Yiadom-Boakye at the Huntington

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Brothers to a Garden, 2017
The Huntington has opened the second in a series of mini-exhibitions curated by Hilton Als and originating at the Yale Center for British Art. "Lynette Yiadom-Boakye" consists of just five paintings (one a diptych), installed in the room leading to the Huntington's grand gallery of British portraits. The Yiadom-Boakye paintings have a wall to themselves (albeit one looking at a van Dyck full-length portrait and Gainsborough's Cottage Door). The compare-and-contrast nudge is not quite so heavy-handed as that may sound, and in any case some of the comparisons are interesting. Unlike Blue Boy and Pinkie, Yiadom-Boakye's works are not portraits. She does not use models; instead she invents imaginary bohemians of color. They seem to be writers, painters, actors, whatever. Yiadom-Boakye keeps the costumes and backgrounds simple and not tied to any particular epoch. Her subjects tend to be barefoot, for as the artist has observed, footwear fashions change quickly.
Installation view with Harp-Strum, 2017

The two biggest canvases (Harp-Strum) depict ballerinas, or maybe the same dancer at different moments. Degas is one of Yiadom-Boakye's Old Mastery points of reference, as are Manet, Velázquez, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, and even Walter Sickert (best known to Americans as the least-likely Jack the Ripper suspect). As with her predecessors, Yiadom-Boakye's backgrounds can be quasi-abstractions. She paints alla prima, before early paint layers can dry, and completes paintings in a single day.

How contemporary can an institution like the Huntington get? We'll find out when it hosts part of the Hammer's "Made in L.A. 2020" biennial this summer. In 2021 the final Als/Yale show will feature Njideka Akunyili Crosby.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Medicine at Playtime, 2017. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles


Anonymous said…
Good for the Huntington. As of the LA area's major cultural assets, they had better not dare pull the type of crap that another local institution is attempting.

For the past few years, the only good thing out of the Govan/Zumthor debacle is it supposedly helping land the collection of the late Jerry Perenchio.

I've not read this before. But it figures.


> That the gift of his collection would hinge on his sudden
> fondness for Swiss Minimalist architecture came as a
> surprise to many people in the local art and architecture
> community, and probably to Perenchio, too: asking not to be
> identified, one director from another museum who has had
> dealings with Perenchio believes the collector would not
> have initiated the condition himself.

> Govan...apparently seized the day, joined the issue, and tied
> the knot, and suddenly the gift came with a noose attached:
> LACMA risked losing a collection reportedly worth $500 million
> if Govan didn’t get his $600+ million building. Who wanted to
> lose all those Monets? Checkmate.

Oh, by the way, FU, Michael Govan.

Anonymous said…
The new rebuild is the best thing that could happen to the LA museum. The old buildings need to go. I had issues with the modified plan, mainly the scrapping of the cathedral ceilings, but I'm all for Govan's project and glad he was able to raise enough money to finally start construction. The closer it gets, the more excited I am for LACMA's new campus.
Anonymous said…
Amen. Thank god those ugly buildings are getting torn down. Get a life Govan hater, get your own blog. This blog has been of the highest quality and the comments have been of similar insight until you arrived. Take your vitriol somewhere else.
Anonymous said…
So because idiots don't think the buildings from 1965 and 1986 are attractive and appealing enough, they want to decimate LACMA in general. Such thinking captures the shallow, vapid thinking that the supposedly unsophisticated yahoos of LA of yore reflect. Or people who are about as solid and meaningful as a Harvey Weinstein and a Hollywood starlet.

Michael Govan might be interested in visiting the art scene in China and the museum there that LACMA has a deal with. Book a flight now, Michael!

Anonymous said…
You yahoo, this blog post is about the Huntington and British contemporary art.
Anonymous said…
> about the Huntington and British contemporary art.

Okay, here goes.

The Huntington was created when the LA area was a cultural backwater. Henry Huntington had the insight and resources to bequeath a great legacy to the people of southern California.

By contrast, the nearby city and people of Los Angeles took decades to create something that wasn't a mere afterthought in Exposition Park. Something that didn't have to share space with a lot of dioramas, stuffed animals and skeletons.

Now, and unlike Henry Huntington, an interloper originally from the East Coast is going to leave Los Angeles a legacy of a Hollywoodish philistine.

Doesn't LACMA's director need to pay a visit to the Yuz Museum in Shanghai? The museum that LACMA now has a working agreement with? LACMA's director needs to reserve a ticket ASAP. Prices are really reasonable and the going is good. By the way, face masks won't be really helpful or necessary. Book a seat now!
Anonymous said…
Well, I'm also a "yahoo" who thinks Peirrera's LACMA buildings aren't worth keeping. None at the campus are architecturally significant enough to keep on life-support. Glad they're getting torn down. Good riddance. You won't be missed.
Anonymous said…
On the subject of Yale and British Art, I would recommend a visit to the Yale British Art Center (2 hours by train from NY). For those who think the Pereira buildings are worth keeping, the visit would be instructive and shameful. Though the exterior of the British Art Center also looks like that of a department store, the interior defies that expectation to create a very unique museum experience.

While in the neighborhood, go across the street and visit the Yale University Art Gallery (Kahn building). It's a preview in some ways of the Zumthor building for LACMA. Take note of the concrete ceilings, concrete block wall, and the two window walls. Like Zumthor, Kahn thought there was no architectural merit in sheetrock and white box galleries.

Also take note of how good the African and Indo-Pacific collections look in the Kahn building. The atmospherics are just right.
Anonymous said…
Hicks, yahoos and philistines who think the only thing that makes LACMA good or bad is largely dependent on the wrapper it comes in.

We don't need no stinkin' artwork.

Or curators. Or conservation labs. Or comprehensive collections. Or Met-scale, Louvre-scale galleries and auditoriums. Or budgets that aren't running wildly in the red.

Thanks, hicks, yahoos and philistines.
Anonymous said…
You're welcome. And we are getting Perenchio's gift of a collection along with the new shiny wrapper. Thanks to Govan. Hope he keeps up the good work.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, you wonderful country bumpkin you.

How's hicksville doing?
Anonymous said…
Offending this community won’t win anyone to your cause. LACMA On Fire is the title of a painting by famous artist named Edward Ruscha and this blog covers the visual arts in Southern California. The name doesn’t imply that this forum is only about LACMA or that our intent is to burn the place down.
Anonymous said…
It's laughable that the "save LACMA" crowd thinks they are the ones who are cultured and sophisticated.
... They are the ones who spam every comment section with their "save LACMA" posts.
... They are the ones who have made this personal, even wishing for Govan's demise.
... They are the ones who cling to the religion of the "encyclopedic museum".
... They are the ones who would like to keep LACMA the way it is, not because "fortress" museums are better for the art, but because "fortress" museums are less inviting to the wrong kind of people.
Anonymous said…
Keeping the way LACMA is is far better than dismantling a public cultural institution that has taken decades to build.

By contrast, the rubes of LA only give a damn about the superficial trappings of the museum and how the ego of its director can be patted and stroked instead of the numerous technical, operational and financial shortcomings of the Govan-Zumthor debacle.