Ken Price is infringing my copyright. You are requested to cease and desist http://www.infringedcopyright.com Thank You.
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But the most arresting work in the exhibition from this period of pint-sized landscapes and geometrics remained in Price's private collection from the time he made it onward. Called Reltny, it's only 5 inches long and has a few smooth, glazed, blue surfaces interrupted by raw, rocky, bronze expanses. It has a four-tiered boulder awkwardly hanging off its far left edge. Despite the irregular mix of smoothness and roughness, the sculpture feels delicate and exact.
Aliens and specimens
Linda Schlenger, a New York collector who heads Friends of Contemporary Ceramics and owns 19 works by Price, didn't discover the artist until the later 1980s, just as he had started easing out of the geometric work into the organic, alienlike bodies he would perfect in the 1990s and 2000s. Schlenger had begun frequenting Franklin Parrasch's gallery, Price's East Coast representative, and Franklin kept telling her how wonderful Price's work was. "Finally, he yells at me, 'Will you sit down and look at this work?' " she remembers. "Then, in the mid-'90s, I saw those big, sort of amorphous works."
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Schlenger bought Moose the Mooch, a blackish sculpture that looks like a deceptively sweet baby monster reaching for prey, in 1998. Then, in 2003, she wasn't fast enough to purchase a sculpture she'd seen photographs of at L.A. Louver Gallery. Price heard about her disappointment and sent a work called Balls Congo to Franklin Parrasch. It had sacklike legs, nodded forward in a silly way and had a red surface with bright blue speckles all over it. Schlenger bought it immediately.
Both of those works are in the exhibition, and Balls Congo is on streetside banners up around the city. "It was so exciting, so sexy and so incredible," Schlenger says of the pieces from that time. "When you live with art, most of the time you're involved with your life. To me, good art is something that engages you differently at different times. You have an emotional reaction and it becomes almost personal." For her, Price's work does that.
A table in the second-to-last room of the retrospective holds Price's Specimen sculptures, small forms that seem like crude predecessors of the honed, larger forms Schlenger fell for. Price placed these on velvet cushions, and one pink, egglike Specimen has a red finger sticking out of its shell.
But it's hard to get close enough to really look, since the table screeches whenever anyone comes within two feet. Because of the fragility of these mid-1960s artworks, the table is alarmed, and a guard standing at its back end warns people of this constantly. Still, the alarm goes off all the time. Sometimes people set it off as they move in to make out the guard's words. More often, they set it off because it's just too hard to resist the urge to lean forward.
The constantly screeching table seems like a perfect illustration of the simple reason Price's work still works: It pulls you in on that personal, gut level, compelling you to cross the line before you've realized it.
KEN PRICE SCULPTURE: A RETROSPECTIVE | Los Angeles County Museum of Art | 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile | Through Jan. 6 | lacma.org