Andrew Berardini

  • Left: Dealer Monika Sprüth and artist Barbara Kruger. Right: Collector Eli Broad and artist John Baldessari. (All photos: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
    diary February 26, 2016

    Dear John

    ACROSS THE STREET from sunset tourists posing for snaps in front of Chris Burden’s Urban Light, jumping distance from chopped-up sections of the Berlin Wall, the first-floor windows of an International Style two-story building read over and over again, I WILL NOT MAKE ANY MORE BORING ART.

    An exercise cooked up in 1971 for a class at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the words adorn these windows but also currently a hallway downtown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and are available on pencils as merch across the street at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a marketing tie-in for a

  • View of “Robert Barry,” 2015. Photo: Joshua White.

    Robert Barry

    Passing through Rudolph Schindler’s Bethlehem Baptist Church, one witnessed fifty-one glimmering words, which whispered from the walls of this nearly forgotten architectural monument. One of only a few modernist masterpieces still intact in South Central Los Angeles, and one of even fewer located in this once-segregated neighborhood (the result of restrictive housing covenants), the church was built in 1944 to serve an African American congregation. It would later be sold and then abandoned before undergoing a partial renovation by Reverend Melvin Ashley in 2013. After briefly serving his

  • William Leavitt, The small laboratory, 2015, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks January 25, 2016

    William Leavitt

    A sci-fi laboratory and a suburban patio weirdly mingle in William Leavitt’s installation The small laboratory (all works 2015). Both a sculpture and a set for an as yet unpublished play, the work includes a bit of repurposed rattan crowning a mysterious black obelisk, while nearby, a long, clear cylinder bubbles milky liquid, and terra-cotta-potted tropical houseplants brush against copper-spray-painted found objects naked with wires. In the background, plastic tubes are topped with the kind of painted spheroid most commonly found in grade-schoolers’ models of the solar system. The installation

  • View of “Bill Jenkins and Chadwick Rantanen,” 2015.

    Bill Jenkins and Chadwick Rantanen

    An observatory for barely unpacked product and its packaging, this complex, interweaving installation of Chadwick Rantanen’s machines and Bill Jenkins’s illuminations begged for extended description; the exhibition’s subtle mechanical weirdness and play of light created a viewing situation that demanded methodical observation. Like much Conceptual assemblage, the show tugged at language while skirting easy characterization. Attempts to translate the installation into words create labored, angular poetry.

    Hanging above a table sloping inward and split down its middle, a contraption made of black

  • Tala Madani, The Gift, 2015, oil on linen, 20 × 17 1/8".

    “Tala Madani: First Light”

    Cock-dragging baby-men leer with amusing hubris and dazed melancholy in the paintings and stop-motion animations of Tala Madani. In this exhibition of works from the past two years, the Tehran-born, Los Angeles–based artist’s cast of rotund fellows prance and lactate in a sinister, metaphysical darkness cut sparely with light. A grim, corporeal humor bubbles through while Madani’s (mostly) bald subjects suffer odd torments; in one oil painting, The X, 2015, a figure clad in a black thong grins submissively as disembodied hands stretch his limbs

  • Left: Simone Forti in performance. Right: The Box director Mara McCarthy and LAXART deputy director Catherine Taft. (Photos: Andrew Berardini)
    diary November 16, 2015

    Simone Says

    FRIDAY NIGHT I spent at Cafe Figaro—a Parisian-inspired street cafe in Los Feliz—commiserating with somber French citizens speaking in hushed voices over the clink of glasses. Their grief was still on my mind as I headed the following night to the Box for a rare performance by veteran choreographer and artist Simone Forti. The eighty-year-old legend performed a dance of simple movements, shivering a flashlight in her hand as she swirled and crawled across the concrete floors of the gallery. Behind her played the quiet susurrus of the river in a projected video. Forti’s finger caressed the ground,

  • Diana Thater, Delphine (detail), 1999, five-channel digital video projection (color, sound, infinite duration), nine monitors, light filters, dimensions variable.

