Diebenkorn at the Orange County Museum of Art

Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park Series is featured in a wonderful exhibition at the Orange County Museum of Art.

After moving to Southern California in the 60’s, Diebenkorn created his famous 20 year exploration in abstraction. The show at OCMA presents many works from this period including his large canvases, smaller works on paper and even some smaller pieces on cigar box lids. There is also a room dedicated to his fascinating personal history which includes films and a wall-sized timeline.

We rarely get the chance to see such a rich collection of Diebenkorn’s works. If you connect with abstract art, this is a very special exhibition. It’s at OCMA until 05/27/12.

Here is the museum contact info: http://www.ocma.net/index.html?page=index

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Pacific Standard Time: The Greatest Modern Artist I’ve Never Known

OK. Here’s the disclaimer. To my friends who are not into modern art and who especially
dislike abstract expressionism, this is not for you. If you are interested in this stuff, here goes…

As a part of Pacific Standard Time, the Jack Rutberg Fine Art Gallery is exhibiting a show of the works of the abstract expressionist, Hans Burkhardt. Admittedly, upon learning this, it hardly registered as a blip on my radar. Sure, I know all about de Kooning and Pollock and Raushenberg and Gorky and the rest. Burkhardt? … Not really. The truth is that Burkhardt was not like those guys. He was those guys! While living in New York he was even roommates with Arshile Gorky.

The big difference is that Burkhardt came to live in LA in 1937. Although LA has always had a great art scene, it’s not really known as a “painter’s” city. New York was where the artists you read about in history books worked. LA was known for aerospace and automobiles and movies and design and architecture and surfing. Not so much about painting. That is not to say Burkhardt wasn’t successful. He had plenty of shows, won a lot of honors throughout his 70 year career and his works can sell in the upper six figures… I’m really not sure how I missed him.

About the show… The work is excellent, every bit as accomplished as the rest of his abstract expressionist brethren. He wasn’t static either. His work evolved over the years often reflecting the times, but his personal style always showed through (in the way Picasso constantly evolved but you can always tell it’s a Picasso). The exhibition is really impressive and I’ve become an instant fan. This is museum quality stuff.

Maybe the rest of you already know all about him, but for me Hans Burkhardt is easily the greatest modern artist I’ve never known.

Websites for info:




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Pacific Standard Time: The First Week

Pacific Standard Time, the six month celebration of Southern California art from about 1945 to 1980 opened on October 1st. At LACMA an exhibition with the long winded title, California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way”, features iconic modern designs that originated in the Los Angeles area.

 In the show you’ll see everything from Airstream trailers to Case Study houses to Eames furniture to Barbie. It’s a terrific look back at an optimistic time with a seemingly endless bright future.


Web info:



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Roll your eyes now and get it over with. Yes, this is a car thing……. kinda.

What it really is is a very good movie. It’s a documentary that tells the human story of Brazilian F1 driver, Ayrton Senna. Beautifully compiled from archival footage, it will keep you glued to your seat from start to finish. You don’t have to be a racing fan to enjoy this. In fact, I think the less you know going in, the better you’ll like the film. Like I said, it’s a really good movie.

It’s a very limited release and I don’t know how long it will be around. Here is the info… http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Films/films_frameset.asp?id=103577

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Get ready art fans! Pacific Standard Time is coming!… Soon!

This will be a huge deal in LA. Here is the quote from the web page. “Pacific Standard Time is a collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California coming together for the first time to celebrate the birth of the L.A. art scene. The celebration begins October 2011 and runs to April 2012.” This includes The Getty, LACMA, the Norton Simon and about 57 more participants. It’s lucky that it runs for over six months because it will take you that long to see everything.
Here is the Website. http://pacificstandardtime.org/

Check it out!

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Tim Burton Exhibition at LACMA Part 2

OK. This
only sort of concerns the Tim Burton exhibit…

There is another exhibition at LACMA well worth visiting. It’s entitled, “Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts”. This is a show filled with stunning examples of Islamic art spanning from the 8th Century to the 18th and 19th Centuries. Included are some of the most beautiful tapestries you have ever seen, a Persian carpet half the size of my house and much more. It is an exhibition full of truly great and priceless treasures, well worth a visit on it’s own.

Here is the Tim Burton connection. While admission to this show is included with the Tim Burton Exhibition, there were very few who traveled the 20 paces across the entry hall to visit it from the Burton show. While Burton was four people deep at every artifact, this entire exhibition of equal area only had about 30 visitors total. It was rather sad to
see how many people’s interests in art stopped dead at popular culture.

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Tim Burton Exhibition at LACMA Part 1

The Tim Burton exhibition at the LA County Museum of Art follows Burton’s works from
grade school to the present.  It’s like going to a carnival in Burton’s brain! The impression that I had of Burton’s early work was one of leafing through a good school portfolio, one of hundreds I’ve seen over the past 30 years. The fascination comes from how he kept working and developed into the artist we know today. The show highlights not only his films but sculpture, photography, books and more. It’s like peeking behind the curtain to get a glimpse of how magic happens!


While the content of the show was terrific, the organization and presentation were not.
It was an overcrowded rabbit warren without much rational thought to the flow of the visitors. The exhibition space was much tighter and the size of the crowds much larger than either needed to be. I’m not sure why LACMA even bothered to reserve the times to attend if they were just going to pack as many people in as possible. We knew we were in trouble when the group reading the introductory comments was asked to stop reading and move along. It’s a great show well worth seeing, but bring your patience with you. If LACMA has an Achilles heel, the implementation of big popular exhibitions is it.

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Cave of Forgotten Dreams

If you like art history, you might like this. In this case the history goes back 30,000 years.

Werner Herzog has made a 3D documentary film about cave paintings in a particular cave in southern France. The film is in limited release (at the Arclight in LA). You can see a trailer and some short blips on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2843843865/

As you might know, because of the deterioration of the paintings simply caused by people visiting these caves, they are becoming off limits to almost all of us. I’ve been lucky enough to see cave art in person and the works are quite extraordinary. This film may be the only way most of us will experience this art. In the future, even filmmakers will not be allowed down there.

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Cars as Art

I can see some of you rolling your eyes at this, but really! I mean it! The Petersen Automotive Museum has an exhibition called “Supercars. When Too Much Is Almost Enough” This is a collection of the very fastest, most exotic cars of their eras. The examples run from a 30’s Mercedes to the Bugatti Veyron and they are all definitely rolling art.

The exhibit only takes about 20 minutes to view, but stay and visit the rest of the museum. Have lunch at the Johnny Rocket’s. The website info is at http://www.petersen.org/.

While we are on the subject… The Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard houses one of the most fantastic car collections on our planet.

Peter Mullin collects (mostly) French art deco era cars which are probably the most beautiful expressions of automobiles ever produced. They are a little hard to describe so please check out the website at http://www.mullinautomotivemuseum.com/. The museum is only open a couple of days a month and you need to make reservations. It’s beyond worth it.

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Alien Trees Spotted!

Am I the only one who thinks these “disguised” cel towers look hideous? They’re like mismatched parts of artificial Christmas trees that were fished out of a dumpster. You can’t help but notice them because they’re usually too large in scale and don’t match anything around them.

What I want to know is who decided that these ugly spuds were a good idea? People who think these things are lifelike and blend in are the same ones who can’t tell a real Christmas tree from an aluminum one. If the object is to make the usual industrial style towers look good, they’re succeeding.

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