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

please feel free to visit my website:

http://vincentjohnsonart.com/

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

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Orange County Museum of Art will Soar with new Chief Curator Dan Cameron

Dan Cameron, the Founder and Chief Curator of Prospect Biennial, the largest international biennial in the United States (in New Orleans), and former Senior Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (1995-2006), has been named Chief Curator at the affluent Orange County Museum of Art. The museum is now in Newport Beach, California, and will move into a Thom Mayne designed new building on the Segerstrom Center for Performing Arts in Costa Mesa, California, near South Coast Plaza, one of the most luxuriously cool and fabulous vast shopping centers in America

Prospect 1 New Orleans welcome sign

Dan Cameron

With Orange County Museum of Art’s hire of Cameron, this brings in yet another world-class curatorial personage into the Southern California region, and specifically and definitely adds to the already heady cultural thrust of the Los Angeles Artworld. Already the now electrified field that will be the 2013 California Biennial and future Cameron curated shows will cause a dramatic shift in the power structure now shared between LACMA, MoCA, The Hammer, and in 2013, the Broad in downtown LA directly across from LA MoCA on Grand Avenue. I can easily foresee Cameron  organizing massive international shows in Los Angeles and Orange County warehouses that garner global media attention.

Update: The California Biennial has been re-envisioned as the California Triennial. It will debut at the OCMA in June of 2013. It will include about one-third California Artists, and two-thirds artists from the entire Pacific Rim, meaning all of Asia and all of Latin America. This is a tremendous leap from showcasing only artists in California, and at once separates this new exhibition from the new LA Biennial, which opens June 2, 2012, as it is international in context and focus. It should be the most rewarding art show in California, as it seeks to engage countries and backers of art, to present a true world class Pacific Rim biennial that is sure to draw global media coverage. The artist list will be announced next year.

OCMA refashions biennial into triennial: (OC Register, May 12, 2012)

By RICHARD CHANG

Cameron said he’s using the Asia-Pacific Triennial from Brisbane, Australia, as his model. “It really has become the most important recurring Asian art exhibition. I’ve seen it twice. It’s an absolutely brilliant show.”

“The Pacific has replaced the Atlantic as where global commerce and global international exchange happens,” said Cameron, 55. “We really wanted to raise the bar for art happening in California and see the work in an international context.”

Dan Tague

Leandro Erlich

Chief Curator Dan Cameron’s appointment starts in January of 2012. Already on the table is the California Biennial for 2013 (which initially seemed to lose its place when the inaugural LA Biennial that opens in 2012 and will showcase only young art was announced). According to the Orange County Register, Cameron will curate the first ever large-scale exhibition showcasing the private collections of Modern and Contemporary Art in Orange County, one of the most affluent regions of the U.S. This event alone will place the now quiet Orange County art collecting activities in both the international spotlight and in direct competition with the private art collections in Los Angeles. I cannot wait to read the catalog for this exhibition when it becomes available.

Cameron’s curatorial history is long and powerful. In 1982 he curated the first ever museum exhibition of gay and lesbian art in the U.S. at the New Museum, in an exhibition entitled Extended Sensibilities.

In 1986 Cameron curated the exhibition entitled Art & Its Double at the Fundacion ‘la Caixa.” The exhibition was held in both Barcelona and Madrid and was the first European museum exhibition of the works of Jeff Koons, Phillip Taafe, Haim Steinbach and Peter Halley. (I recall that Halley had critical theory reading group during the 1980’s in New York.)

According to the Orange County Museum of Art’s press release, Cameron was also at this time researching contemporary Spanish Art, and was the first international critic to write about artists such as Susana Solano and Juan Munoz and Juan Ulse.

In 1988 Cameron curated an exhibition that introduced several artists into the global context of the Venice Biennale. These artists included Mike Kelly, Ilya Kabakov, Barbara Bloom, Carroll Dunham, Yasumasa Morimura and Tatsuo Miyajima, and many others.

According to the museum’s press release, Cameron then embarked upon a research campaign into the cultures of South America and the Carribean. He then presented room scale installations in 1991 in an exhibition entitled The Savage Garden, which included works by Charles Ray, Ann Hamilton, Christian Marclay and Barbara Bloom, as well as projects by Cuban born Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Venezualian born Meyer Vaisman. Cameron’s third curatorial expression on Spain was at the Museo Renia Sophia in Madrid. Entitled Cocida y Crudo, it entailed displaying the works and working closely with 70 artists in 40 different countries. Appearing in this exhibition included artists such as Martin Kippenberger, Gabriel Orozco, Marlene Dumas and Rirkit Tirvanija. The press release states that in 2010, on the 25th anniversary of the (300,000 square foot) museum’s début, Spanish critics hailed this show as the most important one in the museum’s entire history.

8th International Istanbul Bienal: From left to right: Gorgun Taner General Manager, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (organising institution of the Biennial), Sevisimin Comert Birced General Manager, Japan Tabacco International, Turkey (main sponsor of the 8th Istanbul Biennial), Dan Cameron Curator, 8th International Istanbul Biennial, Emre Baykal Director, International Istanbul Biennial

In 2005 Cameron curated the Istanbul Biennial. The artists under his wing in this enterprise include such world-class art stars such as Do-Ho Suh, Fiona Tan, Mike Nelson, Doris Salcedo, Monika Sosnowska Kendal Geers, Monica Bonvinici, David Almejd, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Jorge Macchi, and Pascale Martine Tayou.

Do-Ho Suh

Mike Nelson

After this exciting curatorial endeavor Cameron curated an edition of ev+a in Limerick, Ireland. Then Cameron followed this up by serving as curator for the 2006 Taipei Biennial, entitled Dirty Yoga.

Here is Dan Cameron’s CV from the 2006 Taipei Biennial website:

“Dan Cameron

Since 1995, Dan Cameron has been Senior Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, where he has organized exhibitions of William Kentridge, Paul McCarthy, Rivane Neuenschwander, Francesco Vezzoli, Cildo Meireles, Faith Ringgold, Pierre et Gilles, Doris Salcedo, Carolee Schneemann, Carroll Dunham, David Wojnarowicz, and Martin Wong, along with such group exhibitions as Living inside the Grid and East Village USA.

A specialist in global art, Cameron served as curator for the 8th Istanbul Biennial in 2003, and is currently curator of the Tapei 2006 Biennial, which opens at the Taipei Museum of Fine Arts in Nov 06. He has also organized international contemporary art exhibitions throughout the world, including Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Russia, and Sweden.

A frequent essayist for museum and trade publications on contemporary art, Cameron’s most recent publications include an exhibition catalog essay on Cai Guo-Qiang for the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin (Aug 06) and a fictional memoir for a book based on the work of Stephen Dean (Sept 06).

Cameron teaches critical theory as a member of the graduate faculty of the School of Visual Arts’ MFA program, and at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.

© 2006 TAIPEI BIENNIAL. All Rights Reserved.”

5th Edition of the Taipei Biennial, curated by Dan Cameron

Taipei Biennial

Taipei Biennial

Here is an excerpt from Dan Cameron’s essay entitled Poetic Justice for the Istanbul Biennial:

http://www.postmedia.net/04/cameron.htm

One World

What is the purpose of art within today’s conflicted and fragmented societies? Can art’s meanings have a significant impact beyond its self-defined community of supporters and practitioners? Does society’s demonstrated need to protect and preserve art for future generations reveal a much deeper need to understand and share the workings of another’s consciousness, and to experience firsthand the struggles of human consciousness to push beyond the restraints of given realities? Does the art of today, and by extension poetry, music and other creative forms, reflect more profound aspirations that extend beyond the realms of beauty, pleasure and affinities of taste? Can art provide a model for inter-cultural communication and exchange that can be applied, even indirectly, to situations of greater and more urgent political import? Are contemporary artists and their creations harbingers of an approaching age in which the need to move beyond the limited definitions of self, nation, gender, class and race essential to the survival of the human species as a whole?”

