LAMA Blog

Artist Spotlight: Cy Twombly

February 14, 2018

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

When Cy Twombly’s work first emerged in the early 1950s many critics scoffed at the deeply expressive gestures, scribbles, drips, and scratches that have come to firmly secure his place as one of the most innovative artists of the 20th century. “My line is childlike but not childish,” the artist once offered in response to criticism pegging his work as simplistic and lacking in clear technique. “It is very difficult to fake … to get that quality you need to project yourself into the child’s line. It has to be felt.”  The emotional caliber of Twombly’s elegantly orchestrated compositions is palpable. Chock-full of fluid starts and stops, erasures, and replacements, which all lend a manuscript-like quality to his canvases. And while the same highly animated, lyrical scribbles and gestural scratches might be evocative of graffiti, Twombly himself shied away from such identification. “Graffiti is linear and it’s done with a pencil, and it’s like writing on walls. But in my paintings it’s more lyrical,”  he explained.

Designer Spotlight: Frank O. Gehry

February 13, 2018

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Frank O. Gehry and Sophie Calle, friends of nearly 25 years, collaborated in 2006 to design Le Téléphone, a large sculpture which was installed as a work of public art in Paris until 2012. The flower-shaped structure was a functioning telephone booth, created with the sole intention of receiving calls from Sophie Calle. From her home just outside of Paris, Calle would call Le Téléphone at random times to converse with whomever happened to be walking by. The calls ranged from 8 seconds to 4 hours.

Artist Spotlight: Tony Rosenthal

February 11, 2018

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Remarking on a new body of smaller-scaled sculptures by Tony Rosenthal, including Mother and Child (1953), in the November 1953 edition of Arts & Architecture then-Chairman of the Department of Art at UCLA, Gibson Danes, described the artist’s recent bronze works as being “lyrical with the gaiety and gravity of a superbly wrought ballet.”  “Although autonomous and independent creations,” he continued, “these new works imply an architectural setting. They envelop and electrify the expansive dimension of their ordered world.”  Rosenthal’s abstract, geometric sculptures continually embraced a play with seemingly irreconcilable binaries.

Artist Spotlight: Vasa

February 10, 2018

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Born in the former Yugoslavia, long-time Los Angeles-based artist Vasa arrived in the United States just in time to help significantly shape what would become known as the Light and Space movement, which found its nascence in 1960s California. “I came to the United States because of Abstract Expressionism,” he notes in a recent monograph. “Instead, I found Minimalism, and more.”  That “more” would lead to a long career focused on an elaborate investigation into the phenomenology of light, optics, color, volume, scale, and, ultimately, perception.

Artist Spotlight: Frederick Hammersley

February 9, 2018

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

In the autumn of 1967 Frederick Hammersley gave a series of lectures in Claremont, California in which he laid out and elaborated on what he considered to be the seven essential elements of the painter’s language: shape, line, value, color, form, pattern, and texture. Over the course of these talks, Hammersley continually returned to the importance of shape above the other elements. “Of all the tools – shape – I feel is needed before you can do anything else,” he asserted. “Value, color, pattern and the rest cannot exist unless there is an edge where they begin and end. This edge of the shape, this boundary can be of many different kinds, either clearly defined, or soft and vague. The character of the edge can either emphasize or reduce, but it never destroys the shape.”   

Artist Spotlight: Nicole Eisenman

February 7, 2018

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

When Brooklyn-based artist Nicole Eisenman’s bold, idiosyncratic work first hit the walls of New York galleries in the early nineties, no one knew how to respond. Was it a feminist revision of art history? A disruptive “queering” of trite scenes culled from popular cartoons and commercial culture? A satirical psychoanalytical take on the monstrousness of public and private human experience? The answer, it turns out, was all of the above and then some. With its unique blend of lucid and imaginative elements, and gloriously awkward merging of the banal with the absurd, her 1992 Bacon-esque portrait Jew Drag King eludes simple categorization. The work is an inversion of mainstream conventions synthesized with counterculture lifestyles, creating a figurative language distinct to Eisenman.

Artist Spotlight: Yaacov Agam

February 3, 2018

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

In 1964, Israeli Op artist Yaacov Agam laid out his artistic credo. His statement detailed how he began producing the kinetic and optical art for which he is now so widely known. “My intention was to create a work of art which would transcend the visible, which cannot be perceived except in stages, with the understanding that it is a partial revelation and not the perpetuation of the existing,” he explained.  Often called the “Father of kinetic art,” Agam’s vibrant, dynamic works demonstrate an ongoing preoccupation with time and movement, teasing out allusions to fourth dimension where time is both regulated and made visible. “For twenty years, I tried, and finally I understood, the image must be something that becomes, not something that is,” he recounted in 1971. “Where is truth, where is the true order? The only truth is the truth of states of being, and the passage of time which destroys itself.”

Just In: Alvin Lustig

January 26, 2018

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

After a few months studying under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin East in Wisconsin in 1935 American modernist design polymath Alvin Lustig (1915-1955) decided that a career restricted solely to the field of architecture wasn’t for him. Lustig, who once claimed that he was “born modern,” had a grander, more holistic vision for design that took a montage approach, incorporating and synthesizing diverse principles from an ever-evolving litany of sources, old and new.

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