About the critical reception of the Rubell Family Collection 2011: American Exuberance (Art Basel Miami Beach 2011)

John Miller's gold paint covered sculptures. He was in the same class at Cal Arts as LA artist Mike Kelly.

The 2011 edition of the Rubell Family Collection’s annual show of new works they’re acquired opened again during Art Basel Miami Beach week. In this exhibition more than half of the work was from Los Angeles, which has received unprecedented international media attention as a center of art production. Yet because of Hollywood’s overwhelming dominance of the entire media universe in LA, outside of the Los Angeles Times, there is almost zero coverage of the Los Angeles artworld. There is not ever coverage of the arts on LA television, there are no radio interviews, not even a mention of MoCA’s record-breaking attendance for its Art in the Streets exhibition curated by Jeffrey Deitch. Fortunately for Los Angeles, other cities have developed major collector bases – such as Miami, and other art markets have developed since the 1990’s – such London, which has both an incredible array of arts coverage and a global art market as well as a river full of international British artists. So it is no surprise then that it is now for the second time in a few years that the Rubell Family Collection in Miami does a focused exhibition on LA Art. A few years ago the collection did a Los Angeles Art show called RED EYE. Even though I am based in LA I still needed to come to Miami to see this work – since it is collected largely through New York City galleries. By coming to Miami, this recent LA art is now seeing its LA audience for the first time. I note that while there is a great deal of media coverage of this exhibition, it is not being treated to multiple seriously considered historically contextualized examinations of the art on view. Unlike in London, which often sees public articles by world-class art historians in their newspapers. London also has vast arts coverage by the BBC and even Saatchi has an arts on television experience. The London newspapers often feature online exhibition walkthroughs with major critics. This barrage of arts coverage is precisely the case with the current Saatchi Collection New Art From Germany exhibition, which has already garnered six major London newspaper reviews. Saatchi also has its own free to the public art magazine and of course Saatchi online is the world most viewed artworld website with no one in second place. I mention this because it is clear that the US artworld is in deep need of intense art writing, while instead it is laying off all the art critics at almost every newspaper in the country outside of Manhattan. This level of critical engagement is necessary not to diffuse but to elevate the market’s tastes in art, before the future art historians figure the real aesthetic achievement of the work at hand. Miami Basel has no equal in the US, and that has to change too, as this country needs far less well-known but strong institutions to be participating in the international contemporary art arena, so that one day there will be no need for an artist to move to one of the coasts to be an artist, because the top of the mountain will be right there in the middle of America, the same height and grace as in the towers of New York and the mountains of California. Artists in Germany enjoy a super-world of cultural support and do not need America. With hundreds of magnificent museums, over 100,000 collectors in the Cologne-Dusseldorf region, which also has 30 contemporary art museums – the worlds largest collection – (with next door The Netherlands in second place in terms of total contemporary museums of art), and even daily intense arts coverage in their version of the Wall Street Journal and the intensely intellectually rigorous Text Zur Kunst. Atop this, German artists  are surrounded by art rich and highly advanced countries that also show and make art, write about it and think through it. Switzerland and France are but two of those countries. America needs to become like this someday. And then of course Germany has Documenta, and they can drive to Art Basel.

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California

December 31, 2011/January 3, 2012

LA artist Sterling Ruby's gigantic sprayed paintings

Richard Jackson's upside-down cartoon character sculpture is in the same vein as the work of Paul McCarthy. Both are LA artists.

Paul McCarthy sculptural installation of a man with a boy engaging a goat

Richard Jackson has been making a huge splash in the LA artworld of late. He has recently shown two other large-scale "splashed painting room" works in LA at David Kordansky gallery. In both instances as in this depicted work their is at least one animatronic figure in motion in the work.

Rashid Johnson's massive burnished wood work

LA painter John Mcallister's paintings

This tableau by Hanna Greeely is about time. The left side is the past; the right side, showing age and wear, is the present

Lisa Yuskavage's painting of a woman looking under her night clothes at herself

Lisa Yuskavage's painting of two women wearing only garters

George Condo's oil painting of a faceless red faced male figure and a cow

Dana Schutz portrait of a naked man in a swimming pool

Dana Schutz's vibrant oil painting

LA artist Henry Taylor's sculpture. This work was among many new sculptures created by Henry Taylor for his debut show at Blum & Poe in 2011

LA artist Mike Kelly's found stuffed animals and throwaway rugs as scatter art sculpture. In the background is LA artist's Karl Haendel's drawing of a newspaper story.

LA artist Richard Hawkins' painting

LA sculptor Charley Ray's sculpture of narcissistic men

Richard Prince - one of his paintings from his "Nurse" series that propelled him into the upper end of the art market.

Mark Handforth sculpture of a downed motorcycle covered in candles

Kaz Oshiro scupture of concert stage amplifier. Oshiro also had work at the Margulies Warehouse collection.

A magisterial radiance emanates from this greyscale and red painting by Julian Hoeber

Juliann Hoeber

Charles Long's whimsical sculpture

LA artist Evan Holloway's sculpture

LA artist Phil Wager (left wall), Jason Meadows, rear gallery, and Seth Price, right wall

LA alternative materials painter Analia Saban

LA artist Joel Kwack's work is mildly similar to Paul McCarty's

Elizabeth Peyton's portrait painting

Glenn Ligon's watercolor painting

Elizabeth Peyton's portrait painting

Works in the outdoor sculpture court of the Rubell Family Collection

Jennifer Rubell's new sculpture in the Rubell Family Collection sculpture court

LA artist Aaron Curry's metal sculpture in the Rubell Family Collection sculpture court

LA sculptor Nathan Mabry's work in the Rubell Family Collection sculpture court

Kelley Walker's large-scale photo montage.

Vincent Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Painting 1986.  He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.

Vincent Johnson during his recent art trip to London

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