Travel Plans on Hold? You Can Visit 500 International Museums From the Comfort of Your Own Home Thanks to Google

Tour the world’s best art museums while practicing responsible social distancing.

Sarah Cascone, March 17, 2020

Street view of the National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, DC, on Google Arts and Culture.
Street view of the National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, DC, on Google Arts and Culture.

Dying to visit an art museum, but stuck behind closed doors during the ever-evolving global health crisis? Google Arts and Culture can help. The tech giant’s art website offers online access to 500 cultural organizations around the world, from museums to historic sites, all viewable without ever leaving your living room.

The virtual platform, which launched in 2016, features some of the most prestigious institutions on the planet, sharing treasures from the likes of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the British Museum in London, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, and the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna. So while you may have to postpone your next European vacation, you can still explore some of the continent’s leading collections online.

For those longing for New York’s museums, there’s also virtual access to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Frick Collection, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, to name just a few of the heavy hitters.

Each participating institution offers photographs of highlights from its collection, which can be sorted by date, color, and popularity. A few even offer 360-degree, Google Street View-style tours of the galleries, almost as if you are really walking the halls of the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City or the converted Beaux-Arts train station that is the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Street view of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin on Google Arts and Culture.
Street view of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin on Google Arts and Culture.

Google Arts and Culture also offers a unique opportunity to explore smaller, more obscure institutions that you might never have discovered otherwise.

Did you know, for example, that there is a National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City? The platform showcases an exhibition dedicated to the history of rodeos as well as work by the great Western painter and sculptor Frederic Remington. And in Corpus Christie, Texas, there’s the Selena Museum, celebrating the too brief career of beloved Mexican American singer Selena Quintanilla, who died in 1995.

International discoveries abound as well. In Toronto, there’s the Durdy Bayramov Art Foundation, dedicated to the Turkmenistani artist. Or you could explore the collection of Japan’s Kobe Fashion Museum, the first institution in the country to specialize in fashion.

You can even take a portal to the past, tracing the footsteps of visitors to the 2015 Venice Biennale and other exhibitions that are no longer on view.

Here are a few more shots of these virtual getaways.

Street view of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on Google Arts and Culture.
Street view of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on Google Arts and Culture.
Street view of the Getty Museum in Berlin on Google Arts and Culture.
Street view of the Getty Museum in Berlin on Google Arts and Culture.
Street view of the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna, on Google Arts and Culture.
Street view of the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna on Google Arts and Culture.

The Many Moods and Pleasures of Donald Judd’s Objects

There is a beautifully complex language of materials to savor in a survey of the artist’s work at MoMA. It’s his first U.S. survey in over 30 years.

“Untitled” (1991) is among the many untitled works in ”Judd” at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition opens on March 1.
“Untitled” (1991) is among the many untitled works in ”Judd” at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition opens on March 1.Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times
Holland Cotter

By Holland Cotter

  • Published Feb. 27, 2020 Updated Feb. 28, 2020

I wonder if it even occurs to young artists in the globalist, pluralist present to try to stake out a spot in art history by changing the way history goes. Donald Judd, pioneer of the 1960s movement called Minimalism (the label wasn’t his; he hated it), thought about this constantly. He wanted, right from the start, to be a big art deal, a super influencer. Long before his death in 1994, at 65, he was.

Major American and European museums owned his work. His signature sculptural image — a no-frills, no-content wood or metal box — had not only been adapted by other artists, but also riffs on it became a fixture of international architecture and design. To some degree, we all lived in Judd-world, and still do.

Yet over time, Judd himself seems to have retreated from view. The survey of 70 works that opens at the Museum of Modern Art on March 1 is the first in New York in more than 30 years. It’s a fine show: carefully winnowed, persuasively installed, just the right size. Its one-word title, “Judd,” suits the artist’s view of his wished-for, worked-for place in history: so assured as to need neither qualifiers nor explanations.

The big, and maybe only surprise, particularly for Judd skeptics, is how really beautiful some of the art looks, how poetic, and mysterious. These were qualities that Judd himself, at least when he was starting out, would not have wanted applied to his work, which in the 1950s was painting. Beauty and mystery belonged to the art of yesterday. His was an art of today, a today that he kept close tabs on as a busy New York art critic in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Writing led him to network widely in the contemporary art world. It allowed him to observe its career-making machinery in action, and to consider how to position himself within it. His reviews — listy, pontificating, proscriptive — were a form of self-advertising that also served as a useful means of self-critique.

An installation view of the Donald Judd survey at MoMA, with “Untitled” (1962), an oil-paint-mixed-with-sand canvas, and, on the floor, “Untitled” (1963), made of cadmium red light oil on wood with violet Plexiglas.
An installation view of the Donald Judd survey at MoMA, with “Untitled” (1962), an oil-paint-mixed-with-sand canvas, and, on the floor, “Untitled” (1963), made of cadmium red light oil on wood with violet Plexiglas.Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times
A detail of “Untitled” (1963, refabricated 1975) in the exhibition’s first gallery. The middle bar is purple lacquer on aluminum.
A detail of “Untitled” (1963, refabricated 1975) in the exhibition’s first gallery. The middle bar is purple lacquer on aluminum.Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times
An installation view showing, in the foreground, “Untitled” (1963/1975); one of Judd’s earliest experimental objects (from 1961), left, with a baking pan sunk in its surface; and, right, a 1963 piece that shows him playing with space.
An installation view showing, in the foreground, “Untitled” (1963/1975); one of Judd’s earliest experimental objects (from 1961), left, with a baking pan sunk in its surface; and, right, a 1963 piece that shows him playing with space.Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times

Through evaluating the work of hundreds of other artists, many his generational peers, he came to see that his own paintings — two examples introduce the MoMA show — were not, and would never be, strong enough to take him in the history-making direction he aspired to. He had to go another, less conventional way, and around 1960, he began to make work that was like no other art around.

It was three-dimensional, so it wasn’t painting but, he claimed, it wasn’t sculpture either. He called the new works “specific objects,” and left it at that. He titled all of these objects “Untitled,” and insisted they were devoid of metaphors, personal data or real-world references — all the lures, in other words, that art traditionally uses to draw us in.

The earliest of these experimental objects look pretty funky. From 1961 comes what is essentially an all-black oil painting with a baking pan sunk into its surface. An oil-paint-mixed-with-sand picture, dated to the following year, is colored allover scarlet red and has a yellow plastic “O” — a found bit of commercial signage — sideways in its center. Almost every subsequent piece for the next few years is the same red. Judd said he chose the color because it made edges look crisp. He didn’t mention that it also shouted “Look at me!”

For some observers, the most interesting thing Judd was doing at this early point was playing with space, in unusual ways. A largish 1963 work composed of iron flanges (Hardware store finds? Junk shop rescues?) attached to a flat wood panel, simultaneously hugs the wall, painting-style, and curves out into the room. And a smaller wall piece from the same year offers a preview of further complexities to come.

About the size of carpenter’s plane, it consists of a shelflike unit holding a length of square pipe. They seem to form a single dense, even leaden unit. Yet two small holes cut into the “shelf” hint at interior space, and a view from the side reveals the pipe to be hollow and open at both ends. Suddenly the piece feels light and buoyant. Air is moving through. You can almost feel it.

Judd based his work on detailed drawings, including these from 1984 (the first two, from left) and 1986.
Judd based his work on detailed drawings, including these from 1984 (the first two, from left) and 1986. Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times

Then a more radical development arrived: Judd stopped making hands-on art. Most of the objects in the retrospective’s first gallery were constructed and painted by Judd, with assistance from his father, who was a carpenter. Then in 1964, he hired a commercial sheet-metal workshop in Queens called Bernstein Brothers to fabricate his work, and it would continue to do so for years.

This came at a time when Abstract Expressionism that most touchy-feely of styles, remained the model of what serious art should be. Judd took critical heat for shifting production from his studio to what people assumed to be a factory. But in reality, his creative involvement with his art stayed intense. All the work was based on his detailed drawings. (Several are on view.) Indeed, drawing designs became one of his chief occupations. In addition, he chose the material, much of it industrial (metals, Plexiglas, acrylic paint), to be used for new work, and he often oversaw, or consulted on details and production. For a hands-off artist, he was very much on the job.

It is the art produced by this combination of authorial presence and absence that makes up the bulk of a retrospective — organized by Ann Temkin, MoMA’s chief curator of painting and sculpture, with Yasmil Raymond, former associate curator; Tamar Margalit, a curatorial assistant; and Erica Cooke, a research fellow — that spans more than 30 years. In the second gallery, where industrial fabrication starts, we get a full range of what will be repeated Judd forms. There are round-ended metal wall pieces shaped like bolster pillows, and sets of thin, squared-off uprights reminiscent of high-jump bars. The little 1963 shelf-and-tube piece reappears in larger, more elaborate versions, its horizontal air shaft intact. And there are boxes, many, open and closed, foursquare and flat, single or multiple, floor-bound or attached to the wall and stacked up, one over the other, high.

Some of Judd’s objects come with special effects: Peer into either end of a row of the four aluminum boxes that make up this 1969 work and you’ll find that they form a long blue corridor with a reflective surface.
Some of Judd’s objects come with special effects: Peer into either end of a row of the four aluminum boxes that make up this 1969 work and you’ll find that they form a long blue corridor with a reflective surface.Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times
A detail of “Untitled” (1967; refabricated 1973-75).
A detail of “Untitled” (1967; refabricated 1973-75).Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times
A detail of “Untitled” (1968), which consists of stacked stainless steel boxes with yellow Plexiglas.
A detail of “Untitled” (1968), which consists of stacked stainless steel boxes with yellow Plexiglas.Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times
“Untitled” (1976-77), in the foreground, is made up of 21 floor units. Behind that is a row of four hollow boxes lined with blue Plexiglas. On the back walls are “Portfolio of ten woodcuts” (1988), left, and “Untitled,” 1976, made of galvanized iron.
“Untitled” (1976-77), in the foreground, is made up of 21 floor units. Behind that is a row of four hollow boxes lined with blue Plexiglas. On the back walls are “Portfolio of ten woodcuts” (1988), left, and “Untitled,” 1976, made of galvanized iron.Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times

A number of these objects come with what might be called special effects, not necessarily noticeable on a quick pass-through. A wall-climbing stack of stainless steel and yellow Plexiglas boxes generates a mini Niagara of light. Another, composed of gleaming copper radiates a tawny mandorla. A tall stack of boxes, its units blue-painted iron, casts shadows, and gives its side of the gallery a twilight tinge. Judd’s supposedly unexpressive art has many moods.

It also has an interior life, or lives. A floor box built of opaque honey-gold Plexiglas appears to have a dark form sealed inside. A row of four aluminum boxes spaced close together across the third gallery looms like a barrier wall. But peer into either end and you’ll find that the boxes are hollow and form a long corridor colored a subaqueous blue.

And there’s the complex language of materials to savor, most industrially sourced. In the 1970s, commercial plywood caught Judd’s eye and he used it in a suite of boxy sculptures that look like a cross between shipping containers and anchorite cells. In addition, the unpainted sheets of wood chosen are rich with organic patterning: flamelike grains, knots like eyes. They exemplified an aesthetic of accident he relished.

Judd turned to plywood, rich with organic patterning, for “Untitled” (1973).
Judd turned to plywood, rich with organic patterning, for “Untitled” (1973).Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times
An installation view of “Untitled” (1977) on the wall, and “Untitled” (1973), a brass and blue Plexiglas floor box.
An installation view of “Untitled” (1977) on the wall, and “Untitled” (1973), a brass and blue Plexiglas floor box.Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times
“Untitled” (1967), a stack of galvanized iron boxes, and “Untitled” (1968), a brass floor box.
“Untitled” (1967), a stack of galvanized iron boxes, and “Untitled” (1968), a brass floor box.Credit…Donald Judd Art; Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Zack DeZon for The New York Times

In the 1980s he temporarily redirected his fabrication jobs to a firm in Switzerland. He simultaneously introduced a rainbow of harlequin colors — forest green, marigold, pink — to aluminum sculptures, as if circling back to the kooky roseate punch of his earliest objects, the ones that came from his own hands.

