The New York art scene may go all sleepy during July, but out in Los Angeles things are hopping. The Absolut L.A. International Biennial Art Invitational, July 8-Aug. 16, 2003, is celebrating its ten-year anniversary with exhibitions of works by over 200 artists from 30 countries at 75 galleries and art institutions throughout the city and environs.
Organized by dealers Robert Berman and William Turner, the biennial concentrates on bringing European artists to L.A., though this year the global migration includes plenty of talent from South America and Asia, too. "The biennial is an idea whose time has come, and its usefulness, to Los Angeles and the art world, remains undiminished," proclaims L.A. Weekly critic Peter Frank.
Biennial attractions include paintings of European suburbia by Austrian artist Christoph Schmidberger at Mark Moore Gallery in Santa Monica, while the British photog team of Jonathan Anderson & Edwin Low, known for their photographs of athletes, have their West Coast debut at Apex Fine Art. At Leslie Sacks Fine Art are abstract rice-paper drawings by the Korean artist Minjung Kim, who on July 26 promises to demonstrate how "to draw with fire."
Stephen Cohen Gallery is showcasing photographs of World War II by Russian photographer Dmitri Baltermants in "The Great Patriotic War: A Soviet Perspective," on view till Aug. 30, 2003. Patricia Faure Gallery in Santa Monica has focused on Italian art with a show composed of works by Luigi Carboni, with Piero Manzoni, Pier Paolo Calzolari and Lucio Fontana. The exhibition is curated by Hlne de Franchis in conjunction with Studio La Citt in Verona.
Griffin Contemporary is showcasing 94 photographs documenting the 1936 Olympic games by Leni Riefenstahl. Taken during the filming of Riefenstahl's documentary Olympia, the photos were put together by the artist in an album and have never before been publicly exhibited. In a review in the Los Angeles Times, critic Holly Myers writes that the 101-year-old artist remains "as undeniably significant as her morals are questionable."
Not every gallery is hosting out-of-towners, of course. Gagosian is showing a new work by the celebrated Body Art pioneer Chris Burden -- bridges composed steel toy erector sets and bullets cast in 22-carat gold. An L.A. Times story last week by Susan Freudenheim confirmed Burden's reputation as the "the Evel Knievel of the art world."
For a full list of participating galleries see the Biennial website at Artsla.org.
Meanwhile, this weekend Los Angeles hosts the Scope Art Fair, on view July 18-21 at the Standard hotel downtown. The lively alternative fair includes almost 30 exhibitors from the U.S. and Canada, ranging from 31 Grand (Brooklyn) and Bucheon Gallery (San Francisco) to Slate (Vancouver) and William Fong Curatorial Projects (Hartford). For more info, check out the Scope website at www.scope-art.com.