Leslie Sacks Contemporary

Contemporary & Post-War Art Gallery


Above: One of 700 artworks featured in the Santa Monica Museum of Art’s upcoming Incognito benefit. (Santa Monica Museum of Art / April 21, 2014)

Benefit at Santa Monica Museum of Art puts guesswork into artworks

Patrons of the Incognito benefit have no idea who created a piece until after they’ve bought it for $350 — and there are possible treasures buried under the anonymity.

By Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times

The Santa Monica Museum of Art’s annual Incognito benefit may be the most democratic of all Los Angeles art world soirees: 700 works for sale by emerging and famous artists alike, all 10 by 10 inches and exactly $350 — with the artists’ identities hidden from view until after purchase.

But that doesn’t mean strategy isn’t involved.

The event, which turns 10 this year, has become a touchstone for collectors looking to find valuable works by the likes of Barbara Kruger, Raymond Pettibon and Ed Ruscha. The more serious among them often attend the museum’s annual Precognito gala, at which guests can preview the anonymous artworks and the gallery floor layout. When the doors swing open later in the week on Incognito night and several hundred people race inside, Precognito attendees have the advantage of knowing exactly what they want and where to find it.

All the advance mulling, Googling and plotting, however, could be in vain.

"There’s no way to tell what work is by whom," museum Executive Director Elsa Longhauser said. "But there certainly is a way to tell what you think is beautiful."

Which, of course, is the real point of Incognito — to have fun and buy what you love.

"The tagline is trust your instincts," Longhauser said. "Look and look and look, then buy what speaks to you visually; because value is measured in many ways."

This year’s artists include John Baldessari, Catherine Opie, Oscar Murillo, Betye Saar, Laura Owens, Gronk, Sam Durant, Mark Bradford, Ed Moses and Ruscha. Emerging artists from around the world — South Africa, Germany, Israel, Japan — and even some of the museum’s staff have contributed pieces.

We asked past attendees for five tips on navigating the beautiful chaos that is Incognito:

Bring a friend. That’s what “Little Miss Sunshine” directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris did in 2013. “We did and she had to leave early,” Dayton said of the friend. “She described this piece she wanted for her daughter’s bedroom — a whimsical piece of mice. We got it for her and it turned out to be a William Wegman. It’s fun to see how someone else responds, and their response might give you the confidence to grab that tag. Just do it fast and don’t dilly-dally before someone else reaches over your shoulder.”

Relax, stay focused. Nancy Klein, graphic designer and museum board member, bought a Mickalene Thomas in 2012. ”Don’t worry about the people who came for Precognito,” she said. “Overall, there’s a lot of really quality work and you’d be surprised by some of the art that’s left on the walls at the end of the night. So I’d suggest not getting intimidated or pressured by what’s going on around you.”

Research — but then let go. V. Joy Simmons, chairwoman of the event, bought a Charles Gaines and a Todd Gray in 2013. “If you see the list, and you know certain artists you’re interested in, look them up to see what kind of work they do. I’ve been collecting over 35 years; most times the artists do what they do, so if you pay attention you can figure it out. But sometimes the artists aren’t used to working in that small of a scale, so they’ll do something different — you just never know. So be willing to explore.”

Go with your heart — and run fast. Designer Santiago Ortiz bought a Pettibon in 2013. “We’re not serious collectors but we do love art,” he said. “We go and try to find what really touches us. My first Incognito I got a beautiful aluminum piece. I didn’t recognize the artist or care, but it actually turned out to be a very well known artist, Laddie John Dill. Just buy what you like and what really talks to you. But it doesn’t hurt to run as fast as you can.”

Show up early — in sneakers. Said Longhauser. “Buy a VIP ticket so you can reserve a place at the front of the line early in the day; if you buy a regular ticket, come early. Also, come wearing sneakers so you can be comfortable and agile; bring a relaxed attitude and a good spirit.”

Click here to visit the gallery’s website. 


Above: Stephen Shore’s “Winslow, Arizona, September 19, 2013” series explores Winslow through documentations of isolated landscapes and found objects, providing a journeylike narrative which Stephen attributes as a live improvisation of his photographing of the town. 

