Limited Editions and More with Erin Wright

November 24, 2008

One of the benefits of working at LACMA is having the opportunity to meet and collaborate with creative, interesting people who make the museum hum, like our Director of Special Projects, Erin Wright. Not only does Erin have one of the coolest jobs around—overseeing and shepherding artist projects through—but she’s also living the dream (or at least my dream; see her last answer) outside of the museum. Here, she lets us in on a few limited editions that just became available, and explains how she found herself to be the only American amongst a group of Germans in Texas.

What was your path to LACMA?

I studied art history at Simmons College and after graduation managed a photography gallery, Robert Klein, in Boston. I then went on to Sotheby’s working in client services and marketing. My next endeavor was an internship at the Chinati Foundation, a museum founded by Donald Judd, which then led me to the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Lannan supported a number of Dia Art Foundation projects and was how I first began working with Michael [Govan]. After that I moved to Los Angeles and went to work for Gagosian Gallery as an editor on the Ruscha Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings. I joined LACMA in the fall of 2006.

That’s such a rich background—is there one experience that stands out above all the others?

My internship at the Chinati Foundation was one of my most interesting experiences. I lived and worked at Chinati for three months with none of the usual distractions—no television and no cell phone—and was, for a while, the only American among a group of German artists and interns living in Marfa, Texas.

Sounds intense. Was there an artist whose work you ended up particularly excited about having spent so much uninterrupted time with it?

I had always been a fan of Dan Flavin’s work but while I was at Chinati there was a special exhibition of his drawings and I was astounded at how extraordinary they were. I was able to spend a lot of time with the drawings and they gave me new insight into his work which was thrilling.

What are some of the projects you’re working on now?

I just finished working on a project with the Jorge Pardo Studio. When Jorge was creating his design for our art of the ancient Americas galleries, he found a pre-Columbian object that he thought would be fantastic to use as a model for a limited edition piece. We took a 3-D scan and Jorge re-envisioned it as a lamp.

Is the lamp available to the public?

Yes, it’s available though the website and is currently on view in the LACMA store where it can also be purchased. It’s in an edition of twenty and will sell for $18,000. I’ve just finished another edition that is a little more affordable—a print with the artist collective Machine Project made in conjunction with the Machine Project Guide to LACMA event we had a few weeks ago.

Tell us about the print.

It takes the form of a sestina—a highly structured poem form popular with the European troubadours of the twelfth century—and features list of ideas that never made it to our event because they were too dangerous, foolish, over-ambitious, nonsensical, or just unsuitable, such as child docents and escalator skiing. It’s printed by Aardvark Editions and retails for $95. It is an edition of 250.

Aside from these projects, what are you most excited by at LACMA right now?

Hard Targets!

I know your husband, Joe Sola, who actually just wrote a blog post for us about Matthew Barney’s Cremaster, has work in the show (which, I want to note, the curator selected well before ever knowing of your connection).

Yes, there are two pieces. One is an older work called St. Henry Composition and the other was made for the show entitled In the Woods.

I was mesmerized by St. Henry Composition, in which he repeatedly subjects himself to getting tackled by football players. Is this sort of physicality typical of his work?

It is, there’s a video piece he made in 2006 where he gets run over by a van!

When he’s not getting tackled or run over, and you’re not working on limited editions, what are you two up to?

At the moment, desperately trying to complete the Escher GuneWardena house we’ve built in Mount Washington.

Is there someone else at LACMA you want to know more about (or something for that matter)? Just let us know and they might appear on Unframed soon.

Brooke Fruchtman

Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 4

November 18, 2008

We asked Joe Sola—an artist whose work can currently be seen in Hard Targets—Masculinity and Sport and in an exhibition of paintings and video at Bespoke Gallery in New York—to share his thoughts on Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 4, which is screening here, along with his Drawing Restraint 10, this Thursday, in conjunction with Hard Targets.

The first time I heard about Matthew Barney’s work was in the nineties in New York City. I remember being at 7B, my favorite local bar in the East Village, where a couple of friends were talking about his sculpture of a weightlifting set cast out of Vaseline that had just been exhibited in the city. To view this sculpture you had to enter a large refrigerator. The refrigerator supposedly kept the Vaseline from losing its shape. The work got us speaking about a lot of things that evening, most of which started from this image of a sporty sexualization of the male body. It took me many years from that conversation (I am slow) to figure out that the real subject in his work, as well as mine, was that of what it is to be a guy in this world. His work is ripe with formal innovation and violence. It moves very quickly in that regard. If you haven’t yet, see his Cremaster 4 film from the Cremaster series. The word on the street is that the cremaster muscle is the muscle which pulls down the testicle from inside the male body to the outside, one of the physiological things that makes males different from females. You can see how he’s developed a language around this idea of “feminine” and “masculine” and how they meet and what they become. This film is filled with strangely choreographed scenes, underwater photography, helicopter shots, customized motorcycles, messy blobs, and a soundtrack filled with the screaming tear of engines.

Joe Sola

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