For lovers of contemporary art, or anyone interested in learning something about it, or for those who want something different to do on a weekend other than a movie or concert, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles presents “Collecting Collections: Highlights from the Permanent Collection.”
The exhibition displays approximately 250 works from more than 120 European and American artists, and includes paintings, sculpture, collage, photographs, and pop art.
The exhibit, which includes acquisitions and donations by collectors and foundations, is colorful, flamboyant and fun – and includes a wide variety of styles and genres dating back to the earliest piece in the collection, “Composition of Red, Blue, Yellow and White: Nom III” (1939) by Piet Mondrian.
At times the exhibit takes on the air of a circus fun-house, as pieces like “Monkey Magic – Sex, Money and Drugs” (1999) by Chris Ofili are both attention-grabbing and unusual.
“Monkey Magic” is made of acrylic, collage, glitter, resin, pencil, map pins, and even elephant dung, and is the creative representation of a gigantic monkey wearing a hat. This work, like many in the various collections, is made with unusual materials and contains offbeat subject matter.
Another work of art that lends a fun and unique quality to the exhibit is “Vier Figurengruppe” (1999) by Stephen Balkenhol. Four wooden sculptures depict a man wearing a white shirt and black pants as he grows from miniature to life size in succession. Blake Byrne, a MOCA trustee, donated this work to the museum.
Another trustee, Dr. Giuseppe Panza, donated works by Swedish sculptor Claes Oldenburg. The pieces, sculpted of muslin, plaster, wire and enamel, are of everyday objects like shoes, clothing, and the “Pepsi Cola Sign” (1961), and are notable for how lifelike and original they are.
The mix of works by international and national artists (plus many California-based artists) makes for an extensive and eclectic exhibit.
The works in each collection range in date from the 1940s to present-day. Modern art pieces of the 1950s are displayed alongside pop art from the ’60s, and there are collages that were produced just a few years ago.
One such collage, “Hang Over” (2005) by Fred Tomaselli was created using leaves, pills, acrylic and resin on a wood panel. Depicted is an elaborate tree with decorations draped across the branches, some of which are multi-colored representations of hands strung together. The interpretation of the piece is left to the viewer to decipher.
Also included in the exhibit are works by well-known artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Warhol’s “Telephone” (1961) is one of the many pieces of 1960s pop art on display. MOCA bought the black and white rendering with funds provided by an anonymous donor.
Warhol’s prot’eacute;g’eacute; and frequent collaborator, Jean-Michel Basquiat, is also on display. His “Six Crimee” (1982) is one of many expressive and symbolic works that got him noticed in the 1980s and beyond. The image of six distorted faces produced on canvas is one of many Basquiat works that MOCA has displayed throughout the years.
It’s important to note that modern-day art can be just as fascinating as older works, as it reminds us that creativity is alive and well – and new experiences can still be had. Styles change with the times, but passion and innovation still reside within great artists.
“Collecting Collections” is an interesting exhibit on many levels, and worth checking out. The displays are thoughtful, vibrant, and unique, and the sheer number of works gathered for this viewing is impressive. The exhibit is located at MOCA Grand Avenue and is running from now until May 19, 2008.