Tuesday, March 20, 2018

ART Là-bas: A Short Statement


ART Là-bas



In French Là-bas means not only "down there" (as in a kind of hell), but "over there," "out there," "back there," "yonder." ART Là-bas, edited by Douglas Messerli, will include my essays (and others' works) on art in the U.S. and throughout the world as shown "over there," "back there," and even, if necessary, "down there."


Although this blog will primarily feature essays by me, I invite any interested art writer to send reviews, notes, essays, and commentary on art of any kind, from which I will select suitable essays to post. The copyright for such works will be protected in the name of ART Là-bas, but will revert to the author one month after its original publication.


Suggestions and responses are also welcome, but will be edited for appropriate content.


Douglas Messerli, Editor






All material (c) copyright 2014 by ART Là-bas and the authors.

Monday, March 19, 2018

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Vito Acconci [USA]
"Becoming a Fan of Vito Acconci" (on Acconci's 2017 death and our short friendship) by Douglas Messerli
Carlos Almaraz [b. Mexico / USA]
"Seeking Identity" (on Playing with Fire: Painting by Carlos Almaraz) by Douglas Messerli
Eleanor Antin [USA]
"Magnificent Obsessions" (on Antin's book An Artist's Life by Eleanora Antinova) by Douglas Messerli
"On Credit" (on Antin's performance Before the Revolution) by Douglas Messerli
"Reclaiming the Past" (on Antin's Historical Takes) by Douglas Messerli
"Lives and Portraits" (on Antin's What time is it? at Diane Rosenstein) by Douglas Messerli
Arakawa and Madeline Gins [USA]
"Architectural Delusions" (on the death of Madeline Gins) by Douglas Messerli
Bahc Yiso [Korea]
"Happy Happy" (on Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea) by Douglas Messerli
Morton Bartlett [USA]
"Games of Life" (essay on Bartlett) by Douglas Messerli
Beckmann, Max [Germany]
"Art as Voyeurism" (on New Objectivity at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
George Henry Boughton [USA]
"The Age of Wonderment" (on the Hudson River School painters) by Douglas Messerli
Geta Bratescu [Romania]
"Expression, Discovery, and Invention" (on Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now") by Douglas Messerli
Andre Breton [France]
"Expression, Discovery, and Invention" (on Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now") by Douglas Messerli
Charles Burchfield [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Chris Burden [USA]
"The Sculpture That Flies" (on Burden's Ode to Santos Dumont) by Douglas Messerli
"A Shot in the Arm, Fast Cars, and Urban Light" (on the death of Chris Burden) by Douglas Messerli
Enrique Castrejon [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Marc Chagall [Russia/France]
"Stage Struck: Marc Chagall's Theatrical Designs" (on Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage) by Douglas       Messerli [link] 
Cho Jeong-Hwa [Korea]
"Happy Happy" (on Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea) by Douglas Messerli
William Christenberry [USA]
"A Homespun American Proust" (on Christenberry's work) by Douglas Messerli
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Thomas Cole [USA]
"The Age of Wonderment" (on the Hudson River School painters) by Douglas Messerli
Stuart Davis [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
George Deem [USA]
"Altering Time" (on Deem's book and life) by Douglas Messerli
Charles Demuth [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Alejandro Diaz [USA]
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Lecia Dole-Recio [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Otto Dix [Germany]
"Art as Voyeurism" (on New Objectivity at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Ascher B. Durand [USA]
"The Age of Wonderment" (on the Hudson River School painters) by Douglas Messerli
William Eggleston [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Merion Estes [USA]
"Pattern Recognition: Merion Estes Brings New Life to an Old World" by Douglas Messerli [link]
Walker Evans [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Sam Falls [USA]
"Expression, Discovery, and Invention" (on Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now") by Douglas Messerli
Lyonel Feiniger [USA/Germany]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Carlee Fernandez [USA]
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Christina Fernandez [USA]
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Francesca Gabbiano [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Charles Garabedian [USA]
"Geometry Moon" (on Garabedian's "re:Generation") by Douglas Messerli
"The Moment Before They Became History" (on Barabedian's "Sacrifice for the Fleet") by Douglas  
     Messerli
Frank Gehry [Canada/USA]
"How Should a Building Look?" (on the Frank Gehry show at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Régis François Gignoux [France, lived USA]
"The Age of Wonderment" (on the Hudson River School painters) by Douglas Messerli
Gimhongsok [Korea]
"Happy Happy" (on Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea) by Douglas Messerli
Ken Gonzales-Day [USA]
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Tm Gratkowski [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Margaret Griffith [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Gronk [USA]
"Painting Theater" (on Gronk's Theater of Paint show) by Douglas Messerli
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Carl Grossberg [Germany]
"Art as Voyeurism" (on New Objectivity" at LAMCA) by Douglas Messerli
George Grosz [Germany]
