Leslie Sacks Contemporary

Contemporary & Post-War Art Gallery


Friday Feature: Wayne Thiebaud


Image: Wayne Thiebaud, ‘Sardines,’ 1982, etching and aquatint, image: 11 7/8 x 9 1/8 inches, sheet: 20 x 16 1/8 inches, edition of 50, signed, dated and numbered. 

About the Artist

Born in Mesa, Arizona in 1920, Wayne Thiebaud spent much of his early life in Long Beach, California. He began his career in commercial art and planned to go into advertising. From 1938 to 1949, Thiebaud worked as a sign painter, illustrator, cartoonist and publicity manager, as well as an artist for Hollywood film studios. It is not difficult to detect the influence that this commercial experience had on his later paintings; his most characteristic work depicts consumer objects, often pies and cakes, as they are seen displayed in drug store windows.

From 1949 to 1950, Thiebaud studied at San Jose State University and, from 1950 to 1953, at California State University in Sacramento. He had his first solo exhibition at the Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, in 1951. From 1956 to 1957, the artist lived briefly in New York City, where he became close friends with the Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning. After teaching for nine years as a visiting professor at renowned universities around the country, he accepted a professorship at the University of California at Davis in 1960. 1962 marked the first exhibition of his work in New York, where he showed at the Allan Stone Gallery, as well as his first one-person museum show at the De Young Museum, San Francisco.

Thiebaud has been associated with Pop Art, yet his early work slightly predates that of the classic pop artists, suggesting that he may in fact have had a great influence on the movement. His work possesses a nostalgic sentimentality that Pop Art traditionally lacks, and owes more to Thiebaud’s study of historical still life masters than to contemporary art movements. The true to life representation in his work marks him as a predecessor of photorealism. Thiebaud uses heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included. Objects are simplified into basic units, but appear varied using seemingly minimal means. Giorgio Morandi, whose contemplative, palpable and delicate works share many characteristics with those of Thiebaud, is commonly cited as an artistic influence.

Thiebaud’s paintings can be found in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as many others in the United States and abroad. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994. In 2001, the Whitney Museum of American Art honored Thiebaud with the most comprehensive retrospective of his work to date.

Wayne Thiebaud currently lives and works in Sacramento, California.

Click here to view the gallery’s collection of works by Wayne Thiebaud


Above: How Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery will look

Damien Hirst’s London art space due to open next spring

By Gareth Harris, theartnewspaper.com

Damien Hirst’s art complex in south London, which was initially due to open this year, will take a little longer to complete. A spokeswoman for Science Ltd, Hirst’s company, says that it is now due to open “in May or June” next year. The centre, which is designed by Caruso St John architects, runs the length of Newport Street in Vauxhall. The former theatre carpentry and scenery production workshops will become six galleries. Office space and a restaurant are also planned.

Early in 2012, Hirst announced plans for the ambitious new venue which, he said will provide a place to show his collection of contemporary art. Hirst is now looking to hire a collection and exhibitions co-ordinator who will be based at the Newport Street complex.

An exhibition drawn from Hirst’s Murderme collection held at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2007 included works by Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Francis Bacon, Angela Bulloch, Jim Lambie and Sarah Lucas. In 2010, Hirst was among the unsuccessful bidders to take over the Magazine Building, a 19th-century structure in Kensington Gardens, which reopened last year as the Serpentine Sackler Gallery after its conversion by Zaha Hadid Architects.

Click here to read the article online. 

Above: Detail of a photograph by Robert McElroy of artist Allan Kaprow’s “Words,” at the Smolin Gallery in New York in 1962. (Robert McElroy)

Getty Research Institute acquires Robert McElroy archives

By David Ng, latimes.com 

The Getty Research Institute said Thursday that it was acquiring the archives of the late photographer Robert McElroy who documented New York’s vibrant performance-art scene in the 1960s.

McElroy, who later became a staff photographer for Newsweek, captured the works of a number of prominent artists of the period, including Allan Kaprow, Jim Dine and Claes Oldenburg.

Getty officials said the acquisition was partly a donation by McElroy’s widow, Evelyn McElroy, and partly a purchase. The acquisition includes approximately 700 vintage prints developed by McElroy, 10,000 negatives and contact sheets, and a paper archive that includes posters and correspondence.

McElroy is perhaps best known for photographing so-called happenings, a type of performance art that combined live performance and abstract expressionism in a new physical form.

The Chicago native was born in 1928 and served in the Army. He later attended Ohio University and eventually made his way to Greenwich Village’s bohemian art scene.

He died in 2012 at the age of 84. The Getty said that McElroy’s photographs captured a key period in modern art.

"This acquisition will greatly expand access to his work and enrich our understanding of this pivotal moment in art history," said Thomas Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute, in a prepared statement.
Click here to read the article online. 


