Celebrating the third and final volume of his Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings—edited by EvaMeyer-Hermann and published last year—join Luc Tuymans in conversation with Helen Molesworth at the Morgan Library.
The artist will present a new solo exhibition at David Zwirner, Hong Kong, in March 2020. In 2009 at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Molesworth curated the first United States retrospective of Tuymans’s work.
Noah Davis (1983–2015) was a figurative painter and cofounder of theUnderground Museum (UM) in Los Angeles. Despite his untimely death at the age of thirty-two, Davis’ paintings are a crucial part of the rise of figurative and representational painting in the first two decades of the twenty-first century.
Loneliness and tenderness suffuse his rigorously composed paintings, as do traces of his abiding interest in artists such as Marlene Dumas, Kerry James Marshall, Fairfield Porter, [MarkRothko], and Luc Tuymans.Davis’ pictures can be slightly deceptive; they are modest in scale yet emotionally ambitious. Using a notably dry paint application and a moody palette of blues, purples, and greens, his work falls into two loose categories: There are scenes from everyday life, such as a portrait of his young son, a soldier returning from war, or a housing project designed by famed modernist architect Paul Williams. And there are paintings that traffic in magical realism, surreal images that depict the world both seen and unseen, where the presence of ancestors, ghosts, and fantasy are everywhere apparent.
Generous, curious, and energetic, Davis founded—along with his wife, the sculptor Karon Davis—the Underground Museum, an artist- and family-run space for art and culture in Los Angeles. The UM began modestly—Noah and Karon worked to join three storefronts in the city’s Arlington Heights neighborhood. Davis’ dream was to exhibit “museum-quality” art in a working-class black and Latino neighborhood. In the early days of the UM, Davis was unable to secure museum loans, so he organized exhibitions of his work alongside that of his friends and family, and word of mouth spread about Davis’ unique curatorial gestures.
In 2014 Davis began organizing exhibitions using works selected from the MOCA Los Angeles’ collection as his starting point. In the aftermath of Davis’ passing, the team of family and friends he gathered continued his work at the UM, transforming it into one of the liveliest and most important gathering places in Los Angeles for artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, and activists. — Helen Molesworth
The exhibition NOAH DAVIS—curated by Molesworth—is now on view at David Zwirner in New York. An iteration of the show will open at the Underground Museum in Los Angeles in March 2020.
A new Davis monograph—featuring an introduction by Molesworth and oral history interviews that she conducted with Davis’ friends, family, and colleagues—is forthcoming.
John Baldessari’s art is cheerfully laconic. It strikes this special tone, broadcast as if on its own frequency, from its beginnings until the present day. Is there a method to it? And, if so, what does it consist of? The simpler answer points to an ever-surprising change in perspective that Baldessari offers his viewers. A slightly shifted view of art, the world, and its image…
But there is more: a daring intellectual feat in his approach, precisely because it includes acting stupid. Baldessari assumes a calculated risk that he will not be understood fully, but with the aim of deriving intellectual profit from that. — Bice Curiger*
*Bice Curiger, “Doubly Detached, Doubly Immersed,” in John Baldessari: Pure Beauty (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2009).
John Baldessari was born in National City, California, in 1931 and died on January 2, 2020 at home in Venice Beach.
I want art to stand strong, to display how it manipulates its audience. I want it to take up their expectations, their sense of the world, their predispositions toward the way they think or use their language, and then to use these things perversely, politically, colorfully, “expressively.” — Tony Conrad
*Tony Conrad Writings was co-edited by Constance DeJong.
From top: Tony Conrad performing Bowed Film, 1974, image credit Greene Naftali, GalerieBuchholz, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Tony Conrad Writings, cover and inside images (3), image credit Primary Information.