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Ed Ruscha’s art takes a witty look at modern culture. PHOTO BY EDWARD J. RUSCHA IV. ©2012 MUSEUM ASSOCIATES/LACMA
by Michael Berick
Whether your family likes modern art or art with a little bit more history to it, there is a wealth of interesting exhibits around Southern California to explore.
• Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Jenny Holzer are among the Pop Art icons spotlighted in Pop Culture: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation. This bright, colorful exhibit will be at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art on the Pepperdine University campus (arts.pepperdine.edu/museum) through Dec. 2.
• Pop art also plays a big role in the Graphic Design: Now In Production exhibit currently up at the Hammer Museum (hammer.ucla.edu) until Jan 6. This exhibit delves into innovative design work in books, posters, magazines and other medium since 2000. Parental warning: Some magazines have images that could be deemed risqué.
• The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (lacma.org) now has a pair of exhibit showcasing two distinctive modern artists. Ed Ruscha has been blurring lines between Pop Art and graphic design in his text-based work since the ’60s. Ed Ruscha: Standard features more than 300 pieces by this major figure in Southern California art scene.
• LACMA also has a retrospective of sculptor Ken Price, presented in a gallery space designed by renowned architect (and Price’s longtime friend) Frank Gehry. This L.A. native, who died earlier this year, was known for his unique, often-playful lumpen-like sculptures. LACMA notes that some of Price’s pieces have “strong sexual overtones” although “they might not be recognized by children.” Strollers will not be allowed in this exhibit due its design layout.
• Last month, MOCA (moca.org) opened an ambitious exhibit entitled Blues For Smoke. Bringing together art, film, music and literature, the exhibition (which runs through Jan. 7) explores the concept of the “blues aesthetic” in post-WWII culture. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Carrie Mae Weems and William Eggleston are among the 50 artists with work represented in this interdisciplinary show, which should appeal to music- and art-loving tweens and teens. (There are a few works with strong language and explicit material.)
• A group show of a more traditional nature can be viewed at the Norton Simon Museum (nortonsimon.org). Significant Object: The Spell of Still Life (up through Jan. 21), which is drawn from the museum’s impressive collection, takes a century-spanning, multi-sided look at still life art and reveals that there is more to a still life than pictures of a bowl of oranges.
• Both the Huntington and the Skirball (skirball.org) have big shows with a more historical slant. Coinciding with this year’s election, the Skirball‘s Democracy Matters exhibits (all closing on Feb. 17) includes a trio of shows (Creating the United States, Decades of Dissent: Democracy in Action, 1960–1980 and Free to Be U.S.—A First Amendment Experience) that investigate democracy in America, from the founding fathers through late 20th century political unrest.
• Democracy plays an important role in the Huntington’s (huntington.org) exhibit, A Just Cause: Voices of the American Civil War (closing Jan. 14) which displays an impressive set of artifacts – prints, pamphlets, cartoons, diaries and more – from both the North and South to paint a vivid portrait of this momentous time in American history.
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