Andrew Berardini

  • picks October 19, 2012

    Miller Updegraff

    Dark ecstasy, expertly withheld, haunts Miller Updegraff’s latest exhibition. The drawings feel enveloped in an ominous silence, while in the separate gallery of paintings, the tinkle of old-timey music seems to leak through a peephole cut from the wall, which when peered through reveals a slow-motion séance. The paintings are quite fine but the drawings are finest. Drawn in an almost holographic coloring of red and violet watercolor pencil and painted with oil, each precise scene murmurs with otherworldly potential, nothing untoward or overtly occult beyond a stilled cinematic cross-fade (well,

  • diary June 12, 2012

    California Über Alles

    THE CAVALCADE of colorful cars clogging the entrance to the parking garage at the Hammer Museum was perhaps one of several handy metaphors for the launch of the first major Los Angeles biennial, which opened at three venues scattered across the city the weekend before last. Another might be the long storefront window of the American Apparel shop on Sunset Boulevard, where the tricolor posters for the exhibition commingle with mannequins dressed in the company’s trademark T-shirts, the brand and the exhibition coalescing around variations on the same slogan: Made in LA.

    Is “Made in LA” a locavore’s

  • diary May 19, 2012

    Los Angeles Plays Itself

    SCENE: ANOTHER NIGHT IN LOS ANGELES. A converted furniture showroom on a summer evening, rented at an in-kind kind of price, is covered in advertisements for tonight’s art opening: “Rebel,” a show “conceived by” James Franco and produced by (though not hosted at) the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. It’s about 6 in the evening and Saturday night traffic coughs by on busy Highland Boulevard to and from Hollywood. While the place isn’t jammed yet, members of the General Public have crowded the sad-looking shrubbery next to the entrance, which is choked with metal barricades and velvet

  • picks April 29, 2012

    James Lee Byars

    With an infinite regress of impossibly perfect marble sculptures and the other bodies of work on view in this exhibition, James Lee Byars managed to make Conceptualism less a smart guy’s in-joke and more a metaphysical koan. One room in this posthumous exhibition gathers eight “books,” made between 1989 and 1994: carved marble blocks in fetishy wooden vitrines, which are installed in a grid that stands flawlessly within the grid of concrete rectangles that makes up the gallery’s floor. Grid upon grid, the patterns are quietly optical. The oblong room is lined with mirrors, like a spiritual

  • picks March 17, 2012

    Abigail Reynolds

    Abigail Reynolds’s “A Common Treasury” has all the promise of a stained-glass supply house, a country library book sale, a garden party, a mine shaft, or a dome, wrought with antiquarian volumes, tinted panes, torn pages, and three-legged tables. Her plates of colored glass lean and screen, changing light just so. Pink amaranth overlays sunburst yellow merging into a lightly toasted orange. Electric blue and wisteria violet combine for an aged International Klein Blue. Lazily leaning against the wall, the panes don’t do all the work: In Magic Mountain (all works cited, 2011) a stack of books

  • diary January 27, 2012

    Growth Spurts

    “LOS ANGELES IS POTENTIAL,” said dealer Thomas Duncan. It was the first weekend of his new gallery as well as his first fair, Art Los Angeles Contemporary. “New galleries open every week in New York, but starting in LA feels special.” This past weekend was marked by a whole host of beginnings, including the launch of the Getty and LAXART’s Pacific Standard Time Performance Festival and the opening of Matthew Marks’s pristine new West Coast space.

