October will have us looking back and forward simultaneously in Los Angeles, with historical shows alongside new bodies of work from contemporary artists. These start 1,000 years back with the Maya Codex of Mexico (Códice Maya de México) at the Getty, then jump to the 20th century with exhibitions devoted to the “Mama of Dada” Beatrice Wood at LA Louver, and a homage to the late transgressive performance artist Bob Flanagan at Kristina Kite. At Shulamit Nazarian, Trenton Doyle Hancock reveals the latest chapter of his ongoing, idiosyncratic saga, while new hand-crocheted sculptures by Luis Flores are on view at Craft Contemporary.
Sarah Pucci and Dorthy Iannone
Dorothy Iannone was born in Boston but has spent much of her peripatetic career in Europe, living in Iceland, Switzerland, London, and Berlin. Beginning in 1959 and continuing for over three decades, Iannone’s mother, Sarah Pucci, would send her daughter small sculptures she crafted from beads, sequins, and foam — homespun baroque assemblages to keep her company on her travels. This show at Hannah Hoffman pairs 15 sculptures by Pucci with 4 collages that Iannone made on a 1962 trip to Japan, and a 1980 video about her mother, drawing connections between the formal and familial.
Hannah Hoffman Gallery (hannahhoffman.la)
2504 West 7th Street, Suite C, Westlake, Los Angeles
Through October 15
Beatrice Wood: Drawings, Prints, Ceramics
Beatrice Wood was an actress and artist whose long creative career stretched from the avant-garde circles of New York between the Wars, to the bohemian enclave of Ojai, where she moved in 1948 and died 50 years later at the age of 105. Known as the “Mama of Dada” for her lifelong friendship with Marcel Duchamp, Wood’s own work encompassed early Dada and Art Deco-style drawings and prints, as well as ceramics, which she devoted herself to for the second half of her life. Drawing on the collection of Francis M. Naumann, a scholar and friend of Wood’s, this exhibition covers the years 1917–1996, capturing the breadth of her idiosyncratic oeuvre.
L.A. Louver (lalouver.com)
45 North Venice Boulevard, Venice, California
Through October 29
Lily van der Stokker: What is it
Lily van der Stokker’s wall drawings toe the line between hard-edge formalism and soft, playful abstraction. Since the 1980s, she has been exploring organic forms, bright colors, and text fragments in works that keep one guessing. She revisits and remakes several of her drawings originally created in the 1990s in What Is it, rebuffing the works’ apparent spontaneity with years of research and revision.
Parker Gallery (parkergallery.com)
2441 Glendower Avenue, Los Feliz, Los Angeles
Through October 29
Trenton Doyle Hancock: Good Grief, Bad Grief
Pulling from autobiography, comic books, art history, religion, and other disparate sources of high and low culture, Trenton Doyle Hancock has been building an expansive universe over the past twenty-five years. Good Grief, Bad Grief features characters central to his mythology — Torpedo Boy, Hancock, and the malevolent Vegans. Engaging and enigmatic, Hancock’s layered works invite us to confront the tangled intersection of identity, race, and art.
Shulamit Nazarian (Shulamitnazarian.com)
616 North La Brea Avenue, Fairfax, Los Angeles
Through October 29
Transgressive performance artist Bob Flanagan explored the charged nexus of pain and pleasure with his partner and collaborator Sheree Rose. Flanagan, who succumbed to cystic fibrosis at 43, was an active member of the BDSM community and incorporated both illness and fetish into his artwork, free of shame and stigma. Curated by Sabrina Tarasoff, Flanagan’s Wake features his contemporaries and kindred spirits who similarly celebrate the abject and rejected, including Nayland Blake, Mike Kelley, Monica Majoli, and Robert Gober.
Kristina Kite (kristinakitegallery.la)
3400 West Washington Boulevard, Mid City, Los Angeles
Through November 5
Cantos of the Sibylline Sisterhood
In Ancient Greece, women who were believed to have prophetic powers were known as sibyls. Cantos of the Sibylline Sisterhood features 10 artists who tap into that oracular gift, laying bare truths about the future, past, and present. This is evident in April Bey’s blinged-out Afro-futurism, Marnie Weber’s witchy collages, and Molly Surazhsky’s post-Soviet textile works.
ArtCenter College of Design (artcenter.edu)
Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery, 1700 Lida Street, Pasadena, California
Through November 23
Luis Flores: Because of You, In Spite of You
With material virtuosity and subversive humor, Luis Flores’s hand-crocheted sculptures challenge assumptions about fine art, craft, and stereotypes of masculinity. He often focuses on his own body, crocheting eerily lifelike, full-size stand-ins that practice amateur wrestling moves or flex with puffed-up bravado. In Because of You, In Spite of You, Flores reflects on his own life as a young father, staging a Monster Truck rally out of yarn and bronze epitomizing the glee and panic of early parenthood.
Craft Contemporary (craftcontemporary.org)
5814 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles
October 2–January 8
Códice Maya de México
When the conquistadors arrived in the Americas, they destroyed nearly all the books and manuscripts they found that had been created by Indigenous scribes. Only four pre-Conquest Maya manuscripts are known to have survived, and the Códice Maya de México is the oldest, estimated to have been written about 900 years ago. Throughout 20 pages, several of which are now missing, the book carefully tracks the movement of Venus across the sky, alongside depictions of several deities. Rumored to have been found in a cave in Chiapas in the mid-1960s, the Códice was exhibited in New York in 1971 before being seized in 1976 by the Mexican government, citing the United States-Mexico Artifacts Treaty of 1970. The Getty’s exhibition will be the first time the manuscript has been seen in the US in half a century.
The Getty Center (getty.edu)
1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles
October 18–January 15
Joan Didion: What She Means
The writer and essayist Joan Didion, who died last year at the age of 87, was a distinctive voice in American culture, a pioneer of “New Journalism” who captured the turbulence beneath the placid veneer of postwar life. Curated by writer and critic Hilton Als, Joan Didion: What She Means attempts to reflect her vast influence and legacy through the works of 50 or so visual artists. The exhibition follows a chronological and geographical trajectory, following the tracks of her life and work: Sacramento, New York, California, Hawaii, El Salvador, Miami. Participating artists include Diane Arbus, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Ana Mendieta, Betye Saar, Jack Pierson, and many others.
The Hammer Museum (hammer.ucla.edu)
10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles
October 11–January 22
Bob Baker Marionette Theater: 60 Years of Joy & Wonder
In 1930, a young Bob Baker saw his first puppet show and the rest is history. Baker dedicated his life to the magic of puppetry, opening a makeshift playhouse in his backyard and crafting his own puppets, eventually working with companies like Disney and contributing to TV and film productions. In 1963, he opened his namesake Marionette Theater near Downtown LA, which entertained over a million kids before he passed away in 2014. (The theater is still going strong in its new Highland Park location.) 60 Years of Joy and Wonder is a retrospective exhibition that pulls back the curtain on this whimsical phenomenon, featuring puppets and artwork by Baker and his collaborators, as well as an animatronic band.
Forest Lawn Museum (forestlawn.com)
1712 South Glendale Avenue, Glendale, California
October 20–March 19