By the time his late work appeared, he had long since assumed identities he both did and didn’t want. He had become a textbook historical figure, but also part of a past that many young artists either didn’t know about or didn’t need. When he died, elements he had tried to scour from his art — narrative, personality, emotion — were being re-embraced. Much of his late writing feels angry and bitter, partly, I suspect, because he knew he was no longer shaping the news.

He still isn’t on any center stage. As a model for young artists now — in an art world that acknowledges multiple histories and has zero interest in “isms” — he seems locked in another time, as do many of his contemporaries who came of age more than a half-century ago. Simply put, they lived on a smaller art planet, one small enough to have faith in a Next Big Step. In the market-managed present, it’s hard to imagine ever thinking that way.

But it’s good to have him back in the spotlight at MoMA and elsewhere. (Several smaller New York exhibitions have been scheduled to complement the retrospective show.) And it’s nice to report that in important ways he still is news. His art once thought to be too severe to be beautiful (or maybe to be art at all) can now be seen to offer pleasures, visual and conceptual, that any audience with open eyes, can relate to, and that young artists can even maybe shoot for. Judd the critic once said that for art to matter, “it needs only to be interesting.” His is.

Judd

Sunday through July 11 (opens to members Feb. 27), Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, Manhattan; 212-708-9400, moma.org.

Judd Around Town

Several galleries are offering shows related to the artist.

Judd in Two Dimensions: Fifteen Drawings at Mignoni, 960 Madison Avenue, Manhattan; through March 21; mignoniart.com.

Judd Foundation: In conjunction with the MoMA retrospective, Judd’s former loft and working space will operate an expanded visit schedule from March 1 — July 11, at 101 Spring Street. It will also display 20 woodcut prints that Judd made in 1992 that have never been exhibited in New York. juddfoundation.org.

Donald Judd: Artwork: 1980 at Gagosian, 522 West 21st Street, Manhattan, March 12-April 11); gagosian.com.

Donald Judd: Artworks 1970-1994 at David Zwirner, 525 and 533 West 19th Street. Manhattan, April 18 to June 26; davidzwirner.com.

Salon 94 will be hosting a presentation of Donald Judd Furniture at the New York edition of TEFAF, May 8-12 at the Park Avenue Armory. Correction: Feb. 28, 2020

An earlier version of this article misidentified the location of the Bernstein Brothers workshop. It was in Queens, not Manhattan.

Holland Cotter is the co-chief art critic. He writes on a wide range of art, old and new, and he has made extended trips to Africa and China. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2009.

Why Rem Koolhaas Brought a Tractor to the Guggenheim

The architect, a champion of cities, now turns a spotlight on the countryside in a sprawling new exhibition about the other 98 percent of the world.

Rem Koolhaas at the Koppert Cress greenhouse in the Netherlands, a space related to his new exhibition, “Countryside, The Future,” at the Guggenheim.
Rem Koolhaas at the Koppert Cress greenhouse in the Netherlands, a space related to his new exhibition, “Countryside, The Future,” at the Guggenheim.Credit…Jussi Puikkonen for The New York Times

By Michael Kimmelman

Feb. 20, 2020

THE HAGUE — A manifesto and love letter to the city in the 1970s, the book “Delirious New York” helped propel the reputation of a young, restless Dutch journalist-and-screenwriter-turned-architect.

Nearly forgotten now, a display of drawings accompanied the book in 1978 — real and also wonderfully imaginary views of the city by the author, Rem Koolhaas, and his colleagues at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, or OMA, the architecture firm founded a few years earlier by him, Madelon Vriesendorp, Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Zaha Hadid to develop what they called “a mutant form of urbanism.”

“The Sparkling Metropolis,” as the show was called, occupied what then doubled as storage rooms at the top of the spiral of the Guggenheim Museum. “The irony wasn’t lost on me,” Mr. Koolhaas remembered the other day, about the fact that Frank Lloyd Wright, the Guggenheim’s architect, hated cities.

We had gotten together in the Rotterdam offices of OMA. I had come to the Netherlands to talk with Mr. Koolhaas about the new Guggenheim exhibition he has put together — a bookend to “Delirious New York” and, in a sense, to his career.

We’ll see how the show, “Countryside, The Future,” opening Thursday, is received during its six-month run — whether museumgoers find it exhilarating or shambolic. I’ve only seen it half-installed. It looks to be a huge, text-heavy, dizzying affair with something of the aesthetic of an old Soviet World’s Fair pavilion, spilling out of the Guggenheim’s front door, where a tractor, remotely operable by iPad, is now parked on Fifth Avenue.

Installation view of “The Sparkling Metropolis,” a 1978 show at the Guggenheim organized by Mr. Koolhaas and his colleagues Madelon Vriesendorp, Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Zaha Hadid.
Installation view of “The Sparkling Metropolis,” a 1978 show at the Guggenheim organized by Mr. Koolhaas and his colleagues Madelon Vriesendorp, Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Zaha Hadid.Credit…Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Zaha Hadid, center, at the opening of “The Sparkling Metropolis.”
Zaha Hadid, center, at the opening of “The Sparkling Metropolis.”Credit…Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

A corrective to the focus on growing cities, “Countryside” aims to turn a spotlight on the 98 percent of the planet not yet occupied by cities. Anticipating the obvious criticism, Mr. Koolhaas describes the show as a “pointillist” portrait, a “global sampling” of “the current condition of ‘countryside,’” which he acknowledges seems “a glaringly inadequate term for all the territory that is not urban.”

By not-urban territory, in other words, Mr. Koolhaas means farms and wilderness and oceans and villages — the Kalahari, the Great Barrier Reef and the Dakotas — but also dense exurban clusters of high-tech industrial sites and mega-campuses for Amazon fulfillment centers and Tesla giga-factories in places like the high desert outside Reno, Nevada.

The show pings from urbanizing villages in Kenya along Chinese-funded train routes, to endangered communities in Siberia where climate change is hastening the melt of permafrost.

There’s a bit about satellites supplying real-time data to computer-driven tractors plowing immense mono-farms in Middle America; another about M-Pesa, a mobile-phone-based money-transfer system funding businesses in remote parts of Tanzania.

And a bay in the Guggenheim rotunda is devoted to Iraqi, Syrian and other immigrants resuscitating ghost towns like Camini, in Calabria, Italy, and the village of Manheim, near Cologne, Germany.

Years in gestation, the show is the collective output of an army of collaborators and students. Troy Conrad Therrien, the Guggenheim’s curator for architecture, brought Mr. Koolhaas onboard in 2015 and oversaw the project’s development. Among many others, Mr. Koolhaas teamed with Samir Bantal, who runs AMO, the research arm of OMA, and Niklas Maak, the excellent German architecture critic. Graphics for the museum layout and for the dense, palm-size catalog are by Irma Boom, the great Dutch book designer. The catalog’s size is a kind of inside joke. Mr. Koolhaas is famous for producing doorstops.

He takes no clear political position on many of the hot-button topics the show raises, portraying himself as a reporter not pundit, realist not cynic, equally amazed and appalled, refusing moral judgments or virtue signaling. A familiar pose by him, it may confuse some, frustrate others. The topics evolved out of “a personal journey, where our energies led us,” he told me.

They led to places like Koppert Cress, which Mr. Koolhaas invited me to see. It’s part of the industrialized sprawl of car dealerships, highways and factories just outside The Hague, the opposite of what most people would call the countryside. The Netherlands, it turns out, is the world’s second largest exporter of food because of its state-of-the-art greenhouses — businesses like Koppert Cress, a high-tech producer and supplier of micro-vegetables, whose facility is the size of 23 football fields.

One of the vast greenhouses in Koppert Cress, whose facility is the size of 23 football fields.
One of the vast greenhouses in Koppert Cress, whose facility is the size of 23 football fields.Credit…Jussi Puikkonen for The New York Times
Mr. Koolhaas holding micro-greens at Koppert Cress.
Mr. Koolhaas holding micro-greens at Koppert Cress.Credit…Jussi Puikkonen for The New York Times
State-of-the-art greenhouses like Koppert Cress, Mr. Koolhaas says, exemplify “post-human architecture” and a “new sublime.”
State-of-the-art greenhouses like Koppert Cress, Mr. Koolhaas says, exemplify “post-human architecture” and a “new sublime.”Credit…Pieternel van Velden

The company’s pony-tailed owner, Rob Baan, greeted us at the door. In a hothouse off the lobby he fed us samples of tiny chrysanthemums, shiso leaves and a flower whose name I failed to catch that he said was used in toothpaste, which instantly anesthetized my mouth for several troubling minutes.

Mr. Baan then led us through airlock doors into the iridescent greenhouses.

A dozen-odd years ago, the United Nations announced that this is the first urban century, the first time more than half the world’s population lives in cities. Predictions were that some 70 percent of humans will be urban-dwellers by 2050.

Having been left for dead a generation ago, cities suddenly became the next big thing. Books and biennials about cities flooded the architecture world. As Mr. Koolhaas says, the focus on urbanism “gave people the right to ignore the countryside,” incubating a “reservoir of indignation” — although it’s not quite clear whom he means by people. The people who turned out for Trump and Brexit certainly never forgot about themselves.

Along which lines, this is the sort of show that may invite charges of slumming by a world-famous architect who, it is said, often gives off the imperious, slightly impatient impression that he has something better to do. At 75, tall and imposing, given to a uniform of gray and black slacks and mock turtlenecks, he can seem almost comically restless. When I chat with his friend Ms. Boom, a warm, exuberant character, before we all head out for a Japanese dinner in Amsterdam, he paces her house like a caged tiger.

He can be gruff, too, but also solicitous and generous, amusing like his prose, with a seemingly depthless appetite for new ideas and people. It says something that OMA has been an incubator for so many gifted architects.

The firm has a lot of other people overseeing projects around the world these days, which has left Mr. Koolhaas more time to ponder the Guggenheim exhibition. He traces the roots of the exhibition to walks that he took years ago around the Swiss village near St. Moritz where he and his partner and sometime collaborator, the British-born Dutch architect Petra Blaisse, used to holiday. He noticed the population dropping, the town growing; cows, horses and farmers giving way to immigrant domestic workers from Southeast Asia and absentee owners from Milan who spent millions of euros converting old barns into minimalist villas.

He identified gentrification, in other words. This is what piqued his interest in the other 98 percent.

“This is not an art show,” Mr. Koolhaas says of “Countryside, The Future,” which aims to turn a spotlight on the rapidly changing rural areas across the globe.
“This is not an art show,” Mr. Koolhaas says of “Countryside, The Future,” which aims to turn a spotlight on the rapidly changing rural areas across the globe.Credit…Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; David Heald

“Yes, there is something inherently ridiculous about suddenly realizing the rest of the world exists,” he admits. But he says he learned years ago from a journalistic mentor to approach new situations as if he were a Martian, with an innocence that may appear clueless but also lets one notice what others no longer see because it has become too familiar.

Mr. Therrien, the Guggenheim curator, puts it this way in the catalog: “The countryside has long — always? — been chock-full of experts, overflowing with opinions, flooded by interpretations. But Martian strategy is necessarily unimpressed. Even the duly picked-over can be a rich harvest. Calling it ignored is not ignorant, it’s strategic. It’s an opening.”

That’s the hope, anyway — that “Countryside,” whatever criticism it provokes, ignites debate, gets people to think about developments and places that demand attention because city and country, urban and rural, are ultimately not separate issues. The show includes no buildings by OMA. The designer of the Seattle Public Library and the national library in Qatar, among other recent landmarks, makes clear that this exhibition is not about his architecture.

It’s useful to remember that Mr. Koolhaas started out his working career writing for a weekly in The Hague, honing a journalist’s curiosity and detachment and penchant for pronouncements. He fell in with a faction of the Dutch avant-garde that wasn’t so much political as ironic, camp, modernist; and like his father, he also wrote screenplays, including a film noir and an unproduced script for Russ Meyer. Montage became a motif running through his books, exhibitions and buildings.

“Countryside” unspools along the rotunda montage-style, ideas and eras speeding by, figures unearthed like the German architect Herman Sörgel who, during the 1920s, cooked up a scheme to link Africa with Europe by lowering the Mediterranean 100 meters, irrigating the Sahara and installing new hydroelectric dams in Gibraltar and Suez to power the new continent, which he called Atlantropa.

