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Fall preview: Art

Hunting for real Rembrandts in Los Angeles, a look at the uncategorizable Anne Truitt in D.C. Plus, a trip through 30 years of collecting at MOCA.

September 13, 2009|Christopher Knight | ART CRITIC

LOCAL

'Allen Ruppersberg: You and Me, or the Art of Give and Take'

When Hugo Ball wrote the Dada Manifesto in Zurich in 1916, he elevated meaningless nonsense to a level of refinement rarely matched since then. His reason for doing so was twofold: to make clear the truly awful state of society, then dissolving into the disastrous chaos of the so-called War to End All Wars, and to demolish any lingering doubts that some monolithic truth was a road to salvation.

Allen Ruppersberg is one of those artists who, for roughly the last four decades, has been giving old Hugo a run for his money -- albeit in fully contemporary terms. In addition to earlier collages and drawings, this show promises two new large-scale installations, including one assembled from 15,000 pages of the artist's extensive book collection. Read it and weep.

Santa Monica Museum of Art, just opened.

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'Luis Melendez: Master of the Spanish Still Life'

Say "still life," and thoughts turn almost immediately to Holland, where the genre achieved a high level of sumptuous articulation in the 17th century -- or maybe to France, where Rococo painters stripped it down again into eloquent simplicity.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, September 16, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Rembrandt exhibit: A preview in the Sept. 13 Arts & Books section of the "Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils" exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum identified Rembrandt's birthplace as Delft. He was born in Leiden.

But Spain? Not so much.

The name Luis Melendez might not ring a bell, but in 18th century Madrid he became the king's still life painter thanks to a great success with a royal commission to depict "every species of food produced by the Spanish climate." For this first-ever American survey, organized by the National Gallery of Art, Melendez will be represented by about 30 canvases, some never publicly shown before.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, opens Sept. 27.

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'Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield'

The first solo exhibition organized after the Museum of Modern Art opened in Manhattan 80 years ago went not to a European giant like Matisse or Picasso, but to a 37-year-old American working in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. Charles Burchfield made his living there designing wallpaper -- which may be one reason his work appeals to Robert Gober, the marvelous contemporary artist whose own varied output has included wallpaper and who has co-organized (with the Hammer's Cynthia Burlingame) this eagerly anticipated survey. Among the drawings, watercolors and voluminous journal entries will be a room of 27 works from the MoMA show, together with Burchfield's correspondence with the museum's director, Alfred Barr.

UCLA Hammer Museum, opens Oct. 4.

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'Collection: MOCA'S First 30 Years'

To celebrate its anniversary, the Museum of Contemporary Art will turn over all 80,000 square feet of its gallery space on Grand Avenue and in Little Tokyo to a survey of some 500 diverse works chosen from the 6,000 it has acquired since the museum was conceived in 1979. Yes, those are a lot of numbers. But if, in light of last year's near-collapse of the fiscally mismanaged institution, since struggling to stabilize, you note some wishful optimism in the title, that's because the "first 30 years" means to suggest that the next 30 will be equally stellar in terms of the program.

We'll have to wait and see about that. In the meantime, though, this exhibition ought to lay out just how remarkable MOCA's permanent collection actually is.

Museum of Contemporary Art, opens Nov. 15.

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'Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils: Telling the Difference'

Is that a Rembrandt?

The question has been asked many times over many decades -- and sometimes answered to the dissatisfaction of those for whom much-loved paintings have turned out, in the opinion of scholars, not to have been made by the painter from Delft at all. Contentious disputes about Rembrandt van Rijn's work have long been a staple of art historical study.

Such is the difficulty of being one of the most influential artists of all time. Now, a major international loan exhibition at the Getty will zero in on the Dutch master's drawings, juxtaposing specific Rembrandt works on paper with those of 14 students and followers. In addition to examining the role of drawing in 17th century Holland, this exercise in high-level connoisseurship, distilling three decades' worth of scholarship, means to offer the best guide yet to distinguishing between Rembrandt and not-Rembrandt.

J. Paul Getty Museum, opens Dec. 8.

OUT OF TOWN

'Luc Tuymans'

Belgian painter Luc Tuymans, 51, has managed to take the bleary, fuzzed style of German master Gerhard Richter's melancholic figurative paintings and give it a distinctive look. Tuymans' bleached imagery is like walking out into bright sunlight from a dark interior: Your eyes have trouble adjusting, your mind can't quite wrap itself around the scene it witnesses.

Given the political subject matter Tuymans often broaches, the remarkably potent effect feels oddly dangerous. Opening in Ohio, his first American retrospective will travel to San Francisco, Dallas and Chicago before ending up at his hometown of Brussels.

Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, opens Thursday.

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'Kandinsky'

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