Issue 36 May 2024

Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Louis Stern Fine Arts
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Days of Take

KAWS, Passing Through (Mono) (2013). Painted cast vinyl, stamped on the underside of foot. Limited edition (500 reported). Image courtesy of the artist and Lougher Contemporary.

For an art heist, it was righteous. On the afternoon of June 1st, as the rage over the murder of George Floyd unfurled down Melrose Avenue, a group of protesters noticed a gallery called 5Art. Someone smashed the glass. The few videos that have surfaced show a dozen or so people, masked against the spread of Covid-19, emerge, clutching their trophies—the pink chrome flash of a Koons, the cotton candy hues of skate decks. Then, in the climactic moment, a looter hauls out a four-foot-high KAWS Companion sculpture, one of the artist’s many iterations of a skull-headed Mickey Mouse. The gallery had stenciled its exterior wall with inspirational phrases, which now bookended the breach: “BELIEVE IN YOUR #SELFIE,” “I’M SO AVAILABLE,” and “LIFE IS ____.” By the day’s end, this graffiti would be appended: “fuck white art.”

A KAWS Companion isn’t art so much as it is swag: a toy for millionaires to conspicuously consume. It’s legible in this way to a broad audience—looted, despised, and coveted for the same reason. The farcical image of a greyscale Companion being hefted through a ring of shattered safety glass caught the eye of not just art-worlders, but sneakerheads. Artist Brad Troemel has done illuminating work on the KAWS complex, describing how a KAWS “artwork” slips between the realm of street art, fine art, and plain commercial product.1 KAWS is successful in each of these three arenas because of his aptitude in the other two, but he’s a global force because of the latter. The cycle begins and ends with the object: the plastic Companion statue is the privileged point—the POS, if you will. As one KAWS consumerist destiny spiraled out of control, it neatly phrased the problems of commodity culture across broad social inequality, high art snobbery, and racial criminalization. It provided an image of a moment when all of art’s egalitarian rhetoric wafted away, leaving only a bunch of overvalued plastic and metal (a bunch of stuff). That, and the stuff’s erstwhile owners, who wanted it back.

A high-end purveyor of street art is a contradiction on its face—not least because the genre’s Black and Latinx innovators worked on the actual streets. 5Art’s website promotes the collectability of what it sells by touting its subversion, playfulness, and quasi-illegality. “Street artists are not seen as vandals anymore,” said gallery co-founder Julie Darmon, “but as part of our society’s freedom of speech.”2 (This in a press release for the gallery’s second exhibition, which opened on the occasion of Bastille Day, 2018—the owners are French.) To collectors—if not to cops—street artists are not seen as vandals anymore. Looters, on the other hand… On the gallery’s Instagram, in a now-deleted post, 5Art expressed sympathy for the death of George Floyd but asked for help recovering their property.

“The ‘but’ in this statement,” writes Margaret Carrigan in The Art Newspaper, “is the unequivocal defense of white privilege in the art world.”3 There is a direct relationship between state-sanctioned violence and the act of looting: from the Middle Passage to Posse Comitatus4 to George Floyd, whites have been the brutal arbiters of property. In her 2014 essay, “In Defense of Looting,” Vicky Osterweil writes that “the earliest working definition of blackness may well have been ‘those who could be property…’ The specter of slaves freeing themselves could be seen as American history’s first image of black looters.” And so, “for most of America’s history, one of the most righteous anti-white supremacist tactics available was looting.”5 This is not to advocate looting, or—to borrow Osterweil’s wording— to draw “some absurd ethical equivalence between freeing a slave” and grabbing a KAWS in a riot.6 The point is that, when property rights trump human rights, property crime becomes political speech. This in a country where Black men are murdered by cops over nothings, like selling cigarettes or trying a counterfeit $20. The social contract, like a flimsy Melrose storefront, has been broken.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (Fortune Cookie Corner) (1990). Fortune cookies, endless supply, overall dimensions vary with installation. Original installation: approximately 10,000 fortune cookies. Sonia Becce with Gabriel Chaile, facilitator, Community Kitchen Nuestro Hogar, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo: Santiago Orti.


Even before the March pandemic and the June uprisings, art’s progressive bromides seemed brittle. KAWS inspires schadenfreude, in part, because his shameless commodification demonstrates how little the ideals of whatever glorified financial instrument matter to your average museum board mercenary. And yet: what if a more limited healing gesture were possible, the blue-chip equivalent of banging a pot at 8 p.m. to honor essential workers? Enter Andrea Rosen and David Zwirner, the two dealer-executors of the Felix Gonzalez-Torres estate, who thought they would break the viral grind by bringing one of the late artist’s “Untitled” candy piles to the quarantined masses. They chose a work from 1990 made of fortune cookies, and invited some 1,000 people around the world with various ties to the artist or his executors to buy and stage a pile of their own.

Like many others, I experienced the project on Instagram, where one quickly gleans the variety of stashes of portentous golden snacks, wrapped or unwrapped, in all of their idiosyncratic sites: a landing in an opera house, the bed of a broken-down truck, the elevator of an art space. One group of L.A.-based participants pooled their resources and staged their cookies in the window of a local restaurant to help drum up takeout business.7 A particularly generous, mountainous installation sat in the driveway of a Silver Lake home beneath a Black Lives Matter banner.8 Inevitably, the cookies were also placed inside people’s homes. Tucked beside an Ikea bed; spilling from a decorative fireplace; flanked by abstract paintings and modernist chairs; sloped into barren white rooms that look like private galleries. Deployed into a pandemic’d art world, “Untitled” (Fortune Cookie Corner) took on all the managed voyeurism of a post-Covid Zoom call, exposing class disparity and solidarity alike—your books, your art, your kids and pets, and your temporary Gonzalez-Torres, all consigned to the glitchy mise en scène.

