Red Eye: L.A. Artists from the Rubell Family Collection
December 4, 2006 - May 31, 2007
For the first time in its history, the Rubell Family Collection (RFC) has dedicated its entire 45,000-square-foot museum space to a single exhibition. Red Eye: Los Angeles Artists from the Rubell Family Collection presents a cross section of the artwork produced in Los Angeles over the past 20 years by 36 L.A.-based artists – some iconic, some mid-career, some relatively new. When exhibited collectively the artworks created by this multi-generational group represent a substantial history, both of L.A.’s art scene and of RFC itself. Red Eye is scheduled to open December 4th, 2006.
The title Red Eye was born from conversations and debates on the overnight flights from the West to the East Coast, fondly referred to as the “Red Eye” by bleary-eyed travelers. In this case those travelers were Mera, Don and Jason Rubell. “Traveling back and forth to L.A. we were like voyeurs looking into that scene,” explains Mera Rubell. “For us, L.A. is never a complete experience, but at best an imperfect exploration - a vision found from the outside.” For the last 18 months, like modern explorers armed with a Global Positioning System, the family combed the breadth of the infamous L.A. sprawl, visiting studios, galleries and museums.
“We felt the work was compelling enough to dedicate the space to one complete exhibition,” says Mark Coetzee, Director of RFC. “Because of the great number and diversity of the pieces, and also because of the significant scale of many of the works, we had to dedicate the whole building to this exhibition to adequately represent the breadth and depth of the pieces we have here.” The exhibition encompasses all media, ranging from painting to video installation.
In 1992 the Rubells visited Paul Schimmel’s seminal show, “Helter Skelter,” at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. This exhibition proved pivotol to the family’s engagement with art and L.A.: since that show the Rubell family has actively collected Los Angeles-based artists. Red Eye brings these seemingly disparate groups of artists together. That they talked, taught and trained together makes them invariably connected -- if not artistically, then psychologically. The older generation of artists represented here, a major force in their own day, exerted certain influence over the next generation, who in turn became the teachers of the next. “We are very excited about the possibility of connecting the older influential artists from the late 80’s and early 90’s with those starting to work today,” says Jason Rubell. The heart of the Rubell collection is centered on this generation of L.A. artists from the 80’s and 90’s. Mera Rubell adds, “we wanted to revisit the core of this collection, study its influence and cross reference it to the newer generations and in so doing analyze new developments. What we discovered was an extremely self-reflective art scene, both celebrating and rejecting, yet largely influenced by the generation of artists that came before.”
Such artists as Charles Ray and Paul McCarthy, both widely collected by the Rubell family, largely determined much of the debate and dialogue around art making in L.A. at the time. This in turn influenced contemporary art practices over the many years that followed, and affected the way the Rubell family collects even today. “As many of the artists went on to teach we were curious to explore the effect they might have had on the next generation,” explains Don Rubell. “We discovered L.A. is not in fact stuck inside itself and its history; it is an open-ended, dynamic and evolving environment.”
L.A. has enough of a history to have established great teaching institutions, museums and collections, supported by a sophisticated gallery system that facilitates critical dialogue and a sympathetic approach to art. It is, however, still new enough to encourage freedom and to expect individuality among its artists, curators and writers.
Many of the artists featured in Red Eye have made work specifically for the exhibition, taking into account what already exists in the collection to create an organic and continuous dialogue. These pieces will in turn become part of the history of the collection at RFC.
Artists in the exhibition: