• David Smith, Blue Construction, 1938, sheet steel with baked-enamel finish, 36 1/4 x 28 1/2 x 30". © Estate of David Smith

    David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
    5905 Wilshire Boulevard
    April 3–July 24

    Curated by Carol S. Eliel

    The invitingly contradictory title “Cubes and Anarchy” captures a divergence not only in the work of David Smith but in Abstract Expressionism generally, with its range from the repetitive rigor of Ad Reinhardt to the improvisational drive of Jackson Pollock. Smith was particularly protean, making drawings, paintings, and photographs as well as the sculptures for which he is best known; having felt his way into sculpture as a student of painting, he aimed to outdo the two forms by fusing them together. Including 102 works in all of Smith’s various media and spanning his entire artistic career, this exhibition and its multiauthored catalogue promise to respect his catholic spirit. Ambitiously, curator Carol S. Eliel likewise promises that what may sound like a formal study of Smith’s use of geometry will also explore the role of his politics in his thinking.

  • Eileen Quinlan,The Raft, 2010, black-and-white photograph mounted on aluminum, 60 x 48". From “All of This and Nothing.”

    All of This and Nothing

    Hammer Museum
    10899 Wilshire Boulevard
    January 30–April 24

    Curated by Anne Ellegood and Douglas Fogle

    For this sixth edition of the Hammer Invitational, curators Anne Ellegood and Douglas Fogle have decided to expand the show’s reach to include figures from well outside of Los Angeles such as Karla Black, Fernando Ortega, and Eileen Quinlan, alongside a mix of local names, from Dianna Molzan to Frances Stark. The connective tissue between all fourteen artists is finer than ever before, having less to do with a conceptual or material focus than with a subtle ambivalence that is very much of the moment. As the title, a Psychedelic Furs reference, suggests, this sensibility entails a simultaneous embrace of poverty and excess—doing too much with not enough, and vice versa—which is what artists have always done, though perhaps never so explicitly. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with essays by Ellegood and Fogle as well as the artist Charles Long.

  • Al Taylor, The Peabody Group #32, 1992, graphite, watercolor, gouache, ink, and coffee on Lenox wove paper, 50 x 38".

    Al Taylor: Wire Instruments and Pet Stains

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    Bergamot Station G1 2525 Michigan Avenue
    January 21–April 16

    Curated by Elsa Longhauser and Lisa Melandri

    At last, a museum survey for Al Taylor, who has been largely—and criminally— overlooked in the United States. Though restricted to only two series (“Wire Instruments,” 1989–90, and “Pet Stains,” 1989–92), the exhibition will bring us some fifty works, including not only drawings but a number of objects the artist made from scavenged materials,constructions that were both inspired by and the subject of many works on paper. Taylor thought of his entire practice as a form of drawing—and of drawing, in turn, as a method for seeing. In these works, his rigorous devotion to process and form is poked and prodded by his sly, sometimes screwball wit, but is never undone. Although his lineage appears to include Duchamp, Rodchenko, and Twombly (a strange family indeed), Taylor clearly lives on his own rambunctious planet.