Wednesday, April 29, 2009

INCOGNITO @ SMMoA this Saturday

Things Aren't Always As They Seem

SMMoA's INCOGNITO logo designed by John Baldessari.

Just when you thought you were too old to play hide-and-go-seek -- peek-a-boo, there's SMMoA! The Santa Monica Museum of Art will present their 5th annual INCOGNITO exhibition and benefit sale this Saturday, May 2nd, beginning at 7 p.m. sharp (get there early if you want to grab a good spot in line).

For those who have never attended before, you're in for quite an experience. The mood is very much like Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving), only this time artists, dealers and collectors are the ones who are elbowing each other for all the bargains. The show is comprised of more than 650, 8 x 10 in. works which were generously donated by numerous artists working in a wide array of styles. There are no museum labels indicating which artist created which piece, so buyer beware! For only $300 per work (plus tax), you could end up with a killer work by notables John Baldessari, Mark Bradford, Kristin Calabrese, Exene Cervenka (BTW, I LOVE the band "X"!), Alexandra Grant, Leonard Nimoy, Ed Ruscha or Jennifer Steinkamp, among others. Are you enough of a connoisseur to recognize who's who? Come down this Saturday night and find out! Admission to the event is $100 per person($135 at the door). But, please, remember that all sales are final! If you'r still on the fence, check out the video from last year's event here.

INCOGNITO will take place at the Santa Monica Museum of Art on May 2nd, 2009; 2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica; Begins at 7 p.m., but line up may start earlier; Admission tickets are $100 per person ($135 at the door); Works of art are $300 each (plus tax).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The People vs. Louis Vuitton and MoCA

Honest Oversight or Intentional Scam?

Takashi Murakami's "limited edition" prints, similar to the works above, sold at MoCA for $6,000 a pop.

LATer Mike Boehm reported today on the ongoing dispute between luxury goods retailer Louis Vuitton, the beleaguered Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) and would-be entrepreneurial print collector Clint Arthur. Mr. Arthur alleges that Louis Vuitton and MoCA failed to adhere to the Fine Print Act which, among other things, legally defines what constitutes a fine [art] print and how it should be sold to consumers. According to the act, the State of California defines it as follows:

"Fine print" or "print" means a multiple produced by, but not limited to, engraving, etching, woodcutting, lithography, and serigraphy, and means multiples produced or developed from photographic negatives, or any combination thereof.

That seems pretty legit and straight forward to me. So far, so good. The legal jargon continues with defining limited edition:

"Limited edition" means fine art multiples produced from a master, all of which are the same image and bear numbers or other markings to denote the limited production thereof to a stated maximum number of multiples, or are otherwise held out as limited to a maximum number of multiples.

Uh-oh, I think we have finally run into a problem here. Since the works in question were admittedly created from scraps of left over material from the Murakami-designed Louis Vuitton handbags, I think that this evidence alone proves that Louis Vuitton incorrectly marketed the prints a limited edition.

Usually, limited edition prints of this ilk are printed according to specific guidelines and standards set forth by the artist and a master printer. In consultation with the artist, the master printer will go through several print proof runs in order to achieve the correct color(s) and registration (a fancy print term which means precise color or image alignment) needed to print the edition. Once the desired look is achieved, the master printer will designate that specific print as the bon à tirer, or "good print" in French. The bon à tirer serves as the printer's template (master print) for the rest of the edition. If there is no bon à tirer, then the print is most likely not a true limited edition -- case closed! I'm eager to see how the judge will rule on this, but I guess we'll have to wait until this summer to find out.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures

DISCLAIMER: This article references my employer, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The views expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of LACMA, LACMA's leadership, LACMA's Board, or LACMA's staff. Furthermore, the views posted on this blog have not been influenced in any way by the aforementioned parties.

"Mmm, Chocolate Lion Tower...aaaaahhhh" (In my best Homer Simpson voice)

Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures installation view at LACMA. Dieter Roth's Chocolate Lion Tower is to the left.

The Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures closes at LACMA on April 19th, so make sure to check it out ASAP! The show is intellectually stimulating (and dense), both in subject matter and artistic tradition. It will definitely leave you with a greater appreciation for and understanding of late mid-century German avante-garde artists working in front of and behind the iron curtain. Selections include works by Joseph Beuys, Hans Haake, Raffael Rheinsberg, Gerhard Richter, Dieter Roth, Sigmar Polke and others. All were scions of twentieth century image making in Germany, and successful at taking visual polemics to an whole new level.

My favorite work from the exhibition was Dieter Roth's Chocolate Lion Tower, 1968-69. I think that this work conclusively proves that it's okay to play with your food so long as it's in the name of art. Known for incorporating food stuffs into his compositions, Roth's art is tasteful, both, literally and figuratively! The work itself is a recreation of the original from the late sixties. Made entirely of chocolate, the cast sculpture of pint-sized lions stacked on top of one another is meant to slowly decay as the show travels from venue to venue. Roth's medium selection seems to view art through the lens of a perishable object rather than a cherished keepsake. Notions of value and materiality are simultaneously exalted and excoriated. In a recent exhibition-related lecture at LACMA, this piece was specifically sited by contemporary artist Paul McCarthy as a direct influence on his 2007 Chocolate Factory installation in New York City, where he tuned a gallery space into a fully functioning confectionery.

This show might be of great interest to people who were far too young to understand the politics of the Cold War, as well as practicing artists with an affinity for conceptual art. This is one history lesson that should not be missed.

Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures through April 19, 2009 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; Phone: (323) 857-6000; LACMA closed on Wednesdays, open Fridays 12:00-9:00 p.m., all other days 12:00-8:00 p.m.; Admission $12.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

UPDATE: Tonight's Kehinde Wiley Talk SOLD OUT!

High Art, High Demand.

I noticed that tonight's 7:00 p.m Kenide Wiley lecture at the Getty Center is SOLD OUT. Apparently, there will be a standby line so you may just be in luck...but get there early!!! Otherwise, go to the opening reception at Roberts & Tilton on Saturday, April 4th from 6-8:00 p.m.