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February 25, 2016

Spotlight: Sprüth Magers

Photo Credit: Joshua White

Editors' Notes

The new Sprüth Magers gallery in Los Angeles.
Monika Sprüth & Philomene Magers
Photo Credit: Owen Kolasinski
Eli Broad & John Baldessari
Photo Credit: Owen Kolasinski

Photo Credit: Owen Kolasinski

Barbara Kruger and John Baldessari sparked the idea. The two artists, represented in Europe by German gallerists Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers, found themselves without a Los Angeles gallery, and independently, suggested the city as a possible new outpost for the co-founders of Sprüth Magers. With galleries in Berlin and London, but nothing stateside, Sprüth and Magers were intrigued by the prospect of a West Coast hub. “That was over four years ago,” says Sprüth, noting that the region’s art scene has blown up since the pair first discussed opening a gallery in Los Angeles. Now they’re here, installed in a two-story building designed by Pereira & Associates in 1966, just feet from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “We liked the look of the building,” says Magers. “I thought it looks like a building from an Ed Ruscha photograph.” Magers explained that the time delay from the initial idea to the actual opening was purely coincidental, due to location decisions, navigating building codes, and construction road blocks. Historically, the gallerists haven’t sought out locations based on critical mass. “We’re not the gallery that follows some kind of fashion, we look for artist-oriented cities,” says Magers.

This time, they got both, and are opening the doors of the new space at 5900 Wilshire with a solo show for Baldessari, the 84-year-old artist who lives and paints in Santa Monica, with whom they’ve worked for over 30 years. On display, courtesy of Marian Goodman gallery, are witty paintings combining found photographs over-painted with rich colors and paired with text phrases. “They’re very humorous, really surrealist,” says Sprüth. The phrases add odd juxtapositions that contextualize the photos and also reference the artist’s work in the 1960s and ’70s. “They have typically California subjects in them,” adds Sprüth. Next up is a show for George Condo, who has created album covers for Kanye West, and a show of work by women artists including Kruger and Cindy Sherman. “We’ve always made a point of showing interesting women artists and this will show what the gallery stands for, the feminist discourse prominent in the early and mid-’80s,” says Sprüth. “We’re bringing that discussion to L.A.”

By Elizabeth Varnell

Pictured: The new Sprüth Magers gallery in Los Angeles.
Photo by Joshua White

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