Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Helen Lundeberg at Louis Stern

I've long been a fan of mid-century painter Helen Lundeberg, particularly works like this one, Arcanum #6, 1970, which appears non-objective but can evoke all sorts of imagery - from a stained glass window to a waterfall. Her quiet, minimal works pack a quiet punch of sorts. While much of her early work was more representational and figurative, it was her later experiments with flat, geometric areas of color that I love most.

Which means I love the selection of works now on view at Louis Stern Fine Arts in West Hollywood. LSFA is the sole representative of Lundeberg's estate, and it's stunning to see how many works by this seminal West Coast artist are up for grabs! Through August 25.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Edward Hopper at MFA Boston

We were "back east" last weekend, visited Eric's family in old Cambridge and - for the real adventure - attended his 20th high school reunion. It's crazy that it's been 20 years since he graduated, especially since we're only, like, 24 years old! Pays to be a child prodigy.

It was a very hectic weekend, but the art gods were kind to me and carved out some time for me to visit the Edward Hopper exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Yes, I actually had some time alone on Monday, and the MFA is actually open on Mondays. Thank you, art gods! I love the MFA - they always have some fantastic, comprehensive exhibitions, but it's not such a monstrous, monolithic institution that you feel like you just ran the Boston Marathon. And their audio tours are always worth the few extra bucks; I leave there feeling like I just took a really interesting and understandable class. One without tests.

So, the Hopper exhibition was no exception. Totally comprehensive, truly fascinating, and completely stimulating. I've been a Hopper fan for years, and not just because of the cheeky repros of his infamous painting, "Nighthawks." But his work is the kind that you like, but you're not sure why. They are so calm and moody, but inexplicably pack a real punch. The show illuminates the ideas behind his earlier work (popularizing lighthouses as romantic beacons and Victorian houses during a time of ultra-sleek deco). But it's his paintings of people, particularly women, that I really love. I could stare at this image, "Chop Suey," for hours. Two sets of two people sit at tables in a Chinese restaurant, but there is no food on the tables, and no apparent conversation going on. What are they thinking? Where are they going from here? Are they happy? Pensive? Content?

The audio tour explained that the year this was painted, 1929, was very different, fashion-wise, than just a couple years earlier, when no proper lady would be seen dressed like the gal in the green sweater. The lip stick, the rouge, the eye shadow, the tight clothing...this was a sign of the times, the onset of liberalization in women's clothing (and rights), and this pretty girl is the epitome of a 1929 hipster. I love how she looks; confident, smart, modern. The painting's acidic colors and streaming daylight are gorgeous, and pure Hopper.

Total shout out to the MFA's web site. They've incorporated several interactive components to the Hopper pages, including making images available for download as desktop images, a slide show of Hopper's iconic work, and a really FANTASTIC slide show of his sketchbooks. This is such a revolution, this internet thing-a-majig, for museums. You can really benefit from the MFA's hard work in researching and documenting Hopper, even if you can't make it to Beantown. The show runs through August 19.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Venice ArtWalk Art & Architecture Tour

A couple of weeks ago we went on the "Private Homes & Art Collections" tour on the Marina Peninsula as part of the annual Venice ArtWalk, which is one huge weekend-long cornucopia of art events that raise money for the Venice Family Clinic.

There are so many components to the ArtWalk - auctions, studio tours, home tours, parties, etc etc etc - that it's literally impossible to attend them all, so this year we chose the home & art collection tour because, you know, we're house and art collection junkies. And it's so much more fun to be voyeuristic on the inside of amazing homes, rather than peering in their windows in the dark of night. So we forked over $50 per person (for a great cause!) and proceeded to salivate all over the saltillo tile floors of some really spectacular homes.

One home really wowed us. It was a contemporary masterpiece, a total show stopper designed by Sean Harrison (architect was Jeffrey Dahl). What appeared to be two huge walls of windows in the living room were actually open spaces - the windows had been lifted into their retractable openings. So the living room just opened to the patio, which looked over the bay that was a couple hundred yards from the Pacific Ocean. Gorgeous! There was so much amazing art that day, including unusual work by a contemporary Icelandic artist who uses volcanic rock to create mesmerizing sculptures. Alas, I do not remember his name (why'd I think I'd remember it??). Anybody know who this might be?

Pete Jackson's Ultrawides

Pete Jackson is an LA photographer, originally from Ireland. I'd never seen his work until a recent show at the LA Center for Digital Art in Downtown LA, where they exhibited some of his "ultrawide" photos, which are just incredible!! Check out these two shots of downtown LA, taken from completely different points of view. Jackson shoots from atop LA's highest points, such as the hills in Griffith Park, to obtain really incredible vistas of the region. He digitally "stitches" together multiple images to create remarkable panoramas. PLUS he shoots in infrared, so the texture of the images and the amazing detail give them such life. The images perfectly capture the vastness of the LA basin, and even emphasize that there are actually several trees out there! They're really hypnotic and make great use of new digital photographic technologies.

These are all available in editions of 20, and are 90" wide.