Atlantropa appears in the show alongside Stalin’s and Mao’s megalomaniacal plans for remaking the countryside, and also with the Great Green Wall, the African Union’s current and far more benign attempt to transform a 4,700-mile-long, transcontinental swath of desert into arable land.

An image of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Nevada at the Guggenheim exhibition.
An image of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Nevada at the Guggenheim exhibition.Credit…Laurian Ghinitoiu, via AMO

“In the future, the countryside can’t only survive as back of the house for people who live in cities,” as Mr. Bantal put it to me. “It’s also a cause for optimism, a place of invention and opportunity.” He pointed to the show’s section on pixel farming, a nascent technology that holds out the prospect for what he called “perfected nature,” and to reborn towns like Manheim, which suggest that the countryside is not dying but supple and nimble and can, selectively, be reinvented in ways that cities, increasingly programmed and homogenized, can’t.

Through those airlock doors at Koppert Cress, the greenhouses looked like something out of “Ad Astra”: silent spaces the length and breadth of New York avenue blocks, their atmosphere monitored like operating theaters, plants stretching as far as the eye could see in gridded rows beneath red, green or white lights. In the room of plants enveloped by a Dan Flavinesque pink light, I asked Mr. Koolhaas whether he found the greenhouse peaceful or stressful.

“Definitely stressful,” he said, then added, “and fantastically beautiful.”

Places likes these are Mr. Koolhaas’s big architectural reveal in “Countryside.” What he calls “post-human” buildings — whose boredom he finds “hypnotic” and “banality breathtaking” — represent, he says, a “new sublime.”

He is referring to the expanding universe of data collection hubs, storage hangers and other digital-era behemoths that, like Koppert Cress, are reshaping the hinterlands. Designed by codes and algorithms, not human inspiration, industrial facilities on this scale, once upon a time, employed hundreds or thousands of workers. Now, like Koppert Cress, they’re staffed by two dozen or so, with implications that “Countryside” doesn’t get much into.

For Mr. Koolhaas, the architecture is, like 1970s New York, a kind of revelation, calamity and unfolding experiment. A new manifesto.

“To drop the connection between humanism and architecture is of course extremely frightening,” Mr. Koolhaas tells me when we leave Koppert Cress.

“But it is also exhilarating.”

Michael Kimmelman is the architecture critic. He has reported from more than 40 countries, was previously The Times’s chief art critic and, based in Berlin, created the Abroad column, covering cultural and political affairs across Europe and the Middle East. @kimmelman

Beverly Pepper, Sculptor of Monumental Lightness, Dies at 97

An American artist who long worked in Italy, she created towering forms whose evanescence belied their giant scale.

Beverly Pepper at work in Italy in 1960. Her sculpture is in major museums and public spaces around the world. 
Beverly Pepper at work in Italy in 1960. Her sculpture is in major museums and public spaces around the world. Credit…Curtis Bill Pepper
Margalit Fox

By Margalit Fox

Feb. 5, 2020

Beverly Pepper, an acclaimed American sculptor whose work was suffused with a quicksilver lightness that belied its gargantuan scale, died on Wednesday at her home in Todi, Italy.  She was 97. 

Her daughter, the poet Jorie Graham, confirmed the death.

After beginning her artistic life as a painter, Ms. Pepper was known from the 1960s on as a sculptor of towering forms of iron, steel, earth and stone, often displayed outdoors.

Her art is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and elsewhere. It also graces public spaces throughout the world.

Ms. Pepper, who had lived and worked principally in Italy since the 1950s, “today is one of the most serious and disciplined American artists of her generation,” the art critic Robert Hughes wrote in Time magazine in 1975.

“Ascensione,” a 2008 piece, is in the Italian town of Assisi. 
“Ascensione,” a 2008 piece, is in the Italian town of Assisi. Credit…Curtis Bill Pepper

If her cherished, self-imposed exile meant that Ms. Pepper was not as widely known as some of her American contemporaries — notably the sculptor David Smith, to whose work hers was often compared — then that, by her own account, was more than fine.

“People have criticized me for living abroad,” she told Mr. Hughes. “But I think isolation freed me. The idea of being part of a group still depresses me.”

It was novel enough at midcentury for a woman to make world-class art, as wide-eyed news articles from Ms. Pepper’s early career make plain.

“A painting by a 30-year-old American mother was hung among 60 works of many of the world’s greatest artists today in a Rome art show,” The Associated Press wrote about her in 1953. “The artists represented include Goya, Renoir, Manet, Matisse and Picasso.”

It was even more novel for a woman to do sculpture — a sweaty, muscular medium long considered the most masculine of the visual arts.

It was more novel still for her to fabricate sculptures firsthand in metal foundries, a helmeted torchbearer loosing showers of sparks.

Ms. Pepper was one of the few women of her era to have done all of those things.

“I never thought of myself as a ‘female sculptor,’” she told the British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph in 2014. “Perhaps because I’m not in the art scene I don’t know I’m not supposed to be doing this!”

Ms. Pepper’s work defied handy genre classification, though with its inclination toward large, assembled forms it was most often described as constructivist.

“The abstract language of form that I have chosen has become a way to explore an interior life of feeling,” she was quoted as saying in the reference work Contemporary Artists. “In this way, my forms mirror emotional reality.”

“Zig-Zag,” a sculpture from 1967. Ms. Pepper became known for her immense geometric pieces of polished steel with enameled interior surfaces.
“Zig-Zag,” a sculpture from 1967. Ms. Pepper became known for her immense geometric pieces of polished steel with enameled interior surfaces.Credit…Beverly Pepper

At times the mirroring was literal. In the 1960s and later, Ms. Pepper was known for creating immense geometric pieces of polished steel with enameled interior surfaces. One was her emblematic 1967 sculpture “Zig-Zag,” comprising three square frames conjoined at angles; it functions as a many-planed reflective surface, variously revealing viewer and surroundings.

“The polished mirror surface has two distinct uses: One is to envelop the environment so that in a certain light the sculpture appears to absorb the landscape or the landscape absorbs the sculpture,” she wrote of “Zig-Zag,” which is in the collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y. “The essential attempt was to have a continuity between the work and the environment, the environment and the work.”

Ms. Pepper was later one of the first artists to work in Cor-Ten steel, which develops a natural sepia patina that resembles rust.

She also built architectural forms that seemed to rise organically from the earth; they often combined industrial materials with natural elements like pressed earth or stone.

Among the best known of these is “Land Canal — Hillside,” a 265-foot-long installation from the 1970s consisting of rakishly tilted pyramids of Cor-Ten and grassy earth, set atop a median strip in Dallas and designed to be glimpsed from changing vantage points by passing motorists.

Still later, she made elongated, totemic sculptures of cast iron that tower watchfully over their surroundings.

Ms. Pepper’s “Todi Columns” at the Piazza del Popolo in Todi, Italy.
Ms. Pepper’s “Todi Columns” at the Piazza del Popolo in Todi, Italy.Credit…George Tatge

Among her best-known outdoor installations are “Manhattan Sentinels,” a group of four cast-iron columns in front of 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan; “Sol i Ombra Park” in Barcelona, which features undulating tiled pyramids in a landscaped setting; and “The Todi Columns,” four steel uprights first erected in 1979 and reproduced and reinstalled in 2019 in the Piazza del Popolo in Todi, the Umbrian town where she had long made her home.

For structures that could rise to more than 30 feet and whose weight was measured in tons, Ms. Pepper’s sculptures possessed an unexpected ethereal quality.

“The logic of solid forms is everywhere contradicted by the logic of reflection,” The Christian Science Monitor wrote of her work in 1969.

She created each piece, she often said, with few preconceptions about its meaning, preferring to have interpretation arise as the viewer confronted it.

Her mirrored steel sculptures, for instance, were meant to set off a shifting contrapuntal duet between the piece and the reflected observer. A third contrapuntal part was played by the sculpture’s interaction with the land from which it arose.

Such works, Ms. Pepper said, “relate to the mystery of the unseen inside of things.”

Perhaps none of her monumental work, and none of its mystery, would have arisen at all, had it not been for an incident more than 50 years ago, when, drawing on her inborn Brooklyn moxie, she lied about being able to weld.

An amphitheater created by Ms. Pepper for the theater producers Barry and Fran Weissler at their home in Westchester, N.Y. 
An amphitheater created by Ms. Pepper for the theater producers Barry and Fran Weissler at their home in Westchester, N.Y. Credit…Trevor Tondro for The New York Times

The daughter of Irwin and Beatrice (Hornstein) Stoll, Beverly Stoll was born in Brooklyn on Dec. 20, 1922, and grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood there. Her father sold carpet and linoleum and later fur coats; her mother took in laundry and was an activist for the N.A.A.C.P.

Beverly wanted to make art from the time she was a child. After graduating from James Madison High School in Brooklyn, she entered the Pratt Institute, in the same borough, where she studied industrial and advertising design.

Already fascinated with construction, she tried to enroll in an engineering course there but was denied: Engineering, she was told, was no fit subject for a woman.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Pratt, she worked, miserably, as an art director for New York advertising agencies. She took night classes at Brooklyn College, studying art theory with the painter Gyorgy Kepes.

In the late 1940s, after an early marriage, to Lawrence Gussin, had ended in divorce, and unable to endure advertising any longer, she decamped to Europe.

In Paris, she studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu and painting in the ateliers of André Lhote and Fernand Léger. Her arrival in Paris “was an amazing experience,” she said in an interview with The New York Times magazine T in 2019. “I felt like Eve — I had just discovered that I was naked.” She would make her career as a painter for the next decade.

“My Circle,” 2008. Ms. Pepper was one of the first artists to work in Cor-Ten steel, which develops a natural sepia patina that resembles rust.
“My Circle,” 2008. Ms. Pepper was one of the first artists to work in Cor-Ten steel, which develops a natural sepia patina that resembles rust.Credit…D. Lanzone LLC

She married Curtis Bill Pepper, a journalist, in 1949, and in the early 1950s settled with him in Rome, where he became Newsweek’s Mediterranean bureau chief. In Rome, the couple’s luminous social circle included Gore Vidal and Federico Fellini.

Ms. Pepper’s early paintings were largely in the social realist vein. One lauded work, inspired by her immigrant Jewish grandparents and hung in the 1953 Rome exhibition, portrayed an elderly man and woman eating from the same dish. Yet she came to find the medium unfulfilling.

“Once, as a painter, I tried to portray social problems,” she told Sculpture magazine in 2013. “It was a failure.”

In 1960, visiting Angkor Wat, the vast temple complex in Cambodia, Ms. Pepper became enthralled by the possibilities of monumental sculpture. Her earliest pieces were carved out of fallen trees from her Rome garden.

Not long after, she was asked to take part in the Festival of Two Worlds, to be held in Spoleto, Italy, in 1962. The festival would include an exhibition of work by major sculptors, among them Mr. Smith, Henry Moore and Alexander Calder.

There was one condition: She had to know how to weld so that she could fabricate work with the other artists in a participating Italian steel plant.

Ms. Pepper had never welded in her life.

“I was terrified,” she told The Sunday Telegraph. “But one thing I learned growing up in Brooklyn is that if you’re offered an opportunity, take it. You don’t have to be qualified. You just have to have the chutzpah to face all the possible downfalls.”

She took an apprenticeship in an Italian metal foundry and learned to weld.

Her sculpture “Il Dono di Icaro” (“The Gift of Icarus”) — an iron-and-steel piece comprising a slender standard crowned by a horizontal band of airy, abstract scrollwork — was entered in the exhibition, and it made her reputation. It stands outdoors in Spoleto to this day.

Ms. Pepper in 2014 with sculptures from her “Curvae in Curvae” series, which went on display at the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome.
Ms. Pepper in 2014 with sculptures from her “Curvae in Curvae” series, which went on display at the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome.Credit…Domenico Stinellis/Associated Press

In the early 1970s, Ms. Pepper and her husband moved to Umbria, where they bought and restored a derelict 14th-century castle near Todi, a medieval hill town. The land, the architecture and the stillness, she said, helped make her work possible, as did the hangarlike studio, staffed with local workmen, that she was able to erect nearby.

“I am committed to permanence in my work as part of defying the violent world of alienation and threat,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 1976. “I need the sense of permanence in my life — and Umbria has that quality of history fused into the future.”