"Art as Voyeurism" (on New Objectivity" at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Kurt Gunter [Germany]
"Art as Voyeurism" (on New Objectivity" at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
James Hampton [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Ira Joel Haber [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Marsden Hartley [USA]
"How I Got It: Marsden Hartley's Portraits of Love" (on Hartley's Berlin paintings) by Douglas Messerli
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Thomas Heatherwick [England] and Heatherwick Studio
"Imagining the Ordinary: Heatherwick Studio at Hammer Museum" by Douglas Messerli
Michael Heizer [USA]
"Rock of Ages" (on Heizer's Levitated Mass) by Douglas Messerli
Thomas Hill [USA]
"The Age of Wonderment" (on the Hudson River School painters) by Douglas Messerli
David Hockney [England/USA]
"Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney: Self-portraits and Photographs" (on a Hockney celebration at the
     Getty Museum) by Douglas Messerli
"Inside Art: Changing Perspective" (on Hockney's "Painting and Photographer" at LA Louver, by     
    Douglas Messerli
Jenny Holzer [USA]
"The Feminist Scent" (on Eau de Cologne at Spurth Magers, Los Angeles) by Douglas Messerli
Edward Hopper [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Pierre Huyghe [France]
"Through a Glass Darkly" (on Huyghe's retrospective at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Alison Saar [USA]
"Bitter Earth" (on Saar's show, "Topsy Turvy" at LA Louver) by Douglas Messerli
Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Susamu Ito [USA]
"Pocketful of Miracles" (On Ito's photography show at the Japanese American National Museum in
     Los Angeles) by Douglas Messerli
Margaret Keane [USA]
"Identity Theft" ("Keane on Film," Tim Burton's Big Eyes and Keane) by Douglas Messerli
Klaus Kertess [USA]
"Believing in the New" (Kertess obituary) by Douglas Messerli
Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz
"Pounding the Television Screen" (on Kienholz Televisions) by Douglas Messerli
Soo Kim [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
KIMsooja [Korea]
"Happy Happy" (on Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea) by Douglas Messerli
Barbara Kruger [USA]
"The Feminist Scent" (on Eau de Cologne at Spurth Magers, Los Angeles) by Douglas Messerli
Christopher Grant La Farge [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art," by Douglas Messerli
John La Farge [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Louise Lawler [USA]
"The Feminist Scent" (on Eau de Cologne at Spurth Magers, Los Angeles) by Douglas Messerli
Jacob Lawrence [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Abram Lerner [USA]
"A Quiet Realist" (on Lerner's death) by Douglas Messerli
Wyndham Lewis [England]
"Vorticist Lewis / Vorticist Pound" (on Lewis and Pound's Vorticist movement) by Douglas Messerli
Roy Lichtenstein [USA]
"Expression, Discovery, and Invention" (on Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now") by Douglas Messerli
"Tuten Gives Us a Look Inside His Old Friend Roy Lichtenstein's Studio" (interview with Tommaso Speretta) by Frederick Tuten [link]
Sandra de la Loza [USA]
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Anna Maria Maiolano (Italy/Brazil)
"Walking on Eggs" (on the Anna Maria Maiolano show at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angles) by Douglas Messerli
Vivian Maier [USA]
"God's Spy" (on Finding Vivian Maier and her photography) by Douglas Messerli
John McLaughlin [USA]
"The Gift to Be Simple" (on John McLaughlin Paintings: Total Abstraction at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli [link]
Robert Mapplethorpe [USA]
"Robert Mapplethorpe: Beauty, Power, and Sex from the Outside (on Mapplethorpe's The Perfect   
      Medium) by Douglas Messerli
Agnes Martin
"Moving Forward While Being Asked to Stand Back" (on Agnes Martin at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Enrique Martínez Celaya [b. Cuba / USA]
"The Vast Chasm of Life" (on Lone Star installation by Martínez Celaya) by Douglas Messerli
Michael C. McMillen [USA]
"Elsewhere" (on Outpost show by McMillen at LA Louver) by Douglas Messerli
Henri Michaux [France]
"Expression, Discovery, and Invention" (on Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now") by Douglas Messerli
Louisa Davis Minot [USA]
"The Age of Wonderment" (on the Hudson River School painters) by Douglas Messerli
László Moholy-Nagy [Hungary]
"Proliferation of Wonders" (on Maoholy-Nagy: Future Present at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Jim Morphesis [USA]
"Trouble in Paradise" (on Morphesis' exhibition Wounds of Existence) by Douglas Messerli
Julio Cesar Morales [USA]
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Ed Moses [USA]
"A Different Kind of Light" (on Ed Moses: Drawings from the 1960s and 70s) by Douglas Messerli
Grandma Moses [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Lee Mullican [USA]
"Dreamer of the Cosmos" (on the Mullican show at LACMA, "The Abundant Harvest of the Sun" by Douglas Messerli
Matt Mullican [USA]
"Expression, Discovery, and Invention" (on Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now") by Douglas Messerli
Chris Natrop [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Rebecca Niederlander [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Chris Oatey [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Ruben Ochoa [USA]
"Expression, Discovery, and Invention" (on Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now") by Douglas Messerli
