Andrew Berardini

  • diary September 02, 2009

    Trial by Fire

    Malibu, California

    “THE CITY BURNING is Los Angeles’s deepest image of itself,” wrote Joan Didion in 1965. Driving along I-10 toward Southern California’s newest art fair, the Malibu Annual, I only had to glance to my right to see the orange fires running like scars through the hills and ominous, billowing clouds stretching across the blue sky to the northeast. The sense of impending doom stood in odd contrast to the unflagging optimism of the dealers assembling their booths across town in Malibu.

    The Hamptons have long been the place for artists and dealers’ summer flings, so it makes sense for Malibu, the aspiring

  • picks August 25, 2009

    Karen Lofgren

    In the 1970s, Lynda Benglis notoriously flirted with vulgarity in her slicing response to the machismo of contemporary male artists. Karen Lofgren’s solo debut, the installation Gold Flood, 2009, expands on Benglis’s response to Minimalist sculpture by injecting that aesthetic with a dose of the fantastic and potent ambiguity (as well as historical scholarship in a limited-edition artist’s book) surrounding the most sought-after of substances: gold. Lofgren’s site-specific sculpture (in multiple parts) lines the baseboards along the gallery walls, and though made of wood that is carefully rendered

  • diary July 18, 2009

    Black Market

    Los Angeles

    “LIKE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC IN A GAY SEX CLUB,” observed MC Gallery’s Renaud Proch last Friday night as we watched Mark Verabioff and Flora Wiegmann’s performance at the Eighth Veil. Hollywood’s latest gallery takes its name from the Seventh Veil, an adjacent strip club on Sunset Boulevard. That club’s neon arabesque sign flickered over the crowd waiting outside, which included artists Jedidiah Caesar, Mary Weatherford, and Eli Langer, as well Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery director Enkhe Dashdavaa, and recent LA transplant Shamim Momin.

    When the door finally swung open, a disembodied, but not

  • diary April 07, 2009

    Tourist Trap

    Los Angeles

    “AT HOME HE’S A TOURIST / He fills his head with culture / He gives himself an ulcer.” The words from the Gang of Four song kept rattling around my head as I made my way through last week’s rambling Los Angeles Art Weekend. The event, ostensibly an open house for LA culture but originally conceived by New Yorkers, was quickly latched on to by Angelenos for its salubrious marketing opportunities. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the framing makes me feel a like a tourist in my hometown; there might be such a thing as too much culture.

    The “weekend” stretched somewhat amorphously over four days with

  • picks March 28, 2009

    Richard Jackson, Franz Ackermann

    The unlikely pairing of Richard Jackson and Franz Ackermann makes the two artists’ wildly divergent attitudes about painting become momentarily entangled. Jackson, who hasn’t had a hometown solo exhibition in seventeen years, uses paint in a way that recalls blood and guts or the slippery leavings of an abattoir. While art critics have quibbled over the supposed death of painting for years, Jackson has had its blood on his hands—or, metaphorically, at least, on the instruments he uses to pump and squeeze paint all over the gallery. In this installation, he offers a kid-size kitchen table with

  • diary February 22, 2009

    Golden Graham

    Los Angeles

    “WELCOME TO LOS ANGELES. Welcome to LA. None of the above,” began Paul McCarthy, introducing his friend and colleague Dan Graham at a press conference the Friday before last, the kickoff to a weekend plump with events celebrating the first stop of Graham’s retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The cultural press corps was assembled, pens and BlackBerrys in hand, to welcome a couple of firsts: the first US retrospective for Graham and also the first major opening following the narrowly averted financial ruin of MoCA, recently saved by unlikely white knight Eli Broad. Graham, though,

