Monday, January 28, 2008

Speaking Truth to Power -- Schnabel, Mason, etc.

27 January 2008

This has been the week of the art fairs in Los Angeles and of course I was there and of course I took notes – high and low. There were the usual suspects and the unusually suspect; the surprises (rare) and the real discoveries (rarer still) – in the expected and unexpected places. There was the buzz and there was the occasional stunned silence (lost in the din of course). Julian Schnabel was in town – not for the fairs or the fine art biz, but the fine movie biz – his presentation at the Directors Guild, along with his fellow best director nominees. I’m told he stole the show, which doesn’t surprise me at all. I only wish I could have witnessed it first-hand. From what I gleaned (from a writer-director who was there), it was a real ‘telling truth to power’ moment: an innovator showing up, in the most matter-of-fact, quietly down-to-earth and non-threatening manner possible, the flaws in an industry drunk on the latest technology, but mired in the hoary conventions of conventional Hollywood movie-making. It quite flummoxed a couple of his not-quite-peers on the stage. (More about Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, plus tard, say, a post or two from now.) (The other movie I took in this week – aside from Welles’ F for Fake (see previous post) was There Will Be Blood, about which for the moment I will only say: There was John Huston; and Daniel Day-Lewis, as great an actor as he is, will never bring him back to life; nor will Paul Thomas Anderson ever replace him or reproduce his achievement.

A lot of my New York pals were in town for the madness – including Super-Kathleen and a new colleague I’ll just call the Designated Italian Countess for now. Rivers of champagne flowed (and flash floods, too – hey can somebody do something about the storm drains in this town? My Louboutins are looking a little too low and beaten). I’m a bit smithereened – and soaked – by it all. It was also a seriously political week – and the week-end of the South Carolina primary, the results of which surprised me more than a little and gave me just a bit of hope. The Left Side of my family (we can forget about what I’ll just call the von Karajan-Right side of my DNA line) has more or less endorsed Obama; and although I’m an entrenched skeptic and distrustful of almost everyone in the power class, I can’t help hoping the Obama candidacy might just be the spur to turn this country around. In the meantime, the mainstream media continues to behave in this sphere much as the Hollywood studio potentates behave in theirs. Was I the only one who wondered why Bill Clinton was being spotlighted ad nauseam in a moment that belonged to Barack Obama? (That was no concession speech; though I have to give Clinton credit for his rhetorical flair and sheer chutzpah. But will no one tell him to GET OFF THE FUCKING STAGE?) And then there was the outrageously cynical dual New York Times primary endorsement. What the fuck is THAT about?? For once I was plotzing about something other than an art or music event – or my financial quagmire.

So if you don’t mind, I’m going to track back a bit again. (No, I’m not re-naming the blog “The Time Machine” – it would be more like The Science of Sleep (I loved the Gondry film – such wonderfully touching performances by Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg) – it’s all I want to do after a week like the last.

I’m not going to talk about the L.A. Weekly “Annual Biennial” – although the opening at Track 16 at Bergamot Station was obviously the event of that particular evening (the 12th): it looked as if the entire L.A. art world had jammed into the Bergamot parking lot, to say nothing of the gallery itself which might as well have been a mosh pit – until I’ve read Doug Harvey’s essay in the Weekly. But – setting aside the fact that the emphasis was on painting, setting aside the caliber of the work on view (high for the most part), and that a good many of these artists are among the country’s best, even personal faves – let’s just say I have a few issues about it. (Is that okay, Tom Christie?)

