Newport Beach, California

By Chattopadhyay, Collette | Sculpture, October 2013 | Go to article overview

Newport Beach, California


Chattopadhyay, Collette, Sculpture


Richard Jackson Orange County Museum of Art

Richard Jackson, who emerged during the 1970s and '80s, is best known for environments, mazes, corridors, painting machines, and wildly extravagant dioramas that reiterate iconic artworks from the Romantic period to the present. "Ain't Painting a Pain," his recent retrospective, was the largest presentation of his work since his U.S. Pavilion exhibition at the 48th Venice Biennale. Curated by Dennis Szakacs, director of OCMA, "Ain't Painting a Pain" traced Jackson's trajectory through preliminary sketches and drawings, as well as large-scale and room-size installations.

In Ballerina, a "near-cinematic still" of a diorama, Jackson ironically recasts Degas's Little Dancer, Age 14. An original 19th-century cast of the bronze figure is owned by the nearby Norton Simon Museum, so the work is quite familiar to L.A. museumgoers. In Jackson's 2009 re-creation, the dancer has fallen over and lies in a pool of blood on the floor. Viewers skittishly stopped to look at the work, which can be interpreted as a warning of the historical transitions that have unfolded since Degas's time. Ballerina also denotes the relevance of art historical knowledge to the interpretation of contemporary art. Art history ran rampant through this exhibition, with Jackson reflecting the past from a contemporary vantage point.

A monumental cycle of 11 largescale installations stole the show. Each tableau riffs offa canonical artwork, re-creating and reinterpreting the historical images by merging high art with pop-culture communication methods of the sort employed by such popular tourist destinations as Hearst Castle and Disneyland. …

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