Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Masterful, Powerful Images by Charles White Trace African American History - LACMA Retrospective

Charles White: A Retrospective
Resnick Pavillion, LACMA
Through June 9th
Charles White, I Have a Dream, 1976, lithograph on Arches buff paper, 22 1/2 × 30 in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Cirrus Editions Archive, purchased with funds provided by the Director's Roundtable, and gift of Cirrus Editions, © The Charles White Archives, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Charles White unites masterful skill as a draftsman, painter, printmaker and muralist with a deep passion for portraying the life and struggles of African Americans. Spanning four decades to 1979 when he died, White’s expressive figurative works of powerful images beginning with the labor movement of the 1930’s, and the issues of race, inequality and social politics remain relevant today. This retrospective is loosely organized in chronological order and arranged by city where White spent his time: primarily Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. On view are approximately 100 drawings, paintings, lithographs and photographs as well as audio recordings of occasional lectures White gave at LACMA while he lived and taught in Los Angeles. This retrospective, curated by Ilene Susan Fort, Curator Emerita of American Art includes 13 works in LACMA’s permanent collection. 

With sometimes startling sensitivity, White’s works exude a depth of feeling and intimacy that only someone who has personal familiarity and direct experience can depict. Some of his earlier paintings appear influenced by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, rendering images of the labor movement as well as the U.S. Communist Party in which White was politically active focusing on racism and social inequality. 

Sojourner Truth and Booker T. Washington (1943, pencil on illustration board 37” x 27.5”) is a study for the mural Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America. ,” located at Hampton University in Virginia –  a depiction of a historical scene spanning centuries, showing black Union soldiers marching alongside the folk singer Leadbelly, captured in the midst of performance, while George Washington Carver works away in his lab.

General Moses (Harriet Tubman) 1965 ink on paper 47” x 68” and I Have a Dream, 1976 lithograph on paper  22.5” x 30” highlight a few of the historical figures depicted in black and white monumental images that capture our attention. Aside from these two works, there are many more with historical reference to important African Americans  - both men and women, young and old, from the arena of politics, entertainment, social activism, to anonymous street figures.

White is one of the most important American artists of the mid-twentieth century whose expressive figures communicate feelings of dignity and grace, and a remarkable combination of beauty, form and scale. His universal subject matter continues the dialogue about the history and culture of African Americans.

Charles White, General Moses (Harriet Tubman), 1965, ink on paper, 47 × 68 in., private collection, © The Charles White Archives, photo courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries 

Charles White, Sound of Silence, 1978, color lithograph on white wove paper, 25 1/8 × 35 1/4 in., The Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Fund, 2017.314, © The Charles White Archives, photo © The Art Institute of Chicago

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Hammer Museum Exhibits Dirty Protests:Selections from the Collection

Mike Kelley   City 000     mixed media installation(partial view)    2010

Dirty Protests: Selections from the Hammer Collection
Organized by Chief Curator, Connie Butler with Vanessa Arizmendi, Curatorial Assistant
Through May 19th

Article by Cathy Breslaw

The major thread tying this exhibition together is that the works are a combination of  recent museum acquisitions along with some of its permanent collection that have never been shown before. Works on paper, paintings, video, sculpture and drawing in a mix of mediums from 40 international and established multi-generational artists are on view. For museum visitors, navigating this exhibition can be both confusing and intriguing.  Upon first glance, the provocative title of the exhibition Dirty Protests (oil painting by Iranian artist Tal Madani, 2015) misleads the viewer.  Madani’s work which sometimes represents male subjects in a baby or child-like manner addresses serious cultural themes, but is only one theme represented in this show. Installation piece City 000 (2010) by Mike Kelley which references the Superman story, employs rock-like geological structures as a base for a shrunken city. Lit from within, this group of transluscent multi-color resin bottles arranged as a city scape is set up high, atop a black massive-sized rock with a staircase the viewer can climb to examine.  Mark Bradford’s painting I Don’t Have the Power to Force the Bathhouses to Post Anything (2015), representative of his mixed media collages made from billboard segments, flyers and graffitied stencils reflecting his urban community stood out as well as webcam video sickhands (2011)  by millennial artist Petra Cortright,  who sometimes uses webcams to create short self-reflective examinations of feminine self-worth and identity using software to enhance, manipulate and distort images of the female form.
Ghanian artist Ibrahim Manam’s ALIJA X (2015-16) sleeping prayer mats melted on coal sacks is one example of several works in this exhibition that use a myriad of materials combined in unusual ways to contextualize their ideas. Organized by Chief Curator Connie Butler with Vanessa Arizmedi, Curatorial Assistant, Dirty Protests is on view through May 19th.
Mike Kelley, City 000, 2010. Mixed media. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchased through the Board of Overseers Acquisition Fund with additional funds provided by Chara Schreyer and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn.

Mark Bradford, I Don't Have the Power to Force the Bathhouses to Post Anything, 2015. Mixed media on canvas, 132 x 120 in. (framed; 335.3 x 304.8 cm), Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchased with partial funds provided by Linda and Bob Gersh and Angella and David Nazarian.

Ibrahim Mahama, ALIJA X, 2015-2016. Sleeping prayer mats melted on coal sacks, 90 9/16 × 114 9/16 in. (230 × 291 cm). Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchased with funds provided by Beth Rudin DeWoody. ©Ibrahim Mahama.

Tala Madani, Dirty Protest, 2015. Oil on linen. 76 x 79 x 1 3/8 in. (193 x 200.7 x 3.5 cm). Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchase.

Mika Tajima, Epimelesthai Sautou (Take Care), 1, 2014. Thermoformed acrylic, spray enamel, aluminum. 78 × 78 × 32 in. (198.1 × 198.1 × 81.3 cm). Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Gift of Kayne Griffin Corcoran. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.
Petra Cortright, rgb,d-lay, 2011. Webcam video. Running Time: 24 seconds. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchase. Courtesy of the Artist. © 2014 Petra Cortright