March 30, 2019 – October 4, 2019
In Quest of Beauty: Assemblage in the Ahmanson Collection
Lynn Aldrich, Hermione Allsop, Diedrick Brackens, Markus Brunetti, Ale Groen, Sheila Hicks, Barry Krammes, Steven and William Ladd, Elad Lassry, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Amy Meissner, Wayan Novi, Phillip Stearns, Sun Xun, Ricky Swallow, and Betty Woodman
The art in this show derives from disparate sources. The work of sixteen different artists, these two dozen or so pieces - and their creators - have little explicitly in common. The artists work from disparate points around the globe, including Los Angeles, Anchorage, Beijing, and Indonesia. The generational range is almost as great. At least one is still in his 20s; another died earlier this year, on her way to 90. Some of them have created pieces made of metal, some of linen or rope, some of old chairs, some from thousands of meticulous photographs. The only unambiguous, rock-solid things these pieces share are that they have a firm relationship to the notion of beauty - not, as it happens, always the case with contemporary art - and they are examples of assemblage, the medium best understood as the three-dimensional extension of collage. But the exhibit still has a unity and logic to it that's just underneath the surface. As varied as the artists and their works here are, these are by and large figures devoted not only to beauty but to the glories of the real, observable outside world. An attention to buried truths, an acknowledgment of wounds and pain, a tendency - in some of them - to understatement or even minimalism is often part of the picture. These are not artists consumed with their own inner lives, a fashionable nihilism or despair, or the notion that the visual arts are merely a shell game without power or hegemony. Some of these pieces are deeply personal, but when these artists talk or write about their work, they don't stop with their own biographies or emotional makeup. A number of these artists are interested in a variety of other art forms, especially literature. If they were writers, they'd likely be literary essayists or practitioners of creative nonfiction. If they were filmmakers, some would pursue the more poetic lines of cinematic documentary. These are not, then, simply dreamers. Their work is about finding something in the outside world and refracting it through their own life and sensibility to create something new, something personal, but also something that originates in the public world we share.