This month’s list features exhibitions that focus on the body or its absence. These include the Hammer’s survey of vivid, figurative works by Bob Thompson, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg’s fantastical installations exploring motherhood and birth, and Aimee Goguen’s gloopy sculptures and visceral performance videos at JOAN. On the flip side, Another World at LACMA highlights the Transcendental Painting Group, whose non-objective abstractions were portals to the spiritual realm, the Getty’s show of Uta Barth, whose atmospheric photographs focus on the act of looking as opposed to a specific subject matter, and a collaborative show between Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt and David Horvitz at the Wende Museum, revealing the connection that art can provide despite physical absence.
Alonzo Davis: The Blanket Series
In 1967, Alonzo Davis and his brother Dale founded the Brockman Gallery in Leimert Park, which stood as an important site for Black Art for more than two decades, exhibiting such artists as David Hammons, Betye Saar, and Senga Nengudi. The brothers were also artists in their own right, and The Blanket Series showcases a body of work that Alonzo produced between the 1970s and 1990s. Woven from strips of paper and canvas, these layered works juxtapose colored shapes and symbols, referencing both the African-American quilting tradition as well as the history of geometric abstraction.
Parrasch Heijnen (parraschheijnen.com)
1326 South Boyle Avenue, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles
Through December 17
Aimee Goguen, Mountain of the Collapse
Mountain of the Collapse is a 10-year survey of the work of LA-based artist Aimee Goguen, showcasing her multi-media fascination with the grotesque. Through video, animation, sculpture, drawing, and painting, Goguen explores both bodily and urban decay with campy glee, reveling in decomposing ooze, discarded toys, and other unsightly messes. A cast of artists and friends make appearances in her low-fi videos, giving them a sense of familiarity, and foregrounding the role of collaboration and community in her work.
1206 Maple Avenue, Suite 715, Downtown, Los Angeles
Through December 17
Franklin Williams – Meditative Spectacle: Paintings 1974–76
With his heavily-patterned sewn and stitched works, Franklin Williams embodied the eccentric and whimsical ethos of the Nut Art movement that emerged in Northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Meditative Spectacle features paintings from the mid-70s, some never shown before, that represent a period of creative growth and experimentation. In these works, Williams used his wife as a model, tracing her body or her shadow at actual size, and then mirroring or reconfiguring her form as the basis for his exuberant compositions.
Parker Gallery (parkergallery.com)
2441 Glendower Avenue, Los Feliz, Los Angeles
Through December 23
Michelle Uckotter: Dustbox
Michelle Uckotter’s eerie interior scenes are rife with disquieting potential, like calm moments in a horror film. Decrepit houses, dusty attics, exposed beams, and vertiginous stairways give the impression of dank and fetid life, even when no people are present. In some of her oil pastel works, she adds a lone female figure, whose sickly pallor suggests a correlation between unstable architecture and the body.
Marc Selwyn Fine Art (marcselwynfineart.com)
9953 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California
Through December 23
Bob Thompson: This House is Mine
Before his brief career was cut short by his untimely death at the age of 28, Bob Thompson had established himself as an incredibly prolific painter, who created over 1000 works in the span of eight years. On his canvases, Thompson set mysterious figures amidst pastoral landscapes, drawing on historical precedents of European painting, while amplifying the color to a riotous intensity. In some works, he depicted other African-American luminaries such as Amiri Baraka, Ornette Coleman, and Nina Simone. This House is Mine is the first museum show dedicated to his work in over two decades.
Hammer Museum (hammer.ucla.edu)
10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles
Through January 8
Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg: A Pancake Moon
A Pancake Moon is a fantastical, immersive audio-visual exploration of motherhood by Swedish duo Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg. Through sculpture, stop-motion film, and sonic installations, the artists create a dream-like forest environment filled with creatures representing sexuality, birth, and growth. Characters like an egg and the moon channel human emotions of joy and pain as they struggle to emerge into the world.
Tanya Bonakdar (tanyabonakdargallery.com)
1010 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through January 21
Uta Barth: Peripheral Vision
In a challenge to the photographic imperative to “capture” a subject, Uta Barth focuses not on what we see, but how we see. Over the course of four decades, the Los Angeles-based photographer has explored vision and perception, highlighting the tension between surface and depth, light and shadow, stillness and movement. Peripheral Vision spans her early experimental student work to contemporary photos in dialogue with landscape and still life genres.
Getty Center (getty.edu)
1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles
Through February 19
Adornment / Artifact
Nubia: Jewels of Ancient Sudan, currently on view at the Getty Villa, presents a dazzling selection from the holdings of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston of jewelry, metalwork, and other objects produced in the kingdoms of ancient Nubia. Adornment / Artifact is a multi-site response to the exhibition featuring contemporary artists, curated by jill moniz. Each venue highlights a different group of artists and has its own focus, as moniz explained to Hyperallergic: “Baldwin Hills is about discovery…Transformative Arts is about making and community, and Eastern Projects is about the revolution and refusal to be categorized, divided, and silenced.” Participating artists include June Edmonds, Umar Rashid, April, Bey, Melvin Edwards, Lezley Saar, Valeria Tizol Vivas, and many others
Multiple Venues (adornmentartifact.org)
Through March 5
For Ruth, The Sky in Los Angeles: Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt and David Horvitz
As an artist living under East German repression during the 1970s and ’80s, Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt was an active participant in the Mail Art movement. This allowed her to share her “typewritings” — text-based compositions created on a typewriter — with artists around the world despite state censorship and travel restrictions. For Ruth, The Sky in Los Angeles focuses on the creative and personal exchange between Wolf-Rehfeldt and LA-based artist David Horvitz — fifty years her junior—whose own practice involves poetic moments of connection between people across time and distance.
Wende Museum (wendemuseum.org)
10808 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, California
Through March 12
Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group, 1938–1945
Artists have been exploring the spiritual through abstraction for well over a century. While some practitioners including Kandinsky and Mondrian are well-known, others have only garnered significant attention in the past few years, like Emma Kunz and Hilma af Klint. Another World, which travels to LACMA from the Crocker Art Museum, is the first major museum exhibition to focus on the Transcendental Painting Group, whose members sought to channel another world beyond the physical through symbolic and evocative abstractions. This short-lived collective of visionary artists formed in New Mexico in 1938 and disbanded a few years later, but not before participating in exhibitions at the New York World’s Fair, Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Non-Objective Painting (now the Guggenheim Museum). While Agnes Pelton, the Group’s most well-known member, received a major show at the Whitney in 2020, this is the first survey outside of New Mexico to focus on the entire group, which also included Raymond Jonson, Emil Bisttram, Lawren Harris, Florence Miller Pierce, and others.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (lacma.org)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles
December 18, 2022–June 19, 2023