Michael Ned Holte

  • Barry Le Va, Minneapolis Institute of Art, 1968.

    Barry Le Va (1941–2021)

    BARRY LE VA came into my life in fall 2002, my first semester of grad school, when I chose a large drawing by him as the subject for my lengthy final paper in Bruce Hainley’s art-criticism seminar. The drawing in question had been recently acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where it hung alongside works by On Kawara, Adrian Piper, Ree Morton, and Lecia Dole-Recio. I remember this because I had never spent so much time looking at a single work in a museum. Its title—Separates: Centers, Sections, and Segments: Joined and Overlaid, Separated and Exchanged in Place 1974—was

  • Lari Pittman, Untitled #30 (A Decorated Chronology of Insistence and Resignation), 1994, acrylic, enamel, and glitter on wood, two panels, overall 6' 11“ × 13' 4”.

    MUCH TOO MUCH

    EVERY AMERICAN surely knows that Plymouth Rock marks the site where the Mayflower landed in 1620 before the Pilgrims it held founded the Plymouth Colony. It is likely that fewer Americans know that this historically significant rock was not identified as such until 1741, or that in 1774 the rock broke in half during an attempt to move it. Plymouth Rock is an allegory, one as American as apple pie and Manifest Destiny. (“Allegory,” Craig Owens once observed, “is consistently attracted to the fragmentary, the imperfect, the incomplete.”) Plymouth Rock is also the title of a 1985 painting by Lari

  • BARRY LE VA

    Curated by Alexis Lowry

    Elegant disasters, Barry Le Va’s dispersals are often referred to as “scatter pieces,” though the term is misleading, given the meticulous planning that precedes them. Made of familiar but unorthodox materials such as felt, flour, broken glass, wooden dowels, ball bearings, and even meat cleavers, these pieces are typically delimited by the extent of a gallery’s walls. A spare, early flour work, Omitted Section of a Section Omitted, 1968–69, gamely butted up against the side of Bruce Nauman’s corridor when it first appeared in the Whitney’s generation-defining exhibition

  • OPENINGS: FIONA CONNOR

    LONG BEFORE the advent of Craigslist, bulletin boards emblematized the self-organized welter of transactional democracy. That they continue to exist in schools, libraries, and coffee shops is a testament to their earnest, utilitarian promise, even as they tend to disappear in plain sight—that is, unless you’re suddenly in need of communication with a highly localized audience: You’ve lost a pet, you’re selling a car, you’re seeking guitar lessons or a Spanish tutor.

    In 2014, Fiona Connor initiated what would become an ongoing project by faithfully re-creating two small, gray, aluminum-framed

  • URBAN LEGENDS

    Tales of the Floating Class: Writings, 1982–2017, by Norman M. Klein. Valencia, CA: Golden Spike Press, 2019. 303 pages.

    IS IT POSSIBLE for critical theory to be anachronistic and prophetic at the same time? Norman M. Klein’s Tales of the Floating Class: Writings, 1982–2017, a compendium recently rereleased by tiny Los Angeles–based publisher Golden Spike Press, compels an affirmative answer, with the ongoing duel—the small initial 2018 printing quickly sold out—between cultural memory and its constant erasure acting as a perpetual catalyst. In other words, the future would be clear enough if we

  • Openings: Candice Lin

    A SHINY WHITE URINAL greeted visitors to Candice Lin’s exhibition last year at Bétonsalon Center for Art and Research in Paris. Mounted on a tiled wall as part of “Un corps blanc exquis” (A Hard White Body), the functional porcelain object literalized the exhibition’s title and inevitably evoked another piece of plumbing—one intended for and rejected by a fabled exhibition at New York’s Grand Central Palaceone hundred years earlier—that now serves as, well, a fixture of art history and an emblem of avant-garde provocations. Quite unlike that other urinal, the significance of which was

  • Allen Ruppersberg, The Singing Posters Part I–III (Poetry Sound Collage Sculpture Book)—Allen Ginsberg’s Howl
by Allen Ruppersberg (detail), 2003–2005, 209 letterpress posters, each 22 × 14".

