April 2012

Culture(d)—April 2012

edited by MAYER RUS


Along with Julius Shulman and Ezra Stoller, Pedro E. Guerrero applied his considerable talent to capturing the efflorescence of modern architecture and art in the 20th century. Photographs of Modern Life, at the Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury University, presents an intriguing array of architectural photographs and portraits spanning six decades, including Guerrero's celebrated images of Frank Lloyd Wright's world. On opening night, enjoy a conversation between the pioneering 94-year-old and author Hunter Drohojowska-Philp at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions next door. It's a rare opportunity to hear from the master himself. April 5–25. architecture.woodbury.edu/jsi.


Anyone whose appetite for California art has been whetted by the ongoing Pacific Standard Time mega-program will be tempted by next month's sale at L.A. Modern Auctions. Offerings include works by Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Robert Therrien and other L.A. icons, as well as signature designs by Richard Neutra, Charles Eames and Gertrud and Otto Natzler. Previews open Apr. 25; event, May 6. lamodern.com.


Mickalene Thomas made a splashy entrance onto the international art scene with rhinestone-encrusted paintings that nodded to Cleopatra Jones, Foxy Brown and other heroines of 1970s blaxploitation cinema. Now she furthers the exploration of gender and racial identity in a Santa Monica Museum of Art solo exhibition, Origin of the Universe, which takes its name from Gustave Courbet's sensational Origin of the World painting of 1866. That frank depiction of a woman's genitals and torso springboarded Thomas into a kaleidoscopic meditation on sexuality, beauty and power. Apr. 14–Aug. 18. smmoa.org.


Eighty-six-year-old architect Harry Gesner was never part of the Case Study crowd. He had more in common with offbeat visionaries like Bruce Goff (the midwesterner responsible for LACMA's Japanese Pavilion) than with Neutra, Schindler and other mandarins of modernism. Born into one of California's oldest families—his mother was great-granddaughter of José de la Guerra—Gesner made his name with landmark projects such as the Cooper Wave House and Eagle's Watch in Malibu. His dynamic, organic style evaded categorization, which perhaps accounts for his relatively low public profile. Houses of the Sundown Sea (Abrams), by Lisa Germany with new photographs by Juergen Nogai, should remedy that. As soon as design junkies get a glimpse of Gesner's soaring creations, they're sure to be wild about Harry.

Modern Times: Pedro E. Guerrero / Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture
Going Once: Courtesy Los Angeles Modern Auctions
Flying High: Juergen Nogai