Over the coming decades she divided her time between Italy and a home and studio in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Manhattan. She made work in factories on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Steel and Alloy Tank Company in Newark and the United States Steel Plant in Conshohocken, Pa., just northwest of Philadelphia.

Her art from these years also includes “Alpha,” an outdoor sculpture of orange-painted steel encompassing sharply angled, interleaved tentlike forms, displayed at the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis. She also made small sculptures designed for the tabletop.

“You have to listen to the materials,” she told T magazine. “Bronze is very controlled; metal — anything you can bend to your will — you have to figure out how to make warmth come to it. Each material has its own kind of aliveness.”

Some critics dismissed Ms. Pepper’s art as derivative, comparing her large geometric pieces to those of Mr. Smith, a close friend, and her later columnar sculptures to the work of Brancusi.

But most praised her spatial daring, among them Mr. Hughes, who in his 1975 article described “Alpha” as “arguably one of the most successful pieces of monumental sculpture produced by an American in the past decade.”

He added: “No photograph can convey the peculiar intricacy of space that it develops from what seems a simple formula of two skewed triangular prisms, one inside the other.”

Ms. Pepper, who had lived and worked principally in Italy since the 1950s, at her studio in Todi. 
Ms. Pepper, who had lived and worked principally in Italy since the 1950s, at her studio in Todi. Credit…Federico Ciamei

Ms. Pepper’s husband died in 2014. In addition to her daughter, Ms. Graham, who won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize in poetry, she is survived by a son, John Randolph Pepper, an actor, director and photographer; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Among Ms. Pepper’s many laurels was a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center.

She also wrote several cookbooks, rooted both in her Cordon Bleu training and in the perennial insolvency that is the artist’s lot. (“She figured out that to test recipes,” the publisher “would have to pay for the food for about a year,” Ms. Graham said in an interview for this obituary in 2017.)

They include “The Glamour Magazine After Five Cookbook” (1952); “See Rome and Eat” (1960), with John Hobart; and “The Myra Breckinridge Cookbook” (1970), written with Mr. Vidal’s companion, Howard Austen, and inspired by Mr. Vidal’s salacious satirical novel of 1968.

Ms. Pepper continued making sculpture well into old age, including immense curvilinear forms of rust-colored Cor-Ten, though she left the actual fabrication to younger assistants.

Early last year, the Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery in Los Angeles featured a retrospective of Ms. Pepper’s smaller-scale early work, and an exhibition of more recent Cor-Ten works opened at Marlborough’s downtown New York gallery. In September, the Beverly Pepper Sculpture Park opened in Todi, featuring works donated by the artist.

She also completed construction of a new, sculptural amphitheater for the city of L’Aquila, in the Abruzzo region of Italy, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2009.

It was precisely this kind of work, she told The Sunday Telegraph in 2014, that she felt she had been born to do.

“Other women want diamonds and fur coats,” Ms. Pepper said. “I just want to live in a factory.”

Woman of Steel Sept. 10, 2019

Margalit Fox is a former senior writer on the obituaries desk at The Times. She was previously an editor at the Book Review. She has written the send-offs of some of the best-known cultural figures of our era, including Betty Friedan, Maya Angelou and Seamus Heaney. 

Here Are 7 Artists You Might Not Know, But Should—With Shows You Can See This February

We’ve got shows from Hong Kong to Düsseldorf.

artnet Gallery Network, February 5, 2020

Christina Nicodema, Primate Temple (2019). Courtesy of Hollis Taggart.
Christina Nicodema, Primate Temple (2019). Courtesy of Hollis Taggart.

The new decade is shaping up to be quite the global spectacle already with corona-virus in China, protests in Hong Kong, impeachments and election dramas in the US, and the seemingly never-ending Brexit withdrawal unfolding in the UK. In uncertain times artists have always been tried-and-true soothsayers of the way forward, and in 2020 that proves no exception. If you’re ready to see the work of a few interesting, and perhaps unfamiliar artists, here are 6 contemporary talents (and one little-known, historical artist) with shows you can see around the world this February.

Miyoshi Barosh, “Love” at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

Miyoshi Barosh, I Keep Going On (2008). Courtesy of Luis de Jesus Los Angeles.

Miyoshi Barosh, I Keep Going On (2008). Courtesy of Luis de Jesus Los Angeles.

In the early 2000s Los Angeles-based artist Miyoshi Barosh started making large-scale textile sculptures that combined the intimacy of craft with the bold, irreverence of Pop. Though vibrantly colorful and often playfully ironic, a dystopian sense of decay and death characterized these pieces. After the artist’s untimely death last year, the artworks have taken on new poignancy; they’re spirited, contradictory, and full of mischief and the carnivalesque madness of contemporary life. 

Miyoshi Barosh’s “Love” is on view through February 15, 2020, at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, 2685 S. La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles 

Richard Streitmatter-Tran, “We No Longer See the Stars” at de Sarthe 

Installation view of We No Longer See Stars, 2019. Courtesy of de Sarthe Gallery

Installation view of “We No Longer See Stars,” 2019. Courtesy of de Sarthe Gallery.

In this exhibition, Vietnamese artist Richard Streitmatter-Tran pulls viewers into a tumultuous and immersive staging of new paintings, sculptures, and interactive installations that address global political unrest and our contemporary state of constant crisis. Particularly striking is Bless the Beasts and the Children (2019-20), a work consisting of large-scale freestanding portraits of black-clad people whose gazes seem to follow visitors throughout the gallery.

“We No Longer See the Stars” is on view through March 7, 2020, at de Sarthe Gallery, 20/F, Global Trade Square, No. 21 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Hong Kong

William Buchina and Christina Nicodema, “Of Folly, Fortune, Glory, Ruin” at Hollis Taggart

Christina Nicodema, The Tower of Babel, Placenta (2019). Courtesy of Hollis Taggart.

Christina Nicodema, The Tower of Babel, Placenta (2019). Courtesy of Hollis Taggart.

This two-person show of works by William Buchina and Christina Nicodema melds together the bon viveur of a fête galante with the morbidity of a Dutch vanitas. Buchina renders what would be happy scenes of casual gatherings, but cast in sickly shades of blues and greens (think Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, but with everyone wearing gas masks). Even more distressingly pleasurable are Nicodema’s decadent still lifes, which heap together cakes, fruits, meats, flowers, fauna, and surgical equipment, all rendered in flamboyant tones. Seeming at once hyper-realistic and utterly impossible, the works are oddly mesmerizing. This wild sweetness will give you a toothache. 

“Of Folly, Fortune, Glory, Ruin” is on view through March 7, 2020, at Hollis Taggart, 521 West 26th Street, New York

Jessica Stoller, “Spread” at P.P.O.W.

Installation view "Spread," 2019. Courtesy of P.P.OW.

Installation view of “Spread,” 2019. Courtesy of P.P.OW.

Jessica Stoller’s exquisitely detailed new ceramics are tantalizingly bizarre, mixing flower petals and vines with disembodied legs and breasts, tangles of hair, wrinkled skin and other markers of the aging female body. These works allow beauty to bloom among something much more sinister and macabre.

“Spread” is on view through February 15, 2020, at P.P.O.W., 535 West 22nd Street

Ben Evans at Guy Hepner

Ben Evans, Green No. 1 (2020). Courtesy of Guy Hepner.

Ben Evans, Green No. 1 (2020). Courtesy of Guy Hepner.

Twentysomething Brooklynite and Instagram art star Ben Evans creates comic-influenced, Pop-style portraits of the behind-closed-doors habits of millennials and Gen Z’ers, seen devouring snacks or indulging their sexual fetishes. A unique series of Evans’s hand-embellished prints are currently on view at Guy Hepner gallery. “I see all of [my] paintings as film stills more than anything, truly,” the artist has said. “Making things that feel performative is fun for me because it allows me to be campy with the imagery, and existing in a campy space is where I’m most comfortable.”

Ben Evans is on view through February 29, 2020, at Guy Hepner, 520 W 27th Street, New York

Jean-Michel Atlan, “Jean-Michel Atlan et la Nouvelle École de Paris” at Setareh 

Installation view of "Jean-Michel Atlan et la Nouvelle École de Paris" (2019). Courtesy of Setareh.

Installation view of “Jean-Michel Atlan et la Nouvelle École de Paris” (2019). Courtesy of Setareh.

The late French artist Jean-Michel Atlan was a self-taught abstract painter who has become something of a niche favorite in France in the decades since his death in 1960. Nevertheless, he remains largely unknown within the greater art world. This exhibition, organized with Fondation Jean-Michel Atlan and the Musée de la Moderne de la Ville de Paris, is a fascinating reexamination of an artist who was highly regarded by Jean Dubuffet, showed alongside Picabia, and was friends with both the Surrealists and artists from the CoBrA movement. The show, which includes works from Atlan’s most pivotal periods, is an eye-opening look at an artist who was collected by the likes of Gertrude Stein, but who has fallen, almost inexplicably, into obscurity.

“Jean-Michel Atlan et la Nouvelle École de Paris” is on view through March 14, 2020, at Setareh, Königsallee 27 & 31, Düsseldorf, 40212

Masayoshi Nojo in “Under the Moonlight” at JD Malat 

Masayoshi Nojo, Mirage 45, 2019. Courtesy of JD Malat

Masayoshi Nojo, Mirage 45 (2019). Courtesy of JD Malat.

In his first solo show outside of his native Japan, artist Masayoshi Nojo presents a series of haunting and evocative landscapes that meld traditional aesthetics with contemporary visual language. The moody forests Nojo creates have an atmospheric shimmering quality that the artist achieves by applying silver foil to a marbled acrylic base. The effect keeps the eye wandering across the surface, drawing viewers into a state of reverie. 

“Under the Moonlight” is on view through February 15, 2020, at JD Malat, 30 Davies Street, Mayfair, London

Your Concise Los Angeles Art Guide for Spring 2020

Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this season.

Hyperallergic February 12, 2020

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Dora Maar, “29, rue d’Astorg” (1935), hand-colored gelatin silver print, image: 11 9/16 × 9 5/8 inches (© 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris, image © Centre Pompidou, Mnam-CCI / Philippe Migeat)

After putting together this guide of around 60 Los Angeles exhibitions with Hyperallergic contributor Abe Ahn, I realized how many art spaces and artists are engaging meaningfully and deeply with the times we live in. The art world can often feel like a disillusioned bubble, but sometimes it manages to get it right. The exhibitions this spring overwhelmingly focus on contemporary art, exploring, for instance, a prevalent “witchy” sensibility, representations of Afro-Latinx communities, and how artists are incorporating words into their work. There are also a few historical shows that feel particularly relevant, such as surveys on the political photomontagist John Heartfield and the brilliant overlooked artist Dora Maar. 

We’ve organized the guide according to the month the exhibitions opened. However, many of them stay open for a while, so don’t skip over those months that have already passed! 

We publish these guides every spring and fall, and also distribute print versions that you can find at art spaces across Los Angeles. Every Wednesday we send out an LA newsletter spotlighting art events in the city and sharing reviews and news. You can sign up here. —Elisa Wouk Almino 

January 

SOUND OFF: Silence + Resistance

When: January 8–March 15
Where: LACE (6522 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

LACE’s 2020 Emerging Curator, Abigail Raphael Collins, has put together this exhibition exploring “silence as a tool of resistance.” According to Collins, “Listening is central to almost every work in this exhibition.” In addition to historical documentation of silent protests, the show features works by Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, Nikita Gale, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Sharon Hayes, Baseera Khan, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Aliza Shvarts.

Female Sensibility

When: January 11–March 1
Where: Five Car Garage (email info@emmagrayhq.com for directions)

Paying tribute to Lynda Benglis’s 1973 video work “Female Sensibility,” this show brings together works by two artists, Los Angeles-based Kirsten Soltmann and NYC-based painter Jennifer Sullivan, who share an interest in the ways gender expectations delimit behaviors, self-expression, and popular discourse. Humor, rage, and an affinity for pop music icons run through these artists’ works.

Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe: Black Like Me

When: January 11–March 7
Where: Roberts Projects (5801 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, California)

Bold lines and bright color palettes animate stylized oil portraits of friends, colleagues, and strangers by Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe. The first US exhibition of works by the Ghana-born artist, Black Like Me introduces a new talent in Black portraiture to American audiences.

