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MOCA acquires massive Ryan Trecartin video installation

April 25, 2013|By Jori Finkel
  • Ryan Trecartin's "B: Settings" from 2010, mixed-media installation, dimensions variable. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Ryan Trecartin's "B: Settings" from 2010, mixed-media… (Brian Forrest/MOCA )

An artist who mines the visual excesses and verbal tics of teenagers in the ADHD age of instant messaging, Ryan Trecartin has had important early shows in L.A., but MOCA's announcement of new acquisitions Thursday marks the first time his work is entering a museum collection here.

With funds from its acquisition committee and from museum director Jeffrey Deitch, MOCA is buying "B: Settings," an over-the-top installation consisting of four rather manic videos and four "sculptural theaters," which look like makeshift arrangements of odd lounging furniture.

Made in collaboration with Lizzie Fitch, these video works formed the basis of Trecartin's 2010 show at MOCA's Pacific Design Center, "Any Ever."

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In his catalog preface, Deitch described Trecartin as a great synthesizer of historic artistic models and new modes of communication, noting that his "community of collaborators, living and working with him in a  Los Feliz McMansion that looks like an abandoned swingers' club, fuses elements of Warhol's Factory, the Wooster Group, and MTV's The Real World."

Times Art Critic Christopher Knight wrote of "Any After" in 2010: "Think of him as a 21st century transformation of a 19th century Parisian or 20th century L.A. flaneur -- Edouard Manet with an iPad instead of an easel, or Ed Ruscha with a cursor-joystick instead of a car. Trecartin is floating on the surging crests of the digital boulevards, and his sole intention seems to be enjoying the dynamic complications of hitherto unprecedented experience. Going along for the ride is a pleasure."

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When the show traveled in another form to MOMA/PS1, Holland Cotter of the New York Times called it "game-changing." He wrote: "Their wild, sometimes incoherent exchanges teeter giddily at the intersection of art, reality television and social networking…. At the risk of oversimplification, his art could be said to combine the retinal extravagance of much 1980s art with the political awareness of the ’90s and the inclusiveness and technological savvy of the postmillennium."

MOCA, which is trying to raise money for a $100-million endowment campaign, is also announcing three other acquisitions: Rodney McMillian's 2012 "Representation of a Landscape as a Wall," a large-scale painting on paper; Samara Golden's 2013 "Diet Piece: Moral Kinship," an eye-popping (there are eyeball forms in it) mixed-media work; and a set of photographs by Bob Mizer, who until his death in 1992 ran the Athletic Model Guild in L.A., a purveyor of beefcake imagery.

[For the record, 3:58 p.m. April 25, 2013: A previous version of this post incorrectly noted that the Samara Golden work bought by MOCA was recently shown at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary Fair; in fact, the fair included another, smaller work from the same series, called "Diet Piece: Moral Rising."]

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