Plus Yayoi Kusama and Wolfgang Tillmans make their solo California debuts
Words by ELIZABETH VARNELL
Yay, it’s Yayoi!
Vibrant interpretations of infinity have arrived at SFMOMA, where nonagenarian Yayoi Kusama’s first solo presentation in Northern California is on view through Sept. 7, 2024. The exhibition, Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Love, includes two of the Japanese artist’s experiential mirror rooms: her newest work rife with round colored windows that drive a kaleidoscopic pattern of flickering circles, “Dreaming of Earth’s Sphericity, I Would Offer My Love” (2023), and one of her largest, “Love Is Calling” (2013), a darkened space populated with vividly colored dotted inflatable forms and her voice reciting a poem about love. The installations are joined in another part of the museum by one of her massive undulating bronze sculptures covered in yellow and black paint, “Aspiring to Pumpkin’s Love, the Love in My Heart” (2023). Feed your head. 151 Third St., S.F., 415-357-4000; sfmoma.org.
HAMMER MUSEUM curator Pablo José Ramírez, independent curator Diana Nawi, and curatorial fellow Ashton Cooper traversed the Southland, from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach to the edges of Palm Springs, making studio visits to assemble the lineup of artists comprising Made In L.A. 2023: Acts of Living (through Dec. 31). The sprawling biennial exhibition, now in its sixth edition, highlights 39 artists and groups throughout the greater Los Angeles area and encompasses painting, sculpture, installation, drawing, ceramics, assemblage, and performance art. The show, always a crucial barometer of talent and ideas among the city’s artistic communities, includes Michael Alvarez’s portraiture, sculptor Luis Bermudez’s designs inspired by Mesoamerican iconography, and Dominique Moody’s 150-sq.-ft. mobile studio, at once speaking to nomadic creativity and social exchange. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 310-443-7000; hammer.ucla.edu.
The Broad ❤ L.A.
THE BROAD, happily, is navel-gazing. The museum’s new show, Desire, Knowledge, and Hope (with Smog), which runs Nov. 18 through April 7, 2024, is composed entirely of permanent collection works by Los Angeles artists. Given its extensive stockpile of pieces by local talent — both those who were raised here, such as Mark Bradford, Lari Pittman, and Doug Aitken, and those who moved here, including Barbara Kruger, Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie, and Mike Kelley — this is a must-see exhibition. More than 60 paintings, photography, sculpture, and political signage spanning five decades compiled by curators Ed Schad and Jennifer Vanegas Rocha lay bare the complex urban landscape and contradictions of the region and also the way in which the organization’s holdings are evolving after 2020. The show’s title nods to John Baldessari’s 1985 work of a similar name contrasting the city’s grit with its frequent palm-lined beachy depictions. 221 S. Grand Ave., L.A., 213-232-6200; thebroad.org.
Off the Wall
Muralist Judy Baca began painting The Great Wall of Los Angeles almost 50 years ago. Now LACMA’s new exhibition, Painting in the River of Angels: Judy Baca and The Great Wall (through June 2, 2024), charts her monumental work alongside the young locals and artists who formed the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), depicting regional history from prehistoric eras to the 1960s. Images touch on immigration, land, women’s rights, and racism, and riff on techniques used by indigenous artists, European figurative painters, and Mexican muralists. Baca is also one of this year’s Gucci-sponsored LACMA Art+Film Gala honorees, the first Chicana artist selected for the distinction. She and SPARC are updating the Wall during the museum’s public hours. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 323-857-6000; lacma.org.
Raves and Realism
“Photography itself is a mystical practice. It is alchemy. It is a medium of approximation, measured chance and impermanence,” writes Wolfgang Tillmans in “On Paper,” an essay included in the catalog for the comprehensive survey of his work, Wolfgang Tillmans: To Look Without Fear (through March 3, 2024), making its West Coast debut at SFMOMA. The show, organized in New York by MoMA, is the Berlin-based artist’s first solo exhibition in San Francisco and includes photography, video, and multimedia installations arranged room by room by Tillmans himself using a mix of frames, Scotch tape, and binder clips. This in-depth look at the Turner Prize winner’s boundary-defying practice over the past four decades covers his early nightclub and magazine shots, still-life works, soldiers, camera-less images, solar eclipses, Truth Study Center media clippings, advocacy, and striking indelible portraiture — all fueled by his irrepressible curiosity. 151 3rd St., S.F., 415-357-4000; sfmoma.org.
Portions of this story originally appeared in the Fashionable Living and Winter 2023/2024 issues of C Magazine.
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