After this Cameron was founding artistic director of Prospect New Orléans, the first edition of which featured 80 artists from 40 countries. Cameron most recently turned over the reigns to Prospect New Orléans to LACMA Chief Contemporary Art Curator Franklin Sirmans.

Louise Ehrlich

Dan Cameron’s career as an art critics and art writer spans over several hundred essays in books, magazines and catalogs. He was contributing editor to Arts Magazine from 1983 to 1990, and wrote a widely read column for Art & Auction from 1990 – 1995 called The Critical Edge.

For the Orange County Museum of Art, the New York and International Artworld have been brought to its doorstep. All it needs to do now is build its new cultural palace and follow through with its plans to work with visionary artists and institutions on projects worldwide, and Southern California is in for a great adventure into avant-garde art indeed.

I found this interview with Dan Cameron on Art & Its Double online:

Dan Cameron

In 1986 Dan Cameron curated Art and its Double in Madrid, one of the first exhibitions of the new Manhattan art to be shown in Europe. Similar work was later seen in the Saatchi’s show in London. Here Cameron discusses the rise of this new consumer art.

Peter Hill: The art of the early eighties belonged to the painter, particularly the new figurative painters such as Schnabel, Kiefer, Clemente, and a few years later Campbell, Wiszniewski, Currie and a battalion of Scots, many unsure of their direction, if not of their motivation. Do the late eighties belong to the sculptor?

Dan Cameron: I would give a qualified ‘yes’ to that question, because in addition to
sculpture we are seeing whole new areas being opened up in photography, we are seeing the re-birth of installation work and the advent of neo-conceptualism. Europe and America appear to be jointly leading the way in all of these developments. Louise
Lawler, for example, I would see as a sculptor, or an artist who thinks like a sculptor but is also involved in documentary procedures. Bernhard Prinz fits this category also. I would say that two thirds of what is exciting just now is non-pictorial. A list
of artists working in these areas would have to include Julian Opie, Hamilton Finlay,
Rosemarie Trockel, Katharina Fritsch, Grenville Davis, Mucha, Koons, Steinbach,
McCollum, Bloom, Holzer and Gober. The painting that is going on is more
involved with exploring projects as with Sherrie Levine or one of the most talented young Spanish artists Frederico Guzman whose studio I visited recently.

PH: What parallels do you draw between the work of today’s appropriation
artists, such as Sherrie Levine or Louise Lawler, and their precursors?

DC: Duchampian appropriation was never identified as a separate stylistic practice until
the late 70s because it was previously considered – in the work of Rauschenberg or
Duchamp, for example – merely a tool within a much broader technical repertoire. If
artists like Sherrie Levine or Richard Prince are to be separated from their predecessors
it is because they have narrowed in on the re-represented image as the point of departure for their work. It is this investigative tendency within their art which I believe links them more directly with Pop and Conceptual art than with appropriation’s ‘pioneers’
(a term which I find to be somewhat contradictory in the first place).

PH: What artists are you currently looking at who may not yet have exhibited outside
America?

DC: From my perspective, the primary distinguishing characteristic between
American artists who are successful in Europe versus those who are not is that
the former have gone to Europe to promote themselves. Consequently, artists that I’m
thinking about, but who have not exhibited outside America and who should be
better known would include the 19th century landscapists like Albert Pinkham Ryder as well as pioneer abstractionists such as Burgoyne Diller and John McLaughlin.
In contemporary terms, I would like to see two entire schools of American art
more recognised abroad. One is the abstract painterly tradition represented by
Elizabeth Murray or David Reed (and artists much less known than they are) and the other would be the Pop/folk iconoclastic figurative vein, running from imagists like
H.C. Westermann, Karl Wirsum or Peter Saul, through more freeform work like that of Mike Kelley or Archie Rand. I think that both genres represent a significant development peculiar to American art, and which are a far cry from the diet of American art to which most Europeans are exposed.

PH: Regionalism, from the Manhattan to the Australian or the Scottish variety is a
widely debated issue. I am wary of easy terms such as international or regionalism which often overlap I m of language rather than art?

DC: On the most basic level all art is regional and all art is international. I’ve become
accustomed in recent years towards thinking of groups of artists in terms of cities
rather than countries, because I think that many cities – Berlin or Amsterdam, Los
Angeles or Melbourne – Barcelona or Glasgow – have qualities which are more
apparent in their artists than those aspects which could be ascribed to a national style.
Otherwise, I think the only true provincialism belongs to cities that had had it and lost
it, so to speak – Paris is always the classic example of that. New York hasn’t reached that point, at least not yet. Otherwise, seeing that the international art world is becoming decentralised as opposed to recentralised it is as important to look at
regional work as that which has not been correctly appreciated by the world
outside.

PH: Do you see the New York Bad Painters of 1980, such as Richard Bosman, and
the Manhattan neo-geo artists – Halley, Bickerton, Koons – as belonging to the
same movement, ie a movement of quotation?

DC: Actually, the “Bad Painting” movement never seemed to be so much about quotation as it was about a generic approach to style, or painting as a type of social contract. The current crop of painters and sculptors seem to be more interested in art as a type of public language which can theoretically be understood by large numbers of people at the same time. Still, the difference to me between the early 80s
and the late 80s has been the shift from a microcosmic approach ( traditional art value
insularity, politics) to a macrocosmic approach (sociocultural values, legibility,
de-mythification).

PH: The exhibition ART AND ITS DOUBLE which you curated and brought to
Spain last year was one of the most exciting to be seen in Europe, certainly
in terms of paradigm change, since A NEW SPIRIT or ZEITGEIST. Are you currently
working on any other exhibitions?

DC: I was the American curator for Aperto 88 section at the Venice Biennale this year, a project that I’m still recovering from. I am a musician on top of everything else, so I’ve actually used this summer to record the demo for my band’s second record. A lot of exhibiting proposals are in the works, but nothing which has been absolutely confirmed. As far as writing is concerned I’m going to lay lower than I have been for the last couple of years, because I’ve felt a bit overextended.

PH: How important are market forces on the collector and on the artist,
especially in relation to the “consumer mirror” that many young artists are holding up to
their public. Where does irony begin and art stop?

DC: The boom in the contemporary art market has been phenomenal during the Age
of Reagan, as everyone expected it to be. This has lead to a heightened
number of opportunists, like advisors and so-called independent curators, as well as a
lot more galleries and individual curators, than there were before. Certainly, the change in aesthetics over the past few years have been in part an attempt to grapple with our
awareness that the art-buying public has suddenly become its most conspicuous audience. This is a full turn away from the street orientated aesthetics of
graffiti and the East Village look which preceded it, and which in retrospect may turn out to have been somewhat I in its outlook. Whether most collectors are aware of the ideological subtext to this shift or not is beside the point, because there are only a
small minority of collectors who buy for other than investment purposes anyway. I think the artists are hyper-aware of this situation, and are making a test case out of
having their cake and eating it, too.

Los Angeles based artist Vincent Johnson at the Spice Table in Little Tokyo, downtown Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Curtains – film prop for sale (2001)

Motel pool – Motel Tangiers

http://vincentjohnsonart.com/ my ArtCat website

Johnson will be participating in The Bearden Project at the Studio Museum in Harlem, with a cutout-collage work created especially for the exhibition.

http://www.studiomuseum.org/exhibition/the-bearden-project

Johnson most recently participated in the début Pulse Fair Los Angeles, with Las Cienegas Projects

http://www.pulse-art.com/losangeles/exhibiting-artists.php?exhibit=865&image=10006748&artist=5160
http://www.pulse-art.com/losangeles/exhibiting-artists.php?exhibit=865&artist=5160
Feel free to contact me at LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com
Vincent Johnson Biography as of November 2011
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Soho House, Los Angeles, Palihouse, West Los Angeles, Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, Locust Projects, Miami, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming are projects in Europe and Los Angeles. His most recent work, a series of nine grayscale paintings, was shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles in the group show entitled The Optimist’s Parking Lot. He will have a new cutout collage work in the upcoming The Bearden Project at the Studio Museum in Harlem, opening in New York on November 10, 2011. He participated in the inaugural edition of Pulse Fair Los Angeles with Las Cienegas Projects. He is also participating in Locust Projects Miami’s annual benefit exhibition in the late fall of 2011.

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 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.

John Baldessari: The painter who turned to Conceptual Art returns- updated

Baldessari's Profile with Ear and Nose (Colour) 2006

————-

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. He has recently been named a 2010 United States Artists Project artist.

The USA site went live on December 7, 2010

My initial project is to fabricate a 3 foot tall doll house sized sculpture of the collapsed William Livingstone House in Detroit. The project description and a video presentation of the project are at the links provided here:
Please feel free to review the site and to contact others who would be interesting in supporting the program and my project.
thanks so much
Vincent Johnson
Los Angeles, California
cell: 818:430.1604
————
“I guess I’m a formalist at heart.” John Baldessari, in an interview with Jori Finkel, Art Info magazine, 12/01/2008

Baldessari's Ear Couch

Joan-Miro-Peinture-collage--1933

British sculptor Henry Moore's Reclining Figure (1951)

I am overwhelmed at how Baldessari’s recent work soars to new heights of visual excitement. The listless image and text exhibitions by those without a native literary sensibility of the 1970’s – 1990’s are thankfully long gone. Other than for Sophie Calle’s transcendent storytelling, and Lawrence Weiner’s word plays on gallery walls, I have seen few artists from the 1970-1990’s who have the gifts to make word pictures with langauge, and not merely make agitprop statements or something even less rewarding. Art Basel Miami Beach 2002 launched the new market for paintings. This new market clearly has had a major impact upon the art being made today, which is worlds apart from the often sterile and cold Conceptual Art of the 1970’s and 1980’s in New York and the 1990’s in Los Angeles. I visited Baldessari’s retrospective here in Los Angeles. Over 40 years he moved from playing games with language and pictures to formal picture making and pictorial invention. Baldessari’s  most recent work looks like it was influenced by all of 20th century art history, as compared to a small part of it, the part that believed it had successfully found the essence and the truth by stripping away beauty and challenging the desire for it, and had not.

John Baldessari's studio with work displayed for the last time before burning in Cremation Project in 1970

Jackson Pollack in Southern California, 1927. Baldessari was born a suburb of San Diego in 1931.

When we speak about Baldessari destroying his work to make a decisive break with his past, why doesn’t anyone ever bring up the fact that Barney Newman destroyed all of his past, figurative work in 1944, when Newman was 39 years old. Newman continued to destroy works that did not satisfy him throughout his career, despite his non-existent sales until late in his life. San Francisco – Bay Area Figurative painter David Park, hauled all his abstract canvases to the Berkeley dump in 1949.

Art’s soul purpose is to allow others to see into the world as the artist has been privileged to see. There are moments when artists – who see into the world and have a provocative vision of it, are able to share that vision and with their work in more than a handful of occasions.

Vincent Johnson in Los Angeles, 9.20.2010

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

John Baldessari in his studio (1992), photographed by Sidney B Felsen

Legend has it that John Baldessari has had a studio while teaching post studio art for 30 years. He burned up his paintings to make a decisive break, now his work looks like an Ellsworth Kelly/poetic conceptual art digital mashup. In fact I said to a friend here in LA that Baldessari’s recent collage work that features indented rectangles looks like an Ellsworth Kelly painting fell into it, then the panel was removed but the brilliant digitally enhanced color remained. Then there are the more recent works which feature  long single color strokes on massive photocollaged canvases. Here Baldessari is literally painting over his past and past art, by laying paint and indenting into his own photocollage pictures with blocks of color. The 1960’s European/New York Conceptual Art World he initially aligned himself with – the often sterile and cold, bloodless and separated from the body world of  “image and text” and his sometimes poetic early photomontage, disappear under wild and pronounced bold and amazing blocks and gigantic brushes of digital color.

It is in the latest phase of Baldessari’s career that he reconnects the body of art to the brain of art. The 1950’s European wish to separate the brain from the body, to produce a world of total objectivity, has been vanquished. The absurd narratives from the 1980’s and 1990’s – of “emptying out” pictures of content and narrative, and of the death of the author, are dead. Narrative and poetic art making has returned with a vengeance, with no better exemplar of that transition and transformation than in the works of one Los Angeles based American artist named John Baldessari.

Baldessari's collage and paint recent work entitled Fissures

I visited the Baldessari retrospective on the last day it was open here in Los Angeles.

I read the title cards. No one seems to own much of that dead-to-the eye concept art Baldessari was making. Collectors instead flocked to Baldessari’s ultra-colorful 1920’s collages he’s been making since 2000, and those expensive, poetic, fabricated sculptures, each of which is a total refutation of all he was preaching while teaching at Cal Arts in the 19970’s. I watched a video of him performing an art action of himself spinning in a circle while videotaping himself saying “I’m making art, I’m making art.” I said to myself – no, you are not making art, you are making a boring video of yourself saying you are making art. Clearly Baldessari does not truly feel he was making VISUAL ART” when he made that 1970’s aesthetics free video artwork.

This recent Baldessari collage is the perfect Conceptual Art joke picture.

Baldessari’s work over the past decade looks so similar to the work he distanced himself from for decades. It is astounding to see him allow himself to make old-school formally inventive works, no different from the New York City artists of the last four generations. Baldessari isn’t the only hard-core Conceptual Post Studio Artist who returned to painting. The London and New York based Art&Language performed the same “painting is dead – we’ve killed it with theory – games during the mid-1990’s, after a couple of decades arguing over the evils of master narratives. I remember reading their fabulously well argued dense texts while in grad school in LA in Pasadena. I recall feeling that the true purpose of their texts was a form of “spring cleaning” of the mind.

Art & Language's Paintings 1, No. 7 (1966)

There are a few remarkable and exceptionally poetic, metaphor loaded photomontages that Baldessari produced well before he transitioned into being a formalist painter with his first figure/ground being a photomontage. The rigorous and successful 1984 Baldessari work, Man and Woman With Bridge (a unpoetic title for a most poetic montage) succeeds and rises to the level of poetry because it plays upon and renders existing psychological states and fears. It captures the anxiety and excitement, the danger and the desire that is already present. This picture externalized the sublimated feelings in the eyes of the two persons whose eyes are locked upon one another, as if in a pause – to allow for a moment of contemplation and considered possibilities. It operates in a way similar to the found footage collage films of one of the artists whom I most admire, and whom I showed with in the last exhibition he was in when he was alive. That giant of an artist is Bruce Conner. Marcel Broodthaers was a true poet and language artist from Brussels who had shown his work in his Brussels apartment, who became a giant of Conceptual Art in the Cologne Artworld of the 1960’s and 1970. He did not separate the body from the mind, as exemplified by his painted femur piece of 1965.