Judy Linn: For Ruth Roman

When: January 12–February 29
Where: Parker Gallery (2441 Glendower Ave, Los Feliz, Los Angeles)

Photographer Judy Linn is most recognized for her work documenting 1970s New York City, out of which emerged her iconic portraits of Patti Smith and other artists of that era. Just as deserving of attention are her photographs of the banal and unexpected. Linn’s first solo show in Los Angeles features three decades of photographs showcasing her unique eye for documentary and abstraction.

Johanna Went at Hong Kong Cafe, Los Angeles, CA, September 1 (1980) (photo by Alan Peak, image courtesy the artist, photographer, and the Box, LA)

Johanna Went: Passion Container

When: January 25–March 14
Where: The Box (805 Traction Ave, Arts District, Los Angeles)

Riotous, transgressive shows once took place at now-shuttered downtown venues like Al’s Bar in the 1970s and 1980s, when Los Angeles became home to a thriving punk and performance art scene. Johanna Went was one of its most formidable figures, attracting renown with her cacophonous vocals, elaborate costumes, and grotesque spectacle. This exhibition features objects, photographs, and video from Went’s decades-long performance career.

Beyond Embodiment

When: January 25–March 20
Where: Brand Library & Art Center (1601 W Mountain Street, Glendale, Calif.)

This show spotlights 25 female, nonbinary, and trans artists working with the sprawling yet rich theme of the human body. The type of work is likewise wide-ranging, from ceramics, animation, collage, and painting, to augmented reality, performance, and art dealing with scent. 

Roxanne Jackson, “Metal Goddess” (2017), ceramic, faux fur, glaze, lace, and shell, 12 x 6 x 8 inches (image courtesy the artist, photo by JSP Photography)

The Body, The Object, The Other

When: January 25–May 10
Where: Craft Contemporary (5814 Wilshire Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)

The human figure has become an especially popular subject in contemporary art, including ceramics. But Craft Contemporary’s second clay biennial also considers the ancient representation of the human figure in clay. Artists in the show reference this history while also challenging it with unconventional forms. 

face: Suki Seokyeong Kang

When: January 25–March 7
Where: Commonwealth and Council (3006 W 7th St #220, Koreatown, Los Angeles)

Traditional Korean practices and family history converge in Suki Seokyeong Kang’s series of abstract assemblages. Referencing Joseon-era music notations and woven handicrafts, the artworks recall both personal and collective memories.

The Hilton Als Series: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

When: January 25–May 11
Where: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, Calif.)

This exhibition is the second in a trilogy of shows curated by New Yorker writer Hilton Als. All three shows feature women British artists (Celia Paul and Njideka Akunyili Crosby are the other two). Als chose five of Yiadom-Boakye’s recent paintings portraying fictional characters. The installation promises to challenge and expand upon the Huntington’s collection of 18th-century British portraits of white and wealthy historic figures. 

Karl Haendel: Double Dominant

When: January 25–March 7
Where: Vielmetter Los Angeles (1700 S Santa Fe Avenue #101, Downtown, Los Angeles)

Karl Haendel has made 24 monumental drawings (around eight by seven feet) of hands — and not just any hands: hands of artists. He has chosen to portray only the artists’ dominant hands, which no doubt have something mystical about them. All of the artists are from LA and of the same generation, among them Rafa Esparza, EJ Hill, and Liz Glynn. 

Tishan Hsu, “Liquid Circuit” (1987), acrylic, compound, alkyd, oil, aluminum on wood. 90 x 143 x 9 inches (image courtesy Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis)

Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit 

When: January 26–April 19
Where: Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd, Westwood, Los Angeles)

NYC-based artist Tishan Hsu began creating work about technology and the body in the 1980s, long before digital images and artificial intelligence became part of the everyday. This survey of prescient works between 1980 and 2005 includes signature paintings and sculptures that evoke posthuman futures.

Luciana Abait, “Displacement” (2016) (image courtesy the artist)

Las Hijas de los Días. 7 Female Views from the Margins

When: January 27–April 3
Where: 18th Street Arts Center, Airport Gallery (3026 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, California)

Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano’s Los hijos de los días recalls the lives of unsung heroes in history, one story for each day of the calendar year. Similarly, this exhibition of photographs, drawings, installation, and performance reflects each day of the week and recounts stories by seven artists (Cristina de Middel, Eunice Adorno, Lola del Fresno, Luciana Abait, Doni Silver Simons, Sabine Pearlman, and Pamela Simon-Jensen) from the US, Latin America, and Spain about urgent issues of our time.

Alison Saar: Syncopation

When: January 29–February 29 
Where: LA Louver (45 N Venice Blvd, Venice, Calif.)

Alison Saar is especially cherished for her visceral, singular sculptures, but for the past 30 years she has also been producing remarkable prints that are very much in conversation with her three-dimensional work. At LA Louver, you can draw these connections for yourself, as the figures of Saar’s sculptures take on new forms in her lithographs, etchings, and woodblock prints. “I think of making prints as an intermezzo, a time to go back and reflect, and maybe rework ideas,” says the artist. 

February 

Installation view of New Images of Man with reference to Alberto Giacometti. Artwork on floor (L-R): Alina Szapocznikow, “Iluminowana (Illuminated Woman)” (1966-1967); Sarah Lucas, “Elf Warrior” (2018); Alina Szapocznikow, “Filozof (Philosopher)” (1965/2015); César, “Victoire de Villetaneuse” (1965). Artwork on wall (L-R): Eva Hesse, “Untitled” (1960); Eva Hesse, No title (1960); Dave Muller, “Dust Jacket #1 (NIM Strand)” (2020); Georg Baselitz, “Der nackte Mann (The Naked Man)” (1962)
(image courtesy the artists, Estates and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo César, © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris, © Georg Baselitz, © the Estate of Eva Hesse, © Dave Muller, Alina Szapocznikow: © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris, photo by Makenzie Goodman)

New Images of Man 

When: February 1–March 14
Where: Blum & Poe (2727 La Cienega Boulevard, Mid-City, Los Angeles)

This exhibition revisits two historic exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art: Family of Man, curated by Edward Steichen in 1955, and New Images of Man, curated by Peter Selz in 1959. The two shows deeply reckoned with what it meant to be human in the aftermath of World War II. For the Blum & Poe show, curator Alison M. Gingeras revisits and expands upon these exhibitions, imagining how they might continue today and who their successors would be. 

Paul McCarthy: Head Space, Drawings 1963–2019

When: February 2–May 10
Where: Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd, Westwood, Los Angeles)

Paul McCarthy has provoked audiences for more than a half century, whether it’s painting with raw meat or erecting a butt plug sculpture in a historic square. Less well-known are his sketches and illustrations that have been part of the artist’s daily practice since the 1960s. This retrospective offers an exhaustive look at drawing as a central element to McCarthy’s performances and sculptures.

Shizu Saldamando: LA Intersections

When: February 6–April 17
Where: Oxy Arts (4757 York Boulevard, Eagle Rock,  Los Angeles)

Shizu Saldamando, who is the Wanlass Artist-in-Resident at Occidental College, is loved for her portraits of LA communities. Many of her subjects are people she met at parties, concerts, or clubs. For this exhibition, Saldamando will also exhibit some of her portraits of fellow artists, such as Rafa Esparza and Romiro Gomez, Jr. There will be a related series of programming, including a night of poetry and a queer, punk Latinx party.

Ellen Berkenblit, “Electric Lace” (2018), oil on canvas, 76 x 93 inches (image courtesy the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles, photo by Object Studies)

All of Them Witches

When: February 8–April 11 
Where: Jeffrey Deitch (925 N Orange Drive, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

Dan Nadel and Laurie Simmons have put together a show with a “witchy” sensibility. It draws on their “shared affinity for a certain kind of art to which we’re drawn, can’t quite name, but recognize when we see it.” Among the dozens of featured artists are Ellen Berkenblit, Niki de Saint Phalle, Deborah Turbeville. This one should be fun. 

Tanya Aguiñiga: Borderlands Within

When: February 9–August 9
Where: Armory Center for the Arts (145 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, California)

Artist Tanya Aguiñiga has combined community activism and experimental crafts in works addressing the politics of the US and Mexican border. This exhibition focuses on Aguiñiga’s engagements with the people and artists living alongside the borderlands, including a new site-specific installation.

Artists on the Move: Journeys and Drawings

When: February 11–May 3
Where: Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive, Bel-Air, Los Angeles)

Sometimes it can seem like we live in an ever-mobile age, where it’s common for people to move cities and homes from year to year. In fact, people—including artists—have been on the move for centuries. This exhibition explores why artists over time have left home and how this has impacted their work. Artists include Canaletto, Paul Gauguin, Peter Paul Rubens, and Vincent van Gogh. 

Calida Rawles, “Not Yet Titled” (2019), acrylic on canvas. 84 x 72 inches (image courtesy the artist and Various Small Fires, Los Angeles / Seoul)

Calida Rawles: A Dream for My Lilith

When: February 12–March 14
Where: Various Small Fires (812 N Highland Ave, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

The historical and symbolic relationship between water and Black bodies is the focus of recent paintings by Calida Rawles, whose work was featured last year as the cover image for author Ta-Nehisi Coates’s novel The Water Dancer. This solo exhibition carries on this theme of water.

Lucio Fontana, “Ambiente spaziale a luce nera” (1948–1949), installation view, Museo d’Arte Mendrisio, 2008 (© Fondazione Lucio Fontana by SIAE 2020, photo by Stefano Spinell)

Lucio Fontana. Walking the Space: Spatial Environments, 1948–1968

When: February 13–April 12
Where: Hauser & Wirth (901-909 E 3rd St, Arts District, Los Angeles)

Before Yayoi Kusama and James Turrell began drawing blockbuster crowds with their immersive installations, the late Italian artist Lucio Fontana merged color, form, light, and space through Spatialism, a movement he founded to combine his interest in art and technology. This retrospective of a conceptual innovator little known in the US reconstructs the artist’s ephemeral “Spatial Environments.”

Zoya Cherkassky, “80’s Disco” (2019), oil on linen, 59 x 51.25 inches (image courtesy the artist and Fort Gansevoort)

Zoya Cherkassky: Soviet Childhood

When: February 15–March 28 
Where: Fort Gansevoort Los Angeles (4859 Fountain Avenue, East Hollywood, Los Angeles)

This is the second half of Zoya Cherkassky’s riveting exhibition of paintings and drawings of Soviet daily life. The artist was 15 years old when the USSR collapsed, and many of her artworks are scenes from a child’s perspective. At turns humorous, mundane, and incisive, the works draw from both the artist’s memory and from historical research. 

Inside the Mask

When: February 15–May 17
Where: Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd, Westwood, Los Angeles)

This collaborative exhibition with the Fowler Museum at UCLA takes a look at Central American cultural, political, and economic realities through the lens of masks used in sacred rites and festivals. Related programming will feature artists and activists who work across borders and mediums to uplift the lives and stories of Central American communities.

Ree Morton, “For Kate” (1976), oil on wood and wire and enamel on celastic, 12 parts, approximately 120 × 156 × 60 inches overall (photo by Joerg Lohse, image courtesy the Estate of Ree Morton and Alexander and Bonin, New York)

Ree Morton: The Plant That Heals May Also Poison

When: February 16–June 14
Where: ICA LA (1717 E 7th St, Downtown, Los Angeles)

In 1977, visual artist Ree Morton’s career was cut short by her untimely death at 40 years old. In the preceding decade, she created works—sculptures, drawings, and installations that were unabashedly sentimental and feminine, elevating both as worthy of artistic inquiry—at a furious pace, as if making up for lost time. This exhibition of artworks and archival materials takes a close look at an artist whose aesthetic and feminist legacies extend to the present day.

Luchita Hurtado, “Self Portrait” (1971), oil on canvas, 46 7/8 × 23 inches (Beth Rudin DeWoody © Luchita Hurtado, image courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, photo by Jeff McLane)

Luchita Hurtado: I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn

When: February 16–May 3
Where: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Blvd, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)

At 99 years old, Luchita Hurtado has lived and experienced several lifetimes’ worth of art movements and historical events. The artist’s body of work, which spans seven decades, has evolved alongside these currents, ranging from biomorphic abstraction to self-portraits and landscape paintings depicting women’s bodies as manifestations of nature and power. A much belated spotlight on a remarkable life and career, this exhibition is the first major survey of paintings and drawings by the Santa Monica–based artist.

In Verbis Artis

When: February 22–May 23
Where: Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography (HMCT) (1700 Lida St, Pasadena, Calif.)

Artists have a way of reinvigorating language and challenging how we use words. This exhibition brings together Los Angeles-based artists who incorporate and question language in their work, drawing on practices such as graffiti and conceptual art. Artists include Gajin Fujita, Alexandra Grant, Mark Steven Greenfield, Jason Manley, Rebecca Ripple, Steve Roden, and Jody Zellen. 

“Bahiana doll” (2005) (image courtesy Samantha Blake Goodman)

afroLAtinidad: mi casa, my city

When: February 22–July 20
Where: LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (501 N Main St, Downtown, Los Angeles)

This exhibition intends to highlight the Afro-Latinx community, which is often misrepresented and neglected, particularly in mainstream and institutional contexts. The display will feature personal objects and artworks from LA’s Afro-Latinx community, including clothing, jewelry, photographs, musical instruments, recipes, and devotional objects. There will also be a full recreation of an Afro-Latinx home. 

Wrong is Right: Remembering John Baldessari

When: February 22–April 4
Where: Mixografia (1419 E Adams Boulevard, Central–Alameda, Los Angeles)

John Baldessari, who died in January of this year in Venice, was an especially beloved artist and teacher in Los Angeles. This exhibition remembers Baldessari through the editions he made with print publishers across LA, including El Nopal Press, Jacob Samuel, Gemini GEL, and Mixografia. You’ll also have the chance to see some of his special video works from the 1970s.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, “Studies of Arms and Hands (recto)” (1513–1514, recto), (1518, verso) study of male torso, various figure studies (verso), pen and brown ink, red chalk, unframed: 11 1/4 × 8 1/8 inches Teylers Museum, Haarlem, purchased in 1790 (image © Teylers Museum, Haarlem)

Michelangelo: Mind of the Master

When: February 25–June 7
Where: Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive, Bel-Air, Los Angeles)

Drawings often offer the most extraordinary insights into an artist’s mind and technique. This is certainly true with Michelangelo. This exhibition will exhibit around two dozen of his drawings, including his designs for the Sistine Chapel ceiling and Medici Chapel tombs. 

Sula Bermúdez-Silverman: Neither Fish, Flesh, nor Fowl

When: February 28–August 23
Where: California African American Museum (600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles)

Genetic data, human hair, childhood keepsakes, and trash fragments are some of the raw materials in artworks by Sula Bermúdez-Silverman, whose latest exhibition at CAAM takes on legacies of race, gender, religion, and political economy in her family heritage and the African diaspora. Multidisciplinary works from 2014 onward are presented alongside a new series of sculptures commissioned by the museum.

Tlacolulokos: Dario Canul y Cosijoesa Cernas, “The Size of Your Suffering” (2017), acrylic on canvas, 13.71 ft x 15.32 ft (photo courtesy the artists)

OaxaCAlifornia: Through the Experience of the Duo Tlacolulokos

When: February 29–December 
Where: Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) (628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, Calif.)

The artist duo Tlacolulokos (Dario Canul and Cosijoesa Cernas) are exhibiting their gorgeous murals celebrating Oaxacan communities in Los Angeles. These murals were last exhibited at the Los Angeles Public Library in 2017 for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. If you missed them last time, it’s definitely worth checking them out at MOLAA. 

March

Unknown, “Head of a ruler” (about 2300–2000 BC), copper alloy, 13 1/2 × 7 7/8 × 7 7/8 inches (lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1947) (image © the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1959)

Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins

When: March 18–July 27
Where: Getty Villa (17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, California)

Mesopotamia, the region that is now modern-day Iraq, is often referred to as the cradle of civilization. Over thousands of years, ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians built the world’s first cities, invented the earliest known form of script, and made significant artistic and scientific advancements. This exhibition covers the region’s rich history from 3200 BCE to 331 BCE.

Susan Phillipsz: Sleep Close and Fast

When: March 28–May 22
Where: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (1010 N Highland Ave, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

Susan Philipsz projects sound — recordings and oftentimes her own singing voice — in buildings, public spaces, and galleries as a way of drawing out historical memory and the emotive qualities of place. This exhibition, the artist’s first solo show on the West Coast, features a series of steel sculptures that play recordings of lullabies culled from film, opera, and literature.

John Heartfield

When: April 5–May
Where: LAXART (7000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

As the art critic John Berger once put it, John Heartfield’s political photomontages had the power to “demystify things.” This show looks at Heartfield’s radical legacy as an artist who helped disseminate posters opposing the Nazi party and who also designed stage sets for Bertolt Brecht’s learning plays. LAXART will focus on the “clarity of his messages” and the democratic means through which he distributed his work in newspapers and journals. 

April

Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair 2020 

When: April 3–5
Where: The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (152 N Central Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles)

It’s always heartening to see how loved this art book fair has become. Each year, hundreds of exhibitors from around the world sell and display fabulously diverse print projects. The affair never disappoints. Check the online calendar for more information on performances, book signings, educational programming, and more. 

Kick Ass Painting: New York Women

When: April 4–May 9
Where: Anat Ebgi (2660 S La Cienega Boulevard, Mid-City, Los Angeles)

This show shines a light on three women painters from the US who have been committed to their craft for decades: Louise Fishman, Brenda Goodman, and Carrie Moyer. All three are mostly devoted to abstraction (in distinct styles), though occasionally their works veer into the figurative. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see their works side by side.  

Desire, Knowledge, and Hope (with Smog)

When: April 4–August 16
Where: The Broad (221 S Grand Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles)

As the Broad is now celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, its exhibitions will be focusing on the artists in its collection, many of whom are LA locals. This spring show is particularly evocative of Los Angeles (hint: “smog”) and will exhibit works by John Baldessari, Mike Kelley, Barbara Kruger, and Ed Ruscha. The show will include nearly all of the works in the museum’s collection by each of these artists, and admission will be free. 

Arctic Terns (image courtesy UCLA Donald R. Dickey Collection of Birds and Mammals) and Otherworld Spirit Mates (20th century), Baule peoples, Côte d’Ivoire
(image courtesy Fowler Museum at UCLA)

The Map and the Territory: 100 Years of Collecting at UCLA 

When: April 5–September 27
Where: The Fowler Museum at UCLA (308 Charles E Young Drive N, Westwood, Los Angeles)

This exhibition promises to be giant in scope: It culls 160 objects from UCLA’s multiple collections. Organized by the Fowler Museum in partnership with the Hammer Museum and the UCLA Library, the show will feature rare books, historic prints, musical instruments, animal specimens, art objects, meteorites, and more. This display feels only fitting in a university setting where so many aspects of the world and its history are taught. 

Yoshitomo Nara 

When: April 5–August 2
Where: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Blvd, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)

The trademark of a Yoshitomo Nara painting is a small child or animal giving the viewer side eye or shooting a threatening look. These beloved figures with their menacing gaze and stylized cuteness have given the Tokyo-based artist a devoted following around the world. This exhibition surveys over three decades of Nara’s work, and features a reproduction of his drawing studio and a large-scale, outdoor sculpture.

Alfred Conteh, “[Ryan Coogler] Home Team” (2018) (image courtesy Amath Gomis)

Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth.

When: April 8–August 23
Where: California African American Museum (600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles)

Works by 25 contemporary artists consider the impact and legacy of famous African American men from history and today. Influential men of letters, scientists, athletes, artists, and representatives from other fields — including the likes of James Baldwin, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Muhammad Ali — are part of a far-ranging, pluralistic account of Black male identity throughout US history.

HERland: Female artists in the MOLAA Collection 

When: April 11–August 30
Where: MOLAA (628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, Calif.)

Gabriela Urtiaga, who recently joined MOLAA as chief curator last year, is gathering a show of recent acquisitions of works by women artists. The display will range from painting and sculpture to video and photography, and will explore “surrealist, spiritual, and oneiric ideas.” 

A screening of Gone With the Wind (1939) at the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival In Hollywood, California (image courtesy Turner Classic Movies)

TCM Classic Film Festival 

When: April 16–19
Where: Various venues (Hollywood, Los Angeles)

As part of the TCM Classic Film Festival, black-and-white noirs, Hitchcock thrillers, and Back to the Future return to historic Hollywood movie theatres like the Egyptian and Legion. Highlights include a nitrate print screening of Counsellor at Law (1933), starring John Barrymore, and a 70th anniversary presentation of Harvey (1950), starring James Stewart.

Carolyn Castaño: Cali es Cali

When: April 18, 2020–January 3, 2021
Where: Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) Expand (South Coast Plaza Village, 1661 West Sunflower Avenue, Santa Ana, Calif.)

In what promises to be a personal and moving display, Carolyn Castaño recreates the journey of an immigrant family from Cali, Colombia to Los Angeles, California. Along the way, you’ll find passports, airline tickets, clothing, and other domestic objects. Castaño has also culled photographs from her late father’s archive — he ran a print shop and collected around 4,000 photographs from Latinx communities. 

Amir H. Fallah, “The Animals Of The World Exist For Their Own Reasons” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 66 x 96 inches (image courtesy the artist and Shulamit Nazarian)

Amir H. Fallah

When: April 18–May 30
Where: Shulamit Nazarian (616 N La Brea Avenue, Hancock Park, Los Angeles)

Amir H. Fallah is known for arresting, vibrant painted portraits. This show of his new body of work will present a different side of the artist as he removes the central subject’s figure entirely. These paintings will explore his relationship with his young son and draw on a wide range of influences, from fables to children’s books. 

Dora Maar

When: April 21–July 26
Where: Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive, Bel-Air, Los Angeles)

It’s about time we stop calling Dora Maar a “muse” to Surrealists and associating her with Pablo Picasso. Maar was a brilliant artist. This show follows her rich career from her street photographs and surrealist works to her post-World War II paintings. 

Javier Tapia and Camilo Ontiveros: Liquid Light 

When: April 25–July 25
Where: Vincent Price Museum (1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, Calif.)

Artists Javier Tapia and Camilo Ontiveros have collaborated before and whenever they have, they’ve deepened our understanding of the Americas — whether by illuminating geography, politics, or immigration policies. For this show, the artists continue to explore these topics through film, photography, drawing, and sculpture, in addition to diving into the effects of climate change.  

Harald Schmitt, “The First GDR skaters in Front of the Television Tower in East Berlin” (May 1982) (image courtesy Harald Schmitt Photo)

See Thy Neighbor: Stern Photographers Thomas Höpker and Harald Schmitt in the GDR

When: April 26–October 4
Where: Wende Museum (10808 Culver Blvd, Culver City, Calif.)

Images by two West German photographers who covered East Germany for the weekly news magazine Stern during the 1970s—and their divergent attitudes and approaches to life in the Communist state—are the focus of this exhibition. Photographer Thomas Höpker spent only two years in the east before taking off for greener pastures in the US while his successor Harald Schmitt ended up embracing life beyond the Berlin Wall and departed only after being forcibly expelled in 1983. Magazine reports, unpublished photographs, and materials from the Stasi archive tell the story of their experiences.

“I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli

When: April 30–September 6
Where: Skirball Cultural Center (2701 N Sepulveda Blvd, Brentwood, Los Angeles)

Angelenos can be just as opinionated about their pastrami on rye as they are about other city food staples, like the taco and French dip sandwich. This exhibition considers the history of Jewish delis in the US and how Jewish communities adapted their immigrant food cultures into the American mainstream during the 20th century.

May

What Now: Collecting for the Library in the 21st Century, Part 2

When: May 2–August 24
Where: The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens (1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, California)

The second show in a two-part exhibition series offers a look into the Huntington’s encyclopedic collection, which includes 15th-century Middle English manuscripts, notes by science fiction author Octavia Butler, and inkjet botanical prints by artist Jane O’Neal. All items in the exhibition were acquired within the past 20 years, some of them being displayed in public for the first time.

Pablo Picasso, “Two Nude Women” (1946), lithograph, eighth state comp: 10 x 13 inches (Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase © 2020 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

Unseen Picasso 

When: May 15–October 19 
Where: Norton Simon Museum (411 W Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, Calif.)

