The El Segundo Museum of Art’s latest exhibition/experience/whatever is “Plan.” Don’t try too hard to figure out the title (though the exhibition does include an Cold War invasion plan for West Berlin). Mainly “Plan” has a grab bag of global contemporary art; drawings by Pissarro, Redon, Schiele, and Matisse; three tiny still lifes of almost nothing by 19th-century Dusseldorf painter Johann Wilhelm Preyer; Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid’s Unity, commissioned for U.S. Bank Tower downtown; and most notably, loans of art and artifacts from the Wende Museum.
Shown at top, from the Wende collection, is an anonymous copy of a once-famous Soviet painting, Candidate for the Komsomol by Sergei Alexeyevich Grigcr’ev (the original is dated 1949). The Komsomol was a youth organization, the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League. The painting is a document of a Norman Rockwell life behind the Iron Curtain. But as shown at ESMoA, it’s also a postmodern meta-painting. It’s paired with another copy of the same painting (neither autograph and each different in details). The painting shown was folded at some time in its history, witness to the fading of traditional Soviet values.
Another intriguingly distressed painting shows Mr. and Mrs. Vladimir Lenin on a sunny park bench. Lenin has had his brains shot out—not by the painter but by a viewer.
Maybe the takeaway is, make all the five-year plans you want, til Death calls the final time-out. Below is Odilon Redon‘s The Angel of the Melancholy, c. 1895; two Johann Wilhelm Preyer nature mortes of decaying grape leaves; and Hans Thoma’s painting of his sister Agathe in a graveyard. Thoma, known for the fashionably morbid, got his start painting clock faces.
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