In the last decade, particularly in temperate Southern California, the presence of an ever-increasing homeless population has become an undeniable fact of social life. Although estimates vary, thousands of homeless men, women, and children reside in the Los Angeles region. In the best tradition of documentary photography, Anthony Hernandez set out to record the hidden dwelling places of this marginalized population, which he found in vacant lots, under freeways, and in scores of abandoned sections of the city.
Czechoslovakia’s 1989 Velvet Revolution brought an end to four decades of Communist rule, attracting a flood of tourists from around the world—7 million in 1996—and sparking renewed interest in the country’s rich cultural heritage. Closer to Paris than to Moscow, the city of Prague and the people of the Czech lands share Western religious and cultural traditions. That tradition was first broken by Nazi domination in 1938, and then by the imposition of Communist rule in 1948. But in the early years of the century and between the wars, Czech artists were passionate participants and innovators in the movements that transformed the art of the Western world.
The fall of Communist rule in the former Eastern Bloc countries gave historians the freedom to explore the development of modern art more comprehensively. Underknown artists and important regional movements are being examined with fresh eyes and a desire to understand their rightful place in art history. Czech Avant-Garde: Reflections on European Art and Photography in Book Design, 1922–1938 demonstrates the brilliance of Czech graphic design, illustration, photography, and photomontage between the wars, a period that saw a flowering of Czech culture parallel to that of the Weimar Republic. Comprised of approximately 800 books and journals from the collection of Czech scholar and author Zdenek Primus, the exhibition highlights the work of several recognized masters of Czech book design, including Karel Teige, Jindrich Styrsky, Toyen, Ladislav Sutnar, Vít Obrtel, Zdenek Rossmann, and Frantisek Muzika, along with many previously unknown artists.
The Primus Collection is the largest of its kind in the world, encompassing the complete works of Czech avant-garde book production. Most of the artists represented in the collection were members of the avant-garde artists’ union (Devetsíl) from 1928 to 1931, or participated in the Surrealist Group from 1931 to 1938.
Curated by Jon Burris
The first in a series of exhibitions aimed at rediscovering the work of this respected American modernist photographer, Brett Weston in New York is a window into this brilliant artist’s wartime imagery from late 1943 to 1945. Drafted into the United States Army, Weston found himself stationed on Long Island under the command of a sympathetic ex-FSA photographer, Arthur Rothstein, who charged him with photographing New York City. After completing his assignments, Weston was free to explore the city’s endless visual resources on his own, and the photographs made during this fortuitous period remain fresh and revealing documents.
Kim Sichel, Curator, Organized by the Boston University Art Gallery
Nineteenth-century American landscape photography has long been studied by cultural historians, who view the images as historical documents, and by connoisseurs, who revere the best images as art objects. Mapping the West balances these two approaches by placing the photographs in their cultural context as riveting images made by individuals within a network of patrons, use patterns, and viewers.
Organized by the Historic New Orleans Collection
John H. Lawrence, Curator
The enigmatic photographer Clarence John Laughlin (1905–85), labeled a surrealist, romantic, modernist, postmodernist, and/or fantasist by successive commentators, is indeed famously difficult to categorize. Nearly two dozen distinct bodies of work exist among the more than 17,000 pictures he created between 1930 and 1965. Drawn from the collection of the Historic New Orleans Collection, Haunter of Ruins presents an eclectic selection of the decaying monuments and Southern landscapes that made the photographer famous, along with a number of mysterious still lifes, portraits, and cemetery views that reveal the photographer’s decidedly Gothic sensibility.
Driven to extend “the individual object into a larger and more significant reality,” Laughlin, with the help of a profound imagination and razor-sharp intelligence, transformed the relatively banal features of the landscape into symbols that lead from the prosaic to the sublime.
Interpretive texts, written and rewritten by the artist himself, accompany the exhibition and provide valuable information about Laughlin’s own continuously evolving view of his work. The interrelationships between image and text, fact and metaphor fascinated Laughlin throughout his life and charge his photographs with a peculiar tension. A complicated dance between viewer as participant in the image and the will of the photographer is played out in Laughlin’s photographs, highlighting a contest of meaning that has occupied discussions of art in the last several years.
Constance W. Glenn, Curator
James Rosenquist: Time Dust, Complete Graphics 1962–1992 is the first comprehensive retrospective documenting the renowned Pop artist’s thirty-year career as one of America’s most innovative printmakers. Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the exhibition was curated by Constance W. Glenn, director of the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach and is being circulated by Curatorial Assistance, Los Angeles. Glenn’s 200-page, full-color monograph and catalogue raisonné, published by Rizzoli New York will accompany the exhibit.
Without question, Robert Frank’s The Americans is one of the most influential series of photographs of the postwar era. Not since the book’s publication in the United States in 1959 has there been an opportunity to view these famous photographs in a museum setting in their original sequence. This exhibition is assembled from the last remaining complete set of prints from The Americans, acquired from the artist. The exhibition also includes original editions of the book (first published in France in 1958 as Les Americains), as well as other printed ephemera documenting the history and impact of the work from its creation in the mid-50s to the present. The exhibition tour of Robert Frank: The Americanscoincides with the publication of a new edition of The Americans. Long out of print, this book has been created under the direct supervision of the artist. This tour presents an opportunity to introduce Robert Frank’s seminal work to a new generation of Americans.
Curated by Mark Rosenthal
In the years since its founding in 1966, Gemini G.E.L. has established itself as one of the most highly regarded and influential printmaking workshops in the country. The Gemini G.E.L. studio in Los Angeles has been at the center of the printmaking renaissance that began in the mid-60s, providing an atmosphere of profound creative and experimental freedom that has led to brilliant collaborations between master printers and prominent artists, and to the development of many new printmaking technologies.
Both Life and Art takes its title from Robert Rauschenberg's well-known statement that he operates in the gap between art and life. Through its long history, Gemini has sought to bridge the gap between art and life by maintaining a working environment famous for its open spirit and uncompromising technical achievements. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Gemini invited many of the well-known artists who had produced works at the workshop to select from the resulting print suites.
Catalan artists Joan Fontcuberta and Pere Formiguera purport to have uncovered the archives of the brilliant, if obscure, German zoologist, Dr. Peter Ameisenhaufen. Between 1933 and 1950, Dr. Ameisenhaufen devoted himself to the study of little known hybrid creatures. His detailed scientific field observations are supported by extensive documentation, including photographs, journal notes, drawings, x-rays, audiotapes, and artifacts, all of which leave little doubt about the significance of the evidence presented.
In argument to Darwin’s theories we see Micostrium Vulgaris, a swamp dwelling, clam-like creature with protruding seemingly human arms. It uses its opposing grip to wield sticks by which it clubs its prey to death. The Cercopithecus lcarocornu, or winged unicorn monkey, attacks in air and spears its prey on its horn. The Solenoglypha Polipodida makes evident a u-turn in evolution between the bird and the reptile--this snake-like creature supports six pair of webbed duck-like feet.
This collaboration between Fontcuberta, who made the photographs and Formiguera, who was responsible for the pseudo-scientific note cards, drawings, maps, audiotapes, and specimens, is a photo-conceptual narrative work, convincing in every detail. Fauna directly questions issues of authenticity, appropriation and simulation but implies broader concerns of historicity, revisionism, and the notion of scientific objectivity. Dr. Ameisenhaufen’s heritage and supposed era impugns Hilter’s theories of racial purity and also those tenets of the modern church and others who still refuse to acknowledge Darwin.