In spite of less-than-positive reviews, Fifty Shades of Grey has become a box office hit. I haven't read the book, and I'm not planning to see the movie, but I have to admit, I do like the title. Last Sunday, the Broad museum had a one-day invitation-only sneak peak preview of its top third floor gallery. I've been following the construction progress of the museum for a year now. Last Sunday was my third visit there, and I continue to be amused by the unconventional architecture by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The 35,000 square foot main exhibition space at the top of the building is flooded by beautifully controlled, soft daylight streaming through a honeycomb veil that wraps the whole building. Being there felt as if I'd been enveloped in Fifty Shades of White...
Upon entering Shulamit Gallery in Venice, one encounters a subtle, abstract, white on white wall relief by LA artist David Abir. This is another case where it is up to us viewers to count the number of shades of white. Further inside the gallery, there are additional room-sized installations by Abir that incorporate delicate colored lights, giving the impression of hearing the subtle music and seductive voices of clever Angels speaking to us in a language of architecture and geometry.
In the darkened project room at the back of Shulamit Gallery, there is a highly theatrical installation by another LA-based artist, Miri Chais, who incorporates painting, video, sound, and sculpture into her work. Her installation, titled "We Are The Hollow Men," delivers a strong, dramatic punch in spite of the rather small stage on which it performs. A few months ago, I reported about her exhibition at the USC Fisher museum --Chais' first solo exhibition in the US. It is good to see this latest project of hers at Shulamit Gallery.
One of the surprises of the last few weeks was the opening of the new LACMA exhibition, "Islamic Art Now: Contemporary Art of the Middle East." At the top floor of the Ahmanson Building, in galleries usually showing the museum's collection of historical Islamic art, there is an impressive exhibition of works by contemporary Islamic artists. There are a few sculptures and one video, but the rest are photographs, and very impressive photographs indeed. The one that almost steals the show is Lalla Essaydi's Reclining Odalisque, 2008, from the series, Les femmes du Maroc (The women of Morocco). It depicts a young, reclining woman, whose face and body --along with the background --are covered in delicate Arabic script. In another attention-grabbing photograph, there are four female police cadets scaling a building wall. And all of them dressed in black chadors, making their climbing even more impressive.
And talking about art, politics, beheading, and plenty of sex... For a healthy dose of all of this, you may want to attend one of the remaining performances of The Ghost of Versailles at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This rarely performed "grand opera buffa" by John Corigliano is given extravagant, grandiose staging, which lasts over three hours. Three very long hours. But boy, there are moments of pure joy, especially when Patti LuPone enters the stage astride a pink elephant. Her sharp, comic performance makes Saturday Night Live, in comparison, seem timid.
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.