"Drawing Down the Moon" at the Hammer
|Francesca Gabbiani, Phosflorescence IV, 2021|
Movies have cat scares, and museums have cat shows. In that now-familiar exhibition genre, a simple, one-word idea (e.g., cats) is used as a pretext to mine the storerooms for images of or relating to same, juxtaposing media, cultures, and epochs. As organized by Allegra Pesenti, former chief curator of UCLA's Grunwald Center, "Drawing Down the Moon" both fits that template and transcends it. Yes, it's effigies of the moon, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, engravings, woodblock prints, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, an astrolabe, a Korean moon jar, and a video (with unfortunately invasive soundtrack). But it's not limited to the Grunwald and Hammer Contemporary collections. There are numerous loans, some major, from local institutions ranging from the Broad to Los Feliz's mysterious Philosophical Research Society. The show resonates mainly because of the sense that the moon is not such an arbitrary theme after all. As a celestial hard-edge abstraction visible around the globe, the moon has become a trans-cultural paradigm for the cosmic, mystic, and numinous.
|Edvard Munch, Meerslandschaft (Seascape), 1899. LACMA|
|Vassily Kandinsky, Heavy Circles, 1927. Norton Simon Museum|
The Norton Simon Museum has lent Heavy Circles, the greatest Kandinsky west of the Guggenheim. It's an abstraction but also recognizably lunar/planetary, and well demonstrates the role of the moon in the history of modernism. Loans from LACMA, the Getty, and MOCA connect dots to the Islamic roots of European science, Romanticism, and the cosmic in contemporary art.
|Caspar David Friedrich, A Walk at Dusk, about 1830-35. Getty Museum|
|Laura Owens, untitled, 2000. MOCA|
|Hans Arp, Evocation of a form: Human, lunar, spectral, 1950. Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, UCLA|
This impressive Hans Arp was donated to the Franklin Murphy Sculpture Garden by the artist's second wife. It's plaster, so it can't be shown outdoors.
|Norman Lewis, Blue Moon, 1960. UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum|
|Rolph Scarlett, Allegro, about 1944. LACMA|
|Helen Lundeberg, Planet, No. 1, 1965. LACMA|
|Jay DeFeo, Hawk Moon No. 2, 1983-85. Courtesy of the Jay DeFeo Foundation|
Jay DeFeo posted a magazine's orbital photo of the moon in her studio. It apparently inspired at least two paintings, one in the show.
|Carleton Watkins, Solar Eclipse, January 1, 1880. Getty Museum|
|Alison Saar, Eclipse, 2017. UCLA Grunwald Center, Hammer Museum|
|Hieronymus Wierix, Virgin and Child on a Crescent Moon, n.d. UCLA Grunwald Center, Hammer Museum|
|Russell Crotty's Diablo Grande (2007, Hammer Museum) with a Joseon Dynasty Moon Jar (LACMA) at right|