No – I have to skip for a moment over to the show I might have missed that evening, but was sooooo glad not to. It’s a show I may write about at greater length somewhere down the line, but, on this political week-end (and ohmygod – the State of the Onion upon us!), let me just share a few things about this marvelously entertaining show by Rachel Mason, a recent Yale MFA and apparently a Daumier-in-the-making. It’s called The Candidate – and as the Presidential field is gradually being winnowed down, it may be useful to have a look – or two or three or more at this show of the winners, losers, poseurs and posturers, also-rans and even ‘never-rans’ – in short, the political animal in motion, as exemplified by the contenders in the Presidential horserace, fresh (or not so) out of the starting gate as of about fall of last year. The field has already lost a few since the show opened – e.g., Fred Thompson (not a minute too soon) and Joe Biden (there’s a particularly excellent rendering of Biden here; ditto Bill Richardson of New Mexico – which is almost a completed portrait); and will likely lose more (I’m thinking Giuliani’s number is up next – speaking of which, Mason has fingered him in her crosshairs as no political cartoonist has – at least that I’ve ever seen). But these are more than political caricatures. This is above all about physiognomy, the cast of facial expression – the political mask as prop to the will to power; and gesture – the physical expression of the extension towards, the reach and grasp for power, public acknowledgment (and endorsement). The artist has made the gallery space into a silent, but cacophonous echo chamber of gesture using podiums, microphones and cast plaster hands (the artist’s own) sculpted into various finger-pointing – directing, commanding, jabbing, hectoring, pleading; spread palm – exhorting, embracing, collecting, and pleading again; grasping the mic and the edge of the podium.

Beyond that, there’s a jagged movement and energy to the figures. They push towards us, to fill, crowd the viewer’s visual field. Mason’s line has a fluid, nervous, almost angst-laden energy perfectly suited to her subject. You sense her own reach, her extension towards the politician under her scope. Her project took first began to take shape after her boyfriend’s Playboy assignment covering the Edwards campaign was aborted. She took her sketches and kept right on going. Her own written observations amplify what is evident in the drawings: she doesn’t miss a thing. It’s interesting to see where the emphasis falls in these drawings – probing eyes, mouths and proboscis in unrelenting motion; and falling away from the face – hands, shoulders. The studies of Barack Obama had a Munch-like expressiveness. “He looks so white,” I said to the artist – which reminds us of something the media tends to overlook, that he is in fact half-white; and apparently I wasn’t the only one who had made such a comment. Perhaps as his campaign gathers momentum, the media will learn to look as carefully (if not as acutely, shrewdly or entertainingly) as Mason has.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I, etc. -- (Self-)Portrait as Fugue

25 January 2008

I’m mixing things up a bit, I know. It’s simply the way my too-complicated life intersects with the L.A. art world. Again I start by posting a note to a late-dated note. But that’s the L.A. art world, too – the endless confluences, coincidences and correspondences that enmesh us like a rich and densely woven tapestry. I attended a screening of Welles’ F for Fake Tuesday evening (22 January) at the Hammer – one of a series of films presented in conjunction with the Francis Alÿs Politics of Rehearsal show. That the process and technique of this film would appeal to Alÿs and relate well to the substance of the Hammer exhibition is obvious – Welles narrates – emcees, if you will – a great deal of the film from his editing table; the seams, patches, ellipses, elisions are all (or mostly) exposed in plain view. The film is also, however occasionally self-involved or self-conscious, a masterpiece – a revisiting of Mr. Arkadin, and a number of other Wellesian themes and subjects in an entirely fresh context, tantalizing and electric in its feints and conundrums. It was also a fresh reminder of what the show at fette’s Gallery tried to express “mathemetaphysically” – i.e., the “inconstancy of FACTS as well as the multiplicity of YOU.” The film is itself a double, even triple (and more) portrait – a veritable fugue on the subject of identity, signature (in every sense) counterfeiture (in every sense), self-possession and projection. The ephemeral purchase each of us has on self-actualization, projection, identity (here reduced to a tragicomic joke). The contentious, dubious claim we stake on observation and expression – our own and others’. There are indelible scenes and portraits within this portrait: an amazing face-off between Clifford Irving, would be-biographer of Howard Hughes and Hoax perpetrator, and Elmyr de Hory, famed art forger (who made a specialty counterfeiting the Fauves, late Post-Impressionists and various School of Paris artists) and himself the subject of an earlier Irving biography; the fascinating (and drop-dead gorgeous) Oja Kodar; and finally Welles himself – at his editing table and on various locations, including Chartres, where he delivers an elegiac monologue. “Our songs will all be silenced; but what of it? Go on singing. Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much.” I have to remind myself of that once in a while.