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Echiko Ohira [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Minoru Ohiro [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Georgia O'Keffe [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Claes Oldenburg [born Sweden, USA]
"These Things" (on the Oldenberg show at the Walker Center) by Douglas Messerli
Catherine Opie (USA)
"Lives and Portraits" (on Opie's Portraits at the Hammer Museum) by Douglas Messerli
Nam June Paik [b. Korea / USA]
"What Are You Thinking Buddha?" (on a memorial tribute to Nam June Paik) by Douglas Messerli
Roland Penrose [England]
"Expression, Discovery, and Invention" (on Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now") by Douglas Messerli
Ezra Pound [USA]
"Vorticist Lewis / Vorticist Pound" (on Lewis and Pound's Vorticist movement) by Douglas Messerli
Phranc [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Herbert Ploberger [Germany]
"Art as Voyeurism" (on New Objectivity at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Astrid Preston [USA]
"Pixelation Breathes Life into Landscape Painting" (on "Upside Down World") by Lita Barrie
Noah Purifoy [USA]
"No Contest" (on LACMA show Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada) by Douglas Messerli
Robert Rauschenberg [USA]
"Screwing Things Up" (on Rauschenberg's death) by Douglas Messerli
Roland Reiss [USA]
"The Fiction of Flowers" (on Reiss' Floral Paintings and Miniatures) by Douglas Messerli
Rembrandt van Rijn (the Netherlands)
"The Rembrandt Variations" (on Rembrandt: A Decade of Brilliance [1648-1658]) by Douglas Messerli
Marco Rios [USA]
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Larry Rivers [USA]
"In the Mood" (on Rivers' career and his biography) by Douglas Messerli
Steve Roden [USA]
"Secret Abstractions" (on Roden's "A Year without Painting") by Douglas Messerli
"When the Body Becomes a City" (on Roden's "ragpicker" show) by Douglas Messerli
Frank Romero [USA]
"Reimagined Landscape: Frank Romero's Los Angeles" (on Romero's show Dreamland) by 
     Douglas  Messerli [link]
August Sander [Germany]
"Art as Voyeurism" (on New Objectivity at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
George Scholtz [Germany]
"Art as Voyerusim" (on New Objectivity at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia [USA]
"Exploring New Forms of Artistic Expression" (on Segoiva's show at CB1 in Los Angeles), by
      Douglas Messerli
Christian Shad [Germany]
"Art as Voyeurism" (on New Objectivity at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Cindy Sherman [USA]
"The Feminist Scent" (on Eau de Cologne at Spurth Magers, Los Angeles) by Douglas Messerli
Susan Sironi [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Joseph Stella (b. Italy/USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Paul Strand [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Do Ho Suh [Korea]
"Expression, Discovery, and Invention" (on Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now") by Douglas Messerli
"Happy Happy" (on Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea) by Douglas Messerli
Don Suggs [USA]
"Natural History" ("Thermal Paintings and Paradise Prints" show) by Douglas Messerli
Tam Van Tran [USA]
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks) by Douglas Messerli
Rosemarie Trockel [Germany]
"The Feminist Scent" (on Eau de Cologne at Spurth Magers, Los Angeles) by Douglas Messerli
James Turrell [USA]
"Beyond Light" (essay on Turrell's LACMA retrospective) by Douglas Messerli
Kent Twitchell [USA]
"Kent Twitchell’s Magnanimous Monumental Portrait of Ed Ruscha: An Iconic Landmark of L.A.’s Historic Downtown Art District" by Lita Barrie
Patssi Valdez [USA]
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
Carl Van Vechten [USA]
"The Camera Turned Upon the Wild Beasts" (on Van Vechten's photography) by Douglas Messerli
"Just Jolly" (on the homoerotic photography of Van Vechten) by Douglas Messerli
Grant Wood [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Tom Wudl [USA]
"Illuminated Flowers" (on art by Tom Wudl) by Douglas Messerli
Andrew Wyeth [USA]
"The Iconography of the Church in Modernist American Art" by Douglas Messerli
Peter Zumthor [Switzerland]
"Architectural Dreams--and Nightmares" (on Zumthor and other architects planning for Los Angeles structures) by Douglas Messerli
GROUP SHOWS
"The Age of Wonderment" (on the Hudson River School painters) by Douglas Messerli
"Architectural Dreams--and Nightmares" (on Zumthor and other architects planning for Los Angeles structures) by Douglas Messerli
"Art as Voyeurism" (New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Repblic, 1919-1933 at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli
"Building Art" (on Building Material: Process and Form in Brazilian Art") by Douglas Messerli
"Expression, Discovery, and Invention" (on Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1960 to Now") by Douglas Messerli
"Faith in the Arts" (on Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College: 1933-1957) by Douglas Messerli
"The Feminist Scent" (on Eau de Cologne at Spurth Magers, Los Angeles) by Douglas Messerli
"Full House: Artists from Latin America Imagine Home" (on Home--So Different, So Appealing) by Douglas Messerli [link]
"Happy Happy" (on Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea) by Douglas Messerli
"Roman Fantasies" (on Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture Around the Bay of Naples) by Douglas Messerli
"Soaring off the Surface" (on Paperworks at the Folk & Craft Museum, Los Angeles) by Douglas Messerli
"Unusual Appearances in Unexpected Places" (on Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at LACMA) by Douglas Messerli

