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Claire Falkenstein, James Turrell

As elegant and prickly as their maker, the sculptures of Claire Falkenstein conflate the two dominant directions in postwar abstract art: intricate geometry and expansive gesturality. They also quite consciously emulate nature — specifically, plant formation — while also quite consciously avoiding its imitation. But in the selection here, a retrospective grouping that spans the years 1950–1980, something else also emerges: No matter what its size or shape or material, this work seems at once monumental and miniature. As masterful with semiprecious stones as with steel welds, Falkenstein made jewelry as well as public sculpture for much of her career, and could think in terms of brooch and bridge at one and the same time. In a Falkenstein there is always an implied surface the object adorns, whether the human body’s or the earth’s. Louis Stern, 9002 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru Aug. 26. (310) 276-0147.

James Turrell’s geometry is as forthright and yet discorporate as Claire Falkenstein’s is complex and corporeal. He presents four new works, a “Ganzfeld” that envelops you in a cool blue light and leads you toward an even cooler blue-white void, and three “Tall Glass” pieces, windows you don’t enter but watch as their duo-toned luminescence changes slowly over three-hour cycles. The “Ganzfeld” room is so purely radiant that it looks as solid as it doesn’t feel; the three other displays could be color-field paintings — if they didn’t hang in the air and change over time. Come to think of it, that was the color-field painters’ wish, and now it’s granted, painted in pure light.

Claire Falkenstein at Louis Stern Fine Arts, 9002 Melrose Ave., W. Hywd., Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. & Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; thru Aug. 26. (310) 276-0147. James Turrell at Griffin, 2902 Nebraska Ave., Santa Monica, Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru Aug. 26. (310) 586-6886.

—Peter Frank


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