January 24, 2017
The work of self-taught artist Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) is among the most distinctive in the history of 20th century American art. A reclusive figure, Cornell was inspired to become an artist on encountering the work of the French Surrealists at an exhibition in New York City. ‘Untitled (Waxed Collage)’ is a work from Cornell’s 1960s period and shows a cartoonish gentleman in formal dress, looking through a hand telescope. Set within a white circle, the figure is collaged against a photograph of a mountainous landscape under a vast, orange-lit sky.
September 20, 2016
Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz (b. 1961) is celebrated for his tongue-in-cheek appropriation of canonical paintings. Muniz employs new technologies to reproduce a priceless Francisco de Zurbarán painting as a contemporary chromogenic print. His adaptation of Ed Ruscha’s 1963 Standard Station, Amarillo Texas differentiates itself from the original through slight variations of color and detail on the roof line. Muniz employs cut automotive parts in this series, evoking the car-centric culture of Los Angeles, a touchstone in Ruscha’s work. For Muniz, the act of appropriation simultaneously confirms and undermines our expectations.
April 26, 2016
A self-described “abstract surrealist,” the painter, collagist, and teacher Emerson Woelffer was in many ways the very ideal of a postwar American artist. His distinctive style of Abstract Expressionism was inflected by his many and varied interests and experiences. Certainly one of Woelffer’s most enduring legacies is the inspiration he gave his students. When Woelffer came to Los Angeles in the 1960s he became a mentor to an impressive roster of devoted students at the Chouinard Institute that included Larry Bell, Ed Ruscha, Joe Goode, and Charles Arnoldi. His work was shaped, too, by his move to Southern California, which prompted a discernable shift to bolder, brighter colors in his paintings.
February 13, 2016
Joe Brainard developed an odd and appealing personal iconography. One of the most prolific and protean figures in the American art and literary world of the 1960s and 1970s, he worked in a range of artistic mediums that included oil painting and drawing, but is best known for his collage and assemblage pieces. Of Brainard critic Bruce Hainley wrote, “His little books of drawings and writings can be placed snugly next to Edward Ruscha’s [books]: both reveal the genius of fearlessly pursuing a banal idea with single-minded thoroughness.”