LACMA Symposium / Living in a Modern Way

 I was able to catch the last few presenters at LACMA's symposium,
I'm bummed I missed the rest.

Staci Steinberger from LACMA did a presentation on African-American designers and craftspeople 
in Los Angeles, which included information on Tony Hill, John Smith and Doyle Lane (slide above).  
The ads for Tony Hill's ceramics are all over Arts & Architecture magazine. It was good to get some information on him.


Individualism vs. Capitalism

Craft geek guru Glenn Adamson from the Victoria & Albert Museum ended the symposium
with a thought provoking presentation on California Design after 1965.

Adamson used this California Design 8 photo of a Sam Maloof executive chair, with its back to 
the camera in a tree grove, to illustrate the uncomfortable position of the individual craftsman in a modern 
capitalist society at mid-century.   An underlying theme throughout the presentation was the notion 
that mid-century modernism was a utopian scheme that ultimately failed. The way he talked bout this
photo kinda reminded me of Unhappy Hipster

In his essay for LACMA's book, California Design, 1930-1965: "Living in a Modern Way",  Adamson points  
to several instances where the craftsman-designer was able to attain commercial success, most notably with
people like Edith Heath and Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman who used machinery to increase their craft production.  
A quote in the essay that really makes that link between craft and capitalism evident is where housing
developer Joseph Eichler tells the Ackermans he'll be building enough homes that if they are able to sell a 
pot to everyone who buys one, they should be OK.  

Occupy P&K
Though not an Eichler, an Ackerman mosaic and Vista of California table are seen here in a  San Diego 
Palmer & Krisel development. This was no doubt a part of the sinister modern capitalist craft machine at work.

In his presentation, Adamson said something about mid-century California design was design for the few 
 since 99% of the population couldn't afford to live in a Richard Neutra house or buy expensive  furniture. 
That was no doubt true for a Neutra house with a Maloof chair, but the more pedestrian Palmer & Krisel 
and Eichler homes outfitted with Vista of California furniture were undoubtedly much more accessible. 

Craftsmanship in a Changing World  exhibition in 1956
A craft revolt in the making?

Peter Voulkos was still making vases at this point. 


Artist as Craftsman, Craftsman as Artist, 1963
Uh oh, with the rise of the designer-artist in the 60s comes the death of the designer-craftsman.

Voulkos, full on bronze, Artist as Craftsman, Craftsman as Artist exhibition 

 Along with Voulkos, Adamson uses J.B Blunk  to show the shift away from craft-
commercialism to a more counterculture-art focus.

I wonder what J.B. is listening to on his iPod? Or is he texting? 
Sacrilegious, I know. That guy was a bad ass.
Photo: jbblunk.com

J.B Blunk house, Inverness, CA
I had lunch up here some years ago. It was Point Reyes cheese on Blunk ceramics in the house he built by hand.
The place gave me chills. Amazing!

The 1969 Objects:USA exhibit by New York art dealer Lee Nordness announced that the artist-craftsman 
were officially accepted by the art world.  With the craftsman out of the factory and into the art gallery, 
I wonder what happened to the prices? 99% folks need not apply.

Failed Utopia = Memphis

With a slide of Peter Shire’s Bel Air chair as the symbol, Adamson suggested the 
wackiness of postmodernism was the rejection of modernism and the admittance of the failed utopia.

Personally, I think I'll stick with the failed modernist ideal of utopia, especially if the alternative is Memphis. 

While a slide of this 1979 Greiman image was up I tried to get a photo of the back of 
Peter Shire’s and April Greiman’s heads, who were sitting together in the audience, but I chickened out. 
Photo: Made in Space

The presentation ended with a contemporary art piece, a photograph of a sideways hippie weaving.
This was the emblem of dashed hope.

I'm in the Glenn Adamson fan club.
Photo: Time Out

CSH 22 / Before & After VKG

The unfurnished Stahl House by Pierre Koenig on the morning Julius Schulman shot the picture below.  

Van Keppel Green saves the day.