12-13 January 2008

The natural follow-up to photoLA was a themed group show of photographic work curated by fette (with the further amplifications of one “Dr. L. Hernandez Gomez,” a “mathemetaphysician” with the “League of Imaginary Scientists”) for her Culver City gallery. Although it would be absurd to refer to the exhibition as simply photography, its insights into the medium and process were directly applicable to much of what was on view at the photoLA fair (the work Andrew Garn, Bruce Gilden, Trent Parke, Zachary Drucker and Brian Finke provide just a few examples). But the show goes to the heart of a much deeper problem of the both the medium and art itself; and beyond that to the problem of perception and (self-)definition. Although Fette had determined beforehand that photography would be the participants’ common medium for the show, her core idea was to ask each of the 25 artists (there are two collaborations by paired artists) selected to photograph themselves “representing someone else.” This is both specific enough and general enough to wreak a certain havoc in what would otherwise be a more conventional show of portraiture. Of course it also has a multiplier effect – which is what may have inspired Fette to bring in the collaboration of a “mathemetaphysician.” I think a pure mathematician would have sufficed; but I sometimes wonder if Fette takes a certain, almost perverse, pleasure, standing back and gleefully watching her prank unfold in ways she might not have foreseen herself. (The last lines of the Mark Antony funeral oration from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar suddenly come to mind. “Now let it work. Mischief thou art afoot, / Take thou what course thou wilt … Fortune is merry, / And in this mood will give us anything.”)

It does. If self-portraiture is above all portraiture, inherently a kind of doubling, (Unititled) u = ___ approaches this particular kind of auto-portrait en masque as a (quasi-)mathematical function. (In fact, the ‘operation’ as it is described sounds something like a quadratic equation applied in a social context and – well, let’s just say in infinite series. The infinite extends to the infinitesimal: we are, all of us, defining, refining, re-defining our notions of self, persona, other, and others (society, or the group) on a more or less continuous basis. In short, reality is slippery, and we need no further proof of this than a glimpse in our mirrors. Projection (self into the external; as well as the projection of others’ onto the self), extension, abstraction, displacement – any number of strategies are available here.

Some of the (not exactly self-)portraits are relatively straightforward. William Lamson shows a digital C-print image of his(?) face encased in a transparent (plastic?) mask in a kind of early medieval configuration, the mask bristling with pins (acupuncture needles?) which appear to almost pierce Lamson’s skin. It’s the social warrior in a moment of repose (or not – can we ever rest?), the self-scaffolding exposed beneath the (transparent) armor, the myriad projections – slings and arrows indeed – of a million friends, enemies and anyone looking for a momentary prop on their own reality and self-definition. Some are all pose and context (e.g., Kristian Haggblom, Ned Meets Kuzo; Kate Gilmore, Hungry Hillary – a bulemic’s poster-girl, Anouk Kruithof, musicnature • solvation)

Some are about the transition – the moment(s) of transformation/transaction – the exchange of attitude, persona; the blur (of posture, identity, gender). Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Amy Elkins and Arnaud Delrue provide examples of this. Performance, pose (costume) and manipulation are key elements here – e.g., Elkins and Delrue, who both wear dresses; Delrue’s an interesting contrast to Sepuya’s attitude blur. The performative aspect is more explicit in Deanna Templeton’s (a kind of vacant ‘advertisement for herself’ – Space Available) and Tobias Faldt’s. In others, the role play is multilayered – less blur than an accumulation of layers of identity, each interacting, commenting on the others (Suellen Parker, Roya Falahi, Raphael Neal and Eva Lauterlein providing excellent examples of this. Falahi’s and Neal’s are particularly brilliant).

Carlee Fernandez has explored this terrain fairly extensively and by now is an old hand at it; and I wasn’t surprised that her “Self-Portrait as my Mom’s Ex with 29 Palms Rainbow Stockings” had sold straightaway. (Victor Boullet explored another (digital) kind of displacement.) There are more examples than I have time to inventory – including the almost pure abstractions (e.g., Melanie Bonajo) – but there I go again. I’ll sum up only by saying Fette’s in a bit of a rut lately: she only does interesting shows.

She may be in a rut where openings are concerned, too. This one (Friday evening, the 11th) was particularly fabulous. Leora Lutz (of Gallery Revisited) was there, among many, and in fine form; and, as I was leaving, a spectactular looking film-maker I can only identify as Nana from Ghana walked in; among many, many others. I haven’t laughed so much in months.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

photoLA -- The Big Look

11 January 2008

Before I’m driven back (kicking and screaming) to the LACMA/BCAM/BAF fiasco, allow me to start off on a slightly happier note. (Hey it happens – even in my life.) Although photography has been inescapable in the fine arts practically from the advent of the daguerrotype, and an indispensable tool and medium in contemporary art, it’s never exerted quite the same pull on my curiosity and aesthetic palate as painting and three-dimensional media, or even motion pictures. But, as Lao-Tsu might have said, the longest narrative (or non-narrative for that matter) movie begins with a single frame. And – well you can ask Carole Caroompas (as I have blogged not too long ago) – or Gerhard Richter – or Andy Warhol (well maybe not Andy), or another million or so artists: some of those frames are as indelibly printed on our consciousness as anything in the natural or human-made world. So you want to know what’s new in photography? I’m not sure I can tell you anything you don’t already know, but there was something to draw in the eye almost everywhere you turned Thursday evening at the photoLA opening.

The advance publicity out of the photoLA was already promising – sixty-some galleries on board, in addition to various art/photo publishing outlets; Jeff Burton, John Divola and Connie Samaras featured in programmed “conversations”; the opening night kick-off with Julius Shulman; and galleries everywhere from Brooklyn to Prague I had no acquaintance with. What was interesting was that it was some of the ‘tried, true’ places that engaged and delighted at least as much as the edgy and new. (Although I have to wonder if such distinctions mean anything at all. The ‘tried and true’ stay that way by showing the freshest and strongest of the ‘new’. And as for the ‘new’….well, so little really is; the ‘edge’ dropping into the void but taking us nowhere we’ve haven’t been before. For (outstanding) example – setting aside the over-the-top Schoeller body-builders, the ACE Gallery booth was almost a beacon for the show. Stepping inside, you felt immersed in the luminosity pouring, strobing off the walls. One wall held lightboxes, against which hung a 3-layer ‘Dura-transparency’ of what looked like a clip of a grainy black-and-white film or animation – a sequence of (the same) 18th century soldier(s) running, jumping and brandishing his weapon. A chorus line of cadets, circa 1789. Except it was closer to 1776: I thought they were French; they were in fact American revolutionary soldiers. The effect of implied movement was paradoxically bolstered by the seemingly rhythmic insertion of the identical soldier image that began the sequence – A-B-A-C-A-D. To its left, another revolutionary soldier, emerging from the shadows, adjusting his tricorne, this one in luminous color and backlit by a burst of light washing over the soldier’s inclined figure. Turning to a table of printed matter, I flipped through a book of photographs by Melanie Pullen – apparently a follow-up to her original High Fashion Crime Victim series which made quite a splash when she showed them here in Los Angeles only a few years ago – not without a bit of disappointment, even exasperation. The first series were suffused with a particular aura both haunted and opulent – incongruous luxury set off vibrantly against settings variously gritty, pristine (except for the evidence of crime or violence), or simply magical – settings not merely fortuitously treacherous, but ripe for a karmic double-cross. Most of this more recently published series seemed bereft of that peculiar electricity. Only then, as I turned away to face another wall, was I informed that the transparencies were also the work of Melanie Pullen – her latest series on soldiers, which continues to be augmented – perhaps as soon as next week, as Pullen was later to inform me herself. A studio shoot is in the works – assuming a set for a bombed-out Berlin, circa 1945, can be successfully constructed on a studio soundstage. It was great to see her moving in a fresh, and trenchant, new direction (and great to see her, too).

