During the two weeks between the end of finals and the start of my internship at the Children’s Museum of Art in New York, I decided to visit my roommate who lives in Los Angeles. Sunny skies, bright blue beaches, and sprawling urban growth was a welcome change from the smoggy verticality of my home in New York.
I had visited LA last spring and had been able to visit the Getty Center, Getty Villa, LACMA, and UCLA’s Hammer Museum. But this time around, I was also able to visit the Museum of the Contemporary Art (MOCA) in the heart of the City of Angels.
MOCA is much smaller than any of the aforementioned museums, but packs a strong punch with its astounding collection. There’s this one room just filled with Rothkos that threatened to break my jaw from awe. In a nearby room, they had two of Giacometti’s standing women facing each other, with the space between them speaking volumes. MOCA did a beautiful job of creating conversations between the paintings and sculptures in the relatively small exhibition spaces, comparable in size to that of our museum’s. I think that’s why the museum spoke loudly to me—it was an intimate experience.
I was also smitten with their current exhibition, Sturtevant: Double Trouble, on tour from the MoMA. Sturtevant was an overlooked artist mostly because she was a female artist seemingly copying the artwork of her contemporary male artists. But this retrospective exhibition proved otherwise.
Although evoking works visually similar to those of famous artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Keith Haring, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol, Sturtevant added her own twist. The differences between her art and theirs were very deliberate, leading viewers to really think about her intentions. This was her very own way of expressing discontent of the media’s obsession with male dominated sexuality and wealth, and an exploration of said sexuality and wealth in art history.
The piece that struck me the most was her painting Warhol Black Marilyn (2003). It is visually compelling in comparison to Andy Warhol’s Blue Marilyn (1962), on view at our own museum. So many questions arise. But most importantly, why did Sturtevant choose to print a famously colorful depiction of Marilyn in black? I’ll leave you with that.
Andy Warhol, American, 1928–1987
Blue Marilyn, 1962
Acrylic and screen print ink on canvas
Gift of Alfred H. Barr Jr., Class of 1922, and Mrs. Barr