Sunday, February 22, 2009

Huntington Goes Contemporary, in a Big Way


The Huntington has acquired a late (1980) Sam Francis painting, Free Floating Clouds, a gift from the artist's foundation. It has been installed in a room of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, set to open to the public on May 30. The Francis heralds a new push to show contemporary(ish) art of the blue chip/Cali kind. Free Floating Clouds will hang next to works by Richard Diebenkorn and Ed Ruscha, according to the press release (which doesn't say whether the latter are loans or accessions). The Francis isn't the Huntington's first non-objective painting. In recent years, it has acquired small abstractions by Robert Motherwell and Stanton McDonald-Wright. At 21 feet wide, Free Floating Clouds will rank among the largest paintings on view (indoors) in greater Los Angeles. It's a foot and a half wider than the same artist's earlier and critically esteemed Basel Mural I (1956-1958) at the Norton Simon Museum. It's half again as wide as James Ensor's famous Entry of Christ at the Getty, nearly a foot longer than David Hockney's Mulholland Drive at LACMA. Ruscha's Picture Without Words (in the lobby of the Getty Center auditorium) is two feet taller than the Huntington painting is wide. The Huntington Francis is dwarfed by Frank Stella's 50-foot-wide Agua Caliente in MOCA's permanent collection (don't hold your breath waiting for the next showing), and especially by Jan Styka's 195-foot Crucifixion (1897), which Forest Lawn Glendale manages to show daily, every hour on the hour (MOCA trustees, take note).
OK, size isn't everything. It might be an issue at the Huntington, which is doubling its space for American art at a time when supply is dwindling and Alice Walton is buying. Frederick Fisher's 2005 addition to the Scott Gallery debuted with an installation of the Huntington's British and Continental art. The grand manner portraits looked perfectly scaled to the rooms. Not many of the Huntington's American paintings are anywhere near that size.
Readers of the L.A. Times Culture Monster blog will be pleased to note Sam Francis' weirdest posthumous distinction: Donald Frazell likes him.

1 comment:

Donald Frazell said...

Of course I like him, he was a Modernist, not this Contempt garbage, which is all about marketing the artiste. And nothing about arts eternal concerns, Mankind, Nature and God. Which this qualifies as, though I do prefer his prints much better. They overlap and create depth better, and colors are richer, his paints tend to dry out and lacks structure in his large works.

Diebenkorn would be gerat there, his drawings were excellent to, looked forward to the first art show in OC history, his Ocean Park show, but appears to be delayed, if not cancelled. Just found your site, I hope youa re better than most, always go to artnewsblog.com myartspace.com/blog which has some of my work, and mess with the Brits at the Guardian. Will I find more ducks in a row here?

Contempt art is dead, artistes are through, time for art to have meaning once more. Does anyone blog here? Helloooooo!. Kinda empty. Whats up?

LACMA needs to get better quality, the Contempt Gallery there is a waste of time, money and space, melt down the Serra and make something usefull, like energy efficient cars, this was the biggest waste of material ever, and artistes claim to be green??!. LOL!

PS, sell the Ruscha, more Hollywood narcissim.

art collegia delenda est

And dont delete me, where ever I go hits increase. If a documented fact. And is CK really the brady kid? Wife says no, she said he was so retarded on the reality show even CK cant be him.