Leslie Sacks Contemporary

Contemporary & Post-War Art Gallery

www.lesliesackscontemporary.com

Friday Feature

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

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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.

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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. 

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

Artist Helen Pashgian brings her love of light to LACMA’s space

By Deborah Vankin, latimes.com

On this dark, drizzly afternoon, one could easily miss Helen Pashgian’s Pasadena art studio, a converted piano warehouse nestled down an alleyway between a parking garage and a coffee house. Except that Pashgian’s brick studio is painted sunny yellow and ocean blue, and it pops against the surrounding blur of concrete and gray sky — a spot of light and levity amid the heavy and the dreary.

The 79-year-old artist, a pioneer of Southern California’s Light and Space movement of the ’60s and ’70s, also pops when she appears in the entrance. Tall and athletic-looking in jeans and a plain blue jersey, her platinum blond hair swept elegantly off her face, Pashgian swings open the door with exuberance.

"Come on inside!" she says brightly. "Let’s get this started!"

She leads the way into her creative sanctuary, where she’s tweaking a new installation that goes on view Sunday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. At first glance, her studio looks like a carpenter’s work space. Shelves of power tools, plastic safety goggles and coils of orange electrical cord line the walls. A disc-shaped industrial epoxy mold, roughly the size of a car hood, dries on a tabletop, beneath a sheath of white cardboard.

"Don’t look under there! Not yet," Pashgian says in a deep voice, followed by a short chuckle that’s both playful and a bit threatening. "Let’s sit. C’mon."

Pashgian was one of the few women in a loose group of Southern California artists who coalesced in the late ’60s, including James Turrell, Larry Bell, Peter Alexander, Robert Irwin and DeWain Valentine. After World War II, these so-called Light and Space artists experimented with materials previously used in the nearby engineering and aerospace industries, such as fiberglass, polyester resin and plastics. The artists bent and twisted these materials, also used to make surfboards and custom cars, into sculptural works that often played with light and perception.

Although Pashgian has shown her work, steadily, in solo and group gallery shows since the ’60s — she’s currently at L.A.’s Ace Gallery — she didn’t achieve the same widespread recognition as her male contemporaries. She only recently inched into a brighter spotlight as part of the 2011-12 Pacific Standard Time program, where she was in two group exhibitions.

"She’s someone who’s been really overlooked from that period because women were overlooked in the art world then," Turrell says. "I worked with light and sort of materialized it. Bob Irwin worked with material and de-materialized it into light aspects. Helen was the one who as a sculptor spiritualized the material world. You can sort of materialize the spiritual, but she was coming from the other direction, and I thought that was really interesting and beautiful in her work."

"Helen Pashgian: Light Invisible" opens Sunday at LACMA as Pashgian’s first solo show at a major museum. The large-scale installation consists of 12 towering acrylic columns, milky white and translucent, that stand 8 feet high and will run for 120 feet when lined up in the museum’s Art of the Americas Building. The columns illuminate varied shapes inside of them — a floating, jellyfish-like disc, a glowing cube or elongated triangle. They’re elegant and austere, dramatic and sensual — and oddly nuanced, morphing as viewers move around them.

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Click here to visit the gallery’s website. 

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Review: Mike Kelley retrospective resonates at MOCA

Art review: The wide open spaces of MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary are perfect for a retrospective of the late L.A. artist Mike Kelley. The groupings help underscore his art’s ricocheting resonance.

By Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Art Critic

Last fall, when the big traveling retrospective of Los Angeles artist Mike Kelley (1954-2012) opened at MoMA PS1, the Museum of Modern Art’s outpost in Long Island City, N.Y., the show looked smashing.

Largely that was due to the intrinsic quality of Kelley’s diverse work in a staggeringly wide range of media — sculpture, painting, drawing, installation, video, performance, mosaic — plus various mash-ups of just about all of them.

Partly, though, it was serendipity.

A primary subject of Kelley’s art is the way familiar social institutions of daily life — especially school and church, but also including art museums and other representatives of authoritative points of view — inevitably conspire to constrain, pressure and sometimes even warp the very adherents they seek to console and liberate.

Seeing his work in PS1 — an old, blighted, urban public school long since reconfigured as an art museum — provided a multilayered context that illuminated his art.

Now that the eagerly anticipated retrospective has arrived in Los Angeles, where it opens March 31 at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Little Tokyo warehouse, the Geffen Contemporary, the unexpected has occurred: The show looks even better here than it did at MoMA PS1.

One small gallery at MOCA’s Grand Avenue building houses a few paintings Kelley made late in his career, but the bulk of the show is at the Geffen. And it’s big — roughly 250 works, spanning more than three decades. Kelley was nothing if not prolific. The quality rarely flags.

The show was organized in 2012 by Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum and then traveled to the Centre Pompidou in Paris and on to New York. As it toured, it changed substantially (in Paris, it was only 40% of its size here). MOCA curator Bennett Simpson has added several works not seen in L.A. before.

At MoMA PS1, only a few works could be displayed together in mostly modest-sized former classrooms. The show felt episodic. In the wide open spaces of the Geffen warehouse, which can accommodate multiple works together, surprising visual connections crop up.

PHOTOS: Arts and culture in pictures by The Times

The sprawling exhibition now has the restless feel of a morbid fun house. School is definitely out.

Simpson’s installation generally conforms to the show’s excellent catalog — groupings determined not solely by date but according to discrete bodies of work.

Kelley, for all his art’s low-down sources in the ephemera of popular culture and the rag-tag crudeness of many of his materials, was a brilliantly well-read intellectual. He often returned to themes and revisited materials, deepening his explorations as he went and extrapolating among them. Seeing those bodies of work together helps to underscore his art’s ricocheting resonance.

Take the ancient allegory of Plato’s cave, where shadows cast on a wall from a flickering fire can be confused with — or are sometimes inseparable from — reality. The fire was meant to provide sustaining warmth, but its ominous shadows also chill. Kelley made the cave a central motif in a pivotal 1985 mixed-media installation.

Then, 14 years later, it turned up in a wholly different way. One element of a mammoth, two-part installation sculpture is based on the eccentric “wishing well” that graces a Chinatown plaza in downtown L.A. The well’s mountain design derives from a famous limestone cave in Guangxi, China.

Go around to the back of Kelley’s version, and you’ll find a small opening. The crawl space within is outfitted with a tacky mattress, condoms and a boom box. Plato’s cave is transformed into a wish-fulfillment love shack for disaffected souls.

Titled “Framed and Frame,” the installation sculpture is being shown for the first time in L.A. Its other half is a mammoth cage built from chain-link fence, razor wire, a low brick wall and a kitschy “Chinese gate.” The cage could fit over the wishing-well mountain, imprisoning its wild fantasy.

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VIDEO: 45 Years of Alex Katz’s Portraits at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

by Katya Foreman, blouartinfo.com

PARIS — Marking Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac’s fifth exhibition at its sprawling Paris-Pantin space, “Alex Katz, 45 Years of Portraits. 1969-2014” gathers some 100 works by the American artist, featuring cursory sketches and large-scale paintings along with lesser-known “cutouts,” a series of aluminum portraits he developed in the mid-’60s that are hung like paintings. With their three-dimensional quality, the latter works serve as a link between Katz’s painting and his freestanding sculptural cutouts.

“We could do so many exhibitions about Alex Katz — about his landscapes, cutouts, sculptures, but one of the major elements of his [oeuvre] is his portraits,” said Thaddaeus Ropac during a preview of the show, as the octogenarian artist and his wife and muse, Ada, stood nearby. “I think there is hardly any other artist in America who has done portraits the way he did them and made such a great success of it.”

Ropac, who has been collaborating with Katz for around 25 years, said it has always been his dream to make a “real survey show” of the artist’s work. “He was constantly interested in reinventing portraiture. He has often been cited as an American pop artist, which I [disagree with],” Ropac said. “He’s a very individual artist… and when you look at his entire oeuvre, it’s a statement about portraiture, it’s a statement about the second half of the 20th century, it’s a statement about America and New York, and a certain urban environment of artists, because most of the people he paints are artists — either dancers or writers or painters.” Ropac tapped the esteemed fashion journalist Suzy Menkes and French writer Adrien Goetz to pen essays for the show’s catalogue.

The works exhibited hail from both public and private collections, as well as Katz’s own collection. A few of them are available to buy. “The main idea of the exhibition was almost a non-commercial show, to present the works in their entirety,” said Ropac, who cited among highlights “Private Domain” (1969), “Nabil’s Loft” (1976), and the double portrait “Laure and Alain,” which the artist originally painted in 1964 and revisited in 1991. The two works are presented side-by-side with no space in between. “It was hanging in our bedroom, I always liked it, and I’m looking at it and I said, ‘I can paint that better today.’ But I don’t think it got better, the hair’s a bit better,” said Katz, who regaled visitors with anecdotes throughout the preview. “I started doubling images in the ’50s, it was exciting, it did something no one had seen.”

Alex Katz, 45 Years of Portraits. 1969-2014,” at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris-Pantin, through July 12.

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