On another wall, Jay Mark Johnson, showed equally luminous work, made with a special (and apparently costly) scanning camera, that answered Pullen’s kinescopic soldiers with sunlit slices of landscapes (and aquascapes) against which figures and incident moved laterally in choreographic precision across the elongated horizontal bands of the scanned landscape. Here, too, the element of the repeated figure (person, horse, gesture or movement), or the figure’s movement – as with the poolscape where the swimmer’s legs flutter sinuously in intersecting sine waves – imbued these minimalist, almost conceptual mappings with a kind of lyricism.

More lyrical still were Dennis Hopper’s large color C-prints of collected litter, debris and random cast-offs culled from various urban “walks” – New York, Venice, etc. – ‘inventory’ photographs, if you will; also, perhaps, non-linear storyboard Rich with color, incident and densely textured, they drew me in repeatedly, almost against my will, searching for the clue, the tell-tale artifact, the story.

But ACE was hardly the only gallery with something arresting, powerful, luminous, dark. A.M. Richard showed amazing work by Stephen Mallon, Andrew Garn and Jillian McDonald, among others. Andrew Garn in particular has an amazing range: street vignettes from Times Square from the 1970s and early 1980s (one stark, black-and-white – the absurd juxtapositions of 42nd Street of a certain vintage, emphasized by the ironic juxtapositions in texture and scale; a seemingly ‘painted’ study of a drag queen-prostitute, simultaneously forlorn and self-possessed – a monument in motion; finally imagery of industrial sites, alternately cool, distanced, then almost overwhelming in their intensity. (E.g., the coolness of a Bethlehem Steel site in disuse; and finally the dark, dust-choked late industrial inferno of Magnitogorsk, a complex of steel factories in Siberia – amazing images all that demand to be seen.)

The Magnum photo agency was also here – hardly at a loss for compelling images. Among the most interesting was Trent Parke, whose brilliant color photography has something of the street/social context, texture, and contrast of Garry Winogrand, but with an entirely different energy – displaced by a few degrees, dislocated. He plays with the light sources, setting off individual figures and elements just so, creating a kind of tension and suspense. [I failed to mention the photography of Bruce Gilden when I posted this -- a bizarre omission given the power of these images. Since I seem to be using quasi-iconic photographers as a very rough index or reference point here (see above), let me just say that these portraits and pairings and street scenes -- taken mostly from contemporary Japan -- have something of the brazen energy and off-hand intimacy of William Klein, but with something jostling and fresh, syncopated and disjunctive in the visual rhythm and balance, and -- dare I say it? -- Japanese (or maybe not). But let me come back to Gilden in my next post. (Yeeeesssss -- it's coming.)]

You can’t go wrong showing Stephen Divola and Stephen Cohen had Divola in both color and black-and-white. I also loved Zachary Drucker’s and Brian Finke’s color photography (Drucker, who was there for the opening, is himself completely charming). Also Nick Brandt’s haunting, monumental images out of Africa. And Lori Nix’s surreal, richly evocative slice of urban decay (e.g., her chromogenic print of a disused proscenium stage theatre interior, “Majestic” (2006).