    This array of special events is a new turn for Los Angeles, another coming of age in what’s becoming a series of coming of ages. Ours is, after all, a

  • diary December 04, 2011

    Diddy Complex

    “THIS CITY STRESSES ME OUT. I get anxiety as soon I land,” said Joel Mesler, cofounder of UNTITLED gallery, as we sat over legs of disembodied octopi during a Blum & Poe dinner at the Soho Beach House on Wednesday night of the Art Basel Miami Beach cavalcade. In all its white-suited trashiness and conspicuous consumption, the Miami fair week is stressful: Dealers stressing about collectors. Collectors stressing about outgunning other collectors. Curators stressed by trustees. Most everyone in the business stressed out about dinners and parties. Wandering aimlessly from free drink to free drink,

  • Alika Cooper

    In LA’s textile district, acres of warehouse space are packed with bolts of fabric shoulder to shoulder in rotund cylinders and flatboarded stacks. Three, four, five deep, they quietly rub against one another—satin sliding against royal velvet brushing cottons rough and fine; patterns of interlocking diamonds and pulsating paisleys clashing with fields of tiny flowers splayed across expanses of beige, for a grand optical performance. Taken at once, this heterogeneous mélange hints at the infinitude of combinatorial possibility. In this spirit, Los Angeles–based artist Alika Cooper rearticulates

  • diary November 12, 2011

    Star Spangled

    “AT LEAST 50 PERCENT of the people here are on Prozac.”

    Or at least they were according to artist Friedrich Kunath. We were having cocktails in the tented courtyard–cum–hotel lounge at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Art+Film Gala last Saturday night. Behind us, a fourteen-piece orchestra played Ennio Morricone film scores; just then they struck up the theme from Amarcord. An artist was conducting a poll: If forced to choose, which male movie star would you sleep with? He chose George Clooney. His friend, standing by, chose Brad Pitt. Neither of these celebrities was on hand at the gala,

  • diary April 25, 2011

    Not Safe for Work

    WHAT ARE THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN personal and professional? The most serious artists, it’s often said, refuse the cult of personality and spurn the biographic. “It’s about the work,” goes the bromide. But sometimes it’s the bleed between labor and life that makes the best material, a fact made brilliantly evident by Frances Stark’s performance I’ve Had It and a Half last Sunday at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. The press release promised “adult themes,” not “suitable for all audiences.” This wasn’t going to be personal in the decorative, Facebook sense of the term.

    As the audience settled into

  • diary February 07, 2011

    California Dreamin’

    LOS ANGELES HOLDS SWAY as the promised land, with plenty of space for everyone’s dreams, a city always ever just about to be. When art fair organizers dream of Los Angeles, they conjure something like the intro to a soft-core porno, something beachy and free and easy with wealthy collectors trailing after cruising movie stars who are ready to deliver, offscreen, the necessary money shot. Along with the sophomore iteration of Art Los Angeles Contemporary, which ran the weekend before last, it seems that the Merchandise Mart has been having its own California dreams, materializing this September

  • picks December 01, 2010

    Julian Hoeber

    Teetering with a delicate joy, Demon Hill, 2010, the sinister roadside attraction seemingly designed by Donald Judd’s carny cousin, currently resides too far above the ground (the second-floor patio of the Hammer) to be a supernatural turn or geologic irregularity. Hardly a hidden slope to cloud the senses or to convince the credulous of the supernatural, Demon Hill wears all its tricks on its sleeve, angling to be less a simple trick than wonderfully tricky. Constructed with steel frame and handsomely cheap plywood, and studded with fluorescent light tubes, the clever concoction—a small chamber

  • diary October 19, 2010

    Night Watch

    THOUGH I WOKE UP rather early, last Thursday didn’t seem to start until noon, when I leaned into the folds of a soft gray sofa to watch Christian Marclay’s latest video masterpiece The Clock, projected onto a large screen at White Cube’s modernist box, the one plunked in the middle of Mason’s Yard. One clip led and bled into another: Trains were missed, Leonardo DiCaprio barely made the Titanic, cowboys with twitching handlebar mustaches and dusty chaps delicately fingered their pistols, and my habit of obsessively checking my watch was made redundant by the slew of clocks on-screen—each of

