This week I have been looking at a wide range of art–from Beatrice Wood’s feminist works (which seem incredibly poignant right now) to James “Son” Ford Thomas’ eerie, yet somehow endearing skulls. Compiling all the art I have been looking to recently I see themes of the cute and macabre, sweet Warhol cherubs and twisted Bacon figures. These are the artworks that have inspired me this week and I hope they might inspire you too. Enjoy!
All photographs are via my Pinterest and are from other websites. Follow me on Pinterest @juliajamesdavis to see the images origins.
Saturday afternoon I visited the Broad Museum in Downtown, L.A. The Broad is my favorite museum in Los Angeles–and probably even the country. The Broad is a masterful collection of 20th century modern art and contains artists ranging from Cy Twombly to Jenny Saville, Sam Francis to Kara Walker. Almost all niches of modern art are represented in this collection and are curated in the most visually stunning way.
The Broad was founded by Eli and Edythe Broad who are long-time art collectors and patrons. The museum opened in 2015 and the building structure itself, with its white honey comb exterior and grey hued inside is as much a work of art as all of the items inside.
Enjoy a selection of my favorite works from my visit to the Broad…
This month has been a monumental one for me–I moved to Los Angeles and I started my freshman year of college as an Art History major! This is why I haven’t posted in a while, which I apologize for. But I am starting to settle into the rhythm and routine of college and new city so my postings will soon regain their regularity. Although I haven’t posted this month, I have still been looking at art (I always am) and I want to share that with you! Here are the artworks I have been looking at this week. Enjoy…
When one thinks of post-war Abstract Expressionism, names like Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Willem De Kooning, and Jackson Pollack, along with many more men, come to mind. However, some of the most boundary-pushing and pioneering contributors to the abstract expressionist movement were the women. Namely, Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell.
Characterized by their wild, loose brushstrokes, bold colors, and emotionally-charged paintings, these women were able to create some of the most important works of the 1950s and 1960s and even the rest of that century. Staying true to the abstract expressionist ideals, they painted with their heart, not their head. Tossing the idealized aesthetics and rigid rules of formal painting out, these women were able to create impactful and bold art.
Born in 1928, Helen Frankenthaler went on to create large-scale works. Often painting on the ground—much like Pollack and his splatter-paintings—Frankenthaler was able to achieve flowing, lyrical waves of paint. This technique imbued her works with a flowing energy that is almost tangible. The color in Frankenthaler’s works are much more sectioned off and definite, similar to a Rothko color field painting, than Joan Mitchell’s smeared, finger-painting like paintings.
Joan Mitchell was born just three years before Frankenthaler in 1925 and continued to work for most of her painting career in France. Her canvases are wild, with undefined colors and sharp impasto smears. All of her works have a great immediacy and frenetic energy about them.
Below are some of my favorite work by Mitchell and Frankenthaler…
All pictures via Pinterest. Follow me there @juliajamesdavis
Today I made my first of many visits to LACMA since moving to LA. I was so excited to see works by the great Los Angeles artists like Craig Kauffman, Ken Price, Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston, Robert Irwin, Robert Irwin and Sam Francis, along with other great artists on the post-war scene.
The highlight of the day, though, was Edward Kienholz’ infamous 1964 sculpture”Back Seat Dodge” in the exhibit called Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959 to 1971. When “Back Seat Dodge” was first exhibited at LACMA in 1966 it was met with great backlash and protest and was almost banned from public view. The work itself is an outstanding example of assemblage art and it encapsulates a moment in time that can never again be recreated. Beyond its great artistic value, it was exciting to see the work having known of its controversial history.
Scroll to see some of the highlights from my day at LACMA!
This summer has been a really busy time–between preparing for my first year of college and working and blogging for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, I feel like I have really needed some extra inspiration from some of my favorite artworks to keep me going. Art is what keeps me energized and what really feeds me, both creatively and just in day-to-day life. So… I thought I’d share some of the artworks that have really inspired me this week and I hope they may inspire you, too!
All photographs are from Pinterest, where you can follow me https://www.pinterest.com/juliajamesdavis/art
Craig Kauffman is my favorite artists from the Los Angeles “Cool School”–a group of artists who exhibited at the now closed Ferus Gallery during the ’50s and ’60s. This group also included Robert Irwin, Ed Ruscha, John Altoon, and Billy Al Bengston among others. These artists created an art scene in Los Angeles, a town without museums or collectors, at a time when only art coming out of New York was considered worthwhile.
Craig Kauffman was born in Los Angeles and continued to work there for most of his near 60-year career. He worked in and was a master of both paint and sculpture, but it is really his wall-reliefs that broke boundaries. Crafted out of acrylic plastic, his wall-reliefs are formed by a vacuum and are colored in soft gradient hues. A cross between painting and sculpture, these reliefs brilliantly manipulate space and light.
Below are some of my favorite Kauffman works in plastic…
Pictures via Pinterest. Follow me there https://www.pinterest.com/juliajamesdavis/art/
Earlier this summer, me and my dad drove eight hours into the middle of the Texas high-dessert to Marfa, Texas to view some of the greatest contemporary art in America. With a population of just over a thousand people, one wouldn’t expect Marfa to be the art haven that it is. The small, sleepy town was put on the map in 1973 when minimalist sculptor Donald Judd moved there from New York City. When Judd relocated here, he set up a museum, studio, and foundation, called the Chinati Foundation, with financial help from the Dia Art Foundation. Here Judd began crafting some of his most important work in the quiet of the Texas prairie.
