los-angeles

View of “Blues for Smoke,” 2012–13. From left: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta, 1983; Kori Newkirk, Yall (detail), 2012; Kira Lynn Harris, But not the kind that’s Blue (detail), 2012; Richard Pryor, Richard Pryor Live in Concert, 1979; Beauford Delaney, Portrait of a Young Musician, n.d. Photo: Brian Forrest.

“Blues for Smoke”

MOCA Geffen Contemporary

View of “Blues for Smoke,” 2012–13. From left: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta, 1983; Kori Newkirk, Yall (detail), 2012; Kira Lynn Harris, But not the kind that’s Blue (detail), 2012; Richard Pryor, Richard Pryor Live in Concert, 1979; Beauford Delaney, Portrait of a Young Musician, n.d. Photo: Brian Forrest.

STANDING AT THE THRESHOLD of “Blues for Smoke,” one could see the following, reading from foreground to background: a video monitor playing Richard Pryor Live in Concert (1979); a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat; portraits of Jean Genet, Charlie Parker, and James Baldwin by Beauford Delaney; a row of fifty-one old-fashioned hard-top blue suitcases arranged by Zoe Leonard; a black-and-maroonish abstraction by Jack Whitten; a wall drawing by Kira Lynn Harris; and, hovering off to the left, a wall of Glenn Ligon’s black-on-gold Richard Pryor paintings, all inscribed with the same joke: “I was a nigger for twenty-three years. I gave that shit up. No room for advancement.” One could hear the overlapping sounds of John Coltrane (emanating from David Hammons’s installation Chasing the Blue Train, 1989) and Albert Ayler (seeping out of Stan Douglas’s video Hors-Champs, 1992). This opening

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the March 2013 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.