Another Picasso show, we know. But this one seems genuinely unusual, focusing exclusively on the artist’s printmaking practice and specifically prints that are “distinctive, rare or infrequently exhibited.”

Jennifer Packer, “Citizen” (2018), oil on canvas, 10 × 8 inches (Collection of Noel E.D. Kirnon)

Jennifer Packer: Every Shut Eye Ain’t Asleep

When: May 17–November 30 
Where: The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (152 N Central Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles)

Jennifer Packer, whose work was a highlight of last year’s Whitney Biennial in New York, is bringing her hazy and intimate portraits and still lifes to Los Angeles. This show will be focusing on the young artist’s most recent work. 

Pipilotti Rist  

When: May 17–October 5 
Where: The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (152 N Central Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles)

This is the first West Coast survey of the acclaimed artist Pipilotti Rist. The Swiss artist is especially known for her sensual and mesmerizing video installations. The exhibition spans 30 years of her work, including musical scores, sculptures, and even a video installation made especially for the MOCA presentation. 

COLA 2020

When: May 21–July 5
Where: Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (4800 Hollywood Blvd, East Hollywood, Los Angeles)

Every year, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs commissions a new body of work by artists living and working in the city as part of its City of Los Angeles (COLA) Individual Artist Fellowship. This year, 11 COLA fellows — Tanya Aguiñiga, Amir H. Fallah, YoungEun Kim, Elana Mann, Hillary Mushkin, Alison O’Daniel, Vincent Ramos, Shizu Saldamando, Holly Tempo, Jeffrey Vallance, and Lisa Diane Wedgeworth—will debut new works at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Art Park.

B-LA CONNECT 

When: May 28–June 6 
Where: Tiger Strikes Asteroid (The Bendix Building, 1206 Maple Avenue, 5th floor, #523, Downtown, Los Angeles)

The gallery Tiger Strikes Asteroid, in collaboration with the HilbertRaum art space in Berlin and the Torrance Art Museum, is bringing around 20 art spaces from Berlin to exhibit at Los Angeles venues. Now in its second year, this interdisciplinary program stages film screenings, performances, talks, and art exhibitions around the city. The big opening event takes place at the Bendix Building on Saturday, May 30. Visit the gallery’s website for more information.  

Jaishri Abichandani, “Jasmine Blooms at Night” (2018-2020) acrylic and mixed media on panel, dimensions variable, installation at Asian Arts Initiative, 2018 (image courtesy the artist)

Jaishri Abichandani: Flower-Headed Children

When: May 31–September 13
Where: Craft Contemporary (5814 Wilshire Blvd, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)

New York-based artist Jaishri Abichandani incorporates traditional South Asian iconography, craft materials, and an explicitly anti-racist and feminist lens into her work, which is part and parcel of her activism against ethno-nationalisms and patriarchal violence in the US and abroad. This exhibition, curated by writer and educator Anuradha Vikram, is the first comprehensive survey of Abichandani’s 25-year career.

Want to Increase Your Chances of Living Longer? Go to a Museum, Says a New Study

Apparently even one or two cultural events a year could cut your risk of early mortality by 14 percent.

Karen Chernick, December 19, 2019

Visitors at the Louvre Museum. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

We should all be getting more exposure to the arts, claims a medical study published yesterday in the British Medical Journal. Just one exhibition a year could add years to our lives. 

A team of researchers from the University College London surveyed 6,710 adults in England, aged 50 or older, to test whether a correlation exists between arts engagement and mortality. The longitudinal study tracked how often participants went to museums, art galleries, exhibitions, theater performances, concerts, or the opera.

They found that even those who had what was classified as infrequent arts activity (going to maybe one or two cultural events a year) had a 14 percent lower risk of early mortality. And the more often the study’s participants went on cultural outings, the better: those who attended art activities on a more regular basis (every few months or more) had a 31 percent lower risk of early death.

This study is part of a wave of recent research connecting access to the arts to improved health. Studies over the past decade in Denmark and Britain have linked the presence of artwork in hospitals with improved patient satisfaction and positive health outcomes. And last year the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts piloted an initiative where doctors could prescribe health-enhancing museum visits to patients through the Canadian healthcare system, granting patients and their caregivers free admission to the museum.

The study published this week did also take socioeconomic factors into account, admitting that longevity may be linked to the higher socioeconomic status of the demographic that usually goes to museums, exhibitions, and art galleries. “Part of the association is attributable to differences in socioeconomic status among those who do and do not engage in the arts, which aligns with research that suggests engagement in cultural activities is socially patterned,” the study said.

Still, some of the statistical correlation between cultural engagement and longevity was found to be independent of socioeconomic factors. Simply put, the study concludes that “our results suggest that cultural engagement is associated with longevity.”

Robert Irwin’s Ambient Odyssey

After seven decades of experimentation, the artist produces “Unlights,” a confounding wonder — and possibly “my swan song.”

By Lawrence Weschler

  • Feb. 13, 2020

At 91 years of age, Robert Irwin, one of the founding masters of California’s experientially-pitched Light and Space movement, is currently staging what may well be his final gallery show of new work at Pace (through Feb. 22). “Just look at me,” he said, by phone, from his San Diego living room. “Man, that New York show is obviously my swan song.”

And indeed, over the past half-decade Mr. Irwin has been so racked by physical ailments, especially near-harrowing chronic back pain, that he hardly ever leaves his house, except occasionally to venture to his studio with the aid of his assistants. It has been years since he has been able to visit any of his recent exhibitions, notably including his legendary transformation (15 years in the making) of a dilapidated onetime military hospital at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas.

The Pace show consists of yet another departure. Over those same 15 years, Irwin had been deploying ever more complex variations on long color-saturated fluorescent light shafts vertically mounted in varying configurations against white walls or translucent scrim expanses. To attain their often astonishing hues, he’s been meticulously wrapping the individual bulbs in layers of theatrical gels, sometimes more than 10 thick. When displaying the arrays, some of the bulbs would be turned on, some not — many some of the time, others never — with the look of those arrays changing radically with each iteration.

From left; Robert Irwin’s “Arrowhead” (2018); “Sweet Oleanders” (2018); “Buzy Body” (2018); “Thou Swell” (2018) at Pace Gallery. The play of bulb-columns, fixture-canisters, reflection and shadow confounds.
From left; Robert Irwin’s “Arrowhead” (2018); “Sweet Oleanders” (2018); “Buzy Body” (2018); “Thou Swell” (2018) at Pace Gallery. The play of bulb-columns, fixture-canisters, reflection and shadow confounds.Credit…Robert Irwin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Mohamed Sadek for The New York Times
For “Arrowhead” and other works, Mr. Irwin wrapped individual bulbs in layers of theatrical gels. The bulbs, he noticed, looked great turned off.
For “Arrowhead” and other works, Mr. Irwin wrapped individual bulbs in layers of theatrical gels. The bulbs, he noticed, looked great turned off.Credit…Robert Irwin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Mohamed Sadek for The New York Times

All the while Mr. Irwin has been noticing how some of the bulbs looked especially sumptuous or enigmatic merely turned off, and so this time out, he has limited himself to their palette. The bulbs are still mounted on long gleaming white electrical fixtures, but those canisters contain no wires, and the bulbs are never turned on. Hence the artist’s typically bland and clunky name for the show — “Unlights” — and his insistence that these works are “drawings,” a term meant to suggest a certain sense of improvisation and free play.

The results are ravishingly gorgeous, and compoundingly confounding. For Mr. Irwin has also been adding all manner of variations to his usual bag of tricks: thin full-color zips down the sides of some of the fixtures; in others, inner sleeves along the fixture walls are occasionally painted black or gray or lighter gray, and likewise with the intervening wall itself between the fixtures, and there are subtle vertical stripes running down the length of some of the bulbs. What at first might seem an airy, even Zenlike succession of shafts, gives way to a near-delirium of zany variation.

And in many ways, his is a summary achievement.

Cinemagraph
The pink and gray passage to the near side of “Sweet Oleander” (2018) is completely in focus, though it looks out of focus. The effect is rendered still more confounding to the human eye when you are in the work’s presence. Robert Irwin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Video by Mohamed Sadek for The New York Times

From the early 1960s onward, Mr. Irwin had been engaged in a successive phenomenological reduction of the art object, insisting that he was pushing cubism’s most famous achievement, the collapse of figure and ground, yet further forward: for how, he demanded to know, could that achievement be limited to the action within the frame of the painting — what about the shadows on the wall? Why should they be considered less figure than the object they grounded? With his eerie disk paintings of the mid-60s, the shadows emanating behind the outthrusting shadow-colored disk were deemed just as important as the disk itself (and in the years thereafter the studio where they’d been made, and the gallery where they were being displayed deemed no less privileged than the world that surrounded them). To those accusing him of aesthetic nihilism, Mr. Irwin would counter that far from reducing the figure to the status of the ground, he was rather raising the ground up to the status of the figure.

And yet the curious thing here with this new series is that Mr. Irwin has introjected those very same shadows from the contours into the very centers of his expanding arrays.

Cinemagraph
Robert Irwin’s “Blue Jay” (2018). Which is bulb, and which shadow? Which is reflection and which is back wall? When Mr. Irwin consciously arranges for shadows the same width as bulbs, and side panels the same color as shadow, it is hard to tell. Robert Irwin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Video by Mohamed Sadek for The New York Times

Similarly with color. For the longest time, from the mid-60s well through the ’70s and beyond, in order to focus his argument Mr. Irwin had pretty much limited his palette to white and black and scrim-gray (as, for example, with “Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light,” his 1977 intervention, restaged in 2013, across the entire emptied fourth floor of the old Breuer Whitney).

But after having arrived at Point Zero, as he called it, in the late ’70s, insisting that perception itself in all its marvel and ramifications, absent any objectlike expression, ought now be seen as the sole true subject of art, he presently emerged on the far side: in the early 1980s he was chosen for one of the most expensive and expansive public art commissions, the Central Garden at the Getty in Los Angeles. And with the thousands of flowers he auditioned for that project, color itself came flooding back into his purview in all its dazzling variation — between flowers, of course, but even within individual petals and stems.

And the sorts of things he limned along that Brentwood hillside are rampantly evident in the uncanny colors and combinations of colors in this possibly final project.

For the longest time, all through the ’60s, the ’70s and into the ’80s, Mr. Irwin wouldn’t allow the photographic reproduction of any of his pieces, arguing that photography captured everything the work was not about (image) and nothing that it was (presence). He could be as headstrong as he is mind-wide, and this ban was one reason he remained arguably the least known of major American artists for so long. He eventually relented — noticing how he was becoming better known for the ban itself than for any of his work. Still, few of his shows have proved as difficult to capture with still photography as this current one.

Cinemagraph
The airy, Zenlike evenness of this array of vertical stripes in “Kilts” (2018), seen head on, gives way to something zanily varied as one approaches it from the side. Robert Irwin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Video by Mohamed Sadek for The New York Times

The still image, almost impossible to read in the best of circumstances, fails to capture almost everything going on with these pieces, which virtually require movement around and about, back and forth, head-on and then from an angle across long expanses of attention to activate their mysteries. Video gets one a little closer (and will have to do, once the show closes). Hence our own recourse to such clips in this review, but even there, the play of circular bulb-columns, rectangular fixture-canisters, reflection and shadow, and trompe l’oeil backdrops and sleeves painted the color of shadow, continues to confound. Wait, which is which, and what is going on here? As ever, Mr. Irwin jump-starts us into “perceiving ourselves perceiving,” the greatest wonder of all.

Some of the visitors to the current show could be heard invoking Matisse’s final cutouts. Others Beethoven’s last quartets, which was perhaps closer, though again not exactly right. Back in high school, three-quarters of a century ago, Mr. Irwin used to amass considerable amounts of pocket change by way of dance contests, swinging away to his beloved Lindy. And to this day he often resorts to musical analogues: bebop, rhythm, syncopation.

So here we arrive, near the culmination of a magnificent career.

Rococo Minimalism and Lindy Zen.

Price Check! Here’s What Sold—and for How Much—at Frieze Los Angeles 2020

Here’s what dealers say they sold (though watch out for number-fudging and other kinds of general sneakiness).