Image: Robert Swain installation at Santa Monica Museum of Art, where Mark Trayle will perform Saturday afternoon. (Jeff McLane)

Sound and color at Santa Monica Museum of Art

By Mark Swed, latimes.com 

Music and painting sometimes share a language. Color is applicable to both, as is chromatic. They also share physics. Colors, for instance, are waveforms, as are tones.  

But too seldom do music and painting actually share a physical space as will be the case Saturday afternoon at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, where electronic music composer Mark Trayle will present an hour-long sonically immersive concert in the midst of Robert Swain’s “The Form of Color,” an immersive exhibition of color test patterns that surround the viewer. Trayle’s music of chromatically swelling electronic sounds have the analogous potential of engulfing the ear. 

The concert, which begins at 3, is presented by the aptly named Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound. In sibilant acronym heaven this event is SASSAS at SMMoA. Say it aloud and you’re almost sonically there. 

Click here to read the article online. 

Foster the People has been ordered to remove its ‘Supermodel’ mural in downtown Los Angeles. The mural can be seen in the video for “Coming of Age.”

Foster the People mural in downtown L.A. saved, for now

By Deborah Vankin, latimes.com 

Indie pop band Foster the People’s downtown Los Angeles mural, which was set to be whitewashed Monday morning, has been saved, at least temporarily.

The mural was supposed to be removed after the band’s permission for the public artwork was revoked by city officials, the band said.

A fan created a petition on Change.org in an attempt to save the 125-by-150-foot painting, which is on the wall of the building at 539 S. Los Angeles St. By Sunday night, the petition had received about 12,000 signatures.

“We just received a call from the mayor’s office. @EricGarcetti saw your petition and decided against repainting the wall. The Mural Stays!” the band tweeted Sunday night.

Garcetti’s office’s call actually was to building representitive Debbie Welsch, asking to postpone the mural’s removal. Mark Foster was on a plane to Burma at the time, but his manager, Brett Williams, contacted him with the news. The band then tweeted and Facebooked the news far and wide.

“Thank You Eric Garcetti for listening and intervening on such short notice,” the band wrote on its Facebook page Sunday night. “Most of all, Thank You to all of you who signed the petition and helped spread the word! You surprised everyone and saved this mural.”

Garcetti’s press office clarified on Monday afternoon: “The decision to remove the mural was not made by the city. Our office just became involved over the weekend, and to cool things off, had a discussion with the property owner, who agreed to not paint over the mural today as had been planned. We thank them for their patience and understanding.”

The mural was designed by Dutch artist Young & Sick, who lives in L.A.; artists Vyal and Leba spray-painted it onto the wall in January. The artwork appears on the cover of the band’s latest album, “Supermodel,” which came out in March. The band held a free Jan. 23. concert in front of the mural.

One of the issues the city had with the mural was that it looked like a commercial sign, a promotion of the album. The band said the mural shows no logos or even the band’s name, and that the artwork was created first, then chosen for the album — not the other way around.

Welsch hasn’t yet responded to a Times’ call. The ultimate fate of the mural remains unclear.

To celebrate the news, some members of Foster the People will be at the mural Monday handing out posters and greeting fans.

Click here to read the article online. 

Above: A huge mural on the wall of the Santa Fe Building at 539 S. Los Angeles St. in downtown L.A. has been saved, at least for now. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Friday Feature: Marc Quinn

Image: Marc Quinn, ‘Portraits of Landscapes 3,’ 2007, pigment print 39 3/8 x 29 1/2 inches, edition of 59, signed and numbered in pencil on the reverse.

Click here to visit the gallery’s website.

Image via Obey Giant/ Jon Furlong

Shepard Fairey Creates a Giant “Peace Tree” Mural for The Line Hotel in Los Angeles

By Andrew Lasane, (source)

If you find yourself near Koreatown in Los Angeles, make sure you drive (or skate, walk, run) past The Line Hotel on Wilshire Blvd to see Shepard Fairey’s new mural. Fairey and his team recently completed the nearly 10-storey Peace Tree mural near the hotel’s entrance. In a post on the OBEY GIANT website, Fairey writes that he is “very happy with how the mural turned out and how it works with the building’s architecture.”

The hotel also has a D*Face piece on its west side, so street art fans now have twice as many reasons to book suites there when they’re in town. Check out the photos by Jon Furlong above for more angles and a look at the process.

Friday Feature: Christo

Image: Christo, ‘Wrapped Fountain,’ 2009, lithograph with collage, 22 x 28 inches, edition of 200, signed, numbered and dated in pencil. 

Click here to visit the gallery’s website. 