By Wendy Vogel, artinfo.com

Preview Highlights From Paris Photo Los Angeles 

For its second U.S. edition after a blockbuster debut last year, Paris Photo Los Angeles embraces the glamour and grit of its host city. The fine art photography fair sets its stage, quite literally, in the studios of Paramount Pictures, where 80 international galleries bring out the medium’s shining stars April 25 through 27. Take Danziger Gallery, which is presenting work by Jim Krantz, the commercial and fine art photographer whose Marlboro ads Richard Prince appropriated in his “Cowboy” series. Stephen Shore’s “Winslow” suite, capturing the retro Americana of the sleepy Arizona town of the same name in photos all shot on September 19, 2013, occupies the entire booth of 303 Gallery. Debuting this year is a new component occupying the New York Street Backlot, a replica of the Big Apple, which will house solo shows from 15 emerging galleries, such as New York’s Kate Werble, bringing John Lehr, and Ambach & Rice, with Martina Sauter.

Click here to view highlights from Paris Photo Los Angeles

Click here to visit the gallery’s website. 

Above: An untitled installation by Robert Gober from 1992 that features a hand-painted forest mural (2014 Robert Gober, Bill Jacobson/Matthew Marks Gallery).

Above: Robert Gober’s Untitled Leg, 1989-90, made with beeswax, cotton, wood and human hair (2014 Robert Gober, Museum of Modern Art). 

MoMA Plans a Robert Gober Retrospective

By Carol Vogel, nytimes.com

It seems almost inconceivable that there has never been a Robert Goberretrospective in an American museum. This 59-year-old artist, who rose to prominence in the mid-1980s, is perhaps best known for his creepy sculptures of body parts — a cast wax leg or torso with individually applied hairs on them — as well as his signature sinks fashioned from plaster painted with enamel.

But for several years now, Ann Temkin, chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, has been quietly working on “The Heart Is Not a Metaphor,” a large-scale survey of Mr. Gober’s work, which will be on view there from Oct. 11 to Jan. 18, 2015. The show’s title, chosen by Mr. Gober, is taken from a sentence in “Sleepless Nights,” a 1979 novel by Elizabeth Hardwick, because, Ms. Temkin said, he often chooses enigmatic phrases for exhibitions.

So often, organizing an exhibition of a living artist’s work can be a tug-of-war between curator and artist. But what few realize is that, in addition to being a celebrated artist, Mr. Gober is also an active curator. He has organized exhibitions, like the paintings of Charles Burchfield at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Whitney Museum of American Art; he also put together a room of works by the painter Forrest Bess at the Whitney’s 2012 Biennial. “Robert is totally involved and approaching himself as if he were one of his subjects,” Ms. Temkin said.

Over the years, he has been particularly influential among a generation of artists too young to have seen his only previous retrospective, which took place in 2007 at the Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland, or the meticulously carved doll’s house that he made when he was just 24 and struggling to get by, which was included in the 2013 Venice Biennale (organized by Cindy Sherman).

The show at MoMA will include about 130 works in all mediums. There will be many well-known objects but also some rare sculptures and new works made just for the retrospective.

Because some of his sculptural installations involve plumbing — like sinks and bathtubs with running water — and others, like a room-size, hand-painted mural depicting a New England forest in summer, need space, the show will take place in the contemporary art galleries on the second floor, rather than the museum’s special exhibition galleries on the sixth.


In January 2013, to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the magazine Art in America lined up a year’s worth of artists to design its monthly covers. Big names like Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Urs Fischer and Louise Lawler have all been contributors. “We’ve loved doing it so much we’ve just continued,” said Lindsay Pollock, the editor in chief.

Now, the magazine is going one better. Tucked inside the May issue, on newsstands April 29, will be a specially commissioned print by Jasper Johnson perforated paper that can be carefully torn out and framed. A black-and-white lithograph on translucent vellum, it depicts many of Mr. Johns’s signature motifs: numbers, a map of the United States and sign language.

“Amid all the recent consternation about the art world’s fixation on money and glitz, Jasper Johns and Art in America are going against the grain by offering a substantial, free piece of art by a legendary artist,” Ms. Pollock said.

The print is a co-publication with the independent curator and print expert Sharon Hurowitz and has been produced by Bill Goldston, the print publisher, at Universal Limited Art Editions. It is only the second time Mr. Johns has collaborated with a magazine on a project. In 1973, he produced a print called “Cups 2 Picasso,” for XXieme Siècle, a French publication.


