Sunday, November 15, 2009

MOCA 30th anniversary

This past weekend The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles marked MOCA's 30th anniversary with a lavish party and the opening of "Collection: MOCA's First Thirty Years". This is a two-part collection which features the largest-ever installation of the museum's permanent collection. MOCA is actually located in 3 different locations in Los Angeles. The first location is called MOCA Grand Avenue and this is where the first part of "Collection" is being shown.

  The second location for MOCA is called The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA which was originally opened as an interim exhibition space called the "Temporary Contemporary" in 1983 and is where part 2 of "Collection" is on display.

  In 2000 MOCA's third location is MOCA at The Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood was opened to present new work by emerging and established artists.

  The art featured at Grand Avenue traces the path of contemporary art starting during WWII and runs the gamut of art movements from abstract expressionism to pop art to minimalism to the conceptual art of the 1960's and 1970's. As society changed due to wars, politics, social values, definition of family, home and morality artists reflected these changes in their works. Interestingly specific movements of the art world are very clear but, there are many examples of the same artist deviating from that movement and going to a whole new level of creation because they were stimulated to produce new pieces based on what was happening in the world around them.

  The artwork featured at Grand Avenue is produced by the more traditional mediums of painting, sculpture, drawing, and collage. Several artists are spotlighted for their bodies of work — are the pieces from Diane Arbus, Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Rothko. (Seen below left) is "Untitled" 1954 by Robert Rauschenberg. It is the first piece from his "Combines" series. These were a series of works that were 3 dimensional and a hybrid of sculpture, painting, collage all assembled together. The structure invites the viewer to look into and through the spaces, openings, and reflect on the layers and objects. (Also included in the collage are two drawings by contemporaries Cy Twombly and Jack Tworkov.)

  The second part of "Collection" is art created since 1980. This line was drawn in the collection because this is the period when a multitude of new ways to create art came into being with the advent of the computer and video. Also the as the world became more of a global society the art world became decentralized. Decentralization helped more new artists emerge and their works then found their way to the public, museum curators and art critics. As technology moves forward, new ideas and movements are being championed and collected by museums like MOCA, Los Angeles (and Cleveland's own MOCA.)

I've included some other examples of works on display....
First is "Untitled (Faceless Faces) 1963 by Wallace Berman.
Berman made this collage of images of couples photographed together, like all married couples (moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas) seemed to think was important to do in the 50's and 60's. He the reproduced the collage using the Verifax (an early copy machine) which turned out inky reproductions that were still wet, which then allowed Berman to smudge or erase the faces and identities of the people in the pictures. I love work done with copiers.

I have also included this work by one of my favorite artists — Jasper Johns which is also on display as part of this MOCA anniversary exhibition. This piece is titled "Map" 1962. This is a piece that was inspired by mimeographed maps of the United States that artist Robert Rauschenberg gave Johns. The mimographs became John's medium at this point. He painted on them, did renderings on them, drew on them, and cut them up to make new collages to copy. He made 3 of these maps in this style. This was also the beginning of John's use of monochromatic colors mostly grays and blues. Everything Jasper John's does fascinates me. Several years ago The Cleveland Museum of Art mounted a retrospective of John's work which drew large crowds. I went back 3 times.

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