  • diary January 22, 2009

    Another Woman

    Los Angeles

    THE CHATEAU MARMONT is the best of the worst of Los Angeles. Somehow its Spanish Revival style, permissive attitude, and proximity to trashy but expensive nightclubs make it a favorite locale for a certain class of carpetbagging Angelenos: Actors doll up for premieres while would-bes and has-beens belly up to the bar. I hate to admit it, but all things frivolously LA to the side, I rather like it there: For this, Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon. Though the area’s traffic is always brutal, it was hard to turn down an invitation last Wednesday to a launch of Doug Aitken’s latest art book, Write-In

  • diary November 04, 2008

    California Dreaming

    Los Angeles

    THOUGH THE REST OF THE WORLD is in turmoil, Los Angeles still features the shimmering, if smog-tainted, veneer of implacability. Hollywood is depression proof; the sun never stops shining, entertainment endures. Or so I thought last Thursday as I walked into Wolfgang Tillmans’s opening at Regen Projects. There was genuine cheer, but also genuine pressure.

    Tillmans’s latest series looks like much of his more recent materialist investigations into photography: Grainy snaps of intimate moments with friends are juxtaposed with Plexiglas and plywood tables displaying artifacts—like sketches of the

  • picks July 24, 2008

    “Please Stay Out, We're Open”

    Group shows litter the landscape during sluggish summers. They last for months while collectors and often even dealers are out of town, and allow artists to play without too much pressure. This year, at Redling Fine Art, the summer heat has more than slowed things down—it has made the gallery shut its doors. With no air conditioner strong enough to cool the high-ceilinged space, the staff has checked out. But the show goes on, and at a dizzying pace. Twelve artists—both on and off the gallery’s regular roster—will present work that can be seen only from outside the glass front doors in exhibitions

  • diary May 31, 2008

    Speck and Span

    Bolzano, Italy

    On my way to the press conference last Friday afternoon for the opening of the new Museion in Bolzano, Italy, it was abnormally difficult to circumnavigate the drunken men in lederhosen and Alpini hats munching on speck. The local prosciutto is so ubiquitous that I quickly learned in the region’s two principal languages (German and Italian) how to ask for food without it. I would like to think they were celebrating the beautiful new building for the museum of modern and contemporary art overlooking the Talvera River in the city’s center, but in fact they were enjoying the carnivorous bacchanal

  • picks March 10, 2008

    Euan Macdonald

    Surrealism’s patron saint Comte de Lautréamont wrote of “the fortuitous encounter of an umbrella and a sewing machine on an operating table.” Changed to “the fortuitous encounter of American piano music and a tumbleweed on a Los Angeles freeway,” Lautréamont's quote begins to elucidate the poetic practice of Euan Macdonald, the subject of this eleven-year survey, which captures the same disparities and chance encounters that so interested Lautréamont, but with an explicitly musical bent.

    In a Los Angeles thrift store, Macdonald found an old stack of sheet music for American standards that, when

  • picks February 14, 2008

    David Brady

    At first glance, the two works exhibited here from David Brady’s series “Studies for the Movement of Air,” 2008, seem to possess nearly uniform grisaille surfaces bordered by white paper. Initially suggestive of Vija Celmins’s finely rendered drawings, Brady’s pieces quickly reveal themselves to be the results of a different process altogether: The artist attacked the sheets of paper with a charcoal-loaded sandblaster, thus recording the movement of air and capturing ephemeral moments of natural phenomena. Although most of the exhibited works were made with the help of machines, the works—which

  • picks January 09, 2008

    Anthony Pearson

    A movement seems to have recently emerged of artists, including Walead Beshty, Amy Granat, Michael Rashkow, Jennifer West, and Anthony Pearson, who are interested in expanding the formal and material dimensions of film and photography. Pearson’s recent investigations into the modes and processes of photography have led to his making elegant pictures that are more cleanly formal and less intentionally rough-hewn than those of his peers. His work carries with it the history of photographic form, from its alchemical origins to early modernist experiments to the digital present. Tinkering with the

