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Los Angeles' astonishing art-everywhere scene.

Los Angeles' astonishing art-everywhere scene Cities wear museums the way admirals proudly display a chest of gleaming medals. Los Angeles earns dual decorations--and world attention--this month as the city puts finishing touches on not one but two major new museums devoted to the art of this century.

As this increasingly art-conscious and art-filled city sprouts art to soar over rush-hour traffic or to perch pristinely on gallery pedestals, there's no better time to learn some history of the world's newest major art-making center, to plunge into its present, and glimpse its future.

Along with the museum unveilings, the city's galleries plan shows they want world visitors to see. And next month brings a major international art fair.

Art critic Peter Plagens described Southern California's crescendo of activity: "... more artists in multiple Bohemias, more galleries, more alternative spaces, more collectors, more extension classes." With the November 23 opening of the Robert O. Anderson Building for art of this century, the 21-year-old Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will become the largest art museum this side of the Eastern seaboard. When the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) opens next month to join its preview facility--the Temporary Contemporary or TC--the two will combine to offer nearly as much exhibition space as New York's Museum of Modern Art.

MOCA director Richard Koshalek says you can measure a world-class city by the length of museum listings in guidebooks.

As if in response, former San Francisco Museum of Modern Art director Henry Hopkins--returning south to shape still another new museum--says, "Now the institutions are in place." He cites Malibu's J. Paul Getty, San Marino's Huntington, Pasadena's Norton Simon, this season's two newsmakers, as well as excellent teaching centers with accompanying libraries and galleries.

This coming-of-age didn't happen overnight; we have some 80 years of milestones to thank (see the time chart on pages 92 and 93). In the new museums, you can trace the progression.

While Northern California and Northwest artists took inspiration from surrounding natural beauty, Angelenos took it from a sense of open space, cars, Hollywood, and new technology--lacquers, space-age metals--put to use in a yeasty atmosphere of experimentation.

When you see an early work by Stanton Macdonald-Wright, you're looking at one of the first American's to pioneer a modern painting movement: his Synchronism combined Cubism with a new use of color. Still breaking new ground today is an art of light-and-space started by area artists--leading critics to describe L.A. as the only city in the world that can claim the genesis of a wholly new art form.

Drawing the world's attention in between have been the contradictory California Assemblage movement--marked by a fascination with the scavenging ethic--and the L.A. Look (or Fetish Finish)--where care is lavished on craftsmanship. And exposure to the great Mexican muralist tradition, popularized north of the border in the folk artist talents of Los Angeles' barrios, has given renewed force to the mural as a fine-art form; it's carried to greater heights here than in any other American city.

Impossible to ignore in any road map of the los Angeles art scene are those eminences of abstract painting, Sam Francis and Richard Diebenkorn--both southbound immigrants in the '60s. The L.A. light changed Francis's color-splashed canvases; Diebenkorn switched almost overnight from his figurative Bay Area work to his famous Ocean Park series.

Art makers evolving at all career stages today defy simple description. You'll see it all: Expressionism, Pop, Op, Minimalism, Conceptualism, and so on have developed into a whole '80s scene of "Post-" and "Neo-" movements. Add in performance art and video, and you have the widest definition of visual art ever known.

News at LACMA--the Anderson opens. Three

floors, one for changing shows

The Anderson Building, designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, will at last give the county museum room to show the full range of its 20th-century holdings--in more than 50,000 square feet of galleries on three levels.

Worldwide art dating from 1900 through the Abstract Expressionism of the '50s will show on the top floor. At midlevel you'll find art of the last 30 years, including Pop, the ceramics revolution, Minimalism, video. Look for five new gallery guide-brochures covering these two floors. Changing exhibitions will appear in the 18,000-square-foot first-floor galleries. The opening show--"The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985"--examines mysticism, the occult, cosmic imagery as the underpinnings of modern abstract painting. It stays through March 8, with accompanying lectures and classes for adults and kids.

December 16 launches the first-ever museum tour of Picassohs sketchbooks (1900 through 1965). Next year will bring a look at the nation's avant-garde art of the '80s, a Jasper Johns retrospective, and new graphics and photography galleries.

The museum is at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard.

Hours are 10 to 5 Tuesdays through

Fridays, 10 to 6 weekends; closed

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's.

Admission is $1.50, 75 cents for ages 5 through 17 and seniors. Call (213) 937-2590 for recorded show information.

Tips for a visit. Come before 10 for free parking northeast of the museum at Sixth Street and Curson Avenue.

If time is tight, seek out works by Braque, Matisse, Schwitters, Magritte, Kirschner, and Kandinsky on the third floor; Ruscha, Smith, Kiefer, and Paik on the second.

Between visits to the first-floor exhibition and the upper floors, try a salad-bar lunch in the renovated plaza cafe.

MOCA opens with a powerhouse

40-year overview; the TC continues

in its "temporary" space

The December christening of MOCA will unveil architect Arata Isozaki's first U.S. commission, a building he has infused--in sinuous rail and wall--with the sensuous allure of his favorite film star, Marilyn Monroe. Natural light streams through pyramidal skylights into the 24,500 square feet of galleries.

in its oepning blockbuster--"Individuals: 1945-1986"--MOCA will present over 400 works by 77 European and American artists; the show stays through January 10, 1988. Works will be divided between MOCA and the 55,000 square feet of galleries in the Frank Gehry-renovated TC, which opened in 1983.

Many notable los Angeles artists are represented--from Jackson Pollock (expelled from L.A.'s Manual Arts High in the '20s for handing out socialist literature) to John Baldassari, Richard Diebenkorn, Kenneth Price. Look for commissioned installations like Robert Irwin's bamboo-and-mist median strip outside the TC.

Committed to a broad definition of contemporary art, MOCA has scheduled lectures and a performing arts program organized into six-week festivals: video art, science fiction film, dance programs, puppet theater, and children's stories.

MOCA is at 250 S. Grand Avenue, the TC at 152 N. Central Avenue. Hours for both are 11 to 6 Wednesdays through Mondays, to 8 Fridays. Admission is $4, $2 for seniors and students, free on Fridays from 5 to 8. For show information, call 382-6622.

Tips for a visit. Park in lots east and north of MOCA (about $1). Weekends and after 5, park for $2 in California Plaza garage. Lots at TC charge 25 cents to $3.

At MOCA, admire the architecture and see '40s art through Abstract Expressionism; the TC currently shows late '60s through '80s and commissioned installations.

Outside the TC, a truck sells surprisingly good refreshment; MOCA's cafe offers cold food. Both facilities have book/gift shops; MOCA's has changing crafts exhibits.

A world-class fair, coming for

four days in early December

December 4 through 7, the L.A. Convention Center will host the International Contemporary Art Fair, a prestigious annuale never before held in this country. Some hundred art galleries from the United States, Europe, South America, and Australia will exhibit their biggest and newest names.

All works are for sale, and while most action is dealer-to-dealer or dealer-to-Collector, you're welcome to browse the stock of the world's top galleries and print publishers. Hours will be 11 to 7 daily. The center is at 1201 S. Figueroa Street, just west of the Harbor Freeway.

Today's art beyond museum walls

On the next four pages, we introduce the five main gallery clusters of Los Angeles. While there are many galleries in each area, we've picked out a few key ones to start you off. Most are open from about 11 to 5 Tuesdays through Saturdays. There are also notable galleries elsewhere in the city. Check local calendar listings for exhibitions and pick up the free guides available in many galleries.

When you find a gallery with work that strongly appeals to you, sign the guest book to get on a mailing list for exhibition openings; the atmosphere is festive and you can often meet the artist and talk to people familiar with his or her work.
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Title Annotation:Los Angeles' art museums
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1986
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