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Second Nature: The Valentine-Adelson Collection at the Hammer

July 19, 2009 - October 4, 2009

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 About the Exhibition

Second Nature: The Valentine-Adelson Collection at the Hammer brings together for the first time a selection from Dean Valentine and Amy Adelson’s generous gift to the Hammer Museum’s Contemporary Collection of fifty sculptures by twenty-nine Los Angeles artists. Produced from 1995 to the present, these works capture a significant moment in Los Angeles art making, when artists began to take a renewed interest in the production of three-dimensional objects using a wide variety of media, including the handmade and the readymade, sound, video, and cast materials. The works range from small, discrete sculptures to room-size installations. Many have not been shown since their initial presentation, and no single exhibition or publication has previously focused on and documented this core group of works. The importance of this collection is twofold. On the one hand, it reflects a very personal collecting vision. On the other hand, when seen as a whole, the collection provides a portrait of a specific creative legacy of the Los Angeles contemporary art scene, in this case a notable expansion of the field of possibilities for sculptural practice. In 2005 the Hammer launched a new initiative to build a collection of contemporary art. The Hammer Contemporary Collection includes work by an international roster of artists, with a particular focus on those working in Southern California. For this reason, the Hammer Museum takes special pride in the works included in Second Nature, as they form a three-dimensional nucleus of the burgeoning Hammer Contemporary Collection.

 

ESSAY

By Michael Ned Holte

Remember Y2K—that fin de siècle false alarm that had us imagining nothing less than the total collapse of Western civilization because some programmer years ago was simply too lazy to account for half the digits that make up a calendar year? Well, as you already know, the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000, and . . . nothing collapsed. The “funny” thing is that anxiety about Y2K seems so quaint now. Something epochal was indeed shifting on the horizon, but we didn’t really know what exactly until it belatedly turned into the proverbial pumpkin.

Some of these shifts were indeed technological—think of game-changers like digital editing, Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Second Life—while others, following the destruction of the World Trade Center in September 2001, were the stuff of Hollywood disaster films (or Orwellian allegory): orange alerts, anthrax, the global war on terror, Abu Ghraib, the free fall of the markets, and so on. (The impending doom of global warming was already on the horizon, but we can postpone that conversation for another day, right?)

Of course such apocalyptic overtones have frequently defined art made in Los Angeles in the wake of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s influential 1993 exhibition Helter Skelter (if not before). But the epochal shifts in Los Angeles art at the turn of the century hinge less upon doom and gloom and more on the acknowledgment of new technological interfaces (from software to drugs) between us and the world, leading to wholesale reorientations in space and time. In Southern California, somewhere between the near-eternal glare of sunlight and the shadow of Hollywood’s imaginary, this confrontation with the slippery nature of reality and artifice was manifested in a radical reconsideration of the art object. More

 

 

Curated by Douglas Fogle and Ali Subotnick.

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