Ed Ruscha Prints and Photographs At Gagosian Gallery Beverly Hills


“Ed Ruscha Prints and Photographs” is a survey of Ruscha’s prints over forty years, together with rarely seen photographs produced since 1959. It is organized by Gagosian director Bob Monk and follows earlier iterations at Gagosian New York and Paris during the last two years. The exhibition will be presented in conjunction with “Ed Ruscha Books & Co.”

Ranging freely across materials both traditional and unconventional, Ruscha’s printmaking is a fluid forum for his spirited investigation of what a limited-edition artwork can be. Attracted to the reproducibility and happy accidents specific to the medium, Ruscha began making lithographic editions in the early sixties, infusing the Pop and Conceptual sensibilities of the time with vernacular wit and melancholy. His exquisitely refined prints engage a breadth of formal themes, from text and typography to still life and quotidian architecture, played out in a spirit of rigorous yet restless experimentation.

The quartet of gas stations Standard Station, Mocha Standard, Cheese Mold Standard with Olive, and Double Standard (1966-69) merge Euclidean space with Renaissance perspective and word-play, while depictions of the Hollywood Sign and its surrounding hills convey an attitude to the region’s landscape, at once scientific and romantic, natural and artificial. “‘Hollywood’ is like a verb to me,” Ruscha once commented. “It’s something you can do to any subject or anything”: his prints of the past four decades are random yet refined expressions of this unrestricted approach.

In the screenprint portfolio News, Mews, Pews, Brews, Stews, Dues (1970), rhyming words appear in Gothic typeface, printed in edible substances such as pie-fillings, Bolognese sauce, caviar, and chocolate syrup. Each word alludes to Ruscha’s impressions of England: News symbolizes “a tabloid-minded country,” while Stews, made from baked beans, strawberries, chutney, and other foodstuffs, sums up British cooking. During the production of his second short film Miracle (1975), Ruscha used photography as the basis for prints for the first time: the incongruously titled Tropical Fish Series of the same year presents banal tabletop still lifes against lustrous fabrics, from Air, Water, Fire with a bicycle pump, seltzer bottle, and Satan statuette to the chocolates, raw cuts, and bedsheets of Sweets, Meats, Sheets.

In richly colored lithographs, catchy yet meaningless terms, such as WALL ROCKET (2013), JET BABY (2011), and SPONGE PUDDLE (2015), are set against dramatic mountainscapes in scenic conflations of linguistic and visual appropriation. Unique color trial proofs and cancellation proofs are presented alongside prints from the editions to show the evolutive process by which Ruscha decides on a final image.

Ruscha’s early photographs also provided foundations for his broader artistic practice. Isolating overlooked quotidian subjects, he used the camera to “flatten” the images he intended to draw and paint, from apartment buildings to commodities and comestibles, such as raisins and bottles of turpentine. Exercises in the ambiguity of scale, such as Untitled (Newspaper Sculpture) (1959-60/ 2005) and Dodger’s Stadium (1967/ 2013) reveal a common abstraction in both small objects and large-scale architecture. Roof Top Views (1961) depicts local streets from a high vantage point, which Ruscha revisited in Roof Top Views 50 Years Later (2003), revealing neighborhoods only subtly changed by the pace of time, economy, and demographics.

Ruscha’s deadpan representations of archetypal signs and symbols distill the imagery of popular culture into cinematic and typographical codes that are as accessible as they are profound. His wry and sometimes obtuse choice of words and phrases draws upon the moments of incidental ambiguity implicit in the interplay between language and image. Although his inspirations are undeniably rooted in his close observation of American vernacular, his elegantly laconic art speaks to more complex and widespread issues regarding the appearance, feel, and function of the world and our tenuous and transient place within it.

JULY 28 – SEPTEMBER 9, 2016

Gagosian Gallery
456 North Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

The Launch Of The New SFMOMA

OMG! The new atrium at the entrance of the new SFMOMA!

All things not so old are made new again.


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It’s been three years since I’ve been inside of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. To be honest, when it closed in 2013 for its renovation I wondered if I would ever get the chance to step into it again. One never knows how things like this will play out.

But last week I found myself standing in the middle of the second floor, milling around the breakfast bar with the other guests, wondering where I was standing exactly in relationship to the old museum. It wasn’t immediately apparent. It was early in the morning and while I was curious, I let it go, as I could figure it all out later. Or at least I thought so.

I walked over to a railing at what I thought was the back of the floor and realized that I was staring down into the original entrance atrium. I went down the new staircase, which is much more open and easier to climb than the old ones, and went down by the front door for a look. The change is quite dramatic and took my breathe away for a moment. As I stood there taking photographs, Terry Smith, one of the guardians of the museum, lovingly told me about his own relationship to the space. “She’s got on a new dress,” he said. “You women think we don’t notice when you put on a new dress, but we do!”

The first floor galleries have been returned into their original spaces. One is still greeted by Matisse when entering the collection this way. As I went through the space I realized that it had been long enough since I had been here, that I couldn’t remember what was old and back in place, or what was new. So I looked at it all as new.

One of my favorite pieces in this section was “The Veronica” by Jay DeFeo. A long and narrow abstract painting, showing movement and flow, created in earth colors – grounded, yet fluid. A beautiful piece. It’s placed so that it can be easily viewed from the next room. But on this floor you’ll also find Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Robert Arneson, Clifford Still, Jackson Pollock …

At the end of the galleries on the second floor is a new media room – with large touchscreens on the wall to further explore the artwork just seen, a way to touch the paint, so to speak, and a small lounge area where visitors can peruse art books and catalogues while charging their cell phones.

Speaking of cell phones and technology, it was good to hear that the museum will encourage the visitors’ use of technology to share the their experiences of the works and the new architecture.

One of the features that I’ve always loved about SFMOMA was, and still is, its strong curatorial interest in photography. The Museum’s collection on the third floor is vast and it now has a whole floor to call its own. Museum visitors can explore and appreciate photography that spans about 180 years of work, from daguerrotypes to contemporary installations.

The fourth floor to seventh floor currently holds The Fisher Collection. On these floors you can view works by Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Anslem Kiefer, Sol Lewitt, Claus Oldenburg. Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Philip Guston, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Frank Stella, Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, and many others.

There are quite a few spaces for viewing single pieces and art films and one of my favorites is currently on view – Passage by Shirin Neshat. It is probably one of only a few art films I’ve sat through to the end and I found watching it a breathtaking and spiritual experience.

There is also a nice space for a few paintings by Cy Twombly – and who wouldn’t like sitting in a space surrounded by a few Untitled works by him?

Richard Serra’s work, Sequence, is in the lobby gallery of the building. One would hardly call it beautiful on first glance, but view it from all angles and don’t hesitate to walk through it – that’s the best part. The only thing I would like better – and yes I will mention it as it won’t really deplete your experience of it – is if it was sitting outside somewhere on gravel or grass with the sky above.

If you feel the need to see some green after that, go on up to the third floor courtyard and view the living wall, created and installed by David Brenner.

One day will not be long enough to see all the work in the galleries. In the end, it took me all day to just do a walk through and snap a lot of Instagram images so I could bring this post to you. Luckily there will be three different, and yummy, opportunities to dine or grab a coffee on site – so you won’t get distracted by having to leave the building to replenish your energy.

If you are coming to San Francisco, definitely make a whole day of it and see what you can!

SFMOMA Hours and Admission

SFMOMA is open to the public seven days a week from 10am to 5am through Labor Day, with free public spaces on the museum’s ground floor opening at 9am daily. The museum will have extended hours on Thursdays until 9pm, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy exhibitions and programs in the evening.

Annual membership begins at $100, and members enjoy unlimited free admission. General admission to SFMOMA is $25, admission for seniors 65 years and older is $22. Admission for visitors ages 19 through 24 is $19. SFMOMA additionally provides free admission to all visitors 18 years and younger, to further its goal of building the next generation of art lovers.

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Below are just a few of the images that I took during my day at the new SFMOMA.

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Last week I had the opportunity to run around the new version of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art like a kid in a candy store. The Museum had invited about a hundred or more members of the press, blogosphere, and twitterverse to convene in its new digs and have a look around. The event started at 9:30am and lasted until 4pm. Let me say, right up front, that was not enough time to really see all of the work in the museum …

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Because there are quite a few good articles out there already describing in great detail the facts about the new museum, I decided to switch it up a bit, and write about visiting the new museum from an artist’s perspective. Here are just a few of the links I’ve found so far:

The Monolith, San Francisco Magazine, by Gary Kamiya
SFMOMA’s New Vertical Garden Is the Largest Living Wall in the United States, San Francsico Magazine, by Lauren Murrow
Changing the modern-art game: Have you seen what they’ve done in San Francisco?, The Boston Globe, by Sebastion Smee
SFMOMA promises chance for spiritual awakening, The San Francisco Examiner, by Malcolm Clemens Young
A Look Inside the New SFMOMA Wing by Snøhetta, Architectural Digest, by Ian Volner
SFMOMA’s reopening: a ‘game-changer for San Francisco’ – and contemporary art, The Guardian, by Paul Laity
New SFMOMA: International destination for modern, contemporary art, The Sacramento Bee, by Victoria Dalkey
Snø Job: 15 Highlights of the Expanded SFMOMA, SF Weekly, by Jonathan Curiel

Maija Peeples-Bright At Transmission Gallery In Oakland

Maija Peeples-Bright, Wonderful Mt. Whitney, 2016, mixed media, 20" x 24"
Maija Peeples-Bright, Wonderful Mt. Whitney, 2016, mixed media, 20″ x 24″

Maija Peeples-Bright came of age in the ‘60’s in the company of the grand masters of the Funk Art movement who often hung out at her home, the “Rainbow House”, the San Francisco Victorian she fabulously embellished inside and out. Ceramic artist and sculptor, David Gilhooly placed Maija Peeples-Bright front and center of his 1981 ceramic piece, the Candy Store Memorial Ark, created in celebration of the Candy Store Gallery, legendary in the history of Funk Art. Having shown her fantastic “beasties” at the Candy Store since the 60’s, Maija was in good company, surrounded by friends and fellow artists Roy De Forest, Peter Vandenberge, Robert Arneson, and Gilhooly, himself. In the decades since, she’s honed her own playfully spirited Funk Art aesthetic, expounding on her signature colorful wild kingdom imagery in an energetic studio practice that continues to this day.

Transmission Gallery will be showing artifacts of Maija Peeples-Bright’s life, such as a vintage Rainbow House curtain, circa 1968, and funk art ceramic lamps used in her home alongside paintings, works on paper and ceramic works dating from 1964 to 2016.

Peeples-Bright was born in Latvia, enduring a childhood of hardship in refuge camps during the war. When she was eight her family moved to California and as a young student at UC Davis she embarked on a degree in mathematics. In her third year at Davis she discovered her creative passion and switched majors to study with noted artists Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley and Robert Arneson, earning her masters in 1964. Today, her work can be found in many public and private collections as well as in permanent museum collections such as the Crocker Art Museum, in Sacramento, and the La Jolla Museum of La Jolla, California, among others.

Maija Peeples-Bright: Beyond the Candy Store
Exhbition Dates: April 1 – May 21, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, April 1st 6 – 9pm

Transmission Gallery
770 West Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA

Hilma af Klint At Serpentine Galleries In London

Hilma af Klint: Painting the Unseen; Installation view; Serpentine Gallery, London (3 March – 15 May 2016); Image © Jerry Hardman-Jones
Hilma af Klint: Painting the Unseen; Installation view; Serpentine Gallery, London (3 March – 15 May 2016); Image © Jerry Hardman-Jones

Serpentine Galleries presents an exhibition of Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), who is now regarded as a pioneer of abstract art. While her paintings were not seen publicly until 1986, her work from the early 20th century pre-dates the first purely abstract paintings by Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich. This Serpentine exhibition focuses primarily on her body of work, The Paintings for the Temple, which dates from 1906–15. The sequential nature of af Klint’s work is highlighted by the inclusion in the exhibition of numerous paintings from key series, some neverbefore exhibited in the UK.

After graduating from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm in 1887, af Klint took a studio in the city where she produced and exhibited traditional landscapes, botanical drawings and portraits. However, by 1886 she had abandoned the conventions she learned at the Academy in favour of painting the invisible worlds hidden within nature, the spiritual realm and the occult. She privately joined four other female artists to form a group called ‘The Five’. They conducted séances to encounter what they believed to be spirits who wished to communicate via pictures, leading to experiments with automatic writing and drawing, which pre-dated the Surrealists by several decades.

In 1905, af Klint received a ‘commission’ from an entity, which the group named Amaliel, to create her most important body of work, The Paintings for the Temple. Consisting of 193 predominately abstract paintings in various series and subgroups, the artist painted a path towards a harmony between the spiritual and material worlds; good and evil; man and woman; religion and science. This major work charted the influence of science and religion on af Klint’s works, from the discovery of electromagnetic waves to the spiritual teachings of anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner. Steiner was af Klint’s mentor and his presence in her life resulted in the cycle becoming more orderly with depictions of symbols and motifs, such as shells, snakes, lilies and crosses, from his spiritual movement.

Hilma af Klint painted in near isolation from the European avant-garde. Fearing that she would not be understood, she stipulated that her abstract work should be kept out of the public eye for 20 years after her death. While the works were not exhibited for a further 20 years, it subsequently came to be understood alongside the broader context of modernism at the turn of the 20th century.

The exhibition is co-curated by the Serpentine Galleries in collaboration with Daniel Birnbaum, Director of Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Hilma af Klint: Painting the Unseen
Exhibition Dates: Through May 15, 2016

Serpentine Gallery
Kensington Gardens
London W2 3XA

Vanishing Point At Ratio 3 In San Francisco

Image: Miriam Böhm, Detail I, 2015
Image: Miriam Böhm, Detail I, 2015

Vanishing Point, an exhibition coming to Ratio 3 will bring together works by Miriam Böhm, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Sol LeWitt, Mitzi Pederson, and Fred Sandback.

Sol LeWitt (1928–2007) conceived of each of his numbered wall drawings as “a permanent installation, until destroyed.” Made anew for each installation, the drawings adapt to the walls they inhabit. At the front of the gallery, straight graphite lines drawn in LeWitt’s “four absolute directions”– horizontal, vertical, and the two diagonals– form Wall Drawing #383, 1982.

Mitzi Pederson’s recent wall-mounted sculptures are delicate constructions that bring their materials into a tenuous balance. Using thread to bind curved, hand-cut strips of plywood, Pederson creates closed loops and open-ended arcs that reinforce each other and outline seemingly fleeting gestures.

Fred Sandbank (1943–2003) described his sculpture as “a drawing that is habitable.” Using minimal materials to transform large spaces, Sandback’s works address an environment and its inhabitants in equal parts. In the main gallery, nine acrylic yarn strands comprising Untitled (Sculptural Study, Cornered Construction), 1984/2013, span from floor to ceiling, suggesting planes that divide and redefine the exhibition space.

Often composed of familiar materials, Miriam Böhm’s still lifes depict complex and contradictory photographic spaces. In the second gallery, Böhm’s recent series, Detail, 2015, bridges intimate and architectural scales, existing simultaneously as archival prints and rescaled, impermanent wallpaper.

During his brief career, Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996) produced a series of adaptable, conceptually open artworks that each consist of an endless supply of confections arranged on the floor. Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled” (Portrait of Dad), 1991, is made up of thousands of individually wrapped white candies that visitors are invited to take.

Vanishing Point
Exhibition Dates: March 19 – May 14, 2016
Opening reception: Saturday, March 19, 6 – 8pm

Ratio 3
2831A Mission Street
San Francisco, CA
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm