Where art checks in

An abandoned Los Angeles hospital admits the “Human Condition.”

John Wolf, a Los Angeles-based art advisor and curator, developed an interest in figurative art about a year ago and began compiling a mental list of artists. At about the same time, a corporate client who had purchased a shuttered hospital in the West Adams neighborhood of south Los Angeles, expressed an interest in bringing art into the space. “It didn’t resonate at the time,” said Wolf, “but a few months later the light bulb went off.”

"Human Condition," a massive exhibition presenting the work of more than 60 emerging and established artists, activates the otherwise bland institutional space. The show is eclectic, yet unified for the most part by a shared preoccupation with the corporeal. Included in the exhibition is work by Belgian sculptor Johan Tahon, whose glazed ceramic figures tower over us, photographer Marilyn Minter, who is known for her erotically charged photographs, and Jenny Holzer, whose cerebral text-based work is a staple of major museum collections.

Wolf cleverly approached the cavernous space by pairing the themes in the art with the function of the room. For instance, the psychiatric wing, marked by a nurses station enclosed with thick sheets of acrylic, hosts the moodier work that taps the psychological aspects of human existence. On the rooftop, the hospital signage is replaced with a billboard by designer Kelly Lamb that reads: “Flesh and Bone Zone.” Displaying the art in such an emotionally and psychologically-charged environment works well with the moodiness of the show, letting viewers react to the pieces in a different way had they been displayed on stark gallery walls.

"Human Condition" runs through November 30.

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  • Jenny Holzer, <i>What a shock when they tell you it won't hurt...</i>, 1989

    Jenny Holzer, <i>What a shock when they tell you it won't hurt...</i>, 1989

    Installed appropriately near the hospital entrance, it’s almost as if the conceptual artist created this granite bench for those of us who need to take a seat when receiving bad news.
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  • Matthew Day Jackson, Trophy, 2013

    Matthew Day Jackson, Trophy, 2013

    The Brooklyn-based artist’s multifaceted practice runs the gamut in scale, theme, and media. This piece, which includes a recreation of his head, comprises stainless steel, silicone, pigment, human hair, steel, porcelain, glass, lead, copper. Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth.

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  • Claire Tabouret, Les Débutantes (Dark blue), 2015

    Claire Tabouret, Les Débutantes (Dark blue), 2015

    The women in this acrylic and fabric on canvas painting possess a spectral quality. The French artist, who works off of photographs, aims to reveal shifting realities in her layered work.

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  • Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 2004

    Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 2004

    Photographer John Crewdson creates scenes for his shoots that are as elaborate as movie sets. This large digital pigment print is part of a suite of images that investigates the dark side of life. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.

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  • Johan Tahon, Nicaea, 2015

    Johan Tahon, Nicaea, 2015

    This glazed ceramic figure by the Belgian sculptor Johan Tahon is little more than seven feet high. 

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  • Marilyn Minter, Pink Nail, 2008

    Marilyn Minter, Pink Nail, 2008

    This chromogenic color print, by New York artist Marilyn Minter is right in line with her steamy work of the past 30 years.

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  • Bettina Hubby, Glove and Sausages, 2015

    Bettina Hubby, Glove and Sausages, 2015

    The Los Angeles artist combed grocery store aisles in search of objects to pair and bronze as humorous monuments to coupledom. Courtesy of Klowden Mann.

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  • David Benjamin Sherry, Self Portrait as the Born Feeling Begins, 2009

    David Benjamin Sherry, Self Portrait as the Born Feeling Begins, 2009

    The Los Angeles photographer often uses vivid color in otherwise monochromatic nature images. Courtesy of Moran Bondaroff.

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  • Mira Dancy, Mask of the Lily, 2016

    Mira Dancy, Mask of the Lily, 2016

    This mixed media piece by Brooklyn artist Mira Dancy uses acrylic ink on mirrored Plexi with LED lights.

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