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“LA Hot and Cool—The Eighties”

MIT List Visual Arts Center

In the introduction to the catalogue for this exhibition of recent work by 23 Los Angeles-based artists, curator Dana Friis-Hansen started off by asking the question “Has Los Angeles art hit the Big Time?” Pushing the naive notion of a regional art movement to an extreme, he went on to present his thesis that cool conceptual work and warmer representational work exist side by side there, embodying the city’s “two distinct temperaments.” Big surprise. With this ersatz intellectual baggage in tow, “LA Hot and Cool—The Eighties” became a grandiose travelogue for “the new art capital.”

To be sure, there was exceptional work in this show. Jim Isermann’s stood out front and center. A large flower mobile that hung in midair in the lobby outside the exhibition galleries (Flower Mobile, 1986) greeted all visitors to the exhibition. Like a huge earring, this multicolored, painted-steel sculpture

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