I’m simply breezing over this work, I’m well aware; but – well, there was a LOT to see (and I’ll be back). The Czech Center for Photography (Prague) was bursting with brilliant black-and-white photography from as far back as the 1920s to the present (much of it astonishingly affordable – e.g., a vintage print dance study by Julius Andres was only US$500). Circus scenes, landscape grotesqueries, bucolic landscapes – the range and the quality of almost everything on view were extraordinary. (In stunning contrast to at least one local dealer, who will go unnamed, asking the most outrageous prices for his ‘found’ and ‘vintage’ generic recyclings.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Up Against the Wall (or Back to Broad)

Darlings -- I'm back -- but not exactly all there yet. There's so much to say -- and so much better left unsaid. I've been in an L.A. Breakdown mode lately and I'm grateful just to be let back into MY LIFE -- forget about the City itself or for that matter the L.A. art world. There are notes -- oh yes, there are notes -- and I mean to post them. But rather than throw them all out in an omnibus posting, I'm just going to start in media res, so to speak, posting just a bit (a couple days' worth, say) at a time. Bear with me -- and thanks for checking in.

8-9 January 2008

Jesus I hate to break my month-long silence just for a news item. As readers of this blog are only too aware, awol isn’t exactly about news, per se. More like (I would like to think, anyway), the back-story or up-front (and hopefully way ahead) story – or maybe a lateral cross-reference to some sidebar or ancillary story or just a bit removed from the ‘front’ page – which, as we all know, always requires some reading between-the-lines – and perhaps a bit more in recent years as they’ve been co-opted into PR mouthpieces for establishment agendas. (My brother used to be a virtuoso at this kind of cross-reading of The New York Times front-page political stories, and it sometimes surprises me he never ended up there editing it (he’s at one of the other major metro dailies); but I wonder now how he would have dealt with this subterfuge.) As many of my friends and colleagues here in Los Angeles are aware, I haven’t exactly been in seclusion over the last month. More like, submersion – as in, almost drowning, as in fighting for my life. But it’s not as if I couldn’t manage to bob to the surface now and then. I surfaced at Regen for Matthew Barney, for example – though arguably, that might easily have blended in with the overall drowning sensation I was trying to overcome. E.g., the (photographic) work on the walls appeared to be mostly a retread of Cremaster 3 – art direction shots and production stills – and the film shown appeared to be of a live ritual-cum-performance involving animals (always nervous-making) and elegantly shod but otherwise nude models performing a kind of static limbo and controlled excretions of foreign (to their bodies anyway) fluids (honey? Oil? Chocolate? Who knew?) – too mechanical to be dream-like but seeming to unfold in dead air. Not exactly Barney’s take on the ‘money-shot’ – but what? From cremaster to sphincter – is this Barney’s reply to the Courbet ‘origin-of-the-world’-view? I know life’s end is frequently accompanied by incontinence; but I’m not sure how this applies to the world’s end. But you’d think he might be ready to pull his focus out of the crotch. (I know that sounds funny coming from me, as I write this from my perch at the Flynt Building.) Barney was there – personable, still handsome, and very down-to-earth. Björk loves him; why can’t I?

But see – I’m already getting away from what pulled me out from under my security blanket, if you will. Yeah, yeah – I was out last Saturday, too. But can we save it for a minute? (Yes, I forgive your skepticism – since I assume you forgive my jaundice.) The first shock – and I didn’t even see it first thing – is that The New York (and not the Los Angeles) Times broke the story. What’s with that? Sam Zell transition issues? Okay, I’m sure everyone knows by now that Eli Broad announced today (yesterday?) that his Art Foundation would retain full control of his collections, rather than donating any significant segment of them to major art institutions. And I’m sure we all know which local art institution had the most riding on this decision. Why am I not surprised? Was it LACMA’s dubious track record with this sort of business? Goddess only knows how many L.A. collections have passed on LACMA in favor of other institutions, or simply the auction block. Then there are the notorious instances of those not-quite-ready-for-the auction-house curated exhibitions of private collections which, stamped with LACMA’s (no less dubious) imprimatur, headed straight to New York, leaving only a souvenir or two behind (e.g., the Maslon collection, which ultimately went to Sotheby’s). Then there was LACMA’s own foolish deaccessioning of a few years ago, which included unique, irreplaceable works by Ernst, Beckmann, Masson and Modigliani. Just how foolish we can finally judge today in concrete terms. (Do I mean that literally?) Hmmm…. In theory, the funds (and the auction results were less than spectacular) were to be used to acquire new works. I suppose we have to trust LACMA on that one. Except that I don’t trust anyone – I don’t have either the experiential or genetic architecture to support it (hell my life has been one long Charley Brown kick for a non-existent field goal). But without getting all forensic on their asses, and speaking of concrete, there’s been a whole lot of it poured into the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (already acronymized by the LACMA crew as “BCAM”) on the west side of the LACMA campus.