    “Allen Ruppersberg: Intellectual Property 1968–2018”

    For five decades, Allen Ruppersberg has balanced grand gestures—say, opening a hotel or café under his own name, or transcribing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray by hand—with humble vernacular materials (Colby Poster Printing Company’s rainbow-gradient placards, pop LPs, laminated plastic, etc.) and self- effacing modesty (“Al”). Like his peers who defined West Coast Conceptualism (John Baldessari, Douglas Huebler, and Alexis Smith among them), Ruppersberg has embraced language as the province of visual art, often with humorous

  • View of “Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World,” 2017. Photo: Brian Forrest.

    Jimmie Durham

    YEARS IN THE MAKING, Jimmie Durham’s long-overdue first career survey in the United States couldn’t be more timely. As if to prove the point, the exhibition—which opened two days after President Donald Trump issued a discriminatory travel ban—includes a 1993 sculpture called Forbidden Things: an assemblage comprising an oak doorframe, a painted deerskin sign depicting contraband, and a nondescript box adorned with a cheap plastic bowl, in sum resembling an airport security gate. Throughout the show, such thresholds, borders, and boundaries are frequently demarcated and occasionally

  • View of “Henry Taylor,” 2016, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles. Wall, from left: yellow cap sunday, 2016; carolina miranda, 2016; fil’s house, 2016. Floor: Not Yet Titled, 2016. Photo: Joshua White.

    Michael Ned Holte

    1 HENRY TAYLOR (BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES) Taylor’s blunt, compelling portraits wove together three spaces in which sculptures and found objects conjured archetypal Los Angeles tableaux: a blighted urban landscape, a pastoral pool scene, an artist’s studio. The whole evoked Courbet’s The Painter’s Studio: A Real Allegory Summing Up Seven Years of My Artistic and Moral Life, 1854–55, with the artist situated between rich and powerful benefactors on one side and the undercommons on the other. Taylor’s allegory is real, too. On the way to the gallery, I drove past the homeless guy in front of See’s

  • Still from a live video feed showing the Million Dollar Theatre marquee during Daniel Joseph Martinez’s Ignore the Dents: A Micro Urban Opera, Los Angeles, September 1990.

    CHANGE AGENT: THE ART OF DANIEL JOSEPH MARTINEZ

    IN THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOLLYWOOD, the Million Dollar Theatre was the crown jewel among the grand movie palaces lining Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Its ornate exterior, designed in the elaborate Spanish churrigueresque style, abounded with carved bison, steer heads, and allegorical figures playing stringed instruments, while the interior scheme was inspired by John Ruskin’s 1841 fairy tale King of the Golden River. By the close of the 1980s, all the palaces on Broadway had fallen into disrepair, some converted into churches or budget theaters, others simply abandoned. Angelenos went to the

  • Anthony Hernandez

    Anthony Hernandez might be to Los Angeles what Eugène Atget is to Paris. While he has taken photographs in Rome, Baltimore, and elsewhere, Hernandez has, for more than four decades, persistently documented the oft-overlooked urban scenery of his native southern California—from the manicured storefronts and mannequinesque denizens of Beverly Hills to the remnants of homeless encampments improvised on the margins of the urban landscape. This retrospective, a first for the artist and the inaugural special exhibition in the museum’s new Pritzker Center for Photography,

  • Public Fiction’s storefront sign, Los Angeles, 2014.

    SYSTEMS OF BELIEF: PUBLIC FICTION

    THIS STORY BEGINS somewhere other than the beginning.

    It’s a hot summer night in Los Angeles, and the artist D’Ette Nogle is onstage accompanied by two big, restless dogs. Nogle is recounting the plot of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a hardly obscure movie that has been playing in theaters all over the world for the past month. Her narration, or “shaggy-dog story” (as she describes it), is exacting—almost brutally so, with the blow-by-blow continuing for some forty minutes. Nogle’s abundant energy never wanes, but the audience crammed into the stuffy storefront space starts to get visibly