Image: Director of the Los Angeles County Museum Michael Govan. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In reshaping LACMA, Michael Govan sets his sights on a new L.A.

By Mike Boehm, latimes.com

Michael Govan’s field of dreams stretches far beyond the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which he wants to radically remake over the coming nine years.

In a visit to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, the museum director outlined what he and LACMA’s board aim to accomplish, how it might be done, and what some of the obstacles might be as they pursue plans to tear down four of the museum’s seven buildings and replace them with one massive new one, an innovative one-level structure elevated by what Govan called five “legs of glass.”

Raising a 410,000-square-foot landmark building to propel LACMA through the 21st century would require an unprecedented new level of cultural commitment for Los Angeles — an estimated $750 million to $1 billion. Govan said about half the sum would be needed for construction and the rest to secure LACMA’s future financial security.

Pulling it off, he suggested, would not just add a striking museum to the cityscape, but would signal a new sense of confidence and accomplishment as a creative center for the city as a whole.

"I think if we could do this project it would change what’s possible in L.A.," he said of the broader implications for the city’s cultural maturation.

LACMA aims for a 2023 opening of the building, designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and timed to coincide with the opening of a subway beneath Wilshire Boulevard that will have a stop at the museum.

The opening would come 20 years after the 2003 arrival of the $284-million Walt Disney Concert Hall. Govan said LACMA would be continuing the “movement” that the acclaimed concert hall launched. The new LACMA would show that L.A. was, in effect, not a one-hit wonder, but a city capable of charting an ambitious, ongoing course of increasing and revitalizing its cultural offerings.

The building would not drastically increase the space LACMA has for showing art — “it’s a replacement with a modest expansion” totaling about 50,000 square feet, Govan said — but he thinks a building with one floor will be more inviting than the three high-rises (plus a theater) that will be torn down.

"It’s a giant opportunity to reconsider what museums are and how they function," including exploring whether to dispense with traditional written labels on walls and in display cases, he said, and go whole-hog with smartphone technology.

The building’s shape aims to avoid massive facades that have a standoffish effect, Govan said, and take a cue from storefront retailers by giving passersby a glimpse inside. He said the goal is to create “a non-hierarchical space for culture.”

Click here to continue reading the article online. 


Image: Architect Frank Gehry’s long-term master plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art involves going underground: burrowing under the museum’s broad terrace to create additional gallery space that would be illuminated by skylight. (Gehry Partners / Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Frank Gehry’s Philly museum design takes on the “Rocky” steps

By Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com

Look at Frank Gehry’s plan for the renovation and expansion of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and you’ll see little of the Gehry we’ve all come to know. There are no billowing sheets of titanium, à la Guggenheim Bilbao or Walt Disney Concert Hall; no craggy icebergs like the Fondation Louis Vuitton, which is set to open in Paris this fall.

Instead, the architect has gone inside and underground, carving out space from within and underneath the institution’s guts. He also makes a suggested (potentially sacrilegious) change to the museum’s world-famous “Rocky” steps, where Sylvester Stallone, as Rocky Balboa, once ran triumphantly. All of the changes, however, stay true to the building’s neo-classical limestone look.

Gehry’s master plan is the focus of an exhibition that went on view at the museum earlier this week, ”Making a Classic Modern: Frank Gehry’s Master Plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.” The show for the first time reveals to the public design concepts that Gehry has worked on for almost eight years.

Timothy Rub, director of the Philadelphia museum, says that the institution, known for its collection of American art, is long overdue for a refresher. 

"The building has been in continuous use since it was built in 1928," he explains. "It is in dire need of renovations. A lot of work needs to be done to update it. There is deferred maintenance and some of it is the replacing of antiquated building systems."

But that’s on the outside. The inside, as long as I’ve known it, has always been a bit of a hot mess: Visitors start at a dimly lit grand staircase that leads to a warren of uninspiring pathways, some neon-lit, some of which lead to dead ends.

"For a building that reads so monumentally on the outside, when you get into the galleries, they’re really small and chopped up," says Rub. "That sense of scale is not carried through. The intention of this plan is to restore some of that space."

As part of this proposal, Gehry is suggesting all kinds of changes. First off: Eliminate an auditorium under the grand staircase that blocks east-west traffic in the museum. He would turn this area into an open foyer that the literature describes as a “Forum.”

Secondly, Gehry intends to restore the museum’s northern entrance, which leads into a pretty fantastic vaulted archway, but which, for the past half century, has been used as a back-of-house staging area and loading dock.

And, lastly, there is the expansion: the long-term plan calls for tunneling beneath the museum’s eastern terrace to create a whole new suite of galleries and possibly — if it doesn’t cause riots — bust a window through the famed “Rocky” steps. 

Click here to continue reading the article online.