When some years ago Broad exhibited a generous 40 odd year swath of his art collection at LACMA – this was some time before his commitment to a building on the LACMA campus – I again wondered what the Museum itself might stand to keep from what was placed on view. (If nothing else, it seemed Broad seemed to be giving the nod to LACMA, as opposed to MOCA, on whose board he also sits.) There were of course the teasers: the token gifts – “Promised Gift of Eli and Edythe Broad” – though I noted that these were few and far between. None of the best Rauschenbergs or Johns bore such a caption. It was also interesting that one of the “promised gifts” was a room-sized Marcel Broodthaers installation – implicitly raising the issue of space.

What was also noteworthy was a certain lack of zing to the collection. Notwithstanding the masterpiece caliber, with a few exceptions (the Broodthaers, for example), it all seemed so safe, and – it sounds so cynical – “blue-chip.” (And of course the flip-side of this is that what is blue-chip today may not look so tomorrow.) A collection usually says something about its collector(s) and about his/their passions and ambitions. This was an impenetrable wall of currency in every sense.

Or maybe it’s about the wall. Just the wall. Broad is a builder – and he’s not too particular about what he’s building or how the real estate is squandered and the planet plundered with it. He started out ruining vast tracts of southern California with thousands of acres of mediocre housing – more suburban blight; and now he’s embarked on an almost megalomanical building program for Bunker Hill downtown. It’s Eli’s No-Trump bid. But of course there had to be some Wilshire Boulevard presence – another Name up there along with those of Ahmanson, Simon, Bing and Anderson. Was it mere coincidence that Michael Govan – who made his reputation as a builder – got Broad's endorsement for the Museum Directorship?

And so another culture palazzo is born. I was on the horn with Fearless Leader before you could say Sean Scully; but she’d only read the apparently blacked-out L.A. papers and was still going through her e-mail or something. I read her a few grafs and she joined me in my shocked-not-shocked space. Speaking of palazzos – believe me, unless they’ve somehow cauterized half their neural snynapses (you know – the ones that scream, ‘hey I need a 10-mg Valium stat’ when your prized shit isn’t hitting the fan so much as just blowing away), they’re plotzing over at LACMA. We’re talking about a mausoleum (somehow I always think of the Skull & Bones tomb whenever I pass it, which is a minimum of six times a week) with twice the square footage of the Whitney for chrissakes. Needless to say there’s plenty of room for that Broodthaers – to say nothing of the Chris Burden apparently to be shared with MOCA. (By the way, is that necessarily such a good thing? It’s fairly sizeable – which means it’s going to be a hassle shlepping it between Fairfax and downtown.) And how many Beuys pieces did they just acquire? Something over FIVE HUNDRED? You’d think they might WANT to spare a few. It’s not like they’re going to always be on view at The Broad Art Foundation. (The Broad Art Foundation is open to the public only on a very selective and by-appointment basis.) Which leads me to the obvious question. What the fuck was he talking about? – “We don’t want it to end up in storage, …” Honey, it already is in storage in your Art Fortress.

I see Michael Govan has made a further comment here (this morning’s (Jan. 9) New York Times. Talk about spinning – he might as well be a Whirling Dervish.“[H]e believed Eli Broad’s decision to keep his art collection in a private foundation that makes loans to museums is a positive development because it means none of the artworks will be sold…” Of course it means nothing of the kind – and more on that later. “Since Day 1 he’s privately and publicly given me a lot of support.” Uh, yeah. You built him a super-sized Skull & Bones. And for that you should have asked him for a helluva lot MORE.