Michael Ned Holte

  • Michael Ned Holte

    MICHAEL NED HOLTE

    1 Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics Note to artists—and you know who you are: Stop attempting to produce spectacle. The real thing is always so much more, well, spectacular. New characters and narratives (Michael Phelps, Yao Ming’s homecoming, creepy underage gymnasts, and so on) emerged daily at the twenty-ninth Olympiad, but the biggest story of the games was China—a concept as much as a country—which beat the United States in the gold medal tally and out-Hollywooded Hollywood with a jaw-dropping opening ceremony in Herzog & de Meuron’s “Bird’s Nest.” If China’s

  •  View of “Lisa Lapinski: The Fret and Its Variants,” 2008, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Foreground: Monty Python Precedes Dungeons and Dragons, 2008.

    Lisa Lapinski

    LISA LAPINSKI MOVES regularly among media and craft traditions in her work, drawing from a wide variety of artistic and architectural lineages, models, and methodologies—often combining seemingly incompatible iconographies and motifs. As a result, the artist places enormous importance on the audience’s consideration not only of objects but also of the theoretical and cultural glues bonding disparate things together. In this regard, her aggregated output could be said to recall the concept of “systems esthetics,” articulated forty years ago in these pages by Jack Burnham. “We are now in

  • Peter Saul

    OK, I MESSED UP / WHAT’S NEXT? asks a man with an extra ear and nose, his ocher and hot pink face feverishly oozing beyond its familiar contours, in a typically nightmarish painting by Peter Saul (OK, I Messed Up . . . , 2003). The question—a casual admission of guilt immediately followed by a lusty lurch forward—marks a moment of unvarnished self-awareness in this timely retrospective of the painter’s genuinely unsettling corpus. People tend to either love or hate Saul’s paintings, though some split the difference, detesting their lurid subject matter—which aims to offend everybody, if we take

  • Jacques Rivette, Céline and Julie Go Boating, 1974, stills from a color film in 35 mm, 193 minutes. Left: Julie (Dominique Labourier). Right: Céline (Juliet Berto).
    film June 12, 2008

    Double Feature

    IN HIS AMOROUS 1975 essay “Upon Leaving the Movie Theater,” Roland Barthes intimates that “we go to the movies through sloth, out of an inclination for idleness, inactivity. It is as though, before even entering the theater, the traditional prerequisites for hypnosis were met: a feeling of emptiness, idleness, inactivity: we dream, not by viewing the film or by the effect of its content, rather, we dream, unwittingly, before becoming its spectator. There exists a ‘cinematic condition’ and this condition is prehypnotic.” In the essay, Barthes avoids referring to any film in particular, but his

  • OPENINGS: ALICE KÖNITZ

    THE GLENDALE FREEWAY, a short section of California State Route 2, is relatively underused by Los Angeles standards and terminates abruptly at the threshold between the neighborhoods of Echo Park and Silver Lake. Originally built in the 1950s as part of the anticipated “Beverly Hills Freeway”—which was conceived to provide a direct and more efficient connection for drivers between the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains at the northern extremity of the city to its western edge at Santa Monica Beach—the structure was left unfinished in 1975, when the highway plans were finally nixed after

  • Wally Hedrick

    The first and most monumental of numerous black monochromes featured in this timely and well-edited survey of works by Wally Hedrick, who died in 2003 at the age of seventy-five, is War Room, 1967–68/2002, a massive volume enclosed on four sides by eight huge, vertical canvases bolted together. The backs of the paintings’ stretchers face outward so that the work resembles a theater set, and a door inserted in one of the canvases allows viewers to step inside the tomblike vault of a space. The tarlike oil surfaces of Hedrick’s paintings are heavy—in multiple senses of the word: They are visually

  • Mark Flores

    Amid the lush, tipped-in plates and eye-popping grids of pinks and oranges, yellows and greens in the masterly text of his 1961 classic The Art of Color, Bauhaus teacher Johannes Itten strikes an unexpectedly melancholic note: “When the individual dies, he blanches. His face and body lose color as the light of life is extinguished. The dead soulless matter of the corpse is devoid of chromatic emanation.” In his second solo exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery, in which Itten plays a leading role, Mark Flores negotiated the complex territory between formal color theory and the form of the human

  • Mel Bochner

    Situated somewhere within the overlapping boundaries of Conceptual, Minimalist, and post-Minimalist practice, Mel Bochner’s career has, in recent years, proven remarkably susceptible to critical and historical reevaluation, primarily through theme-driven exhibitions. In 2002, Bochner’s photographic work of the late 1960s was pulled into the spotlight after many years of neglect, and in 2006, his deployment of language provided the framework for a career-spanning survey. Taken together, these strands suggest a practice far more varied and fluid than has so far been accounted for. Now, with a

  • View of “Michael Asher.”
    picks March 10, 2008

    Michael Asher

    For a Los Angeles artist with a weighty résumé dating back to the late 1960s and a critical reputation guaranteeing him a secure place in the history of advanced art, it’s surprising how infrequently Michael Asher has actually exhibited in his hometown. His best-known work on home turf occurred in 1974 at Claire Copley Gallery, where in one cunning gesture, he simply removed the wall separating the exhibition space from the office. Much of his local renown is based on his long-standing faculty position at CalArts, where he influenced several generations of artists (including Christopher Williams,

  • Kaari Upson

    Remember the scene in David Fincher’s 1995 neo-noir Seven when detectives, played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, scavenge the hermetically sealed apartment of Kevin Spacey’s serial killer “John Doe”? The scariest moment arrives not when the two dicks find a neon cross over the bed, nor endless emptied pill bottles, nor even the gruesome severed hands of a victim, but when they uncover hundreds of notebooks, densely filled with psychotic scholarship. It’s the kind of image that finds lineage from the revelation of Norman Bates’s skeletal mother to the wall of stolen family photos in the Robin

  • Elad Lassry

    In his confident solo debut, elliptically titled “She Takes These Pictures of His Wife Silhouetted on a Hillside,” young Los Angeles–based artist Elad Lassry subtly intimated an understanding of the differing codes of commercial and fine art photography and played along the complex contours of that border. Most of Lassry’s photographs seem overly familiar—if difficult to place precisely—and in fact several works in the show are found images. In Joanne and Trace, No Distractions, B2 (all works 2007), for example, a double-page spread of a mother and baby from Life magazine from 1970 is

  • Michael Ned Holte

    THE WRITING, as they say, is on the wall. This past summer I received an unexpected e-mail informing me that the days were numbered for Art Center’s master of arts program in art theory and criticism (of which, it should be mentioned in the name of full disclosure, I am an alumnus and “adviser”). Over the past decade or so, this proverbial little-program-that-could has taken various shapes and forms, all of them at or near the margins of the increasingly corporate and conservative pedagogy of the Pasadena institution, while spawning an impressive if necessarily short list of alumni, including