  • diary October 04, 2010

    Pork Chops

    THOUGH LOS ANGELES is often praised for the quality of its light, we tend to hold our openings at civilized times, under the cover of darkness. So it was unusual that secondary-market titans L&M Arts launched their primary-market flagship with a brunch in broad daylight—and in Venice, at that, a place way far out from where any native Angeleno would actually want to visit. Of course, one couldn’t blame proprieters Dominique Lévy and Robert Mnuchin for opening their two Kulapat Yantrasast–designed structures near the beach (connected only by an open-air plaza, because, you know, it never rains

  • diary September 12, 2010

    Beer Goggles

    DRINKING AND LOS ANGELES tend to be a bad mix. Or so I pondered as I puttered through weekday rush hour traffic in my car, en route to the Hammer Museum to drink beer with Tom Marioni and bartender Ed Ruscha for a fortieth-anniversary iteration of Marioni’s Drinking Beer with Friends Is the Highest Form of Art. I also wondered if Marioni was my “friend,” but in an age where “friend” is a social-networking verb, I supposed I was close enough.

    I was the first drinker to belly up to the bar, where Ruscha, wearing sunglasses at night, asked simply: “Beer?” Suntanned and laconic, he made me wonder

  • diary March 19, 2010

    Tour of Duty

    Los Angeles

    DOES ANYONE REMEMBER when “jet-set” meant something? With the (art) world continuing to shift about from fair to fair, I thought it might be nice to stay grounded in Los Angeles, my own sun-stroked heartland. Sauntering into Regen Projects last Friday night for the opening of Jack Pierson’s seventh exhibition at the gallery, I supposed we had another New York carpetbagger on our hands. Looking at his work, I should have known better, and indeed Pierson informed me that he lives part-time with his boyfriend out in Twentynine Palms, a desert town a few hours from Los Angeles known more for its

  • diary February 28, 2010

    Los Angeles Plays Itself


    “I SHOULD GET A JOB with the Chamber of Commerce,” said Kris Kuramitsu, curator, along with critic Christopher Miles, of “Panorama: Los Angeles”—the special focus of this year’s ARCO. Previous editions of the Spanish art fair have highlighted countries (India, China, Mexico, Brazil), so it was unclear whether it was a compliment to my hometown or a backhanded slap to previous foci that LA was getting such outsize attention. Nevertheless, a slew of Angelenos jetted in for the sort of panels, performances, parties, and exhibitions that make up the schedule of every international art fair.

    ARCO was

  • diary January 12, 2010

    Going Deitch

    Los Angeles

    THIS MORNING, several dozen reporters huddled and gossiped at a crowded press conference held in the lobby (the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Reception Hall, to be precise) of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s flagship California Plaza venue. The reporters and a smattering of others were there to “welcome” Jeffrey Deitch, the museum’s first director since the embattled Jeremy Strick resigned during the fallout over MoCA’s dissolute finances in 2008. There had been some attempts, reported on Facebook, to assemble a group of “concerned members of the community” outside the museum who would

  • diary December 24, 2009

    Roamin’ Holiday

    Los Angeles

    “WE DON’T FUCK AROUND WITH CHRISTMAS,” said Mara McCarthy, director of the Box LA, at her holiday party in Altadena last Friday night, one of a string of holiday activities and end-of-season wrap-ups scattered across Los Angeles. There’s plenty of evidence of that: After seeing the premillennium installation by her father, Paul McCarthy, Tokyo Santa Santa’s Trees, currently up at LA MoCA, and his more recent chocolate Santa with Tree and Bell (replete with rounded butt plug), I—not unreasonably, I thought—expected some scatological take on the most American of commercial holidays. But aside from

  • diary December 07, 2009

    Mas Que Nada


    “IT’S AMATEUR HOUR,” said one fair director, hoisting a ladder. “Lots of new galleries that have never done a fair before.” That the director in question happened to be changing a lightbulb during his own VIP preview spoke mountains about the altered economic and social climate at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach agglomeration. A clusterfuck of competing parties, talks, openings, concerts, performances, brunches (still no time for lunch), and dinners, the unconnected continued to get held up at the velvet rope—even if this year the rope was slung a little lower, giving access to the main fair