending the escalator over and over again lately.

Curator Franklin Sirmans installed Color & Form, a selection from the Broad Collection, on the east side of the building’s top floor. Works by Imi Knoebel, John McCracken, Christian Eckart, Gunther Forg, and Peter Halley populate the vast white walls beneath the Renzo Piano skylights.

The installation is interesting on a number of levels. In terms of the story of art history, it ties in directly with the Blinky Palermo show one level down (Palermo and Knoebel were close). It also continues a story begun with our 2009 Joseph Beuys installation, as Knoebel and Palermo were his students. It extends an investigation of color and form begun by an earlier generation of European modernists like Malevich and Mondrian (our Mondrian is on view one building over in the Ahmanson galleries.) And it suggests a thread of continuity leading right up through Jeff Koons (in galleries adjacent to Color and Form) and beyond. (Halley and Koons were peers in the New York art scene of the 1980s.)

So it’s a presentation with a lot of connective tissue. But all of that aside, I enjoy seeing people moving through these skylit galleries. They look spectacular and randomly choreographed populating that landscape of big, vivid, paintings. When we were editing the video interview with Frankin, below, I found that the silent b-roll images of visitors passing through the galleries were accidentally beautiful unto themselves.

The curator thoughtfully left certain walls empty, a visual breath between affecting fields of strong color. (Peter Halley’s Initial Sequence is a downright electrifying orange.) He also included enough benches so that you can rest and be enveloped by the environment of the galleries.

Amy Heibel


Mystery Train

October 2, 2008

Train, work in progress, © Jeff Koons

It’s inevitable, I suppose. Offer to suspend an extremely large object high above a public place, and people will talk about it. I’m referring to LACMA’s plan to build the Jeff Koons sculpture Train, a notion that became public in February 2007 and has been resurfacing every once in a while ever since. It was mentioned in coverage of this week’s Phase II announcement, and Esquire just predicted that Train will be the first iconic monument of the new century—”if it indeed gets built.”

Train would be a lifesize replica of a 1940s steam locomotive, suspended from a 161-foot-high crane. Three times a day it would perform: wheels churning, whistle sounding, smoke blowing.

At a talk that unveiled the project, Koons recalled his moment of inspiration. He was in Sweden, trying to come up with an idea for a site. ” I really didn’t have any ideas, but I saw off in the distance a crane out in the field,” he said. “And I thought, you know, the crane’s such a great image, it’s a wonderful readymade, it’d be really nice to do something with it. And I guess also, on kind of a subconscious level, it’s like a Led Zeppelin stairway to heaven or something.”

But will it get built? It sounds like it will, though not soon (installation is projected for 2012). John Bowsher, LACMA’s director of special art installations, told me that the feasibility study should be finished this fall, and the next step would be a high resolution scan of the 2900 series locomotive, an example of which has been found in Albuquerque. “This will be the first step in reverse-engineering in order to fabricate the locomotive,” Bowsher wrote in an email. “It will be a long lead process. Current estimates are 8-10 months to complete the scanning and create the digital files.”

Tom Drury


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