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Archive for March, 2011

Illegal Smuggling?

Organized Crime?

After much controversy, the Getty’s Villa’s Aphrodite goes home.

Ciao bella! Buon Viaggio!

For the full report, read:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-return-of-aphrodite-20110323,0,6998689.story

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Which American Museum has:

181 works by Renoir

69 Cezannes (more than in all the museums of Paris combined),

59 Matisses

46 Picassos

and

7 Van Goghs

The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

This happens to be the spot that Matisse called, “the only sane place to see art in America.”

Unfortunately, the collection will be at the Foundation for only two more months.

The Independent covered the saga and court hearings behind the attempt to move the works of art out of the Foundation

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/rupert-cornwell/rupert-cornwell-is-this-the-biggest-art-heist-in-history-2246968.html

as did the documentary Art of the Steal.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1326733/

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All the World’s A Stage:

William Leavitt’s Theater Objects at MOCA

By Leticia Marie Sanchez

All photography© MOCA

All the world’s a stage, all the men and women merely players. Nowhere does Shakespeare’s expression hold more true than at William Leavitt’s Theater Objects at MOCA.

Walking into the exhibition one hears the constant chirping of birds and the flow of cool air. Are we in a jungle? A theme park? On the set of a play?

Leavitt’s engaging exhibition interacts with its audience, causing the museumgoer to constantly question where he or she stands.

Co-curated by MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson and Ann Goldstein, former MOCA senior curator and director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, William Leavitt: Theater Objects represents the first solo museum exhibition and retrospective of the artist’s 40-year career. The exhibit showcases approximately 90 works from 1969 to the present, including: sculptural tableaux, paintings, works on paper, and photographs.

Leavitt’s background in stagecraft, narrative, and theater, informs his work, which gives audiences a behind-the scenes peek at theatrical installations. An inscription in the exhibit gives a “nod to Raymond Chandler,” an apt allusion as Leavitt’s work veers into noir, into what is lurking behind the shadows, behind the patio, behind the façade.

William Leavitt, Theme Restaurant, 1986, oil on canvas 46 x 72 in., collection of Carolina Bilbao and Richard Massey, Miami

Leavitt employs satire in his painting of the landmark Encounter Restaurant at LAX by titling it Theme Restaurant. His title links the iconic airport restaurant to a theme park like Disneyland. The visual context of the painting, cleverly hung by MOCA next to Roller Coaster (1984) and Brown Derby (1987) underscores this motif. Leavitt’s satire highlights Los Angeles’ identity as an entertainment hub. Are people flying into the city simply to be entertained? (Ironically, the interior of the LAX restaurant, was in fact designed byWDI, Walt Disney Imagineering)

William Leavitt, California Patio, 1972, mixed media(artificial plants, Malibu lights, flagstone, slider, curtains, wooden wall, and text), 96x144x 96 in.,collection Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam,courtesy of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Approaching California Patio (1972), are we walking on a set? Are we actors or viewers? Next to the patio set is a script, reinforcing the notion that the patio is merely an illusion.  The sliding door alludes to the wilderness coming in, the danger lurking behind the glass. The green curtains resemble theatrical curtains, adding to the spectacle motif in Leavitt’s exhibit.

William Leavitt, Cutaway View, 2008, mixed media installation with painting (acrylic on canvas),  98  x  75  x  26  in., painting:  30 x  40 in., courtesy of Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles

Cutaway View (2008) allows the viewer to play peek-a-boo with a horse glancing at us from behind foliage. The horse examines us quizzically with his steady gaze, putting us on the spot. Who is viewing whom exactly? Are we the spectator? Are we the audience? Leavitt plays with the experience of looking. The artificiality of the plant suggests façades around the city, heralding Los Angeles as a place to see and be seen, once again denoting the spectacle of the city.
Below:

William Leavitt, The Tropics,1974, gelatin silver prints and text, edition of  3 with  2 Artist proofs, each:  11 x 8  1/2 in., collection of Edward Israel,  Los Angeles

Finally, the Tropics is a multi-media display consisting of a water color set, a script, gelatin silver prints, and texts. The script tells the story of a man bestowing a pearl necklace upon his wife. The jaguar in the painting symbolizes the predatory nature of the man who uses jewelry as a means of seduction in the jungle of desire.
William Leavitt, Jaguar (from The Tropics), 1974, oil on canvas, 34 1/4 x 44 1/4 in., courtesy of the artist
The plethora of visual media in the Tropics adds to its psychological dimension. The repetition of images like the jaguar elicits archetypes from our subconscious mind.
Presented through 10,000 square feet of exhibition space at MOCA Grand Avenue, Leavitt’s vast and cohesive exhibit marvelously takes the viewer on a journey, at once mysterious and humorous. Leavitt’s perspective on Los Angeles not only impacts the way that we see our city, but also the very way that we experience art itself.

Editor’s Note:

In addition to being an artist, Leavitt is also a playwright.

MOCA will stage two of his performance works in conjunction with the exhibition. Spectral Analysis (1977) will be performed in the galleries; Pyramid, Lens, Delta (2003) will be premiered as a table reading in the Ahmanson Auditorium at MOCA Grand Avenue.