Ken Price


Ken Price dies at 77.
Source: LA Times

Billy Al Biker

Billy Al Bengston, 1966
Photo: Gety

Billy Al Bengston With His Bike, 1963
Photo: Marvin Silver, Craig Kuller Gallery

Carburetor Floatbowl, 1961
Get it here.

Bengston / Altoon / Thonet

John Altoon, Billy Al Bengston (on Thonet chair) and Irving Blum, 1960
Bengston paintings on the back wall. 
Photo: Ferus, Gagosian 

John Altoon painting on the left, Thonet chairs and Billy Al Bengston painting on the back wall.
It would have been awesome if Billy Al would have come over after his talk at the art show next door 
and sat in one of those Thonet chairs.
Reform Gallery booth, Palm Springs Modernism 

PS Shopping

Ken Erwin opened his FUNKIS pop up shop at the Galleria in Palm Springs.
Ken always has the good stuff.

Hans Wegner Flag Line chair.  This is my favorite Danish chair, 
though I like the version with the green pillow a little better. 

Theodore Waddell lamp by Zonatta.
If I ever had a power desk, I'd get this to go on it.
 Funkis will be open until the end of the month. 

Huge Tackett studio ceramic at Bon Vivant.


This is what I came home with.

Stan Bitters ashtray from his 1979 Frenso Art Museum show. 

 Jere Osgood clock

 Paul Rand abacus pillow for my Lustig chair. The back is hand knitted. The girl who made the pillow 
did a great job, though she wouldn't give up the rest of that vintage Rand fabric she said she has!
Update: She came through with the fabric!

 Adios Palm Springs

Palm Springs Fine Art Fair

Usually a Palm Springs Art Fair means Shag cartoons and neon palm trees.  The Palm Springs Fine Art Fair was far from that.
The first two paintings hung in the hallway entrance were this Gene Davis and the Thomas Downing below. Major stuff.


A really good and big Helen Frankenthaler

These Milton Avery paintings were in the same booth as the Frankenthaler. They had a bunch of great stuff.
If the gallery owner sold all the paintings in that booth, they could probably walked over to the 
Modernism show next door and bought half the show.

Ed Ruscha, "Las Palmas" belt on board.
The story I heard is that Ruscha made this for a girlfriend and when she kicked him out of her house, 
she sent him packing with the belt too. Now it's a $200k belt. 



Super realistic and creepy life size ballerina sculpture. 

Really creepy!

DeWain Valentine


Billy Al Bengston

More Billy Al Bengston


Billy Al Bengston in the flesh.

Cheech was there too


PS Modernism- Stuff I Wanted

Pierson had this George Kasparian lounge chair with original fabric.
I blew it and took too long to decide on this one and someone snapped it up. Good eye whoever you are.
Sold

Design Line Honeycomb shelving by Bill Curry from Reform
Sold

20th Obsession men's display. Barney Reid wallets!

Edward Cella had a great display of A. Quicny Jones presentation boards. They came out of the Jones barn/office.
Michael Boyd's new line of chairs were in the booth as well. That string chair is insane.

One of the A. Quicny Jones presentation boards.

Buckminster Fuller set from Dharam Damama
The set came with a Tiffany & Co box addressed to Bucky himself.

Kinetic wood sculture, also from Dharam Damama

Kirk O'Day cabinet from Sputnik. As seen in California Design 76.
Sputnik had a great booth and had the red sold tags to prove it. 
Sold

Malcolm Leland Thermic Fireplace from Objects USA
Sold

Dorothy Schindele Desk for Modern Color from Objects USA
I wish I had room to keep this one. 
Sold

Gordon Newell Polar Bear from PCH Modern
This is identical to the Architectural Pottery polar bear except it's metal and weighs almost 100lbs. 
The thought is that it could have been the mold?

Gordon Newell stone polar bear sculpture from Max Lawrence's (the late owner of Architectural Pottery) house when he hosted a MOCAD event.

Architectural Pottery ceramic Polar Bear
Photo: Wright