Marcel Broodthaers: "Fémur d'homme belge" and "Fémur de la femme francaise" (1964/65), © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2005

Broodthaers collage wall

Marcel Broodthaers: Paul Delvaux in his studio (ca. 1966), © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2005

Marcel Broodthaers, »Section Cinéma«, 1971 – 1972 Fotomontage der Section Cinéma, 1971 | Fotografie | © Estate Marcel Broodthaers; VG Bild-Kunst 2004

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Bruce Conner, untitled collage works

Bruce Conner, untitled collage works

Bruce Conner's Cosmic Ray (1961)

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Baldessari's Man and Woman With Bridge (1984)

Baldessari's Kiss/Panic

Conversely, in the next picture, PURE BEAUTY, one of Baldessari’s early “”thought paintings” (1966-1968), what we are witness to is the total reliance on a statement about beauty, in which no beauty at all is in evidence. The picture is empty. In fact there is no picture. The particular language is mildly provocative but does not act like literature and produce in the mind a personalized image of beauty. This picture in fact lock out and rejects the beautiful. Yet the way the text of the two words has been painted – in such a lifeless way, shows that this particular painting is also running as far away as possible from Beauty and its concerns, which by 1970 had been the subject of the French line of painting for at least two centuries.

Baldessari's painting "Pure Beauty"

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Beethoven's Trumpet by John Baldessari

Ellsworth Kelly at Matthew Marks, 2009

a recent work by Baldessari

Another Ellsworth Kelly painting at Matthew Marks, 2009

I predict that In five years from now – say the year 2015, Baldessri’s flat work will be identical to Ellsworth Kelly, without a hint of conceptual art funereal art ideas over image thinking. At his LACMA retrospective, I also noticed that he found some of his paintings from the 1960’s. I had always been under the impression that he made a clean sweep and total transformation by burning these early “paintings.” Several of the surviving ones are in private collections.

One of the things that most struck me while walking through the LACMA retrospective was how much of sterile concept work was still in Baldessari’s hands after 40 years, and had not been placed into collections, despite his current remarkable reputation as a Photo-Conceptualist. The problem was obvious. Ideas by themselves are not art objects. Just as the idea for a film, a theatrical production or performance, or for a musical presentation is not a fully realized art object. It its the seed of an art object. Art idea schematics that include dead photographs are not art objects. But explosively colorful and artfully arranged photocollages are art objects. It is here – in collage works that hark back the early part of the 20th century, where Baldessari makes full evidence of his extremely rewarding visual sensibility, which in my opinion, he allowed the sterilizing art making concepts from Europe and New York in the 1960’s to choke off his full creative life, until he was fifty years old.

That Baldessari turned into a giant of an artist when he was OVER 50 YEARS OLD, because of his escaping the 1960’s European Conceptual Art stranglehold that makes the art of artists like Robert Barry and Joseph Kosuth seen sometimes poetic but largely airless, shows that the power of art can be greater than the power of the great idea. The New York and European artists were bound up and remained bound up in separating the mind from the body, then raised the mind and discarding the body.

Joan MIro in studio

That Baldessari changed course in his 40’s and grew in stature and became a true and historic artist in his 50’s, is of course total contradiction to the current youth movement of today, but completely in line with art of the past. Barnett Newman was in his mid 40’s when he started showing. Newman did not invent his Zip paintings until he was well into his forties. He had sold little work and had little success even in his early 50’s. The creative arc of his career that we know of today is but a handful of years. This is matched by the giant of the Belgian artworld, Marcel Broodthaers career was 12 years long – the last 12 years of his life.

Baldessari's Blockage With Tent and Sword Fight (Green), where again PURE COLOR is now the desired means of Baldessari's studio product.

During the 1950’s, artists in NYC actually brought their canvases to the galleries to consider for a show.

BARNETT NEWMAN

If we look at the career of Barnett Newman, “Barney Newman” we’ll see that Newman’s “Zip” paintings break free of the then stranglehold of Abstract Expressionism, where gesture and notions of figure and ground were the only practical means of discussing or making a contemporary painting in New York City.

in 1946, joined Mark Rothko and Clifford Still in the new Betty Parson’s gallery that opened in September in 1945. Newman allowed his friend Jackson Pollock to meet with Betty Parsons. Pollock joined the Betty Parson’s gallery as his former gallery, Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century, had just closed.

September 1948: The Sidney Janis gallery opens in New York with a year-long show of the paintings of Fernand Leger.This is followed by shows of the work of Mondrian, the Fauves, a show containing works called Brancusi to Duchamp, a Henri Rousseau exhibition, one on French Masters, and another on International Dada, through the year 1953. Though Newman did not travel to Europe until late in his career, he was privileged to have direct contact with European Modernism. He makes it known that it was important to him to have seen the real work as compared to seeing phenomenally great slides of the work.

Barnett Newman, in one of several studios he worked in during his career

Newman’s first vertical stripe – “zip” painting was made in 1948, when he was 43 years old. That painting was called Onement I.

Newman was educated in the field of philosophy. He followed up his concepts in painting by authoring the essay “The Sublime is Now.” It was published in the December 1948 issue of Tiger’s Eye magazine. Newman wrote “I believe that here in America, some of us, free from the weight of European culture, are finding the answer, by completely denying that art has any concern with the problem of beauty and where to find it.”

1949: Newman signs a letter of protest to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, about it’s distaste for modern art. The letter is published on the front page of the New York Times on May 22, 1949.

Jackson Pollock in LIFE magazine, 1949

1950: Life magazine photographer Nina Leen takes the infamous photograph of The Irascibles.” It was Newman who insisted the artists dress like bankers for the photograph.

The Iracibles: Willem De Kooning; Jackson Pollock; Adolph Gottlieb; Ad Reinhardt; Robert Motherwell; Clyfford Still; James C. Brooks; Hedda Sterne; Jimmy Ernst; Bradley Walker Tomlin; Richard Pousette-Dart; Barnett Newman; Theodoros Stamos; William Baziotes; Mark Rothko

1951: Newman’s Betty Parson’s exhibition is critically beaten down. The gallery sells none of his work.

Following this, he took his work back from Parsons and did not have an exhibition for four years, until 1955. It was only after having a heart attack in 1957 that his critics got off of his back and put him on their shoulders.

Though Newman wrote art reviews and several catalog essays for the Betty Parson’s gallery and for others, he believed that the meaning of a painting was unveiled only upon its inspection, not by discourse upon the work.

Mark Rothko at his 53rd street studio


Pollock reportedly called Newman a “horse’s ass” at an art opening.

New Yorker magazine art critic Harold Rosenberg

Harold Rosenberg (February 2, 1906, New York City – July 11, 1978, New York City) was an American writer, educator, philosopher and art critic. He coined the term Action Painting in 1952 for what was later to be known as abstract expressionism.[1] The term was first employed in Rosenberg’s essay “American Action Painters” published in the December 1952 issue of ARTnews. The essay was reprinted in Rosenberg’s book The Tradition of the New in 1959. The title is itself ambiguous as it both refers to American Action Painters and American Action Painters and reveals Rosenberg’s political agenda which consisted in crediting US as the center of international culture and action painting as the most advanced of its cultural forms. This theme was already developed in a previous article “The Fall of Paris” published in Partisan Review in 1940. from Wikipedia – research and rewrite

Painters Barney Newman, Jackson Pollock and sculptor Tony Smith


Harold Rosenberg’s essay “The American Action Painters,” first appeared in
Art News in 1952, and was republished in his 1959 collection of essays, The Tradition of the New.The essay interpreted new American art along broadly existential lines. Painters, Rosenberg wrote, were now treating the canvas as an “arena in which to act..What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event.” “The American Action Painters” did much to establish Rosenberg’s reputation as a critic, and ultimately brought him an important following among other critics and artists such as Lawrence Alloway, Allan Kaprow, and Robert Goldwater. However, much of his argument contradicted Greenberg’s reading of painting, which saw the formal qualities of the art work as crucial, and understood American painting as an integral part of an unfolding tradition of modern painting stretching back to Manet. It thus laid the basis for a long-standing and oftentimes bitter rivalry between Greenberg and Rosenberg. – The Artstory.com
 
 

1953:

Artists at the Cedar Tavern in New York City, 1953

1955: Clement Greenberg writes that Newman’s work is “the most direct assault on easel painting so far”

Barnett Newman's Vir Heroicus Sublimis

In 1956, Ad Reinhardt’s searing critique of Newman’s romanticism was published, entitled “The Artist in Search of an Academy. Reinhardt described Newman as “the artist-professor and traveling design-saleman, the Art-Digest-philosopher-poet and Bauhaus-exerciser, the avant-garde-huckster-handicraftsman and educational-shop-keeper, the holy roller-explainer-entertainer-in-residence.”

