Huguette Caland, Enlève ton doigt, 1971

The Lebanese artist Huguette Caland lived and worked in Beirut, in Paris, and briefly in New York before settling in Los Angeles, where she was based from 1987 to 2013. Despite a consistent international exhibition history, she remained relatively unknown locally, exhibiting in Los Angeles on only a handful of occasions even as she formed remarkable ties to the city’s artistic scene. Her unique home and studio in Venice, based on a design by the architect Neil Kaufman but bearing Caland’s imprint, functioned as a nexus for notable artists, poets, and thinkers, including Billy Al Bengston, Ed Moses, Ken Price, and Nancy Rubins. Amid these social commitments, Caland produced multiple bodies of work and series that reflect an exploratory studio-based practice that moved fluidly among styles, mediums, materials, and subject matter.

Through-lines apparent in Caland’s work—the female body, eroticism, her own preoccupations with desire, to name a few—represent, in many respects, the joyously defiant output of an artist whose tendency was to be provocative through beauty and an engagement with otherwise taboo themes. A fixation on the poetics of line is evident throughout her oeuvre, whether in the sinuous drawn lines used to demarcate fragmented parts of her own body and those of her lovers in early works on paper or in the almost obsessive repetition of standardized linear marks in her later works, which reflects a focus on the limits of the structural power of lines.