Southern California art exhibits

Big Black Sun

Art criticizes everything, especially the way art itself frames reality.

I know people who say they’re from the ’60s as some people say they’re from Paris or New York. It’s not descriptive, it’s declarative, proudly (or smugly) so, and vaguely definitive of their politics. I ...

I Gotta Use Words When I Talk to You

You get caught up in the nebular gas pulsing from an “e” or the windswept blur of an “o.”

Born in 1960, the African-American artist Glenn Ligon grew up in housing projects in the Bronx but attended the privileged, mostly white Walden School in Manhattan, a one-hour commute each way. Later, after majoring in ...

The Visceral Surge of Spanish Art

The most memorable pictures often entail misbehavior.

The plummy walls of the San Diego Museum of Art give the exhibition they surround, From El Greco to Dalí, a velvet jewel-case warmth. If the rooms were full of Goya’s ferocious Caprichos or Disasters ...

Human Passing

We’re cognizant of but normally don’t heed the fact that we’re hostages of fortune. I sometimes think photography was invented as a memory aid to press upon us that unhappy fact. The first batch of ...

Home Is Where the Art Is

When the American furniture manufacturer Gustav Stickley returned from a trip to England in 1897, he brought back an idea promulgated by John Ruskin (social reformer, connoisseur, premier art critic of his day) and William ...

If You Don't Dig

A Medusa has moved into my neighborhood. I live in San Francisco, three blocks from Haight Street. I don’t go down there much because it’s sordid with shoe stores, out-of-towners, homeless folk, and all-purpose muckiness. ...

Welder at Work

Some clichés smell okay, others stink. Whenever I hear a California enthusiast hyperventilating about how the West Coast is culturally “cutting edge” and so “out there,” I remember that the last time David Smith (the ...

The Way We Were

The atrium at the Museum of Photographic Arts offers an essay on what we thought we were as a people during the ’50s and ’60s. Constellated images by several photographers tell us that, before anything ...

Flaunt It: Racy Women from Regal Times at SDMA

As a warm-up before you see the splashy Gainsborough exhibition running at the San Diego Museum of Art, make a pass at Fragonard’s late 1770s Blindman’s Buff in the Timken. In a vaguely bucolic setting, ...

Woodwork by Hodgkin

I’m sitting on a bench in the San Diego Museum of Art, which has just opened an exhibition by the British painter Howard Hodgkin. Pretty quiet here, only four other warm bodies, one of them ...

Floating World

When in 1853 Admiral Perry and what the Japanese called his “black fleet” (the ships were painted black and their coal-stoked engines puffed black smoke) sailed into Yokohoma Harbor, he couldn’t have known he’d be ...