Hauser & Wirth is on the path to redefining the Arts District in Los Angeles. The global gallery enterprise has teamed up with former Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Paul Schimmel, to create a gallery that takes up a whole city block on East 3rd. Street. With free admission, a restaurant, and public walkways that run right through the middle, this gallery is different in the best way.

The Mid-Century flour mill turned art gallery is actually more like a museum. It is only slightly smaller than its neighbor, The Broad, which opened in downtown L.A. last year.  So how did they choose to fill 112,000 square feet of gallery space for its first show? With over 100 pieces from 34 female artists, that’s how.

Installation view, Phyllida Barlow. Courtesy of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel
Installation view, ‘Phyllida Barlow, GIG.’ Courtesy of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

“Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947-2016” takes the past 70 years of women artists and revisits their relevance during a dominantly masculine period. The inaugural exhibition, curated by Paul Schimmel and Jenni Sorkin, explores the influence these women had on abstract sculpture through a diverse range of form, material and method.  

The first part of the exhibition focuses on the women of the immediate post-war era (1940-1960). Beautiful white columns line the naturally lit room. The space is simple, elegant, and urbanized. The tall ceilings allow for Ruth Asawa’s twenty-one foot long looped wire sculpture (one of several on display) to hang and unfold gracefully at one end of the gallery. Lee Bontecou’s series of steel and canvas bas-relief sculptures are fixed on the back wall, while Louise Bourgeois sleek “Personages” sculptures stand like viewers in the center of the room. Further down,  placed below a balcony, are five of Claire Falkenstein’s mixed material sculptures entitled, “Sun” and “Iron Sun.” This first room is so rich in the themes of this exhibition. These specific artists have, each in their own way, used new materials and created a subject matter that is begotten by nature and  the feminine experience.

Photo by Michael Juliano. Courtesy of Time Out Los Angeles
Ruth Asawa, Installation View. Photo by Michael Juliano. Courtesy of Time Out Los Angeles

Ruth Asawa’s Untitled series of wire sculptures hang vertically from the ceiling, imitating a drop of water as it slowly separates from its original source. These sculptures are obviously not a direct representation of the body, but something about their poetic curvature exudes femininity. The repetition in form is a testament to Asawa’s craft of woven wire, which could be considered an evolved form of basket weaving. The pieces themselves are highly abstracted, yet they are rooted in nature and geometry.  The interlocking weavings seen in these sculptures brings to mind the same sort of natural pattern that is evident in a seashell or a plant, for example. Asawa weaves the metal wire with such attention, one cannot help but to feel the artist’s immersion within her sculptures.

As the exhibition continues into the contemporary, it is clear to see how artist like Rachel Khedoori, Marisa Merz and Lygia Page are influenced by Asawa’s choice in material.

Louise Bourgeois: Art © The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York NY
Louise Bourgeois: Art © The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York NY

A selection of Louise Bourgeois  “Personages” sculptures create a nice juxtaposition next to the fluidity of Ruth Asawa’s pieces. Their sharp linear forms are placed about the center of the room, in a way that mimics the surrounding people strolling the gallery. Bourgeois created “Personages” between the years of 1945 and 1955 and there are around eighty sculptures in total. Out of the eighty, there are only about a dozen of the carved and painted wood sculptures on view at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. The form of each of these pieces is individualized and inventive, yet there is a connectedness between the artist and her work that goes beyond the method used.

Each piece is representative of an individual Bourgeois knew personally. They all had some sort of relationship with Bourgeois that differed from the other, which is, perhaps the reason for their different characteristics. These sculpted portrayals can also be seen as a reflection of Bourgeois as a female and how her role as a women differs between each individual. This internal feminine experience exists within many of the pieces shown throughout the gallery, but most prominently in the work shown by Eva Hesse, Shiela Hicks, Ursula von Rydingsvard.

“Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947-2016” will be shown at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel until September 4th.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

901 East 3rd Street

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Gallery hours:

Wednesday, Friday – Sunday

11 am – 6 pm

Thursday

11 am – 8 pm

 

 

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