William Leavitt: Theater Objects

March 13- July 3

MOCA Grand Avenue

250 South Grand Avenue, LA, CA 90012

http://www.moca.org/

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The Real Housewife of Düsseldorf County—Clara Schumann

Israela Margalit’s “Trio,” currently playing at the Lounge 2 Theater in Hollywood, offers a window into the artistic triangle between Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, and Johannes Brahms. Maragalit, a concert pianist, tied the play together with her own recorded compositions of Schumann, Brahms, and Beethoven.

Photo: From Left- Bjørn Johnson, Meghan Maureen Mc Donough. Jeremy Shranko

Meghan Maureen Mc Donough played the grim, subdued Clara Schumann, a once famous concert pianist repressed as a housewife cooking beans. Mc Donough’s Clara was a woman drained by years of belittlement by an insecure husband who would toss cruel jabs at her, including, “Those who can’t compose, play.”Her father, dynamically portrayed by Peter Colburn, bemoaned the wasting of Clara’s life. Bjørn Johnson, captured Robert Schumann’s madness with pathos, particularly when he called out in the asylum for his beloved Clara, his little “Clashen.”  Jeremy Shranko energetically portrayed the arc of Schumann’s protégé Brahms, from naïve tongue-tied ingénue to cunning manipulator.  Joseph Joachin, Brahms’ confidante (played by Brian Normoyle) radiated genuineness as a straight shooter, a voice of reason to his flattering friend.

The play worked best during the musical sequences.  For instance, when Brahms consoled an exhausted Clara, one heard his soothing Lullaby for Piano Solo. The music explained his solace and why Clara turned to him at that moment in time. Another memorable moment was a scene in which Clara and Brahms toyed with tempo, swept away rhythmically during Beethoven’s Appasionata. Margalit’s play was most meaningful when it centered on the music itself.

One minor weakness in the play is that structurally, a narrative element was needed to convey expository plot details: perhaps an introductory Greek-inspired chorus, a group of Düsseldorf townspeople, critics or audience-goers commenting on the timeline of the Schumann scandal. This element would have spared the actors from having to recount plot through dialogue (a structural challenge during which they did an excellent job) and instead focus on the immediate and the raw.

Margalit’s play begs the question: Can two eagles (artists) live together in domestic bliss? Or will one feel forever caged?

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“Why Can’t you Sit Still?

“Because I’m Mozart”

In his delightful tome, The Book of Musical Anecdotes, Norman Lebrecht reveals that the perpetually inspired Mozart led his Barber on a hair-cutting chase:

“Every moment an idea would occur to him…he would run to the clavier, the barber after him, hair-ribbon in hand.”

Luckily for Mozart, the barber had a steady hand.

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Review: Young Director’s Night at LACMA

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

On March 5, LACMA Muse presented its 10th Annual Young Director’s Night. Six talented young directors presented a wide range of creative films.

Left. Sylvia Sether’s “Overdrawn.” Winner of the Art of Film Award

Cat Youell’s “The Mischievous Case of Cordelia Botkin” brought to light a true story episode from 19th century San Francisco history (death by chocolate) with charm and humor.  Sylvia Sether’s “Overdrawn, (and winner of the Fourth Art of Film Award) exhibited comedic chops and timing in its depiction of a single bank teller pushed to the edge. Jordan Bloch’s “Underdogs,” created unsettling tension as a bounty hunter wreaked havoc amongst diners in a roadside restaurant.

Left. “House of Olive Trees” directed by Thouly Dosiois

Thouly Dosiois’ beautifully shot “House of the Olive Trees,” set in Greece, was reminiscent of the films of Eric Rohmer in her marvelously sensuous shots of setting, slowly unfolding before our eyes. Fady Hadid’s unforgettable “Where We Live” documented the family life and loss of American immigrants from Baghdad with humanism and sensitivity.

Left. “Shoot the Moon” directed by Alex O’ Flinn

Director Alex O’ Flinn’s compelling “Shoot the Moon,” depicted the relationship between Tommy and his troubled brother, Victor, a Marine. O’ Flinn’s cinematography was pure visual poetry. The sunny, dreamlike warmth during flashback scenes depicting Tommy walking through fields with Victor and his ex-girlfriend contrasted with the gritty reality of Victor’s present, providing clues to his raw despair. O’ Flinn’s wealth of striking images (all the more incredible given that it was a short film) gave the audience immediate and profound access to the complex characters’ interior life. The filmmaker’s vision lifted storytelling away from restrictive Black and White; instead, O’Flinn probed life’s rich gray area, thereby offering hope for redemption and the chance to shoot the moon.

Kudos to LACMA for allowing these talented young directors a chance to showcase their vision and inspiring us all to shoot the moon.

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March 12, 2011 2:00 pm 8:00 pm

Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night’s Dream (excerpts)

Avetisyan Kanun Concerto

Beethoven Symphony No. 7

Karine Hovhannisyan, KANUN
Maestro George Stelluto, GUEST CONDUCTOR
Ambassador Auditorium. 131 S. St. John Ave. Pasadena, CA.
Pre-concert talk, led by Guest conductor George Stelluto at 1PM and 7PM in the auditorium.
For more information, please visit: http://www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org/
or call 626.793.7172.

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