In Marfa Judd found the wide open space and the peace to both execute and properly house his large scale works, such as 15 Untitled Works in Concrete and 100 Aluminum Boxes. The space that Judd purchased is a converted WWII camp, and the various buildings, including a gymnasium and mess-hall, were perfect to house large-scale, site-specific artworks.
As Judd lived and worked here, he also invited his contemporaries, other leading artists of the day to create site-specific works for the spaces. John Chamberlain, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, and John Wesley are just a few of the artists given the honor to create work for Chinati. Highlights of me and my dad’s day-long tour of Chinati included Dan Flavin’s six fluorescent light sculptures “Untitled (Marfa project”. There is one sculpture per building, and in each building two colors of lights are used–blue and yellow, purple and red, or pink and green. The neon light sculptures are positioned opposite a window looking out onto the barren, beige backdrop of the desert, creating a juxtaposition of art and landscape unavailable anywhere except Marfa. It is this experience, being able to simultaneously look at Dan Flavin’s lights and miles of Texas desert, that make Chinati an unforgettable and wholly unique museum. The work comes to life here unlike anywhere else.
My other favorite installation was Robert Irwin’s scrims, which was incorporated into the museum’s permanent collection recently in 2016. Irwin was approached by Chinati in 1999 to create a work for the museum, and it is the first major installation for the museum since the Dan Flavin’s project. Unlike Flavin’s sculptures, which buzz and hum with neon life against the seemingly dead backdrop of the desert, Irwin’s mesh black and white scrims coexist with and compliment the desert. According to the Chinati Foundation website, these scrims consider “the act of perception through poetic manipulation of space and light.” The scrims, which occupy a U-shaped building, filter and manipulate the light that comes in through a wall lined with windows. One arm of the building holds a white-scrim, and the other a black, and in the middle where the two branches of the building connect is tunnel-like sculpture of consecutive scrims that fade from black to white. As you walk through the tunnel you are crossing from a dark side to the light side and the feeling is remarkable and indescribable. It is almost as if you are walking into pure light.
What I loved about Chinati is that it not only housed some of the most breath-taking and outstanding art of the 20th century, but it provides a total experience that could not be achieved in any other place. Each installation uses the landscape and light of Marfa in such a brilliant way and it is truly one of the most amazing museums I have been to in the entire world. I highly recommend taking the trip to Marfa if you are in Texas, it is a remarkable place where nature and art coincide.
All photographs by me except the last two which are from- https://www.wmagazine.com/story/robert-irwin-project-marfa-chinati-foundation and https://archpaper.com/2016/08/robert-irwin-chinati-foundation-marfa/#gallery-0-slide-0
Aside from frequently visiting museums and galleries, reading books are the main way I have learned and educated myself about art. Whether it’s an artist’s biography or a large catalogue raisonné, books are a valuable source of information that can also be engaging and entertaining. Below are some of my favorite art books that have taught me much of what I know and I would recommend them to anyone who is interested in learning more about art.
Egon Schiele’s Women by Jane Kallir
This is both a coffee table book and catalogue of all of Austrian artist Egon Schiele’s drawings and paintings of women. Written by art historian and Schiele expert Jane Kallir, this book is a beautiful compilation of Schiele’s haunting portraits of women. Useful analysis of the paintings and biographical information of the artist are intertwined with the images. As a huge fan of Schiele’s, this book is one of my prized possessions and has offered me a deeper look into the life of a highly enigmatic and troubled artist.
Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art by Nancy Princenthal
This book is a rich and extraordinarily detailed narrative of painter Agnes Martin’s life, from teacher to legendary artist in her own right. It chronicles her story, from birth in a small Canadian town to living in the Coenties Slip with Ellsworth Kelly and Robert Indiana to death. The author, Nancy Princenthal, also provides keen analysis of her famous line paintings, helping the reader figure out how to both look at Martin’s artwork and understand their central themes.
Lust for Life: A Novel of Vincent Van Gogh by Irving Stone
This biography of legendary Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh completely changed the way I look at his paintings. Written by Irving Stone, this is written from Van Gogh’s point-of-view and tells of the tragedies that inspired some of his masterpieces. The subject matter of this book is based on the correspondence between Van Gogh and his art-dealer brother, Theo. This book is a gripping and unique portrait of Van Gogh’s life.
Reading Cy Twombly: Poetry in Paint by Mary Jacobus
Written by Mary Jacobus, this book examines the use of poetry and text in Cy Twombly’s paintings. In almost every Twombly painting, excerpts from poets such as Rilke and Sappho are scribbled on the canvas leaving small hints as to the overall meaning of the work. This is such an interesting book that examines the relationship between poetry and visual art and how the poetry influences the meaning of Twombly’s works.
This is a short read, but offers a unique perspective of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s life from the peak of his career to his downfall. Written by Jennifer Clement, this book is from the point-of-view of Suzanne Mallouk, Basquiat’s long-term girlfriend with whom he had a very tumultuous yet devoted relationship.
Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up by Bob Colacello
A deep and intimate portrait of Andy Warhol written by former editor of Interview Magazine, Bob Colacello. This is an engaging portrayal of the leading pop-artist of the 20th century and all the crazy people that surrounded him in The Factory. I highly recommend this book to any Andy Warhol fanatics because it is incredibly detailed and thorough, and not only provides an in-depth look at Warhol’s life, but also that of his groupies and friends.