In 1959, Clement Greenberg organized a one person show of paintings by Barnett Newman at the French & Co. gallery in New York City. It was only from the 1959 to 1970, when Barney Newman died of a heart attack in New York City, that Newman received critical praise for his work, though not always.

The major NYC art critic Thomas Hess wrote of Newman’s exhibition in 1959, “he (Barnett Newman” changed in about a year’s time from an outcast or a crank into the father figure of two generations.” Newman was 54 years old at this time. Newman pursued representation of the sublime at all costs. He believes that to engage his zip paintings were akin to meeting a person. He also believed that this experience was entirely metaphysical, and that there was a sort of exchange between the painting and the person that was unique and exalting.

In 1962, Barney Newman turned down an offer to be in a show entitled Geometric Abstraction, at the Whitney Museum, because he did not want his work framed in this way. He did this when there were few museums interested in showing his work, and fewer less who were interested in buying his work.

1962: Art Critic Harold Rosenberg publishes an essay on Barney Newman entitled “Barnett Newman, A Man of Controversy and Spiritual Grandeur.”

October 31 – December 31, 1962: The New Realist’s show, the first major exhibition of American and international Pop Art. The Pop Art movement was traced back to Jean Tingyely and Yves Klein in this show. Rothko, Gottlieb, Guston and Motherwell quit the Sidney Janis gallery in protest.

1964: Newman’s work is included in the seminal LACMA exhibition New York School, The First Generation: Paintings of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

1964: The Newmans visit Europe and major European art cities, including Basel, for the first time.

Newman’s Guggenheim show, the first museum show for his paintings, in 1966, (when he was 61 years old), was victimized by several negative reviews. However, as even bad press can be good press, the reviews helped substantially grow his reputation in the artworld, one that now included late Abstract Expressionism, and brand new Pop Art and Minimalism during the mid-1960’s. During this time the first wave of European Conceptual Art was also in formation and being launched into New York.

Barnett Newman's 1967 Voice of Fire

in 1968, that most political year in America’s subconsciousness, Barney Newman had to leave his 100 Front Street studio in Manhattan, which he has maintained since 1952. He is able to move into a three-story  studio at 35 White street, while retaining his midtown Manhattan studio at Carnegie Hall.

He creates his largest painting, entitled Anna, in 1968. It is named after his mother. It is also the his first canvas that isn’t stretched. Newman has nailed it to a wall in his studio.

At the time of Barney Newman’s death at age 65, in 1970, John Baldessari, born in 1931 of European parents in National City, California, a suburb of San Diego, would have been 39.

Baldessari's quotation painting of a statement by Clement Greenberg

Baldessari may have not moved to New York, but he certainly knew the central arguments surrounding painting during the Clement Greenberg era of Greeenbergian formalism. He also went to New York to seek other Conceptual Artists. I have to wonder what would have been the arc of Baldessari’s career had he moved to New York in 1951, when he was 20 years old. Would he have enrolled into the Art Student’s League? Would he have become a second generation Abstract Expressionist. Would he have become a follower or leader of Minimalism? Would he have become a Pop Artist?

The formalist spirit of the 1940s and 1950’s in New York finally comes to dominate in Baldessari’s work in the form of pure visual pleasure. The visual rises above and conquers the Conceptual Art explanation about thought alone being greater than art.

DUCHAMP

In Los Angeles during the mid-1990’s, it was thought that Marcel Duchamp’s conceptual ideas had won over Henri Matisse’s pursuit of beauty, devoid of politics. Now, in the year 2010, it seems that because of the full riot of colors engaged in Baldessari’s work is completely enabling Baldessari’s work to live in the arena of greatness, that the return to VISUAL ART is complete. I am convinced the notion of Artist as Producer is in motion. Fabricated art has not disappeared. Yet there is an interplay at work in the last two decades of the works of Baldessari, that is emblematic of the state of art production in Los Angeles.

3 dimensional Gemini GEL print by Baldessari, 2009

That Baldessari will soon be Eighty years old, at be considered to be making the best art of his life and is considered to be a GIANT IN THE INTERNATIONAL HISTORY OF CONTEMPORARY ART, is remarkable to no end. I am sure Frank Stella is jealous of Baldessari’s current fame.

Willem de Kooning at age 55

What would De Kooning say today about this painting by Baldessari?

GEMINI Gel accordion image set of Baldessari's 2010 3 dimensional prints.

I picked this up over the weekend during my October trip to New York to see art.

This return to the body collects Baldessari to the Surrealists. It shows that a former hard-core Conceptual artist can become both a Pop artist and a 1920’s collage artist and a Surrealist, but not without knowing art history and seeing it live and in person in museums.

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

The Warrior, photomontage, 1997-2003, by Vincent Johnson, exhibited at Adamski gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, Germany

Wound (1997-2003) by Vincent Johnson, exhibited at Adamski gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, Germany

Mouthfinger (1997-2003) by Vincent Johnson, exhibited at Adamski gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, Germany

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles.

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Biography September 2010

Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona, a one person show in Copenhagen, a one person show at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a one person show at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles.
Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. He studied with Mike Kelly, Jack Goldstein, Stephen Prina, Liz Larner, Chris Williams, Mayo Thompson (formerly of Art&Language), and Liz Larner. 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. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Upcoming is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona, a one person show in Copenhagen, a one person show at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a one person show at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles.
LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Vincent  Johnson

Artist Statement
Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of  which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.

LA artworld openings: Henry Tayor at Blum & Poe/Kehinde Wiley at Roberts & Tilton

Henry Taylor’s opening at Blum & Poe was phenomenal. There were young African-American photographers flanked on both sides of Henry, shooting non-stop photographs. Henry has achieved what no other African-American artist has done, which is to be offered representation by one of the world’s most important galleries – Blum & Poe. Henry Taylor has received significant applause for his figurative paintings. He works like artists did in New York in the 1940’s and 1950’s, in a but in a not so easy area of Los Angeles, in Chinatown. He has a huge studio space. He paints from life and from memory and from photos, and from live models, right off of the streets of LA, like artists did in the 19th century in Europe. He was trained to work as a Conceptual Artist but rejected that way of working in favor of a more hands-on approach to image making. Five or six years ago he painted seemingly exclusively on found objects – cigarette packs, cereal boxes, thrown away small pieces of luggage. I saw these works at both Sister gallery in Chinatown, itself a sliver of a gallery space. Later he showed a room sized installation of small painted objects and sculptural assemblages, also in his Chinatown studio/Mesler & Hug gallery.  As his work gained significance in the market, he began to make larger paintings, which culminate today in his 24 foot wide painting with the words WARNING SHOT NOT NEEDED painted in bold black letters across the top of the canvas. In his first large-scale installation sculptural work, where black painted detergent bottles are set atop various poles, such as mops,  he makes painterly gestures using black paint to signify erasure of the spirit, as in the case where a beer can case is almost completely painted over, leaving just enough text left to show that this was a case of Miller High Life, and the HIGH LIFE has been wiped out by black paint. There was a virtual orgy of people congratulating Henry at his opening, including myself. I recall teasing him at the gorgeous Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach about his paintings getting larger, after I saw one of his first maybe 4×6 foot paintings in the Rubell Family Collection’s show entitled 30 Americans earlier that day in December, a couple of years ago.

Henry Taylor's studio - photographed in black and white by the NYTimes, mythologies the artist and sets him back into the era that NYC perceives LA to be in, which is about the year 1945, in 2011.

Henry Taylor's press release for his Blum & Poe show

Henry Taylor's New York Times T magazine photo

Mock up of Henry Taylor's sculptural installation at Blum & Poe

A sculpture in Henry Taylor's show

Henry Taylor's A Jack Move painting at Blue & Poe

Henry Taylor's studio was photographed by the NYTimes in black and white to lend a mythological air to the LA Artworld, which NYC perceives to be living in around 1945, about the time that NYC overtook the 300 year old Paris artworld.

 

a second NYTimes photo of Henry Taylor's studio

Henry Taylor’s début opening at Blum & Poe, March 2011

Henry Taylor's sculptural installation of detergent bottles and mop heads at Blum & Poe

Tu Pac in Henry Taylor's sculptural installation

Henry Taylor's powerful potent, aesthetically compelling painting at Blum & Poe

In this painting by Henry Taylor the earth and sky planes interchange.

Taylor makes a poetic comparison between animals and downtrodden mankind, living both in power and in fear; then he plays with black silhouette head to make symbolic commentary.

Here Taylor seems to say that African-American soul negating texts are built into the society, without it even being conscious of it.

Henry Taylor's opening at Blum & Poe

Kehinde Wiley’s World Stage: Israel opening at Robert & Tilton in Culver City (Los Angeles) was heavily attended. The paintings feature bold uses of color. They seem to me to be more casual snapshot than about penetrating character analysis, and about popularizing the unfamiliar and the exotic.

Kehinde Wiley World Stage: Israel at Roberts&Tilton

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

265 Southwark, South London (2011)

 

Vincent Johnson in London (2011)

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Biography April 2011

Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles
Johnson’s work has been exhibited at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles, LAXART, Las Cienegas Projects, the Kellogg Museum at Cal Poly Pomona, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica, Another Year in LA gallery at the Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, Soho House, West Hollywood and the Boston University Art Gallery and several other venues.
Johnson’s photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming are projects in Copenhagen and other European venues, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles.
Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. He studied with Mike Kelly, Jack Goldstein, Stephen Prina, Liz Larner, Chris Williams, Mayo Thompson (formerly of Art&Language), and Liz Larner.
Johnson 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 201o he was named a United States Artists project artist.
Johnson’s work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times,  the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Upcoming is a one person show in Copenhagen, a one person show at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a one person show at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles. More exhibitions and projects will be announced soon.

Vincent Johnson currently has work in the ForYourArt benefit exhibition at Soho House, West Hollywood, California and will have work in Los Angeles Nomadic Division’s (L.A.N.D.) benefit exhibition and auction at Palihouse in West Hollywood, California in May 2011.  In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. In 2005 he was named Creative Capital grantee. His work has been shown in both the U.S. and in Europe and has been reviewed in the NYTimes, LATimes and Artforum. Future exhibitions are in preparation for shows in the U.S. and in Europe.

Mike Kelley’s Kandor series and E.A.R.P. at Gagosian (Beverly Hills 2011)

Mike Kelly's Kandor sculpture series at Gagosian Beverly Hills

MIKE KELLEY:  Kandor 10/Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #34 Kandor 12/Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #35 at Gagosian Beverly Hills (Los Angeles)

This exhibition marks the first gallery show by Mike Kelley in Los Angeles since showing at Patrick Painter at Bergamot Station several years ago. It represents the shift in the LA artworld at its uppermost strata from being a center of art production to also being the market for that production, as did the recent debut show of Paul McCarthy at L&M Arts in Venice, on the property where the famed LA science fiction novelist Ray Bradbury lived during the 1950’s in Los Angeles.

Mike Kelley Kandor series

In the year 2000, Mike Kelly launched his Extra Activity Projective Reconstruction project. The details are here, from Artforum magazine (by John Welchman, Oct. 2005, from 1,000 Words, Mike Kelly talks about “Day is Done.”)

“Thirty-two down, 333 to go. Back in 2000, Mike Kelley unveiled Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (A Domestic Scene), the first installment of an ongoing, gargantuan serial work that will eventually comprise 365 video pieces, each with its own set, or sculptural component. Next month, “Day Is Done,” Kelley’s first solo show at Gagosian Gallery in New York, will assemble an ambitious multiplex of thirty-one videos and associated sculptural “stations” (Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstructions #2-32, 2004-2005) that the artist has made since.”

“The Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction series of videos arose from my desire to fill in the blanks in Educational Complex, 1995 (an architectural model made up of every school I have ever attended), with some kind of action. The blank areas represent all the locations within these buildings that I couldn’t remember. The videos are false memories of “trauma” associated with these sites. I wanted these to consist of a very generic filler of shared cultural experiences. While some of this content and its detail might be subjective, at core it’s recognizable to almost everybody: popular forms of entertainment and social rituals.”

“The imagery is derived from photos of extracurricular activities found in high-school yearbooks. I developed a “plot,” if you can call it that, by building image connections between a set number of photographs from the hundreds I have collected. I worked with a limited group of iconographic motifs–specifically, goth and Halloween imagery and religious spectacles.”

by Mike Kelly

Just a couple of weeks ago I heard a narrative in Los Angeles on the radio about the birth of the Superman comics. I was astonished to be told that Superman is an invention by two sixteen year olds from Cleveland, Ohio, (writer Jerry Siegel and Joel Schuster) where I too was born and raised. The radio narrative reported that Jerry Siegel’s was murdered in 1932. The young man then dreamed of a magical suit that would have protected his father.

The gravesite of Mitchell Siegel, father of writer/creator of Superman comic, Joel Siegel, of Cleveland, Ohio

This late 1933 cover design, not published until decades later, shows an early Superman stopping a robbery. It’s the first time Siegel and Shuster show their character as a hero. Those who think Siegel’s father’s death helped inspire Superman’s crime-fighting point to this image as evidence. (Cleveland magazine, January, 2009)

Superman comic Jerry Siegel's home in Cleveland, Ohio

Closeup photo of Superman symbol on the Cleveland home.

First ever Superman comic book

Here is the text of from a writer who saw the show in NYC that this current show is derived from.

(This show)”…is a combination of two earlier works, Kandors (1999) and Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction (EAPR) (2006). Recently known for exemplifying what art critic Jerry Saltz coined as “clusterfuck aesthetics,” Kelley continues his explorations of the grotesque pop cultural diaspora. The titling of this new show alone indicates Kelley’s continued interest in clusterfuck art: the scrambled code of his earlier works, barely intelligible key words that read like an internet pop up.”

“The Kandors series imagines Superman’s native city, Krypton. In the comic books Krypton is never consistently illustrated, its fragmented nature the point of departure for Kelley’s sculptures. Kelley has made multiple versions of Krypton, all of which are embedded with a reliquary-like quality. They are precious, Kelley’s Kryptons, but also seethe with a dark quality. Like much of his work, the Kandors solicits the somber from our collective past. Working with nostalgic themes, the narratives of the American yesteryear, Kelley highlights the potentially evil. The Kandors places Superman, one of the most recognizable American stories, under his black light. Kelley doesn’t draw any conclusions about Superman or its effect on the American psyche in his work—rather it is the hypothetical, the possibilities of Krypton, that tug on our collective origins.”

