Michael Ned Holte

  • James Benning, Ruhr, 2009, still from a color film in HD, 121 minutes.
    film January 06, 2010

    Digital Watch

    JAMES BENNING is as synonymous with observing the evolving American landscape as he is with 16-mm filmmaking, so it makes perfect sense that his first feature-length work in high-definition video would be an investigation of a German territory largely unfamiliar to the artist. In many ways, the construction of Ruhr, 2009, will be familiar to Benning’s followers: For each of seven shots that constitute the two-hour work, Benning’s frame remains fixed, allowing events—often subtle and frequently located at the threshold of wilderness and industry—to unfold before the camera in “real” time, unhurried

  • Tamara Sussman

    Los Angeles is constantly threatened by a variety of natural disasters: raging wildfires, giant mudslides, and—above all others—earthquakes. The arrival of “the big one” is generally regarded as a matter of when, not if, for Southern Californians. Despite that devastating inevitability, life goes on, more or less blissfully, and existential dread is largely sublimated or enacted in an endless procession of Hollywood spectacles. (Roland Emmerich’s 2012, in which the City of Angels slides swiftly into the Pacific Ocean, is only the latest.) Less dramatic, if no less frightening, is a list of recent

  • Michael Ned Holte

    MICHAEL NED HOLTE

    1 Larry Johnson (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles) Situated between Warhol’s cool remove and TMZ’s stalker embrace, Johnson’s photographs “to be looked at and/or read” don’t celebrate celebrity so much as they frame its simultaneous fantasy and banality. (Painfully fitting, then, that the King of Pop OD’d the same week this overdue retrospective opened.) Again and again, Johnson nails the duality of Hollywood as idyllic imago and boulevard of broken dreams. Wisely including several slight variations of similar works—a series of snowcapped landscapes with text-filled panels, for

  • Matthew Ronay

    In previous outings at this gallery and elsewhere, Matthew Ronay deployed sculptural objects with a smart, pop sheen that nearly disguised the works as products of mass manufacture: for example, Wiping Away Drips Obsolete, 2005, in which two blue Hula-hoops stacked in a corner are each draped with a used condom—all fastidiously crafted by the artist—or Obese Eclipsed Cock, 2005, in which two stacked, arcing cartoonish male members inflicted with bite marks align with a quintet of hamburgers climbing a thin brown plank that leans against the wall. At first glance, these specific objects, typically

  • Claude Collins-Stracensky

    Evidence of a manic, multitasking mind quietly pervaded the assembly of otherwise contemplative objects and larger architectonic maneuvers that constituted Claude Collins-Stracensky’s solo show at the Hammer. Before entering the square, glass-walled gallery located in the museum’s main lobby, one was directed to look through large circular apertures inserted in the drywall barriers separating the lobby from the gallery and the gallery from the street. Unlike the infamous portals Gordon Matta-Clark once chainsawed into condemned buildings, a gesture inevitably recalled here, Collins-Stracensky’s

  • Paul Outerbridge

    Is there anybody left who would question the viability of photography as an artistic medium? With high-profile exhibitions of the Pictures generation and the New Topographics group, and a slew of recent or upcoming group shows of emerging artists working in and around the medium, photography never seemed more serious as a medium—or site of discourse. Even Michael Fried, a major critic who by and large sidestepped three decades of art’s development after Minimalism, eventually turned his attention to the once-lowly discussion.

    Still, not every photograph qualifies as art—or even aspires to the

  • John Baldessari, God Nose, 1965, oil on canvas, 68 x 57".

    John Baldessari

    This expansive exhibition should connect the proverbial dots with more than 130 works from five decades of collage, video, installation, and—yes— painting.

    “Pure Beauty” seems a funny name for a retrospective of an artist who cremated all his paintings in 1970 and voided the photographed faces of dozens of Hollywood starlets with signature colored spots, but of course an unsettlingly ironic humor runs through Baldessari’s career. This expansive exhibition should connect the proverbial dots with more than 130 works from five decades of collage, video, installation, and—yes— painting. In Los Angeles the artist’s influence looms (conspicuously) large. Accompanied by a catalogue with essays from Bice Curiger,

  • Kerry Tribe

    In 2002, Kerry Tribe produced a book titled North Is West/South Is East: 32 Maps of Los Angeles, for which strangers, approached by the artist at LAX airport, drew maps of southern California from memory. The maps provided by local residents were generally rife with detail, emphasizing idiosyncratic or personal information; the maps drawn by tourists, on the other hand, were often amusingly—if understandably—confused, skeletal, or oversimplified products of the contemporary imaginary. As an example of the latter category, a map might consist only of Hollywood, Disneyland, and the beach—three

  • Jutta Koether

    Regardless of one’s expectations of transparency, glass can be a deceitful, paradoxical material given to both illusion and allusion. This became apparent with the twenty-eight-foot-wide wall of glass (with white, painted wood edges) that served as a support for a dozen paintings in Jutta Koether’s third solo exhibition at Susanne Vielmetter, “Sovereign Women in Painting.” Mounted on this wall, facing the entrance, were Koether’s ostensibly “black” paintings, including four small, nearly identical, monochrome triangles with smears of dried resin. On the other side of the glass partition hung

  • “Boofthle Booth-Booth: Deux Doox—The Hollywood Biennale”

    Given the ruinous economy and the resulting shrinkage of the art world, it’s hardly surprising that someone would literalize the collapse by squeezing a biennial exhibition into the space of an art fair booth. “Boofthle Booth-Booth: Deux Doox—The Hollywood Biennale,” a thirty-artist show organized by artist Mateo Tannatt, attempted to do just that, though the “booth” in question was Tannatt’s apartment, which for two years has doubled as the gallery Pauline, and the self-styled “Biennale” label was a parodic reach. As the subtitle “Deux Doox” implies, “Boofthle” was a sequel, and, like last

  • Mark Flood

    Mark Flood’s works unsettle the viewer as they teeter between seediness and seductiveness. The artist was born in Houston and has worked there as an artist (and, in the 1980s, as a musician) for three decades, but at first glance it would be easy to imagine the producer of such objects as a scavenger of Southern California’s flotsam, unearthed along Hollywood Boulevard or at a gas station near a freeway off-ramp. (Living in the epicenter of the entertainment industry, one tends to forget that mass culture isn’t just a local phenomenon.) Celebrities, or at least their images, often treated to

  • Robert Heinecken

    “Many pictures,” Robert Heinecken once noted, “turn out to be limp translations of the known world instead of vital objects which create an intrinsic world of their own. There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.” This statement neatly divides the history of photography in two and leaves little doubt as to which side of that line Heinecken, who died in 2006 at the age of seventy-four, saw himself on. And, whether intentionally or not, the phrase “limp translations” suggestively points at one of his major fixations. Indeed, a succinct recent survey at Marc Selwyn