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Summer Splash | ART

Critic's Picks

May 19, 1996|Christopher Knight

Almost no one believes the mantra that "painting is dead" that has been uttered in some circles going on 25 years now--least of all painters, who keep on painting anyhow. One artist who has even incorporated the assertion into the many-layered subject matter of his work, finding new vigor for painting in the process, is Los Angeles-based Lari Pittman. His wildly inventive paintings will be the subject of a mid-career survey at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art starting June 23.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art was the scene of a 1966 brouhaha in which a county supervisor tried unsuccessfully to censor an exhibition that included an assemblage sculpture of tawdry romance, Edward Kienholz's "Back Seat Dodge." Now, the automotive love pit will motor into the Museum of Contemporary Art, this time as one of the most revered icons in "Kienholz: A Retrospective," opening June 30, which surveys the socially moralizing art of the late sculptor.

Finally, the Laguna Art Museum has lately been the focus of an uproar over the recent sale of Paul Outerbridge photographs from its collection and a controversial plan to merge with the Newport Harbor Art Museum. However, the Laguna museum's "John McLaughlin: Western Modernism/Eastern Thought," opening July 20, should shift attention (at least temporarily) to the under-recognized geometric abstractions of the late painter, the first major Modernist artist to emerge in Los Angeles.

Joining Pittman and Kienholz, McLaughlin completes a summer trilogy of much-anticipated shows focused on Southern California artists.

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