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Summer Splash | Art / Critic's Pick

May 22, 1997|CHRISTOPHER KNIGHT

In the difficult years after World War I, Dadaist art in Berlin was distinguished by its searing political radicalism. None was more incisive in its social analyses than the work of Hannah Hoch (1889-1978), the Dada group's only female member, who wielded scissors to cut up pictures and bits of text from the mass media and then rearranged them into large photomontages. The L.A. County Museum of Art will be the final stop for the traveling exhibition "The Photomontages of Hannah Hoch" (June 29-Sept. 14), surveying her entire career.

Canadian artist Jeff Wall has developed an idiosyncratic brand of photography in which carefully staged scenes are filled with enough compelling visual incident to suggest a short story or perhaps a brief film. Huge color transparencies are mounted in lightboxes, sort of like bus stop ads or illuminated billboards, giving the pictorial narratives an oddly public presence. A retrospective of Wall's work arrives at the Museum of Contemporary Art (July 13-Oct. 5), organized by former MOCA curator Kerry Brougher.

Several years ago, writer Ralph Rugoff struck a nerve with an insightful gallery show he organized of recent L.A. art titled "Just Pathetic." A few years later he badly stumbled with a frankly repulsive show called "Presenting Rearward." Now, he's back with a large offering at the UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum called "Scene of the Crime" (July 23-Oct. 5), provocatively billed as a survey of work by 36 West Coast artists since the 1960s that evokes "criminality, violation or a mysterious turbulence." Beyond patheticism?

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