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Faces To Watch 2008

December 30, 2007|Christopher Knight

JONATHAN BUTTALL

RICH BRITISH BOY

He's been dead for slightly more than 200 years, but Jonathan Buttall (1752-1805) has a face more famous today than when he was alive. Thanks for that go to incomparable British portraitist Thomas Gainsborough and extravagant American art collector Henry Huntington, who bought the dazzling "Blue Boy" with much fanfare from the second Duke of Westminster in 1921 and brought the painting to Southern California. On May 28, the quintessential Grand Manner portrait will rejoin Pinkie, Sarah Siddons and other 18th century dignitaries in the main salon of the fully refurbished Huntington Art Gallery, the railroad magnate's lavish residence that has been closed for much-needed renovation since January 2005.

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GLENN PHILLIPS

PROJECTS SPECIALIST HAS HIS EYE ON VIDEO

Two years ago, the Getty Research Institute reached an accord with the Long Beach Museum of Art for the conservation and digital transfer of thousands of videotapes made since 1968 by artists who had used the museum's groundbreaking video-art facility. Among the tapes are works by John Baldessari, Chris Burden, Joan Jonas, Nam June Paik, Bill Viola and William Wegman. The Getty tilted photography scholarship to the West Coast when it began to collect photographs in 1984, and early-video studies might well follow suit. Phillips, working with the GRI's contemporary programs head, Andrew Perchuk, has now chosen tapes and video sculptures by 58 artists, duos and collectives for "California Video" (March 15-June 8), billed as "the first comprehensive survey of California video art from 1968 to the present."

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KARA WALKER

ARTIST WHO SHAPES NARRATIVES

In 1999, Walker, recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship two years before, was the first artist to be featured in the UCLA Hammer Museum's ongoing Project Series for emerging artists. Mostly working with life-size cut-paper silhouettes affixed directly to gallery walls, the African American artist makes convention-busting narratives about race and sex in America, past and present -- narratives that have been both embraced and attacked in the black community. Walker returns to the Hammer as the subject of a much-celebrated traveling career survey (March 2-June 8).

-- Christopher Knight

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