• Wendy MacNeil

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

    Wendy MacNeil’s portraits have an eerie verisimilitude, of the sort associated (paradoxically) with funerary art—death masks, say, or the encaustic portraits painted on Roman-Egyptian mummy cases. Both the illusionism and the ritualistic quality of her photographs are heightened by her technique: she prints her pictures, mostly frontal headshots, in platinum and palladium (with the delicate chiaroscuro these metals give), on skinlike veils of vellum.

    This striking combination of subject and process accentuates the intimacy of many of MacNeil’s portraits, especially those in “Ronald,” an ongoing

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  • Lin Hixson, “Hey John, Did You Take the El Camino Far?”

    1804 Industrial Street

    Lin Hixson’s Hey John, Did You Take the EI Camino Far? combined musical comedy with serious narrative and was refreshing in every way—deeply emotional, formally striking, sexy, and silly. The text of the piece, written by Hixson, Molly Cleator, and Valerie Faris (all three were also among the performers in this large-scale collaborative work), was developed from ten short stories by Hixson; it concerned the marriage of a Vietnam veteran, John, a Midwesterner whose war experience includes the covert murder of his colonel in retribution for atrocities the officer has forced his men to commit. When

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  • “Automobile and Culture”

    The Museum of Contemporary Art | MOCA Grand Avenue

    In 1922 the veristic painter Georg Scholz produced a meticulously acerbic lithograph entitled Daily Newspaper. The work is typical of contemporary partisan criticism, its point made by opposing two already shopworn stereotypes: the worker—downtrodden, physically dejected, and bone lean—and the plutocrat, top hatted of course, predictably porcine, and grinning malevolently. Like virtually every other of the nearly 200 paintings, photographs, sculptures, posters, drawings, and prints in this nearly monumental exhibition, Scholz’s piece illustrates an aspect of the cultural symbolism of the

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