I don’t think a collective Gonzalez-Torres is the worst idea. Few artists have his flair for making public space intimate, or for merging intimacy and publicity—a billboard with a photo of a rumpled, empty bed, for example. His candy piles come with an almost sacramental invitation to take and to eat a piece, but also impose their own pastoral rules and obligations. Viewers can transgress the usual etiquette—touch the art, destroy it, and devour it—and the caretaker is responsible for replenishing it. The piles have a cool, abstract vascularity. In fact, there was something contagious about the whole project—and not just epidemiologically, as if the cookies should have been six feet apart and come with alcohol wipes. The semiotics spread out of control. Some have mentioned the tone-deafness of scattering a quarter of a million fortune cookies across the world while our racist president ranted about the “Wuhan flu” and “Chinese virus.”9 More viscerally, Gonzalez-Torres made this work in the shadow of HIV/AIDS, including that of his and his partner Ross Laycock’s own diagnoses. One version of the work, “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) (1991), even sets the pile at 175 pounds, his wasting partner’s ideal weight.10 Any “Untitled” pile would have made the comparison between Covid-19 and AIDS—already fraught in itself —unavoidable.

The curators may wish they’d reconsidered one more unruly detail: participants had to source and purchase their own cookies. It’s not just the price (240 cookies can be had for something like $20) or the minor strain on a pandemic supply chain (Amazon strikes and all). It’s the concept of the ask. By shifting the installation’s material costs from giver to receiver, the curators forced people on both sides of the project’s clear pane of exclusivity to think about the Gonzalez-Torres work not in terms of open, altruistic plenty, but within the confines of rarity, access, and objecthood. “Untitled” duly appeared in its role as a commodity, made of smaller commodities, to be given away and hoarded at every level. Art’s debt to property overcame its idealism, and the project seemed unsure of whether it wanted to be a genuine world-binding gesture, a cynical PR stunt, or a bad chance to brag. Unleashing a thousand hashtagged Instagrams onto our common humanity, “Untitled” gave us an image of how, while we’re all in this together, some of us are in this more deeply than others.

Don’t blame the work—this is the work working. I won’t be the first to point out that Gonzalez-Torres once said he wanted “to be like a virus”—specifically, one “that belongs to the institution”11—to infiltrate, to insinuate himself within that power, and to take some power himself. The “Untitled” cookie piles embody this ambivalence: the double-edged generosity of art, the gift that someone else still owns. The piles share confectionary power. They are very explicit about this, and therefore honest about what privileging the commodity form gets you. So, in his way, is KAWS. On June 9, around a week after the looting of 5Art, KAWS “dropped” a new edition of figurines: furry, Elmo-like beings with X’d-out eyes that clutch small Companions in their arms. All proceeds went to Black Lives Matter.12 The series is called TAKE.

Back in the 1970s, amid the early ideations about art’s immateriality or dematerialization, artist Christopher D’Arcangelo launched a tumultuous phrase at the glass house of conceptual art: “Property is theft. Art is property. Art is theft.”13 Given how large property looms in the most violent, racist parts of American myth, the worst we can do is pretend otherwise—as if art, like the rational splendor of “the market,” lives somewhere beyond our bodies. An art world that truly reckons with its inbuilt white supremacy must face the question of who owns what. Which could be why Gonzalez-Torres doesn’t burn the institution down so much as compel it to give itself away, piece by piece.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 21. 

KAWS, TAKE (Pink) (2020). Painted cast vinyl, stamped on the underside of the feet. Open edition. Image courtesy of the artist and Lougher Contemporary.

  1. Brad Troemel, “The Kaws Report,” YouTube video, June 27, 2019, 16:24,
  2. 5Art Gallery, “Bastille Day Kickoff Celebration,” Press release, July 12, 2018, 5Art Gallery, accessed July 23, 2020, cda7c665b6c/t/5b746ade4ae2372e1eeb42b1/1534356191360/5-Art-Gallery-_-Bastille-Day-Release-v2.pdf.
  3. Margaret Carrigan, “The US has a big racism problem and the art world is not helping,” The Art Newspaper, June 1, 2020,
  4. Anthony McCann, “We Need a New Holiday Commemorating the 14th Amendment,” Literary Hub, July 29, 2019,
  5. Vicky Osterweil, “In Defense of Looting,” The New Inquiry, August 21, 2014,
  6. Ibid.
  7. Kibum Kim (@kibumk), “Perhaps too soon or maybe all the more relevant, Felix Gonzalez-Torres,” Instagram, May 27, 2020,
  8. Johanna Fateman, “Felix Gonzales-Torres,” 4Columns, June 19, 2020,
  9. Rahel Aima, “Depleting Felix Gonzalez-Torres,” Momus, July 6, 2020,
  10. Art Institute of Chicago, “‘Untitled’ (Portrait of Ross in L.A.),” last accessed July 23, 2020,
  11. Josh Takano Chambers-Letson, “Contracting Justice: The Viral Strategies of Felix Gonzalez-Torres,” Criticism 51, no. 4 (2009): 559-87, accessed July 24, 2020,
  12. Keith Estiler, ”KAWS to Release ‘Take’ Companion Figures in Support of Black Lives Matter,” Hypebeast, June 8, 2020,
  13. Dean Inkster, “Christopher D’Arcangelo (1955–1979),” documenta 14, July 7, 2017,

Travis Diehl has lived in Los Angeles since 2009. He is a recipient of the Creative Capital / Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant (2013) and the Rabkin Prize in Visual Arts Journalism (2018).

More by Travis Diehl