Bodies of Art


Night || Aristide Maillol || Bronze, 1902-9
Constantin Brancusi || Sleeping Muse || Bronze, 1910
Edgar Degas || The Tub || Bronze, Modeled 1888-89, cast 1920
Edgar Degas || Woman Bathing in a Shallow Tub, 1885 || Charcoal and pastel on light green wove paper, now discoloured to warm grey, laid down on silk bolting
Philip Pearlstein || Two Models with Bent Wire Chair and Kilim Rug || Oil on canvas, 1984

June 1st, 2019

The Astronomers Monument @Griffith_Observatory

Astronomers Monument is a product of the great economic depression of the 1930s, when New Deal initiatives created federally-funded work programs to employ skilled workers at a time when they would otherwise remain idle and without income. One of the first of these programs, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), began in December 1933. Soon thereafter, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Park Commission, PWAP commissioned a sculpture project on the grounds of the new Observatory (which was under construction).

Using a design by local artist Archibald Garner and materials donated by the Womens’ Auxiliary of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Garner and five other artists sculpted and cast the concrete monument and figures. Each artist was responsible for sculpting one astronomer; one of the artists, George Stanley, was also the creator of the famous “Oscar” statuette. The other artists involved were Arnold Forester, Djey el Djey, Gordon Newell, Roger Noble Burnham.

The six astronomers featured on the monument are among the most influential and important in history. The six figures represent the Greek astronomer Hipparchus (about 125 B.C.), Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), Isaac Newton (1642-1727), and John Herschel (1738-1822). Albert Einstein was considered for inclusion, but planers ultimately decided it would be inappropriate to feature someone still alive (the monument was completed in 1934; Einstein died in 1955). [sources: The Living New Deal & Griffith Observatory]

May 10th, 2019

Hollywood Busts

Similar expressions, millenia apart.

Bust of Belisarius, 1785-91 || Jean-Baptiste Stouf || Marble

Belisarius (about 505-565) was a Byzantine general whose military prowess was envied by the emperor Justinian, who banished and allegedly blinded the general. The subject was popular among French eighteenth-century writers and artists, both as political allegory and as a means of depicting the pathos of a fallen hero. Stouf skillfully rendered the crinkled skin around the eyes, the sunken cheeks, and the luxuriant curls of the beard and hair with a subtlety that belies the challenge of carving stone.

Belisarius at the Getty Center || James Dean at Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles

May 10th, 2019

The Alphabet of Art

Lee Krasner || Primeval Resurgence, 1961 || Oil on canvas
Alberto Giacometti || Tall Figures II & III, 1960 || Bronze
Robert Rauschenberg || Coca-Cola Plan, 1958 || Pencil on paper, oil on three Coca-Cola bottles, wood newel cap, cast metal wings on wood structure
Mark Rothko || Black on Dark Sienna on Purple, 1960 || Oil on canvas
Rosemarie Trockel || Untitled, 1991 || Enameled steel and three stove plates
Robert Gober || Untitled, 1998 || Wood, steel, enamel
Senga Nengudi || R.S.V.P., 1975|| Nylon mesh and sand
Dan Flavin || ”monument” for V. Tatlin, 1969

”Flavin’s work generates ambient light that reaches into the viewer’s space. The form, resembling a skyscraper, refers to a never-realized, but nonetheless influential, monument to an organization supporting Communist revolution designed by the Russian constructivist artist Vladimir Tatlin in 1920. It was to be a spiraling steel framework thirteen hundred feet tall in which rotating glass rooms would be suspended. Though utterly impractical engineering-wise, it remains an influential symbol of the artist’s efforts to combine art and technology. Flavin’s “monument,” despite its low-tech, small-scale nature, pays homage to Tatlin’s futuristic, utopian ideals.” [source: MOCA]

Robert Smithson || Mirage No. 1, 1967 || Nine units of mirrored glass
Roy Lichtenstein || Man with Folded Arms, 1962 || Oil on canvas
Cady Noland || Basket of Nothing, 1990 || Wire basket with assortment of building tools and materials
Julia Wachtel || Landscape No. 2 (Aerobics), 1989 || Oil, flashe, lacquer ink on canvas
Manuel Ocampo || Untitled, ca. 1991 || Oil on canvas

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

May 9th, 2019

The fabulous geometry of art

And a pleasant surprise, as we wandered through the galleries of LACMA, those ones that remained open during the museum’s extensive renovation and expansion. The surprise was finding out that Magritte’s ”Ceci n’est pas une pipe” belongs to LACMA; for some reason, I was convinced it would belong to the permanent collection of the Magritte Museum in Brussels. What a fittingly surreal connection between my two favourite cities in the world!

Ellsworth Kelly || Blue Curve III, 1972 || Oil on canvas
Joel Shapiro || Untitled (Dancing Man), 1981 || Cherry wood, oil, paint
David Smith || Cubi XXIII, 1964 || Stainless steel
Juan Gris || Seated Harlequin, 1920 || Oil on canvas
Pablo Picasso || Centaur, 1955 || Painted wood
Pablo Picasso || Woman with a Blue Veil, 1923 || Oil on canvas
Richard Pousette-Dart || The Edge, 1943-45 || Oil on linen
Georgia O’Keeffe || Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose, 1931 || Oil on canvas
René Magritte || The Liberator, 1947 || Oil on canvas
René Magritte || The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe/Ceci n’est pas une pipe), 1929 || Oil on canvas
Jean Charlot || Portrait of Sergei Eisenstein (Retrato de Eisenstein), 1932 || Oil on canvas
Amedeo Modigliani || Reverie (Study for the Portrait of Frank Burty Haviland), 1914 || Oil and graphite on cardboard
Georg Schrimpf || Child Portrait (Peter in Sicily), 1925 || Oil on canvas
George Grosz || Portrait of Dr. Felix J. Weil, 1926 || Oil on canvas
Magnus Zeller || The Orator, c. 1920 || Oil on canvas
Yee Sookyung || Translated Vase, 2013 || Ceramic discards, epoxy, 24k gold leaf
Zhu Jinshi || Wave of Materials, 2007/2019 || Cotton, bamboo, stone, xuan paper

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) 

May 7th, 2019