Artnet News, February 18, 2020

FRIEZE Los Angeles on Saturday, February 15, 2020 in the Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood. Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh
A child delights in Will Boone’s sculpture P-22 (2020), presented at Frieze Projects by David Kordansky Gallery at Frieze Los Angeles on February 15, 2020. Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh.

The sales reports from the sophomore edition of Frieze Los Angeles, which opened last week to well-heeled collectors and hangers-on at Paramount Pictures Studios, are in. And though the figures need to be taken with a hefty spoonful of salt, indications at the top end of the market point to a lucrative event for dealers and their artists.

Among the notable attendees this year were A-Rod and J. Lo, art-fair regular Leonardo DiCaprio, singers Usher and The Weeknd, and tennis star Maria Sharapova.

And included in the group of wealthy buyers were people like Ari Emanuel, the Hollywood super-agent who co-founded Endeavor, the megalith company that owns a 70 percent stake in the Frieze fairs (he bought a painting by Jordan Casteel at Casey Kaplan); and Kendall Jenner, who bought a James Turrell work, perhaps on the advice of her brother-in-law, Kanye West.

Below, we rounded up some figures from dealers willing to disclose sales.

Nota bene: Sales reports are notoriously slippery in the art world. Some purchases may have been finalized long before the fair, while others might only be handshake deals, still waiting on paperwork and cash. But prices themselves are more reliably telling, providing a snapshot of where individual artists stand in the matrix of the art market today.

Even here, of course, there is room for slippage: Some dealers occasionally offer inflated figures, while others prefer to report ranges or the “asking price” to obscure the actual selling price, or to cover up favorable treatment that one buyer may have received over another. (We did not include reported sales unaccompanied by a price or price range in our list, so the galleries that tend to disclose figures are disproportionately represented here.)

PAINTINGS

Ali Banisadr, The Serpent and the Key (2019). Photo: Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Ali Banisadr, The Serpent and the Key (2019). Photo: Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

$3.7 million: A painting by Keith Haring at Gladstone Gallery

$2 million: Neo Rauch, Aprilnacht (2011) at David Zwirner

$1,350,000: Robert Rauschenberg, Bowery Parade (Borealis) (1989) at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

$866,000: Georg Baselitz, Schwarzes Pferd [Black Horse] (1986) at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

$650,000: A painting by Carroll Dunham at Gladstone Gallery

$600,000: A new painting by Mark Grotjahn at Blum & Poe

$550,000: Alex Katz, Ada (2018) at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

$500,000 each: Two new paintings by Jonas Wood at David Kordansky

$420,000: Tracy Emin, There was only The Truth (2019) at White Cube

$350,000: A work by Oscar Murillo at David Zwirner

$350,000: Sterling Ruby, WIDW at Xavier Hufkens

$350,000: Stanley Whitney, Angels on Sunday, Maids on Monday (2019) at Lisson

$310,000: A work by Mary Weatherford at David Kordansky

$254,000: Imi Knoebel, Bild 06.03.2015 (2015) at White Cube

$200,000: A painting by Harold Ancart at David Zwirner

$200,000: A painting by Lucas Arruda at David Zwirner

$175,000: A painting by Ugo Rondinone at Gladstone Gallery

$145,000: Allora & Calzadilla, Electromagnetic Field (2019) at Lisson

$120,000–$1 million each: Five paintings by Lisa Yuskavage at David Zwirner

$100,000: A painting by Richard Aldrich at Gladstone Gallery

$100,000–$120,000 each: Several paintings by Henry Taylor at Blum & Poe

$100,000: A Josh Smith painting at Xavier Hufkens

$100,000: Ali Banisadr, The Serpent and the Key (2019) at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

$85,000–$495,000 each: All five of Avery Singer’s new works shown at Hauser & Wirth

$75,000: A painting by Anicka Yi at Gladstone Gallery

$52,000: Darren Almond, Night Snow at Tsukahara (2020) at White Cube

$50,000: A painting by Thomas Houseago at Xavier Hufkens

$16,500–$18,500 each: Gabriela Sanchez’s works at Charlie James

$14,000–$30,000 each: All of painter Calinda Rawles’s works at Various Small Fires

SCULPTURES, INSTALLATIONS, & MIXED MEDIA

Installation view of James Turrell at the joint presentation of Pace and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Frieze LA 2020.

Installation view of James Turrell at the joint presentation of Pace and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Frieze LA 2020.

$910,000: Anish Kapoor, Mirror (Gold / Magenta) (2019) at Lisson

$520,000: Antony Gormley, GUT XVIII (2018) at White Cube

$500,000 each: Two works by Carol Bove at David Zwirner

$275,000: Liza Lou, Shelter from the Storm at Lehmann Maupin

$175,000 each: A sculpture by Thomas Houseago in an edition of three sold at Xavier Hufkens

$150,000: A work by Isa Genzken at David Zwirner

$100,000: Theaster Gates, Afro (2018) at White Cube

$76,000: Bram Bogart, Het maartse (1994) at White Cube

$65,000: David Altmejd, Codebreaker (2020) at White Cube

$65,000: Ibrahim Mahama, LET THEM SAY (2019) at White Cube

$45,000 each: Four ceramic pieces by Sterling Ruby at Xavier Hufkens

$13,000: Laure Prouvost, IDEALLY HERE WOULD BE A DOOR TO YOUR GRANDMA’S LEAVING ROOM (2019) at Lisson

PHOTOGRAPHS, PRINTS, & WORKS ON PAPER

Julie Mehretu, Codex Monotypes (2018). Courtesy of White Cube.

Julie Mehretu, Codex Monotypes (2018). Courtesy of White Cube.

$360,000: Julie Mehretu, Codex Monotypes (2018) at White Cube

$200,000–250,000 each: Works by Paul McCarthy at Xavier Hufkens

$120,000: Robert Longo, Study of Grey Wolf (2019) at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

$110,000: A work on paper by Amy Sillman at Gladstone Gallery

$100,000: A work on paper by Matthew Barney at Gladstone Gallery

$120,000: A painting on paper by Carmen Herrera from 2015 at Lisson

$40,000: TJ Wilcox’s photography at Gladstone Gallery

$25,000: Jessica Rankin, Being Matter Ignited (2020) at White Cube

Hester Diamond, Passionate Art Collector, Is Dead at 91

A self-taught art expert, she always insisted that her first criterion for a purchase — maybe her only one — was loving the piece.

Hester Diamond in 2008 in front of “Vestal Virgin Tuccia as an Allegory of Chastity,” by the 16th-century Italian painter Moretto da Brescia.
Hester Diamond in 2008 in front of “Vestal Virgin Tuccia as an Allegory of Chastity,” by the 16th-century Italian painter Moretto da Brescia.Credit…Jason Schmidt

By Anita Gates

  • Published Jan. 31, 2020 Updated Feb. 4, 2020

Hester Diamond, a New York art collector, art dealer and interior designer who joined with her first husband in amassing an astonishing Modernist collection before tossing it aside in favor of old masters, died on Jan. 23 at her home in Manhattan. She was 91.

Her son David Diamond said the cause was metastatic breast cancer.

Ms. Diamond’s career spanned more than six decades, beginning with a part-time gallery job in the 1950s and culminating in the presidency of a research institute dedicated to Florence’s Medici family.

A self-taught art expert, Ms. Diamond always insisted that her first criterion for a purchase — maybe her only one — was loving the piece.

“There was no strategy,” she said in a 2017 oral history interview for the Archives of American Art and the Center for Collecting in America. “See an opportunity. Find the buyer. See how it goes.”

HesterKlein was born on Dec. 10, 1928, in the Bronx, the only child of David Klein, a civil engineer, and Edith (Wilbur) Klein, a bookkeeper. Her parents divorced when she was a teenager.

She grew up in the Bronx and, as an English major, received a bachelor’s degree in 1949 from Hunter College in Manhattan. By then she had become a devoted museumgoer. (The Museum of Modern Art was her favorite.)

The next year she married Harold Diamond, a Columbia University graduate from her old Bronx neighborhood (they met on a street corner, she said) who shared her love of art.

Ms. Diamond in 2018. She insisted that her first criterion for an art purchase — maybe her only one — was loving the piece.
Ms. Diamond in 2018. She insisted that her first criterion for an art purchase — maybe her only one — was loving the piece.Credit…Carla van de Puttelaar

He was a fourth-grade schoolteacher in Harlem, and she took a job as a social worker, and they lived in what Ms. Diamond described as a tenement apartment on West 61st Street, spending their spare time in Manhattan art galleries. Eventually, Martha Jackson, an art dealer they had gotten to know, offered them weekend jobs at her gallery.

Focused increasingly on the art world, the two fell in love with the work of a British painter and sculptor, Barbara Hepworth. In 1955, on a whim, they wrote her, proposing a North American tour of her work. She agreed, and they set up eight museum shows from New York to San Francisco and in Canada. The arrangement was that each museum bought one Hepworth piece.

“They didn’t know we were 25,” Ms. Diamond recalled in 2017. (Actually, they were both in their late 20s.)

When they visited Ms. Hepworth in England the next year, new British friends asked them to sell a few pieces for them. That went smoothly. By the time they were asked to arrange the purchase of a Henry Moore sculpture for a $5,000 fee (when the median price of an American home was about $7,000), it was time to quit their day jobs.

Their sales were private — no publicity, no exhibitions — and, as one art publication suggested in 1970, they were handled with “the tact of a diplomat and the cunning of a spy.”

Meanwhile, a client told Ms. Diamond that he loved the way her apartment was decorated and asked if she would do something similar for a place he had just bought. She agreed on the spot (“I have never been a person who ever said, ‘Well, I’ll see about that’”) and was soon running a thriving interior design business.

Her specialty was mixing antique furniture with contemporary art, and vice versa.

The Diamonds’ weekend house in Huntington, on Long Island, was filled with antiques and with art that ranged from a Léger mural to an Egyptian funerary mask. A 2008 T Magazine article likened her Manhattan living room to “some postmodern cocktail party set in a 16th-century Florentine church.”

The Diamonds’ collection included Picassos, Légers, Mondrians and Brancusis. Among the Brancusi sculptures were “The Kiss” (from about 1908) and “Bird in Space” (1926), which had been the subject of a jazz-age legal battle in which American customs officials argued that it was a utilitarian object. The courts declared it was art — and duty free.

The 1980s brought monumental change to Ms. Diamond’s life. Her husband died at 56 after a very brief illness. She gave up the interior design business, having decided her vendors had become too unreliable. Her son Michael took the stage name Mike D, created the group the Beastie Boys with two friends and made hip-hop history. Ms. Diamond married Ralph Kaminsky, an economics professor. And she turned her collecting attention to old masters.

Over the next 25 years, she formed a collection distinguished by 15th- and 16th-century Italian and Flemish oil paintings and 14th-through-16th-century wood, terra cotta and stone sculpture.

After intriguing inventory markings were found on a newly discovered Pontormo “Madonna and Child” she had acquired, she helped investigate archival documents of the Medicis, the dynasty that long ruled Tuscany. She became the founding president of the Medici Archive Project, now a research institution.

After Mr. Kaminsky’s death, in 2012, she helped found Vistas (Virtual Images of Sculpture in Time and Space), an organization focused on new scholarship on European sculpture from the 13th through the 19th century, using both print publications and high-resolution online imaging.

In addition to her sons David and Michael, she is survived by her third husband, David S. Wilson, a psychoanalyst, whom she married in 2015; a stepdaughter, Rachel Kaminsky; three stepsons, David, Daniel and Douglas Wilson; and four grandsons. Another son, Stephen Diamond, died of neuroendocrine cancer in 1999.

If Ms. Diamond’s interest in art can be said to have begun with those early museum visits, she owed her career to relatively lenient midcentury parenthood standards.

“I knew from a very young age that the Bronx was O.K. for living in, but that my destiny was in Manhattan,” she said in the oral history interview. “And I knew that there were all kinds of interesting places you could go, and things to see, and things to think about in Manhattan.

“And so I would just take off after school. It’s kind of interesting now the degree of freedom I had.”

Correction: Feb. 1, 2020

An earlier version of this obituary misstated the given name of Ms. Diamond’s second husband. He was Ralph Kaminsky, not Howard.