“Kelley’s EAPR series, first shown at Day is Done in 2005, draw on a similar, formative American memory. The videos derive from what Kelley refers to as “folk performances,” everyday spectacles documented in photographs in local newspapers and yearbooks. The two videos in EAPR #34 are taken from images of a school or community play, in which a “royal” male character presides over a female harem. In another, a female queen character humiliates a male servant. EAPR #35 is solely a group of gnome characters moving about aimlessly in a cell. Both works are shown at the Gagosian with their original sets. Kelley again brings up the repressed, often disturbing images from the collective past. Pulled from narrative, EAPR #34questions how we publicly perform, and subsequently control, gender. In Kelley’s hands, isolated from the original source and re-performed, it is a surreal and sinister vision of our shared fables. The gnomes perhaps, simply run around aimlessly like a suburban daydream.” E. C. Feiss

http://www.ynput.com/article/26678/go-see-los-angeles-mike-kelley-at-the-gagosian-gallery-beverly-hills-through-february-19th-2011

The crime that created Superman

By David Colton – USA Today

“On the night of June 2, 1932, the world’s first superhero was born — not on the mythical planet of Krypton, but from a little-known tragedy on the streets of Cleveland.

“It was Thursday, about 8:10 p.m., and Mitchell Siegel, a Jewish immigrant from Lithuania, was in his secondhand clothing store on the near East Side. According to a police report, three men entered. One asked to see a suit of clothes and walked out without paying for it. In the commotion of the robbery, Siegel, 60, fell to the ground and died.”

“The police report mentions a gunshot being heard. But the coroner, the police and Siegel’s wife said Siegel died of a heart attack. No one was ever arrested.”

“It was just a year after Mitchell Siegel’s death, 1933, that writer Siegel and artist Shuster came up with “The Superman,” a grim, flying avenger they tried to sell to newspaper syndicates and publishers for five years. In the oldest surviving artwork, this early Superman, whom they call “the most astounding fiction character of all time,” flies to the rescue of a man who is being held up by a masked robber.”

“Was it Jerry’s alter ego flying to rescue his helpless father?”

“America did not get Superman from our greatest legends, but because a boy lost his father,” Meltzer said. “Superman came not out of our strength, but out of our vulnerability.”

“The more Meltzer looked, the more intriguing things became. A letter published in The Plain Dealer of Cleveland on June 3, 1932, the day after the robbery, denounced the need for vigilantes in the harsh days of the Depression. The letter is signed by an A.L. Luther.”

“Is that where (Superman foe) Lex Luthor came from?” Meltzer said. “I almost had a heart attack right there. I thought, “You have to be kidding me!’”

A FORTUNE SOLD FOR $130

The rest of the saga of Siegel and Shuster is better known, but no less tragic. It wasn’t until 1938 that the familiar red-and-blue-garbed Superman appeared on the cover of “Action Comics” No. 1. The creators got a check for $130. In return, DC Comics acquired rights to the character “forever.”

“Shuster died in 1992 and Siegel in 1996, but their legal battles have been never-ending. In March, a court ruled that Siegel’s heirs (wife Joanne and daughter Laura) were entitled to parts of the billion-dollar Superman copyright. Because of the ongoing litigation, neither the families nor DC Comics would comment, not even about Mitchell Siegel’s death 76 years ago or its implications.”

Superman, invented in 1933 in Cleveland, Ohio

Here now is a story from the Wall Street Journal that relates how one of Mike Kelly’s collector’s of he Kandor series has enlivened Munich’s collecting and contemporary museum scene.

“Kandor” (2007), by American artist Mike Kelly, is a mixed-media installation and one of nine Kelly works in the Brandhorst collection. Mr. Kelly was influenced by the Superman comics of his childhood and produced a series of works named after the fictional capital city of the planet Krypton. Hoses feeding an unnamed gas into oversized test tubes fill the room with their orange and purple glow. Inside, a crystalline city emerges and an eerie sound fills the gallery.”

‘Munich’s new Museum Brandhorst, which opened this week in a striking new building designed by Berlin architects Sauerbruch Hutton — and backed with a €120 million grant to fund future acquisitions — aims to vault this Bavarian city into the contemporary-art big leagues.”

“After World War II, only six contemporary art works had survived the Nazi purges of Munich’s museums. Now with the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Brandhorst, the city has two highly visible palaces devoted to 20th- and 21st-century art.”

text is by Mariana Schroede/Wall Street Journal/Weekend

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124293606808844463.html

Munich's Museum Brandhorst of contemporary art

This video projection of what seemed to be a jar containing a sort of mythical, humming, buzzing, lightning bolt fast moving creatures, inside of the jar. For it was the most strange, unique and marvel inducing aspect of the entire gigantic exhibition, which is a new high for Los Angeles, as now LA Art Star artists are showcasing their works right in the City of Los Angeles, as versus only in NYC galleries.

Mike Kelly's Kandor series

“In 1960, Siegel went back to work for Superman’s publisher and wrote some of his best work. In Superman #141, Superman is accidentally sent back in time to Krypton, where he tries (but fails) to save his parents and his home planet. Through Superman’s grief, Siegel expressed his own.” Cleveland magazine, January 2009

Mike Kelley's Kandor series showcases Superman's world in a bottle

There was for me this sense of being in an alternate universe, full of jarring and alternately calming narratives.

Mike Kelley's Kandor series

Mike Kelley's cave was invited to peek into, yet it looked a great deal like and is similar in scale to Kaari Upson's cave sculpture, that we saw in Miami at the Rubell Family Collection this past December, 2010

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One aspect of Kelley’s show seemed to be the use of stage props being placed throughout this enormous and swords crossing installation. Kelley is building not only upon multiple prior narratives, he is also using video to stand in for the several performances he has produced that further expand his projected narrative. For context I’ve provided reviews of E.A.R.P. 32, which was performed at the historic performance space Judson Church, in Greenwich Village, New York City  as part of Performa 09.

Mike Kelley: Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #32, Plus

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Mike Kelley’s Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #32, Plus was one of the last things I saw in my biennial binge of performance art, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one to end with. Based on ‘Day is Done’, his 2005 exhibition at Gagosian in Chelsea, Kelley’s hour-long dance explosion was an upbeat, odd and entertaining trip to a stranger-than-strange fiction high school experience filled with rock and roll, basketball, marching bands, muscular naked men, and lots and lots of Mike Kelley.

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Fittingly set in a grimy gymnasium beneath the Judson Memorial Church, the piece wasn’t prim or proper or even that practiced – in the closing moments a sweaty-handed Kelley accidentally fired a hand bell that he was swinging in to the audience – but it was a party, a loud, outrageous one, the kind you’re happy enough to leave, then wonder about while tucked safley in bed. Good night.

Graham T. Beck

Graham T. Beck is a writer based in New York.

artreview.com


All photos: Mike Kelley, Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #32, Plus, 2009, a Performa Commission. Photos by Paula Court, Courtesy of Performa

Mike Kelley, Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #32, Plus, Performa 09 Commission
17 November 2009, Judson Memorial Church

by Joshua Mack

Inspired by Day is Done, his loopy redux of American high school rituals and performances based on images in old yearbooks, the fourteen vignettes Kelley strung together in this seventy-five minute agony could have been brilliant. For anyone who went to school in the last seventy five years or has sat through the earnest performance of a beloved child, Kelley’s marching bands, dancers wearing papier mache horse heads, and sylvan dryad in green velvet robe and plastic flower wreath were familiar stuff, as was the brick walled, over heated basement gym in which the performance took place. Fecund material for exploring aging, social bonding, the dreams and disappointments that shape us when we are young. And clearly Kelley’s intention was to wrest some deeper truth from his renditions of these hokey skits. Take the program note for #13, Empty Gym: “… a sensitive evocation of the lonely unpopulated gymnasium of lost youth.”

That may be what the artist intended, but instead, the piece had the quality of a joke repeated too often and too insistently. The opening sequence of four girls simulating a basketball practice dragged on and on. Their whooping calls of “Yee Haw!” came off as a mean spirited, classist, insider joke. Flora, the Forest Sprite, traipsed about exuding pseudo-creepy chants through a microphone in three of the fourteen ‘acts.’ In “The Offer” based on an ad for a sound activated switch, a 12 piece brass band marched around while a caller riffed on the jingle, “Clap on clap off, the clapper.” But after the third of fourth iteration, “Gobe on gobe off, the Gober,” “Reef on reef off, the reefer,” “Janit on janit off, the janitor”, the joke fizzled. But the band kept on playing and playing and playing.

