Move over Monet, it's time for 'Made in L.A. 2014'

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The Hammer's biennial exhibition has taken over the entire museum to showcase 35 emerging Los Angeles artists

Clarissa Tossin

This Volkswagen Brasilia with the cleaning pool equipment has been moved to the Hammer's staircase lobby to welcome visitors to the "Made in L.A. 2014" biennial.

Claude Monet. Paul Gauguin. Edgar Degas. Paul Cézzane. These artists’ works are among the most popular draws in the UCLA Hammer Museum’s permanent collection.

But for the first time ever at the Hammer, these masters of 19th century French art, together with the likes of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, are moving out of the limelight temporarily to make room for a group of lesser-known, but highly talented up-and-comers, stars of the Hammer’s “Made in L.A. 2014” show.

“Made in L.A. 2014,” which opened June 15 and closes Sept. 7, is the Hammer’s second biennial showcasing emerging and under-recognized artists with ties to Los Angeles. Organized by Hammer chief curator Connie Butler and independent curator Michael Ned Holte, “Made in L.A. 2014” debuts recent work and new paintings, installations, videos, sculptures, photography and performances, many of which were created specifically for the exhibition, by 35 artists and artist groups.

“Like the curators in 2012, Michael and Connie have visited hundreds of studios and will tell you they have only scratched the surface — there is so much going on here,” Hammer Museum director Annie Philbin said in a statement. “We are committed to supporting this extraordinary creative community and helping to foster its continued growth and success.”

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That volume necessitated the full takeover of not just all of the Hammer’s formal galleries, but even the spaces connecting them.

A slightly rusty tan Volkswagen Brasilia loaded with pool-cleaning tools on top and around it sits on the landing of the staircase that connects the spacious lobby and the courtyard galleries. The slabs of marble with real cigarette butts sticking out of them on the Lindbrook Terrace connecting Gallery 1 and Gallery 5 are by Gabriel Kuri.

Also on the Lindbrook Terrace, which runs along the northern wall of the gallery level, you’ll find what you might mistake for a construction zone. Scaffolding, tools, van-length blocks of Styrofoam and a rectangular table initially give the impression that the “art” hasn’t been set up yet. But it’s actually Piero Golia’s “The Comedy of Craft [Act 1: Carving George Washington’s Nose].” Visitors can watch the entire creative process, starting with this first stage of a four-part project that will feature artisans working to replicate a full-size fragment of Mount Rushmore, specifically our first president’s nose, sculpted from the Styrofoam.

To capture the expansive diversity of art and artists in Los Angeles, the Hammer is housing another entire museum within its walls. The museum within a museum, the Los Angeles Museum of Art, founded by artist Alice Könitz, has been transported from Eagle Rock to Westwood. Twenty-one artists will have their work displayed three ways — housed in a 13-foot, wood-framed, open-air structure; within a space defined by a geometric array of brass poles and string; and on a wooden display table with a connected wall and tower. All were designed specifically for “Made in L.A. 2014”

Robert Wedemeyer
The Los Angeles Museum of Art has been transported to the UCLA Hammer Museum.

Overall, there are 11 major new commissions for the exhibition, and every artist has received an honorarium. A comprehensive hardcover catalog accompanies the show.

The exhibit also has a distinct UCLA flavor. Devin Kenny, Wu Tsang, the artist duo of Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly, and Caitlin Lonegan were all M.F.A. students. Judy Chicago and Marina Pinsky received their master of arts degrees here. And Kim Fisher and Jennifer Moon earned their bachelor’s degrees from UCLA.

One of Moon’s pieces is a diorama created inside a roughly four-foot-tall eggshell. Inside, a woman and a small dog — each with angel-like wings — stand atop a cliff, while in the background, people look on in anticipation. Encircling the eggshell are the words, “If I am able to eliminate all doubt of flight from every single molecule of my being and maintain this absolute absence of doubt as I move through time and space, I will be able to fly.” To read it in full, a visitor must walk around the artwork twice.

In Gallery 4, the “Gerard & Kelly” team shows “Kiss Solo” on four video screens that hang from the ceiling. In conjunction with that installation, Gerard & Kelly’s held two interactive performances of “Reusable Parts/Endless Love” by four dancers.

“Made in L.A. 2014” also features a show within a show. “Tony Greene: Amid Voluptuous Calm” puts a spotlight on the Greene, who died in 1990 from complications of AIDS. Organized by ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives curator David Frantz, this collection of paintings, photographs, documents and ephemera by Greene and his peers, “only hints at the numerous ways visual art, poetry, activism, performance, and S&M converged, and how notions of queerness — a term just making its way into the lexicon — informed artistic production for a community of artists,” according to a statement on the Hammer’s website.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Hammer is offering free public programming just about every day. The schedule includes live performances, film screenings, a music series, conversations among participating artists and student events.

“One hope is that ‘Made in L.A. 2014’ — an exhibition intended for a relatively broad audience — can describe the larger atmospheric condition of the city’s art world by spotlighting the number of diverse idiosyncratic microclimates that define it,” Holte wrote about the exhibition. “As the sales pitch goes, it’s a climate that could only exist in Los Angeles.”

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  • Volkswagen Brasilia

    Volkswagen Brasilia

    Still from a video by Clarissa Tossin of her art piece, Brasília, Cars, Pools and Other Modernities, 2009-13. ...

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