Douglas Messerli | "Bitter Earth" (on Alison Saar's show Topsy Turvy at LA Louver Gallery)

BITTER EARTH
by Douglas Messerli

Alison Saar: Topsy Turvy at LA Louver Gallery, Venice, California. I saw the show with Howard Fox on March 17, 2018



Los Angeles artist Alison Saar is at her very best in her new show at LA Louver (opening March 28th), using the character of Topsy from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a connecting link between the galleries’ sculptures and paintings.
      Saar’s Topsy, however, is not simply the contrarian, “wicked” rabble-rouser of Stowe’s book, but becomes, through her mop of braided hair, a mythical figure who challenges the white slavery owners of the South, joining others on an exciting voyage, paralleling that of Jason and the Argonauts, to retrieve the Fleece of the Golden Ram, before transforming herself into a Medusa-like figure and joining an entire army of smaller Topsys hiding out in the cotton fields. In the 16 sculptures, drawings, and paintings of this show, Topsy becomes a black heroine threatening patriarchal ideas and seriously challenging male privilege—in short setting the world, as the show’s title suggests, “Topsy Turvy.”  Even W. S. Gilbert, the so-called “king of Topsy-Turvyism might have taken great delight in this kind of vision.
       Unlike Stowe’s novel in which the other major character, the golden-haired Eva, who, if we recall, offered as she was dying, a lock of her flaxen hair, in this version the warrior-like Topsy refuses to be tamed, in Topsy and the Golden Fleece, for example, standing, all in black, with her wild braids spiking out of her head like branches, as she holds a sickle closely to her chest, while in her right hand grasps the locks of golden hair not as a gift but more like the spoils of war.
      Similarly, in The Wrath of Topsy, the iconic figure allows her heavily braided hair to rise up like Medusa’s snakes, fiercely daring anyone to come near her, even though the wood, ceiling tin, bronze and tar-covered figure represents only her head.
     Yet there are milder visions of her as well, as in the wooden figure of Bitter Crop, (calling to mind Dinah Washington’s This Bitter Earth) which reveals her as a kind of curvaceous nude figure tempting heterosexual males.
      In High Cotton (study) she joins others like her, eerily hiding in the dark, tufts of cotton sticking out of their heads as a mode of non-detection (Saar reported that slaves would often hide out in the cotton fields by placing tufts of cotton on their heads). And in the show’s central work, Topsy joins up with an army of small girls, each about 3-5 feet tall, who announce their identities through the plantation tools they carry, Rice (sickle), Cotton (bale hook), Indigo (hoe), Sugar cane (machete), Tobacco (tobacco knife)—all with branches of cotton upon their heads, as if trying to become invisible within the crop so central to Southern plantation life. This work says more about slavery and slave’s modes of surviving than almost other any work I’ve encountered. No stereotypical abandoned dancing, singing, and drinking here: these munchkins are surely “wicked” in their intentions of bringing down the hierarchies which they have had to endure. And you can only wish them the greatest of success.




Los Angeles, March 18, 2018