  • diary December 21, 2007

    Smock and Awe

    Los Angeles

    On last Saturday’s sunny afternoon, while galleries around her prepared for the final openings of the autumn, artist Andrea Zittel was hocking smocks in the courtyard in front of Regen Projects. Although Smockshop will soon be freestanding (in both the physical and, separate as it is from Zittel’s practice, the conceptual senses), its future home, in Chinatown, has yet to be completed. Rather than wait, Zittel has decided to take the store on the road. At around $350 dollars apiece, the smocks are cheap if you think of them as art, less so if you think of them as clothes. In designing the patterns

  • picks December 05, 2007

    Anna Sew Hoy

    The materials on the checklist of Anna Sew Hoy’s first solo exhibition in four years (and her first at Karyn Lovegrove) read like the inventory of a garage sale or a craft carnival, but she pulls them together into delightfully strange sculptures that mix the handmade with the conceptual—more punk-rock Louise Bourgeois than feminist Martha Stewart. Sew Hoy’s exhibition, titled “hook and eye,” consists of thirteen ceramic wall hangings suspended from whitewashed plywood walls that encircle a freestanding sculpture made of denim, logs, flocking, and foam. The hangings blend craft with distinctly

  • picks November 09, 2007

    Mark Hagen

    Though this is only Mark Hagen’s second solo show, each group of artworks presented in the Mandrake’s back room seems pulled from separate phases of a robust career. This inchoate diversity is evidence that the thoughts made manifest in what’s on view are still forming in the fiery furnace of this young artist’s imagination. After passing through the bar, one first encounters four paintings, three of which depict found documents: Scientology’s “Genesis” document, wherein L. Ron Hubbard describes the alien civilization that founded the human race ninety billion years ago with an atomic bomb, a

  • diary October 03, 2007

    Foot Traffic

    Los Angeles

    Last Saturday, held up by typical Los Angeles traffic, I arrived at the Hammer Museum’s theater a few minutes after 3 PM, which is to say a few minutes late for the lecture Francis Alÿs was delivering on the occasion of “The Politics of Rehearsal,” his solo retrospective opening that night. Alÿs sat alone at the rear of the dark stage, a stack of notes and a laptop before him, speaking quietly in a soft Belgian accent inflected mildly by his years spent in Mexico. The capacity audience—which included artist Alexandra Grant, Gallery at REDCAT curator Clara Kim, and critic Jan Tumlir—was equally

  • picks October 01, 2007


    How German Is It. The title of Walter Abish’s 1979 novel seems a fitting declaration for this exhibition, curated by Ellen Blumenstein, comprising six young, male, Berlin-based artists. Germany’s bellicose history and its attendant guilt have proven essential fodder for all manner of artists, with monumental results from Anselm Kiefer and more subtle ones from Gerhard Richter. But the artists in “Männerphantasien” are less interested in historical gravity and more in life inside a national cultural imaginary, using place, history, and subjective perceptions as material for collage. Martin Dammann

  • diary September 20, 2007

    Rise and Sprawl

    Los Angeles

    If the city of Los Angeles has always been synonymous with sprawl, why should its art world be any different? Last weekend marked the second wave of notable gallery openings inaugurating the new season in this ever-burgeoning city. Already, back-to-school camaraderie was beginning to give way to combat-zone shell shock. On Friday, while young skaters swarmed around Barry McGee at REDCAT, I navigated my way through the orange, smoggy dusk to preternaturally scrubbed West Hollywood for Lari Pittman’s opening at Regen Projects.

    Nearly everyone who walked into the gallery’s new space on Santa Monica

  • diary September 08, 2007

    Luxury Imports

    San Francisco

    Could it be that the persistently provincial San Francisco Bay Area might finally give LA a run for its money as the West Coast’s cosmopolitan art capital? The question came to mind after attending last week’s collegial openings and parties for Jens Hoffmann’s curatorial debut at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts and “Take Your Time,” Olafur Eliasson’s small survey at SF MoMA.

    The California College of the Arts (which has recently dropped “and Crafts” from its name) inhabits a former Greyhound station in an industrial neighborhood that locals say is “somewhere between SoMa and