A pair of 14-foot-tall salvaged box trucks, their cabs submerged in the ground and set amid the impeccably manicured polo fields that surround theBrant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Conn., may seem like a messy intrusion. They are meant to. But the installation, which the New York artist Dan Colen has titled “At Least They Died Together (After Dash),” will be the first thing visitors see.

“It’s about bringing the city to some other place,” Mr. Colen said. “I wanted to bring a bit of the city with me. From a distance they will just look like minimal cubes.”

Mr. Colen found the trucks on Craigslist. “At first I was looking for trucks with graffiti on them, but then I changed my mind because graffiti seemed too redundant,” he said.

The title refers to a collage that his friend, the artist Dash Snow, gave him before his death in 2009. It is a prelude to “Help!” a comprehensive show of his work on view there from May 11 through Sept. 7. Included in the show are more than 45 paintings, 15 sculptures, drawings and one video.

“Dan’s one of the better painters around,” said Peter Brant, the collector and founder of the foundation, who coincidentally owns Art in America. “I’ve been collecting his work for six or seven years now.”


Since opening its elegantly pleated, stainless-steel building designed by Zaha Hadid in 2012, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing has presented 32 exhibitions and attracted more than 125,000 people, which is boosting the local economy there by about $5 million a year, according to museum officials.

To mark Michael Rush’s second year as director, Mr. Broad, the Los Angeles financier who founded the institution with his wife, has given $5 million to increase its exhibition endowment and to provide annual funds for shows over the next five years. The Broads provided the initial $28 million gift for the design and construction of the museum and for its endowment, which now totals $33 million.

Click here to visit the gallery’s website. 

Friday Feature


Above: Alex Katz, ‘Sophie,’ 2012, silkscreen on museum board, 39 x 41 inches.


Above: Alex Katz, ‘Sara,’ 2012, silkscreen on museum board, 39 x 41 inches.

imageAbove: Alex Katz, ‘Vivien,’ 2012, silkscreen on museum board, 39 x 41 inches.

Alex Katz (b. 1927)

Alex Katz was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1927. In 1928, his family relocated to St. Albans, a suburb of Queens, where Katz would be raised. Katz was enrolled at Woodrow Wilson High School for its arts program, which allowed him to spend the first half of the day studying academics and the second half in fine art classes. In 1946, Katz attended Cooper Union Art School for his undergraduate art education.

In 1949, after graduating from Cooper Union, Katz was awarded a scholorship for summer study at the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Skowhegan imbued Katz with a love for painting from life, a practice that remains integral in his work to this day. Katz has been quoted as saying that Skowhegan’s plein air education gave him “a reason to devote my life to painting.”

Katz’s paintings can be found in over 100 public collections worldwide, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée National d’Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Tate Gallery, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

In 1968, Katz moved to an artists’ cooperative building in the SoHo area of New York City, where he still lives and works today. He continues to spend his summers in Lincolnville, Maine.

Click here to view the gallery’s collection of works by Alex Katz.

Above: (source)

New Banksy Work Goes From Wall to Boys’ Club to Museum

By Allan Kozinn, nytimes.com

Another day, another Banksy work – and, naturally, another ownership dispute. On Tuesday a large Banksy piece, this one showing a couple embracing while also checking their cellphones behind each other’s back, appeared on a wall near the Broad Plain Boys’ Club in Bristol, England, the artist’s hometown. The piece, which also appears on the artist’s web page, was apparently on plywood, and screwed to the wall – not Banksy’s usual approach, which is to paint directly onto the surface.

With hours of its appearance, the BBC reported, Dennis Stinchcombe, the club’s leader, saw the fundraising potential of having a Banksy appear on his doorstep – not least because, as another youth worker explained, the 120-year-old club needs £120,000 ($202,000) to remain open. Mr. Stinchcombe grabbed a crowbar, wrested the piece from the wall, and brought into the club, leaving a note telling passersby that the new Banksy was now indoors, and that people who wanted to see it would be asked for a donation. He also said that he planned to auction the work, and that he had an offer of £1 million ($1.68 million).

