Gerhard Richter at the Art Institute of Chicago, Liz Larner at MCA

I just returned from the Gerhard Richter show at the Art Institute of Chicago, I haven’t seen such a fine exhibit in many years. I was astonished to learn The Lannan Foundation donated their entire collection of Richter paintings to the Art Institute. I caught several Richter showings at The Lannan Museum in Los Angeles, including the Baader-Meinhof exhibition. It has been a long time since I saw these paintings, and now they are collected and displayed with the most significant pieces of Richter’s entire history. I will definitely have more to say about this exhibit, and I will definitely be returning to see it again.

I was also rather pleased to see a large Liz Larner sculpture at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I had heard that her retrospective would be at MCA but I was disappointed to find that it was not, only the one piece was on display outside the museum. Liz was part of the LACE Gallery scene in the LA Loft district where I lived. I especially loved her kinetic sculpture displayed at LACE, it was titledĀ “Corner Basher” but I always called it the “LACE Bashing Machine.”

Liz Larner - Corner Basher

It was a long vertical pole with a heavy chain and a steel ball attached at the end, it looked like a tetherball made from solid metal. A motor would spin the pole, you could control the speed of the motor with a big knob. At slow speeds the ball would arc lazily through the air, but at higher speeds, the ball would hurl around at terrifying speeds, the chain would rise, and the ball would slam against the walls of the museum. You could easily knock huge chunks of drywall and wood out of the museum walls, and in fact, you were invited to do so. The whole museum would shake with a reverberating BOOM whenever the ball hit the walls, and it hit repeatedly, with a repetitive thunderous noise about two times a second. I could tell the LACE staff was absolutely frazzled from the noise. I lived near LACE so I loved to drop in and bash it around, and see how far the damage had progressed. I think that was Liz’s last show at LACE.

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