And then there were the times that Kelley danced around the gym wearing a straw hat festooned with plastic flowers, smiling like the cat who swallowed the canary, or blew bubbles in a pail of water. I’m glad he was having such a grand time, but the point of performance is to go beyond oneself and give something to the audience. Instead, Kelley’s performance was like suffering adolescent boys who think other people will be as amused by their farts as they are.

Performa 09 | Double Trouble (NYTimes T Magazine)

By LINDA YABLONSKY

| NOVEMBER 20, 2009, 4:41 PM

mike kelleyPhoto by Paula Court / Courtesy of PerformaA scene from Mike Kelley’s “Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #32, Plus.”

Entertainment used to be anathema to performance art, which can often seem more like an endurance test. But Performa 09, which runs through this weekend, has given us a breed of less self-indulgent artists for whom audience pleasure is paramount. Witness the exhilarating, back-to-back appearances last night by Mike Kelley and Terence Koh. Though the title of his work, “Extracurricular Activity Projective #32, Plus,” suggested more of the same-old-same, Kelley brought nudity, horseplay and a Bourbon Street-style marching band to the basketball court at Judson Church, the epicenter of postmodern dance.

With two bands providing hooflike beats and theremin tones, the concert began with four female dancers in sweats dribbling a basketball in prancing steps that gave a nod to the pedestrian choreography (by Kate Foley) associated with the Judson. Enter a vocalist in a flowing gown accompanying a room-filling wall of graduated reverb drones with a multipart chorale of sound. A dozen horn players then took the floor to recall the heraldic fanfares of television news shows. As lights dimmed, four strapping musclemen in their birthday suits — Kelley’s idea of stagehands — circulated in the space (so everyone could see them close up) and set up a 20-foot ladder.

Led by a drum major in a black suit chanting “Zip on, zip off the zipper” in drill-sergeant rhythm, the horn players returned to form a pyramid on it. The dancers reappeared to pantomime a courtship ritual. Before long Kelley himself kneeled at center court to play a blowgun through a miked pail of water, later joining the band for a joyous, rag-waving parade. Joy, in fact, was the point of the show, actually based on found photographs and snippets of obscure music. Whatever else it meant, Kelley accurately created “a fantastic world superimposed on reality,” the title of the festival of noise music he is presenting tonight and tomorrow at the Blender Theater.

After treating audiences to a buffet of hors d’oeuvres crawling with ants, the artist Terence Koh (formerly asianpunkboy) took the lectern at the National Arts Club to offer a dizzying lesson in art history. Dressed in his characteristic white suit, he faced an audience that included Vito Schnabel, Mary Boone, Will Cotton and Marina Abramovic, gesticulating for 45 minutes before a slide show that ran from Rembrandt, Velázquez, Goya and Vermeer through Duchamp, Malevich, Cornell and Bacon to Mapplethorpe, Goldin and Hirst, moving from beauty to war, queer politics, sex, religion, AIDS and performance art itself. All of this was delivered in excited, rapid-fire gibberish. Somehow it was both funny and moving, even kind of genius. As one wag put it at the end of the show, “Nice to know we’ve reached the end of art.” And survived it with style.


mike kelley
Photo by Paula Court / Courtesy of PerformaLed by a drum major, horn players formed a pyramid in Mike Kelley’s piece.

” A veteran of the Los Angeles conceptual art scene, Kelley uses deconstructive strategies in order to challenge the established norms of contemporary culture, both high and low.” Gagosian press release

“The Kandors, begun in 1999, are representations of Superman’s city of birth, the only remaining part of his home planet, Krypton. In the well-known comic books, Superman saved the miniaturized city in a bottle fed by a tank of atmosphere. Kandor’s depiction in these narratives is inconsistent and fragmentary, prompting Kelley to create multiple versions of it, cast in colorful resins and illuminated like reliquaries. Kandor 10, a yellow city housed in a hand-blown, pink glass bottle, is a grouping of tall skyscrapers situated within a full-scale rock grotto; Kandor 12, constructed in off-white resin and evocative of a group of chess pawns, or minarets, is encased in a shadowy brown bottle, which sits on a platform resembling a Greek column positioned in front of a chest of drawers and an illuminated translucent green wall.”

“The EAPR video series – first shown as the exhibition “Day Is Done” at Gagosian, New York in 2006 – stems from photographs of what Kelley calls “folk performances”—common, often carnivalesque, activities documented in school yearbooks, local newspapers, or home snapshots. The two videos comprising EAPR #34 are based on an image of what appeared to be an amateur stage play, featuring a “royal” male character with his female harem. In one of them, a “King” lords over his harem. In the other, a group of “Queens” demean a male servant. EAPR #35 features a cast of gnome-like characters who shamble around aimlessly in a cell. The videos are presented with the sets in which they were shot. Kelley has described the EAPR videos as defensive shields against the gaps or “repressed trauma” in his Educational Complex (1995), a model of his childhood home and every school he ever attended, merged into one structure.” Gagosian press release.

Mike Kelley, Kandor 19 B, 2010. Foam coated with Elastomer, blown glass with water-based resin coating, tinted Urethane resin, wood, found objects, lighting fixture. 31 1/2 x 49 x 43 inches overall (80 x 124.5 x 109.2 cm). Photo by Fredrik Nilsen. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Mike Kelley, Kandor 18 B, 2010. Foam coated with Elastomer , blown glass with water-based resin coating, tinted Urethane resin, wood, found objects, lighting fixture, 87 x 36 x 48 in. Photo by Fredrik Nilsen. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Mike Kelley, Kandor 18 B, 2010. Foam coated with Elastomer , blown glass with water-based resin coating, tinted Urethane resin, wood, found objects, lighting fixture, 87 x 36 x 48 in. Photo by Fredrik Nilsen. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Certainly the image of Colonel Sander's of Kentucky Fried Chicken, can be considered to be a part of the fiction producing mythology base of America. I did wonder why the Colonel, and not a different personage. I did check to see if the fabrication was at the level of what I had seen at the Madame Tussaud's in New York City in Times Square, which is a sensational exhibition in wax and plastic technologies.

Mike Kelley, Memory Ware #61, 2010. Foam, tinted resin, found jewelry, coffee pot, plastic toys. 47 x 81 x 12 1/2 inches overall (119.4 x 205.7 x 31.8 cm)

Mike Kelley, Kandor 19 B, 2010 (Detail view). Foam coated with Elastomer, blown glass with water-based resin coating, tinted Urethane resin, wood, found objects, lighting fixture. 31 1/2 x 49 x 43 inches overall (80 x 124.5 x 109.2 cm). Photo by Fredrik Nilsen. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Mike Kelley, Odalisque, 2010. Foam coated with Elastomer, wood, aluminum, wig, found objects, velvet, cotton batting, 56 x 115 x 30 in. Photo by Fredrik Nilsen. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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Cleveland, Ohio - Lakeview road tenement, Glenville area (Epson archival print 2010) by Vincent Johnson

Cleveland rooming house, Hough area (2010, Epson archival print, by Vincent Johnson)

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

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LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Biography  January 2011

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer who lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, Las Cienegas Projects, the Kellogg Museum at Cal Poly Pomona, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica, Another Year in LA gallery at the Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming is one person show in Copenhagen, a one person show at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a one person show at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles.
Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. He studied with Mike Kelley, Jack Goldstein, Stephen Prina, Liz Larner, Chris Williams, Mayo Thompson (formerly of Art&Language), and Liz Larner. 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 201o 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, and many other publications. Upcoming is a one person show in Copenhagen, a one person show at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a one person show at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles.
LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Vincent  Johnson

Artist Statement
Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of  which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.


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