That caught the attention of George Ferguson, the mayor of Bristol, who said that the wall was owned by the Bristol City Council, and that Mr. Stinchcombe had no right to dislodge the painting. On Wednesday the work was carried off to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, where it will be displayed on Friday morning, and will remain until the ownership issues are settled. The museum offered a civic-minded compromise of sorts: “There will be a collection box for Broad Plains Youth Club next to the work,” it said on Twitter.

Click here to visit the gallery’s website. 


Above: Peter Shelton, center, oversees installation of a segment of his public sculpture “Six Beasts Two Monkeys” outside the Los Angeles Police Department’s headquarters in 2009. L.A. officials are trying to figure out how to untie a legal knot that’s preventing $7.5 million from being spent on other public artworks. (Kirk McCoy/Los Angeles Times).

L.A. trying to lift legal snag on $7.5 million for art projects

By Mike Boehm, latimes.com

Los Angeles officials are starting to get serious about freeing up $7.5 million in city government funds that are earmarked for visual art, performances or other cultural events, but have been wrapped tightly for years in legal red tape.

The amount – which is almost on a par with the Department of Cultural Affairs’ $9 million annual core budget – was rendered virtually unspendable in 2007 when then-City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo ruled that the fees developers are required to pay to fund public art had to be spent within a one-block radius of the construction project that generated the fees.

Since it doesn’t make sense to install artworks or put on cultural events in every block where a building has been newly built or renovated — in a warehouse district or industrial corridor, for example – the Cultural Affairs Department has sat on the money while hoping to get the 2007 ruling changed.

City Controller Ron Galperin pushed the effort forward Friday, issuing an audit report on the public art program that quantified the lack of spending and recommended relaxing the one-block-radius requirement.

In compiling the report, the auditors said, they consulted with the staff of current City Attorney Mike Feuer, who saw “more flexibility” than what the 2007 ruling that’s still in effect has allowed.

The City Council also has been on the case, albeit moving slowly. Between last May and November, it considered and passed a motion calling on the city attorney and a bevy of departments involved in overseeing construction projects to look into a possible overhaul of the city’s public art ordinance.

The council asked not just for consideration of the geographical jam, but also requested a report, not yet delivered, on whether it would make sense to increase the fees developers are required to pay. They vary depending on the kind of building involved, but are targeted at about 1% of a project’s design and construction costs.

The City Controller’s audit did not fault the Cultural Affairs Department for failing to spend the $7.5 million in geographically frozen fees from 373 different development projects (made up of $6.4 million in developers’ payments, plus $1.1 million in interest earnings). But it noted that the department may have hurt its own cause by failing to make required reports to the City Council that would have shown that public art funds were languishing unspent.

“Formally submitting the required quarterly and annual reports of activities could have resulted in the city taking action to address this issue,” the audit said. Instead, the report said, the problem appeared on the City Council’s radar last May when the unspent public art money became an issue during a discussion of the Cultural Affairs Department’s budget — which is now 38.4% lower than in 2004, adjusting for inflation.

Over the last 26 years, the developer fees have generated  $92.6 million, including $26 million in public money from the city charging itself fees for government-funded construction. When it’s spent, the money directly benefits visual artists and performers contracted to create the art, and, presumably, citizens who get to experience it.

Developers can opt to design and oversee the art projects they’re funding, subject to the Cultural Affairs Department’s approval. The audit found that those kinds of projects went forward without major delays.

But in many cases developers decide to just fork over the money and let the Cultural Affairs Department hire artists or plan performances and events to satisfy the public art requirement. The audit said that the department had used the money for programs throughout the city until the 2007 legal ruling put it in a geographical straitjacket. Checking with five other California cities, auditors said they found their public art spending was not bound by such a “narrow geographic radius” as in L.A.

The audit’s release coincided with “Arts Day L.A.” on Friday at City Hall, in which the advocacy group Arts for L.A. brought about 400 people to the City Council meeting and for smaller gatherings with each of the 15 council members to urge improvements in the city’s approach to the arts.

Danielle Brazell, Arts for L.A.’s executive director, said that along with pushing for specific actions, including freeing up the frozen public art fees, the idea was to “change the conversation” about arts and culture at City Hall, so that council members and other officials recognize “the value of arts and culture in our daily lives in Los Angeles. From there, I think the resources will flow.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti will reveal his own ideas about arts spending later this month, when his first budget proposal since taking office is due. He’s also mulling whom to hire as a new head of the Cultural Affairs Department. Olga Garay-English, who’d been appointed by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left in January after Garcetti decided not to rehire her.

