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Architecture and British to Invade in 1988

January 03, 1988|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

What's up on the art scene for the new year? An auction of another late Van Gogh painting, pushing his record prices further into the stratosphere? Another spate of new galleries in Santa Monica? An art boom in Culver City, Hawaiian Gardens or El Monte? The debut of another 22-year-old genius?

Such things can't be predicted with any degree of certainty. What we do know something about is exhibitions. But before getting to the new ones, here's a warning: All the people who have been complaining about the endless engagement of "Individuals" but haven't actually seen it have exactly one week to catch the Museum of Contemporary Art's inaugural show. When the museum closes its doors next Sunday at 6 p.m., it's out with the old and in with the new.

Not immediately, however. MOCA will spend more than a month dismantling "Individuals" and installing the next big attraction, "The Architecture of Frank Gehry," scheduled Feb. 16 to May 18. Full-scale, walk-in architectural constructions will be on view in the 20-year survey of work by the Los Angeles architect, plus drawings, photographs, scale models and furniture. Known for inventive uses of banal material--including chain-link fencing and corrugated cardboard--Gehry has collaborated with such artists as Claes Oldenburg in projects that blur boundaries between shelter and visual art.

Gehry designed the museum's Temporary Contemporary facility, turning a city-owned garage into a versatile showcase that has been critically acclaimed and popular with the public, but his exhibition will not take place there. Instead, it will move into the museum's year-old home on Bunker Hill, a commission that Gehry had hoped to win before it was granted to Japanese architect Arata Isozaki.

Architecture is also on the agenda at the County Museum of Art where the really big event of the year is the mid-September opening of the new Pavilion for Japanese Art. The unusual building (with translucent walls that function rather like shoji screens) was designed by the late Bruce Goff to house a cache of Edo period paintings donated by Joe D. Price, along with other Japanese art in the museum's collection.

The Municipal Art Gallery's architect of choice is Frank Lloyd Wright, whose Hollyhock House is the gallery's neighbor in Barnsdall Park. The Muni will host two shows of his work, Jan. 28 to March 13. "Frank Lloyd Wright and the Johnson Wax Buildings: Creating a Corporate Cathedral" will focus on an innovative project in Racine, Wis., executed in the late 1930s and '40s. "Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles: An Architecture for the Southwest" will examine Wright's work here in the 1920s.

About the same time as the invasion of architecture, the British will descend on Los Angeles in a festival called "UK/LA '88--A Celebration of British Arts." The primary attraction is a huge retrospective of David Hockney's art, at the County Museum of Art Feb. 4 to April 24. The 50-year-old artist who divides his time between Los Angeles and London will fill the Anderson building with 150 paintings, 60 drawings, 30 photographs, examples of his stage sets, plus various prints and books. The catalogue alone is an enormous production that contains new color photography of all his works, essays by critics, scholars and artists and a section designed by Hockney.

Among other events planned for "UK/LA '88" are Cal State Long Beach's presentation of conceptually based contemporary art, in a show called "The Analytical Theatre: New Art From Britain," Jan. 26 to March 6; the Museum of Contemporary Art's exhibition of Boyd Webb's color photographs of specially built installations, March 22 to June 19, and the Long Beach Museum of Art's display of "New British Color Photography" plus a show of Michael Kenna's black-and-white photographs, March 13 to April 17.

Contemporary solo exhibitions--the best public means of getting to know an artist--take a predictably prominent place in the spring season. Most eagerly awaited is a retrospective of Anselm Kiefer's expressionistic paintings, woodcuts, books and collages at the Museum of Contemporary Art June 14 to Sept. 11. A great visual tragedian whose interests extend far beyond his own country and time, Kiefer is considered by many critics to be the best German--some say the best European--painter to emerge in the last quarter-century. The traveling show will contain about 70 works, plus some new sculptures and large-scale woodcuts not shown in other cities.

"Chris Burden: A 20-Year Survey" promises to be the spring's most interesting and extensive examination of a Los Angeles artist. At the Newport Harbor Art Museum April 10 to June 12, the Burden show will "chart the significance of an artist who has uniquely explored the aesthetics of provocation, ambiguity and risk," according to a press release.

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