'Human Nature' at LACMA: Recasting the Story of Contemporary Art in L.A.
Copyright Bruce Nauman, photo copyright Museum AssociatesBruce Nauman: Human Nature/Life Death/Knows Doesn't Know, 1983
In this week's print edition, Andrew Berardini, who has written for a slew of art publications and is making his LA Weekly debut, contributes an essay on how LACMA's exhibit "Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection" recasts the story of contemporary art in Los Angeles.
In "Human Nature," almost all of the early rooms focus on a different node in contemporary art (the body, politics, language, identity), with a smattering of works from canonical (usually white, male) artists and at least one local L.A. representative of that trend -- but also, in most cases, at least one artist (if not many) of international extraction or of color. Since there is no racial majority in the state of California, we are now, in that totally postmodern sense, a collection of minorities, which is itself a closer reflection of what the wider world actually looks like, where white people have never been the majority. As [Franklin] Sirmans, the head of contemporary art at LACMA (the first African-American to hold this position) and co-curator of this exhibition, told me recently, "We wanted to show a different take. Not corrective, but reflective of the changes of the last 40 years. Our background comes from broadening the stance of scholarship and curatorial work."
The piece includes takes on works such as David Hammons' Injustice Case, Bruce Nauman's Human Nature/Life Death/Knows Doesn't Know and Glenn Ligon's Ruckenfigur.
Here's the story: "Human Nature at LACMA."
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