John Currin Takes Over Gagosian in Los Angeles for the Oscars

Gagosian is the master at salesmanship and timing.

John Currin. Detail of painting.
Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. © John Currin.

Los Angeles certainly knows how to throw a party. But never is it more obvious than in the week leading up to the Academy Awards, when its party-throwing prowess is on full display. There are soirées by Vanity Fair, the Weinstein Company, and Bulgari—one can easily find herself invited to four or more fêtes in one evening alone. The art world of LA is no exception; in fact, why wouldn’t dealers capitalize on the likelihood of having Sir Elton John or Ingrid Sischy swing by, say hello, and support an opening night shindig even if only for a 15-minute drive-by en route to another celebration?

Gagosian Gallery is the master at availing itself of the big guns visiting LA during this high-flown week; the last four years, the art world monolith has brought forth fantastical openings by Urs Fischer, Richard Prince, and Taryn Simon (also known in LA environs as Gwyneth’s sister-in-law). This year, Gagosian gives us figurative painter John Currin, opening Thursday, February 19, with his first solo show in LA in nearly a decade.

“I’m too out of it to know anything of the LA art scene outside of the famous artists,” the New York–based Currin told artnet News when asked for his thoughts on the LA art scene. “Actually, I know very little of the New York scene,” he admitted while adding that he “daydreams of living here.” Currin has admitted that he’s inspired by many sources ranging from Old Masters to pornography, and even, yes, Hollywood. What are some of his favorite films? “Favorite A movie? The Third Man,” he said. “Favorite B-movie is Vice Squad.

Overall, the tides have shifted slightly with galleries opting for a lot less pomp and more circumstance than in prior years. OHWOW, who back in 2012 exhibited photographer/bad boy Terry Richardson to the tune of over 2,000 people banging on their doors, is opting for a group show curated by artist Torey Thornton. Entitled Some Stew You Got Inside Your Plastic Bag, and You Always Organize The Parts So Close, the three-person exhibition, which opens Saturday, February 21, features the work of Brian Belott, Eric Mack, and Noam Rappaport. “Torey has a unique aesthetic,” said Mills Moran, who co-owns the gallery with his brother Al. Moran noted that for Some Stew… Thornton has grouped three artists that work in very different methods, but are pulled together here by color and material as well as formal relationships “that weren’t so readily apparent previously but are now very clear.” Moran also added that having Belott, Mack, and Rappaport take over the gallery under Thornton’s curatorial stewardship “was just something too good to pass up.”

Over at Kohn Gallery, home to artists like Mark Ryden, RETNA, and Eddie Martinez, another group show opens Saturday, entitled Land, Air, See, with Frank Stella, Joe Goode, Carl Andre, Larry Bell, Pier Paolo Calzolari, John McLaughlin and Ettore Spalletti. Mr. Kohn, whose 12,000-square-foot space along Highland Avenue, one of LA’s hot spots, is nearing its first anniversary, knows the Hollywood scene well; many an opening has been peppered with celebrity collectors and fans ranging from Katy Perry and Leonardo DiCaprio to art advisor Esthella Provas and philanthropist and patron Maria Bell. This particular show will be a simple and spare one that aims to demonstrate reductive practices, distillations, and deconstructionism; in essence, it will be the perfect antithesis to the glitz and glamour that mark this Hollywood moment.

“I think Hollywood is focused on the business of Hollywood during Oscar Week,” mused Kohn when asked if he sees this week as an opportunity to take advantage of the influx of film royalty. “Of course, everyone likes a good party; but this week is about movies. After they win their awards, they can come to the gallery and celebrate by acquiring a Larry Bell or Frank Stella.”

John Currin is on view at Gagosian Gallery, 456 North Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, California, from February 19–April 11. 

For recent coverage of the LA art fairs see Art LA Contemporary Steps Up Its International Game, Hippie Vibes Reign at Paramount Ranch LA’s Newest Fair, and Sex, Desire, and Dictators at the LA Art Show.


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