Beauty and the Beast: All About Art

For the last 50 years, Lynda Benglis, in her multifaceted art, has done everything that a “nice” girl is not supposed to do. She made a mess by pouring latex, bronze, glass, and wax onto the floor and onto the walls in her studio, galleries, and various museums. And, what a delightful mess it has been.

L: Curator Helen Molesworth and artist Lynda Benglis in discussion at Blum & Poe Los Angeles. October 2017. R: Installati
L: Curator Helen Molesworth and artist Lynda Benglis in discussion at Blum & Poe Los Angeles. October 2017. R: Installation view, Lynda Benglis, Blum & Poe Los Angeles. Photos by Edward Goldman.

Lynda Benglis’ art has been celebrated for its contributions to the post-minimalism movement. Last week, at Blum & Poe gallery, the artist had a challenging, and far from PC conversation with Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator at MoCA.

Curator Helen Molesworth and artist Lynda Benglis in discussion at Blum & Poe Los Angeles. October 2017. Photo by Edward
Curator Helen Molesworth and artist Lynda Benglis in discussion at Blum & Poe Los Angeles. October 2017. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Not surprisingly, the gallery was packed with an artsy crowd, which not only hung on to every word between these two smart and self-deprecating women, but also soaked up the explosive energy of several dozens of Lynda Benglis’ artworks, which are the subject of her current exhibition at Blum & Poe.

Installation View, <em>California Dreaming</em>. Wiseman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University. Malibu. Photo by Edward Gold
Installation View, California Dreaming. Wiseman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University. Malibu. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Another current exhibition that you definitely don’t want to miss is California Dreaming, which celebrates 25th anniversary of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University. The exhibition is curated by Billie Milam Weisman, and it focuses on Los Angeles artists. Many of these artists, with their nonchalant approach to art and life, are referred to as the “Cool School”.

Installation View, <em>California Dreaming</em>. Wiseman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University. Malibu. Photo by Edward Gold
Installation View, California Dreaming. Wiseman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University. Malibu. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Most of the works in the exhibition are from the 60s through the 80s, with iconic works by such artists as Ed Ruscha, Sam Francis, John McCracken, Chuck Arnoldi, Lita Albuquerque, and Mary Corse, and many more.

Installation View, <em>It Is the Moon Doggie</em>, Billy Al Bengston. Various Small Fires, Los Angeles. Photo by Edward Goldm
Installation View, It Is the Moon Doggie, Billy Al Bengston. Various Small Fires, Los Angeles. Photo by Edward Goldman.

One of these “cool” guys – Billy Al Bengston – has a solo exhibition of his moon paintings at Various Small Fires gallery. All these paintings were part of an exhibition 30 years ago at James Corcoran Gallery in Santa Monica. But, if you see them for the first time, they all come across as having been painted today.

Installation View, <em>It Is the Moon Doggie</em>, Billy Al Bengston. Various Small Fires, Los Angeles. Photo by Edward Goldm
Installation View, It Is the Moon Doggie, Billy Al Bengston. Various Small Fires, Los Angeles. Photo by Edward Goldman.

­­ You will find them to be “compositionally lucid, with wickedly sensuous coloration, punctuated by radical textures of cosmic impasto” (VSF). This elegantly and carefully designed exhibition was set to close last week, but has extended through this Saturday, November 4.

Installation View, <em>The Women: 50 Years of Portraits</em>. Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center Barrett Art Gallery
Installation View, The Women: 50 Years of Portraits. Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center Barrett Art Gallery. Santa Monica. Photo by Edward Goldman.

And, here is one more exhibition you want to put on your agenda. Esteemed Los Angeles artist Don Bachardy is known for his portraits of major American creative, cultural, and political figures. His current exhibition at Barrett Art Gallery at Santa Monica College focuses on portraits of women made by him over the last 50 years.

None of these portraits are meant to compliment the sitter, but rather, to capture the very personal moment shared between the artist and the model. Young and old, famous and not, all these women are looking at the artist – and at you –measuring you up and demanding your respect.

Edward Goldman is an art critic and the host of Art Talk, a program on art and culture for NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM. To listen to the complete show and hear Edward’s charming Russian accent, click here.

To join Edward’s Fine Art of Art Collecting Classes, please visit his website. You can read more about his classes in the New York Times here and in Artillery Magazine.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.