Monday, June 14, 2010

“Outside the Box” at the Hammer

Despite the title of the UCLA Hammer Museum's "Outside the Box: Edition Jacob Samuel, 1988-2010," it's the boxes that rock. Jacob Samuel started in the somewhat precious tradition of artists' books of etchings, bound and unbound. He evolved as the art did. The prints on view, jointly acquired by the Hammer and LACMA this April, are mostly blue-chip and occasionally familiar. The boxes are perfect fetishistic-pomo objects. Above is Wangetchi Mutu's Eve (2006), housed in rarest zebrawood. Fine Baldessari prints have trouble competing with Samuel's mesmerizing black plus sign of a box.
Giving extra credit for imagery not too similar to the artist's more famous and expensive work, Ed Ruscha's Blank Signs (2004, below) is a standout. Consider it a rebuttal to David Hockney's Pearblossom Highway?

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