Click here to visit the gallery’s website. 

Friday Feature

Above: Jeremy Kidd, Fiji Barrier, 2010, archival pigment print, 44 x 61 inches, edition of 8. 

Click here to read about the artist. 

Click here to visit the gallery’s website. 

Above: The proposed addition to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will almost triple the current amount of space for photography at the museum, officials said. (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art).

SFMoMA to open massive photography center in 2016

By David Ng, latimes.com

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will open a new photography center in 2016 that leaders are saying will be the largest exhibition space for photography in any art museum in the United States.

The John and Lisa Pritzker Center for Photography will feature more than 15,500 square feet of space and will almost triple the current amount of space for photography at the museum, according to the museum. The center will be located on the third floor of the museum when it reopens in 2016 after extensive renovations.

John and Lisa Pritzker were the lead donors for the new center. John Pritzker is a member of the prominent Pritzker family whose interests include the Hyatt Hotels chain and other holdings.

The museum’s renovations, which are coming with a $610-million price tag, involve a major expansion of facilities. The construction required SFMoMA to shut down its main building to the public starting last year, though the museum has presented off-site exhibitions.

The museum’s expansion is being designed by the architecture firm Snøhetta.

Click here to visit the gallery’s website. 

Image: Visitors waiting to view Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room” at the David Zwirner Gallery in November (Benjamin Norman for The New York Times).

Broad Art Museum Acquires Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirrored Room’

By Jori Finkel, nytimes.com

LOS ANGELES — Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room,” the LED-studded walk-in installation that inspired eight-hour lines and countless selfies when shown at the David Zwirner Gallery in Manhattan last fall, is now heading to Los Angeles. The collectors Eli and Edythe Broad have bought the room-size installation for the Broad, their new art museum, for an undisclosed price.

Their collection, strong on artists such as Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman, is not known for its light-based art or immersive artworks. But the Broads are making an effort to buy more large-scale, visitor-friendly art installations in the run-up to opening the museum’s new Diller Scofidio + Renfro building, currently scheduled for 2015.

Other recent acquisitions in this spirit include Ragnar Kjartansson’s “The Visitors” from 2012, a nine-screen experimental music video, bought from Luhring Augustine, and William Kentridge’s five-channel-video plus sculpture installation, “The Refusal of Time,”purchased from Marian Goodman. (Another example of this Kentridge installation is jointly owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.)

Joanne Heyler, director of the Broad museum, says these environmental or immersive works were not as attractive when the Broad Art Foundation’s primary mission was to loan works to other institutions. She said she could not confirm yet whether the Kusama will be installed in time for the opening of the Broad museum. They are also still deciding where to fit the room, which is about 200 square feet, into the museum architecture, either on the first or third floor.

One consideration is curatorial, Ms. Heyler said, but another is purely practical, seeing that the piece was designed for one visitor at a time: “With a piece like this, you also have to consider: Where do people line up to get in? Do we need to do timed tickets, even if they are free? These are things that we are thinking about.”

Click here to visit the gallery’s website. 

Friday Feature


Above: Jason Martin, 'Untitled (Plate I),’ 2010, Mixografia print on handmade paper, 24 x 20 inches, edition of 30, signed, numbered and dated. 


Above: Jason Martin, ‘Untitled (Plate II),’ 2010, Mixografia print on handmade paper, 24 x 20 inches, edition of 30, signed, numbered and dated.


Above: Jason Martin, ‘Untitled (Plate III),’ 2010, Mixografia print on handmade paper, 24 x 20 inches, edition of 30, signed, numbered and dated.


Above: Jason Martin, ‘Untitled (Plate IV),’ 2010, Mixografia print on handmade paper, 24 x 20 inches, edition of 30, signed, numbered and dated.


Above: Jason Martin, ‘Untitled (Plate V),’ 2010, Mixografia print on handmade paper, 24 x 20 inches, edition of 30, signed, numbered and dated.


Above: Jason Martin, ‘Untitled (Plate VI),’ 2010, Mixografia print on handmade paper, 24 x 20 inches, edition of 30, signed, numbered and dated.

Click here to read About the Artist.

Relief' is on view through April 19. To view the exhibition online, click here