Critics’ Picks

Paul McCarthy, Train, Mechanical, 2003–2010, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Paul McCarthy, Train, Mechanical, 2003–2010, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Jeff Koons’s Bowl With Eggs on the 210 Freeway, New Atlantis Enterprises, Paul McCarthy

Few exhibitions this year rivaled the peculiar sight of Jeff Koons’s Bowl With Eggs, 2009, abandoned on the 210 freeway, moments after it had been unhitched from the truck responsible for its safe delivery from Carlson & Co. to the artist’s studio. On the same day that a video of the incident made its way onto YouTube with the title “jeffkoons.3gp,” the legendary art-fabricator announced that it was ceasing operations after almost forty years in the business. Many took this all to mean that the end was near, if it hadn’t come already. But in Los Angeles, where the cultural climate is by now post-post-apocalyptic (already itself a cliché), there was the promise of a new paradigm, inaugurated by the formation of a research initiative called New Atlantis Enterprises.

The brainchild of artist Piero Golia, with collaborators Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Lesley Moon, Justin Von Der Fehr, Kevin Lubrano, Janine Armin, Anne Mathern, and Paige Marton, NAE has endeavored for the past seven months to conduct research for an ever-expanding client base and to utilize its showroom-like headquarters in the Pacific Design Center as an ongoing display of this somewhat scientific process. In the mire of conventional exhibitions, NAE has been a welcome addition that provides more questions than it does answers. But this year also witnessed the westward expansion of L&M Arts, which opened in Los Angeles with a presentation of three masterfully produced sculptures by the city’s own Paul McCarthy. The show displayed McCarthy’s technical abilities, his unparalleled perversion of scale, and a level of material experimentation matched only by Disney’s Imagineers. If the accidental disposal of Koons’s Eggs a few months earlier onto a California interstate represented imminent doom, McCarthy’s exhibition proved that the old guard would not go easily. When the end appears to be near, we can rely on McCarthy and the younger upstarts like New Atlantis Enterprises to remind us of our ongoing responsibility to stand at the forefront of innovation and culture and, ultimately, to ask the important questions about the ability of animatronic sculpture to accurately convey the sense of George W. Bush fucking a pig.

Aram Moshayedi is a writer and assistant curator of the Gallery at REDCAT in Los Angeles.