A key figure associated with the emergence and foundations of conceptualart in Los Angeles during the late1960s and 1970s, Leavitt is primarily concerned with narrative and its forms.His works employ fragments ofpopular and vernacular culture and modernist architecture to produce narrativesthat are simultaneouslydisjunctive and achingly familiar. The culture and atmosphere of Los Angeleshas played a significant role inLeavitt’s ongoing interest in ‘the theater of the ordinary’ and the playbetween illusion and reality,nature and artifice that characterizes the city. William Leavitt: TheaterObjects will assemble approximately90 works from 1969 to the present, and will embrace the full range of Leavitt’smedia and subjects in order torepresent the artist’s exceptionally cohesive oeuvre.
‘William Leavitt gets Los Angeles in a very particular way,‘said MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson. ‘Not just the mass production of fantasy, but the off-moments, thestillness, certain tones and feelings. People will see their city and their lives in his work.’
Presented throughout 10,000 square feetof exhibition space at MOCA Grand Avenue, the individual galleries within the exhibition will beanchored by key installations, surrounded by related works drawing out significant themes. Earlyinstallations such as Forest Sound (1970) and CaliforniaPatio (1972) lay the groundfor the artist’s career-long engagement with stagecraft, narrative, andtheater, especially as these relateto images of the Los Angeles landscape. Many of Leavitt’s individualworks’whether installations or drawingsand paintings’are conceived in relation to plays or performances which may bestaged or which may remainhypothetical. Other works exude Leavitt’s particular vision of his city: noir,modern, quietly existential.
Over the years, many of Leavitt’s playshave been produced in Los Angeles theaters and art spaces. MOCA will stage two of his performance worksin conjunction with the exhibition. Spectral Analysis (1977) will be performed in the galleries within theset-like installation on view as an autonomous work in the exhibition; Pyramid, Lens, Delta (2003)will be premiered as a table reading in the Ahmanson Auditorium at MOCA Grand Avenue.
Co-curated by MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson and AnnGoldstein, former MOCA senior curator and director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, William Leavitt: TheaterObjects will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring an introduction byGoldstein, essays by art historian Annette Leddy and Simpson, an interview with the artist by artist-writer ErikBluhm, a selected artist’s exhibition history and bibliography, and a complete checklist of the exhibition,constituting a comprehensive scholarly overview and examination of the artist’s career.