Claire d’Harcourt’s oversize bright orange children’s book, Art Up Close:  From Ancient to Modern, is a wonderful and interactive way to teach children how to look at art and engage them in the history of art.  Disguised as a Where’s Waldo type game, the book travels through history with 23 full-color reproductions of the world’s greatest masterpieces from Egyptian artists and Arabic calligraphers and miniaturists to Bosch, Veronese, and Watteau, Renoir, Miro, Picasso, and Pollock.  The children are tasked with locating all of the enlarged details in each picture.  Clear descriptions of the artists lives are included at the end of the book, hidden under flaps that also reveal the location of the details.  At the end of the book, a short summary of key periods in the history of art further enhance the learning experience. This delightful book is equally entertaining for children and adults and a must-have for any budding art enthusiast’s library.

By Emily Waldorf

Have you ever felt intimidated by hanging artwork yourself and thought that you needed to hire a professional installer?  It is actually surprisingly straight-forward to hang your own artwork as long as you do your homework beforehand and use extra special care.  Plus, there is no time like a recession to learn how to do something yourself, and it can be an empowering learning process.

A good place to start is Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook:  The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home, filled with helpful tips and how-to’s on everything you ever needed (or wanted) to know about running a well-oiled household, including wise words about caring for, framing, and hanging art.

Here is an edited selection of her best tips:

An interview with the artist by Emily Waldorf

Munich-born, Los Angeles-based artist Alexandra Wiesenfeld’s inaugural show at Gallery KM includes six large-scale oil on canvas paintings and eight drawings, depicting human and animal figures in surreal dimensions that examine the inner workings of the human psyche.  In this body of work, Wiesenfeld gives us a glimpse into her inner world, and her protagonists inhabiting a world of inner isolation. artist’s Glassell Park studio, is filled with neatly stacked canvases and brimming over with life and energy, including two dogs and work from other artists hanging on the walls.  Wiesenfeld’s energy and original mix of contemporary painterly skill and historical perspective make her an important emerging force in L.A.’s contemporary art scene.  Wiesenfeld has a warm and effusive manner that defies the solitary nature of her paintings.

Wiesenfeld earned a BFA from Pomona College and an MFA from Montana State University.  She has exhibited her work in a recent solo show at the Happy Lion Gallery, Los Angeles, and group exhibitions at the Nord Art, Germany, the Torrance Art Museum, L.A. Art House, Beverly Hills, and the Dactyl Foundation, New York, Eagle Rock Cultural Center, Los Angeles.  Wiesenfeld is an Associate Professor at Los Angeles City College.

Emily Waldorf:  Tell me what got you started on this specific body of work?  Figures, both human and animal, clearly take center stage in your work.  Please tell me about the significance behind the figures.  Is there a background story linking the work or is each individual work a story in and of itself?

Alexandra Wiesenfeld:  What drives my work first and foremost is psychology.  There is a word in German, inne-halten, which translates as pausing, but if you took the words literally would mean “holding inside”. Though I like the idea of the “spectacle” of painting, in a Beckmanesque sense, it’s the quieter states of reflections surrounding action—before it is about to take place or after it has happened– that I try to tackle.  In terms of subject matter, I start with a vague idea, which becomes clearer as the painting evolves.  Often I need a few paintings to resolve a “problem”–ideally I need a series rather than one painting.

EW:  How does the show at Gallery KM relate to your past work?  How has your work evolved over time?

AW: I feel that this body of work is coming full circle.  I had started out painting raw and gestural images of people and animals, which I sometimes intersected with flat, line-based areas. Later I gravitated towards painting people in arid and forsaken landscapes. I felt that if a person is alone in a landscape, the landscape has the potential to become more than just abackdrop.  In the last series of works man and land were still interacting, but not in the same composition. I juxtaposed an illusionistic landscape of a manmade lake in the badlands of Montana with portraits of juvenile death row inmates in Texas. The composition of the lake never changed, though the weather and time of day did. I was looking at how manmade structures and laws changed man and land, and how the changes inside both man and land were constant, like the thoughts in the inmates’ heads or the weather for the lake, while the outside structures were not. I painted the surface of the paintings very smoothly, because I wanted to speak of distance and unavailability, and the fact that the imagery was gained secondhand.  I also wanted to evoke the sentimentality inherent to the process of painting. But when I finished the series I realized I was getting closer and closer to my father’s way of painting. I felt I had painted myself into a corner, which made me throw myself into the messier territory of the way I used to paint, which is more process oriented.  What I took away from the series and what I am still working with, is how the impenetrability of the painted surface can mirror the sense of distance and longing certain landscapes, snippets of land and sky, evoke at certain times.

EW:  What is the process for the paintings and the drawings?  How long do they take to create?  Do you do preparatory drawings?   Tell me about your studio practice, the type of paint, materials, and technique, that you use.

AW: If not taken from me, I will rework paintings for years because that is how long it takes me to decide whether the image sticks. I work best when over-painting old work. Of course I have lost many paintings this way as well.  I like the resulting palimpsest, the possibility for accidents and the history that builds up – between the layers of paint and the layers of meaning.

EW:  When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist?

AW:  I come from an artist family.  My father was a Realist painter with quite some acclaim in the 1970’s and 80’s, and my brother was a child prodigy who is now a very talented painter in Berlin.  When growing up, I showed little aptitude or interest (unlike my brother did), though my fingers and mind always felt restless.  I always knew that I would make art, just not like my father and brother, or so I thought then.  As a young girl I had to pose for my father, which entailed standing amongst an array of still life objects for hours every day for years.  I used to hate posing and anything resulting from it, but now, with enough distance, I realize how beautiful my father’s paintings really are.  I left home (Germany) abruptly after high school, and on my own pursued ‘art’. I found a lovely older lady who let me carve alabaster sculptures with other older ladies in Laurel Canyon. Simultaneously I worked hard on teaching myself to draw and paint.   The physical distance to home had the reverse effect.  In my mind and in my art, I was seriously grappling with my father’s work and the Old Masters that featured so largely in his canon of the greats. My painting was an extension of the dialogue and battleground with my own past and with art history that took place entirely in my head. Continue reading ‘Occasional Beast: Alexandra Wiesenfeld at Gallery KM’

Culture Clicks


Culture Clicks


Weekly Art News


Reposted from WLM Advisors

by Hayley Miner

Google Art Project – virtual art viewing of inventory of the world’s great galleries and museums. You can “walk around” MOMA and view Seurat’s painting up close or Bruegel’s 16th century painting “The Harvesters” at the MET.

L.A. Arts Month is over. Art L.A. Contemporary closed on Sunday to a successful run at the Barker Hangar. The live programming of performance art & musical performances set this fair apart from all the other ones. Most lively and amusing was Marnie Weber’s ragtag monsters writhing about in the aisles. The Walead Beshty talk and other panel discussions at the fair also elevated the experience of art viewing.

Kenny Scharf’s mural in the Bowery was defaced by graffiti bombers. Now, there are surveillance cameras installed by real-estate mogul Tony Goldman who owns the wall. Scharf has since done touch-ups to the mural.

“Ode to Happiness” – an artist’s book created by painter Alexandra Grant and actor Keanu Reeves. They are giving a talk about their collaboration and the ideas of translation and friendship that inspired the book – Feb 13 at 4pm at LACMA.

Laura Owens (MFA Cal Arts 94′) is giving a talk at the Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater on Thursday, Feb. 3rd.

Regen Projects presents John Bock. Opening reception Feb 5, Saturday.

Lynda Benglis opens at New Museum of Contemporary Art on Feb 9, 2011. A major exhibition of her works. Her first museum retrospective in over 20 years.

Jedediah Caesar and Elke Krystufek opens at Susanne Vielmetter L.A. Projects Feb 5.

Larry Fink opens at LACMA on Feb 13. Fink, a society photographer who did shoots for Vanity Fair from 2000 to 2009.

A massive 3000 sq-ft ad for YSL’s “Parisienne” perfume with Kate Moss is now draped over the Musee d’Orsay. A decade ago, this is unheard of but with our economic climate, museums need to find creative ways to cover costs for renovations, like the d’Orsay, or other projects.

James Franco is everywhere these days. Latest project: teaching a class on creating a documentary about Franco called “Master Class: Editing James Franco…with James Franco”, taught by his friend Tyler Danna at Columbia College Hollowood. What’s next for this multi-talented indefatigable wonder boy?

Culture Clicks


Based loosely on the Goldilocks story, Jennifer Rubell’s installation consists of forty crock pots of porridge, brown sugar, and raisins.  The installation is the ninth time she has staged a breakfast at The Rubell Family Collection and this year it breaks through the back security wall of the collection, inviting guests, like the three bears, to serve themselves porridge and do what they will with it.  Rubell describes the disorienting effect her food installation in Vanity Fair’s Guide to Art Basel Miami:

“The only place to sit and eat it is back through the hole, in the Collection’s courtyard. So you find yourself back there with a bowl and a spoon and the porridge, and it’s like, Where was I?! What just happened?! It’s like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

Here is a slideshow of Rubell’s installation courtesy of WLM Advisors:

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Works are selling at Art Basel Miami Beach but the buzz of years past has dissipated, leading to a less crowded fair where galleries can do business and collectors can peruse with slightly less fanfare.

According to The New York Times, the blue-chip galleries Gagosian, David Zwirner, Pace and Andrea Rosen are all making sales and the slower pace of the fair has had the positive effect of increasing museum acquisitions because there is less competition for availability.

The Wall Street Journal reported that major collector Steven A. Cohen bought a work by Tim Hawkinson for $180,000 from the gallery Blum & Poe and Adel Abdessemad’s “Mappemonde” for approximately $300,000 at Zwirner.

Here is a slideshow of the scene at Art Basel Miami courtesy of WLM Advisors.

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Reposted from the WLM Advisors Blog
"Capture" from the AKAN series, Elizabeth Sunday
“Capture” from the AKAN series by Elizabeth Sunday

WLM Advisors recently got a sneak peek at Elizabeth Sunday‘s impressive new body of work, the AKAN series.  Sunday spoke passionately about her work as she walked us through the new images as well as older images from the TUAREG and earlier African series.  The AKAN series juxtaposes human and animal forms with a sculptural eye that leans towards the abstract.

Sunday’s photographs are firmly based in the natural world and indigenous communities, reaching back to our origins and the genesis of the natural world. She challenges the western eye to break down negative stereotypes of the “other” as primitive by bringing a tremendous sense of dignity revealed through her mirror photography.

Sunday first began photographing in Africa in 1986 using a large concave mirror of her own design. All the photographs are mirror reflections and are not digitally manipulated.  Sunday has exhibited her work at Gallery 291, Louis Stern Fine Arts, The UC Berkeley Museum of Art, LACMA, Fogg Art Museum, the Hammer Museum, and many other important international venues.

Artist, Elizabeth Sunday
Artist, Elizabeth Sunday