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Art shows only become legendary once they’re gone. Funnily enough, it’s usually the ones no one went to that everyone says they saw. There’s no excuse to miss these five shows that will soon be disassembled. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Edmund de Waal, “Ten Thousand Things”
See It Before: Feb. 18
Where: Gagosian Gallery, 456 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills
Why Bother: Because de Waal’s porcelain work is quiet but strong. The artist — also a renowned author whose 2010 book The Hare With the Amber Eyes traced the roots of his great uncle’s Japanese wood and ivory carvings collection — makes porcelain vessels, meticulously arranging them on cabinets and shelves to create scenes that look something like a DNA test.
Hollywood ties: Lady Gaga, Sir Elton John, and Adrien Brody have attended recent openings at Gagosian.
See It Before: Feb. 20
Where: Karma International, 433 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills
Why: Because the other Zürich import (Hauser Wirth & Schimmel opens Downtown in March) is diving into its new Beverly Hills digs with a splashy show featuring an international roster of artists including Sylvie Fleury, Judith Bernstein, K8 Hardy, David Hominal, Fabian Marti, Martin Soto Climent, Sergei Tcherepnin, and Urban Zellweger, as well as a piece by photographer Melanie Schiff.
Hollywood ties: With a prime location across the street from Gagosian, Karma International is poised to be a haven for industry collectors.
Jean Baudrillard, “Ultimate Paradox”
See It Before: Feb. 20
Where: Château Shatto, 406 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles
Why: Because the man whose philosophical thought inspired The Matrix was also a pretty sharp photographer. The late theorist, one of the great minds of his generation who shunned the art world during his lifetime, took photos of seemingly banal scenes — a submerged vehicle, a broken statue — that are actually pretty beautiful when time is spent with them.
Hollywood ties: Baudrillard heavily inspired the Wachowskis to write The Matrix — his book, Simulacra & Simulation, even shows up in the film, and the actors were required to read it before filming — though the philosopher largely was unimpressed by the film.
Diana Thater, “The Sympathetic Imagination”
See It Before: Feb. 21
Where: LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
Why: Because Thater’s 25-year career as an L.A. video artist is displayed in gorgeously immersive galleries, her videos of animal and natural life literally coming off the walls. Block off a day so you can spend time with each work.
Holllywood ties: LACMA’s board of directors includes several industry heavyweights such as Terry Semel, Bryan Lourd, Viveca Paulin-Ferrell, Brian Grazer and Ryan Seacrest.
Julian Wasser, “Duchamp in Pasadena”
See It Before: March 5
Where: Robert Berman Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., Suite B7, Santa Monica
Why: Because for 50 years, Julian Wasser brilliantly has captured L.A. history: soulful shots of Hollywood stars such as Liz Taylor and Steve McQueen; the hauntingly tranquil moments before Bobby Kennedy was assassinated; gritty, on-the-scene snapshots of the Watts Riots; and the glammed-out Sunset Strip in the ’70s. But it was his picture of Marcel Duchamp playing chess with author Eve Babitz — in the nude — at Duchamp’s retrospective at the then-Pasadena Art Museum (now Norton Simon Museum) that seems to endure. Wasser is exhibiting that shot and more from the show, including an amazing image of Andy Warhol, L.A. artist Billy Al Bengston and a young Dennis Hopper, alongside recreations of several iconic Duchamp pieces.
Hollywood ties: Wasser’s book 2014 book The Way We Were (Damiani) features dozens of photos of Hollywood stars and executives, including a rare image of Roman Polanski at his Cielo Drive house after the Manson Family murdered his wife, Sharon Tate; amazing pictures of Steve McQueen; and a wide-angle shot of the scene around John Belushi’s death at the Chateau Marmont.
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek