Chuck Close is known as much for his detailed representation of the human face as he is for his subsequent deconstruction of it. Close uses head-on portraits as his templates, exploring portraiture and his subjects through a variety of drawing and painterly techniques, as well as through printmaking, tapestry and photography. John (1971–72) one of Close’s earliest paintings, is described as photo-realist. Indeed, Close refers to photographs to create his artworks, employing their inconsistencies perspective as much as their verisimilitude.
Here, the sharp detail of the rim of the subject’s glasses contrasts with the blurred soft focus of his shoulders and the back of his hair, as it likely did in the original photograph. But instead of using mechanical means to transfer his images onto canvas, Close works entirely from sight to achieve the intensely animate detail, sectioning off the reference photographs into grids and transferring each piece by hand onto is monumental canvases,
There are not many philanthropists like Eli Broad, who died on April 30th, 2021 at the age 87. In his lifetime, Broad and his wife Edith amassed a personal collection of over 2,000 works of contemporary art, which they then donated to the city of Los Angeles (and the world), building a namesake museum to house them all for your enjoyment. Who does that? Amazing. You can read more about Eli Broad’s life of service in his obituary from the NY Times at This Link. Read all about my super fun visit to The Broad Museum shortly after it opened in 2015, and see some choice pieces of the collection, at This Link. RIP.
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Pictures & Scripts is a 2015 series of 20 paintings by John Baldessari (B. 1931) composed of still images from black and white films with excerpts from fictitious, narrative film scripts. The images are removed from their context and capture moments of paused action, which can be interpreted in multiple ways. Displayed alongside the image, these lines of text work to recontextualize the meaning of the image, and to add new life to their original purpose.
The images drawn from the films are cropped so that the characters and actions are ambiguous and taken away from their dramatic context. The images are then given new narratives – equally ambiguous ones, taken out of the larger dialogue – so that the viewer can create his or her own unique interpretation. The works are reminiscent of the 1920s film theorist Lev Kuleshov’s texts on editing and montage, which allow certain conclusions about the action in a film simply based on context. Viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential “shots” rather than from a single shot in isolation, he argued, and the relationship between the two (in this case, the text and the image), is what creates drama and interest.
Like much of Baldessari’s work, a certain blend of humor and self-deprecation can be detected in the pieces, and the excerpts of dialogue are between unknown characters but hint at conversations between art world insiders, making statements about the art industry. In one piece, an image depicting a pair of treasure hunters is paralleled by a conversation between and art critic and companion, working to categorize a work. The irony is palpable.
And of course, it is no accident that I chose this artwork because it features a conversation between an Art Critic and his Wife, Gail. Because that is just too perfect.
Honey — What Words Come to Mind? (2015) was Photographed in The Broad Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Neo Rauch (born April 18th, 1960) was raised in communist East Germany. Upon encountering a united Germany in the early 1990s, Rauch assimilated and parodied the social realist ruins of communist art along with the popular imagery of capitalism. His unusual style, which renders contradictory and often competing sensibilities intelligible and seemingly unified, has given rise to a generation of painters in the Leipzig area as well as a dynamic gallery scene.
Rauch’s paintings share certain affinities with surrealism, namely the invocation of dreams as an escape from a rule-driven consciousness. Rauch himself, however, distances his work from easy readings. “I have no use for the cultishness of classic surrealism or for its tight repertoire of methods,” he says. “In fact just the opposite is true: on my canvas, as in my mind, anything is possible.” Although highly interested in his own East German origins and the nature and limitations of its society, Rauch also channels German iconoclasts like Jörg Immendorff and Georg Baselitz to present a figurative work full of chronological fissures. His painting reflects the influence of socialist realism, and owes a debt to Surrealists Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte, although Rauch hesitates to align himself with surrealism.
Der Laden (The Store), painted in 2005, is part of the Permanent Collection at The Broad Museum of Contemporary Art in Downtown Los Angeles.
When I was in California at Christmastime, a little bit of advanced planning allowed me to enjoy a visit to the new Broad Museum of contemporary art, located in beautiful downtown Los Angeles. Featuring 2,000 works of art from the private collection of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad (pronounced like “Bro-d”), admission is free of charge, but because the museum just opened on September 20th, 2015, the demand for tickets is so high that they must be reserved online in advance.
By December, the list was already booked up through February 2016! It is times like these that writing an awesome blog like The Worley Gig comes in handy. With a couple of exchanged emails, the Broad’s press office was kind enough to extend VIP-treatment to myself and two guests, which included front-of-the-line cutting privileges that saved us about two hours of waiting in a queue that already wrapped around two sides of the building by the time the museum opened at 11 AM. It is good to be the King, or Queen, whatever.
During his short but prolific career, David Wojnarowicz worked in writing, painting, photography, film, music, performance and installation. Unapologetically making art about homosexuality during the peak of the AIDS crisis in New York, Wojnarowicz exposed the marginalization and suppression of a stigmatized community.
As a self-taught artist, Wojnarowicz created an iconography that is at once personal and universal. His work as an artist is inseparable from his work as an activist, in which he aimed to bring awareness to that which was made invisible, namely homosexuality.
David Wojnarowicz died from AIDS in his Manhattan home on the night of July 22, 1992. More than 20 years after his untimely death, Wojnarowicz’s work continues to elicit strong reactions and provoke censorship. His work has served as an inspiration to many artists, including Zoe Leonard, Victoria Yee Howe, Matt Wolf, Emily Roysdon, Henrik Olesen, Mike Estabrook, and Carrie Mae Weems.
David Wojnarowicz, The Newspaper as National Voodoo: A Brief History of the U.S.A. (1986) was Photographed in The Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles.
Many of Charles Ray’s best-known works are remakes of objects and people taken from the real world. Small but significant alterations to familiar situations give Ray’s practice a disquieting tension. Cloaked in simplicity, his often humorous creations comment on sculpture’s history, from its austere formal issues to its surreal psychological consequences. Ray imbues the tenets of classical sculpture, such as beauty, proportion, and facture, with a sly drama by inserting slippages, imperfections, or over–perfections in the physical makeup of his works. Fall ’91 (1992) depicts a woman standing with her weight mostly on one foot in a common contrapposto pose. Modeled on a mannequin scaled to 8 feet tall, the sculpture looms large in a pink power suit that was fashionable in the fall of 1991. The result is both physically and psychologically daunting.
Photographed in The Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles.