• Tuesday Art ATTACK- Mirage by Doug Aiken

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    by Alex Seastrom



    By Christian Franzen

    This past weekend I went out to Palm Springs to see Mirage by Doug Aiken. Unfortunately, upon my arrival I found out that it was closed temporarily due to permit issues with the city. Finding myself in Palm Springs with nothing to do, naturally I visited the Palm Springs Art Museum. With it being a small city museum I didn't have huge expectations for what I’d find there. To my surprise the museum was amazing. Their permanent collection is an exciting mix of modern paintings from the likes of Frankenthaler, Kline, Motherwell mixed with a good variety of classic California landscape painters ala Moran and Wendt with a few Matisse’s mixed in. They also have an impressive collection of Native North American Baskets which I personally am very into.

    The museum has four levels. They had a great show of contemporary artists on the top floor. In this show there is a great piece by Los Angeles artist Gisela Colon. It is one of her Glo-pod series works that is truly breathtaking to see in person. The Glo-pod sits up on the wall bulging out from the wall into the viewer's space. The Glo-pod illuminates from the inside and the colors of the pod shift depending on your position in the room. I had always wanted to see one in person so it was a big treat for me to find one here.

    In my opinion the best thing in the Museum right now is the John McLaughlin Tamarind Prints on the bottom floor. This is a terrific collection of prints by the California artist that he made in the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles between 1962 and 1963. I’m a huge fan of McLaughlin, go West Coast Minimalism! It was really cool to see the prints because they have a totally different feel than the paintings he was making at this time, despite their similarities. The paintings are still very minimal geometric compositions but they still have a real human touch to them. The lines aren’t taped and the paint varies over the surface. So they are minimal, but they still have a human quality about them. The prints are essentially the same compositions of the paintings. They differ though in that they are done with the equipment of the Lithography workshop so they don’t have that same painterly human touch. The maker feels somewhat removed when you look at the work. This really makes you focus and appreciate McLaughlin’s compositions and notion of space.

    So if you’re going to be in Palm Springs anytime soon I would recommend stopping by their Art Museum if you got some time to kill. You can escape the heat for a bit and there is a lot of great stuff to see.

  • Tuesday Art ATTACK- MOMA, NYC. Robert Rauschenberg “Among Friends”

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    by Alex Seastrom



    By Christian Franzen

    I recently visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to see the Robert Rauschenberg retrospective “Among Friends”. This huge retrospective boasts over 250 works from the artist that take up an entire floor of the museum. The focus of show is to highlight Rauschenberg’s constant collaboration with other artists and his willingness to work across all forms of medium. Walking through the show I was surprised at the amount of cross disciplinary works spanning across all the different periods of the artist's career. They really have everything from paintings, combines, video, sound, clothing. The whole shabang. I walked through twice because it had so much work and I didn’t want to miss anything. If you find yourself in New York anytime soon I would highly encourage stopping by to see the show. In addition to being loaded with famous pieces you see in all the books, the exhibit covers a fascinating time in art history and a crucial turning point in American Art.
  • Tuesday Art ATTACK- Kerry James Marshall "Better Homes, Better Garden"

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    by Alex Seastrom



    By Christian Franzen

    This last week I visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art to see the Kerry James Marshall retrospective. Marshall was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1955. Soon after he was born his family made the move to California. Growing up in Watts, Los Angeles throughout the 1960’s and 70’s; scenes of racial inequality, the black power movement, and civil unrest surrounded him throughout his childhood. These experiences became the main subject of Marshall’s unique mural sized paintings in an effort to confront racial stereotypes still existing in modern America.

    The exhibit was truly amazing to experience. The paintings were even more impressive in person than I could have ever imagines looking at images of them in a book and the amount of work exhibited was beyond inspiring. I think the show contains over 80 paintings. The official title of the show is Mastery. This collection of Marshall’s work makes it crystal clear that he is a true modern master in the art of painting. I highly recommend it while it’s still up.

  • Thursday Art ATTACK- New York Gallery and Museum Visit

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    by Alex Seastrom

    By Christian Franzen

    Earlier this month I visited New York City with ten of my fellow CSULB painting BFA mates and our professor Tom Krumpak. Over the course of the trip we visited all the major museums and hundreds of galleries along the way. We were lucky enough to meet with 8 artists in their studios to discuss their work and how to make “being an artist” a doable thing in contemporary society. The trip was very eye opening to all the different possibilities the art world has to offer young artist. You just have to hustle.


    Here we see artist Benjamin Degen talking with us about his process and inspirations behind his paintings.

    This is me in front of Willem de Kooning’s famous work, Attic, which is house at the MET. Was great to see this painting in person. It has always been one of my favorites and seeing it up close really lended to the overall worked appeal that it possesses.

    My friend and great painter Andrew Hansen admiring some famous soup cans at the Musuem of Modern Art.


    Lastly, here is a great painting by Eric Fischl that they had up for the Whitney Museum's Painting From the 1980’s show. A massive painting depicting two desticitivley different scenarios on the Florida coast and seems to be just as relevant today as when it was painted.

    Overall it was a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to make my way back to the city.

    
  • Tuesday Art ATTACK- John McLaughlin "Total Abstraction at LACMA"

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    by Alex Seastrom

    

    By Christian Franzen

    John McLaughlin was a highly influential abstract artist in postwar American art scene. His paintings stream from the Japanese concept of the void and things unknown. Working primarily in Southern California, McLaughlin’s hard edge forms and subject matter laid the footwork for the future Los Angeles based Light and Space movement. This spring, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art hosted a solo exhibition of McLaughlin’s work titled, Total Abstraction. Containing fifty-two his paintings, the exhibition strives to indicate McLaughlin’s leading role in the painting worlds search to achieve total abstraction.

    At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Total Abstraction commanded nearly the entire top floor of the Broad Building. The larger area allowed all the works lots of breathing room from one another. In my opinion, this was one of the shows main strengths because it enabled viewers a greater personal experience with each individual piece. I also enjoyed the placement of chairs throughout the exhibition so that someone might sit down to spend an even longer time engaging with the paintings. As a whole, all of the paintings in the show had a feeling of unity. The works were further divided into groups by division of the rooms in the building; being grouped by similarities in structure and color.

    McLaughlin’s paintings are all very geometrically structured. They are made up of hard edge rectangles and squares that seem to have no correlation with anything but themselves. Both shapes are often mimicked throughout the paintings, but vary in scale. The simple structure in these paintings creates an interesting viewing effect. It establishes a reassuring sense of stability for the viewer. Allowing a slower, focused, and more earnest examination of each painting. In some of the works, the structure McLaughlin assembles through scale shifts seems to create depth of space. The illusion of space through scale shifts juxtaposed with McLaughlin’s flatness of form initiates an interesting conversation between the viewers optic sense and the flat plain of the canvas; which for me, is the most engaging aspect of McLaughlin’s work.

    During my investigation of the show, I became increasingly enthralled with McLaughlin’s use of muted colors. These colors do not blatantly scream Los Angeles. They are not reminiscent of the city’s bustle. I found familiarity in these colors with my experiences of daily life in a small California beach town. McLaughlin’s choice to isolate himself from Los Angeles and work solely in Dana Point California can be heavily felt in his work. Everything in these works feels intentional. The subdued colors paired with the minimal structure creates a self contained existence behind the work. The painting relies on nothing but itself to function, which is a key concept in achieving total abstraction.  

    My only criticism to the Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art in regards to the Total Abstraction exhibition is that they did not let me get close enough to the paintings. Besides that minute complaint, I thought that it was a beautiful executed exhibition of McLaughlin’s work. Looking at the show in it entirety really declares McLaughlin’s work as a leader in total abstraction amidst the painting world in the mid 20th century.

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