    “Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination”

    Cackling temple monkeys and frolicsome dolphins, star-crossed dung beetles and dancing honeybees. For more than two decades, Los Angeles–based artist Diana Thater has produced immersive installations that combine scientific inquiry and perceptual magic to ponder the ways in which animals animate and interact with their environments. Accompanied by a catalogue, this full-scale retrospective—which begins with the artist’s breakthrough 1992 video installation Oo Fifi, Five Days in Claude Monet’s Garden, Part 1 and Part 2—will be the most

  • View of “New Babylon,” 2015.
    picks August 11, 2015

    “New Babylon”

    The two-by-four skeleton of a curious structure designed by architect Joakim Dahlqvist stands almost naked in the center of a modern white-walled and concrete-floored gallery. This half-built house has been painted in a bright hue that evokes the color of a blueprint and is cutely called “Safe Harbor” by its manufacturer, and work by twelve artists have been hung outside and inside its walls.

    Organized by artist Michael Dopp, “New Babylon” follows his previous collaborative projects: the defunct club No Vex, the somewhat nomadic bar, Dopp’s, and the most recently opened shed gallery Arturo Bandini

  • Left: HomeLA dancers on the LA River. Right: Artist Dave Muller. (All photos: Andrew Berardini)
    diary July 20, 2015

    Rain Dance

    A RUMBLE SHUDDERED across the sky and lightning set fire to palm trees as the hot wet spatter of a tropical storm washed over a startled Los Angeles this past weekend. It hardly seemed to discourage the hordes that capered across the city for a deluge of openings and performances. Dave Muller began the weekend early on Tuesday with the inauguration of a year’s worth of his legendary Three Day Weekends at Blum & Poe. Muller manned the turntables, spinning records so strange it felt like he invented them. “This one’s psychedelic reggae,” he said. Inside, posters from Muller’s collection angled in

  • Left: China Chow at the gala for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Right: Eric White, artist John Baldessari, and Patricia Arquette. (Photos: BFAnyc.com)
    diary June 05, 2015

    Different Strokes

    “LAST YEAR on this podium, we were just dating. What do you call it? A one-night stand,” said Philippe Vergne. The director of Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art was presiding over his second official gala, held outside the museum’s Geffen Contemporary site on Saturday night. This year, the museum decided to honor an artist, the octogenarian conceptualist and MoCA board member John Baldessari, letting his work inform rather than rule the decor, a subtle shift from recent years when the museum would invite artists versed at creating spectacles to turn the gala into a quasi artwork.

    Colored

  • View of “Ginger Wolfe-Suarez: A Thing Repeated Is Not Always the Same,” 2015.
    picks April 27, 2015

    Ginger Wolfe-Suarez

    And there they are, a bouquet and a sunset, again and again. In this spare installation, the materials couldn’t really be more basic. A series of landscapes depicting the same cloud-banked sunset, what seems to be another, of flowers, then light, rocks, yarn, mirrors, walls—subtle teases of scent. Yarn stretches across the corners of rooms from ceiling to floor, each colored thread a uniform few centimeters from the next, arrayed in rays of pure color over the spare, white walls, in what the artist likens to Color Fields. The yarn is soaked in essential oils, whose scent hits you like a wall,

  • View of “Eden Eden Eden,” 2015.
    picks March 20, 2015

    Juliette Blightman

    Beneath the long fronds of a potted houseplant, a sizeable black speaker rumbles like a distant party. The noise haunts or taunts, beckons or repulses, depending perhaps on whether you’re invited. From Juliette Blightman, an artist best known for her short films and installations, this suite of gouaches, graphite works, oils, and acrylics picture tangled naked men at a 5 AM party, women with their backs turned, often looking at art (sometimes noted as from the “Hair and Arse” series, 2014), women frolicking by the seaside, and clusters of friends. Interiors and trains, grand museums, fireworks