The New York Times calls Paul Schimmel “one of the most respected authorities on postwar Los Angeles art.” On Thursday, April 17, Schimmel will be on campus for a lunch discussion at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, as a guest of the Gould Center. His talk will focus on American artist Mike Kelley, whose work is on exhibit through the end of July at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles. Schimmel brought Kelley to significant public attention in the 1990s, and served as chairman of the Board of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.
Reservations for Schimmel’s lunch discussion may be made online. His talk is part of the Gould Center’s five-session, half-credit seminar on Contemporary Painting and Art with Los Angeles artist Mary Weatherford. Students enrolled in the painting seminar will attend Schimmel’s lunch address. Last Friday, Weatherford, who worked for Kelley for a number of years, led the students on a private tour of the Kelley exhibit at MOCA, and of her studio in L.A.
In May, the Gould Center will present three parts of a film documentary, Mobile Homestead, produced by Kelley, who died in 2012, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers. The films document the journey of a full-size replica of Kelley’s childhood home from downtown Detroit to his familys’ original home in Westland, and back again. It also documents the area’s dramatic social and economic transition, says Gould Center director Robert Faggen, the Barton Evans and H. Andrea Neves Professor of Literature.
Paul Schimmel is Vice President and Partner at international contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth’s forthcoming Los Angeles venture, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. He previously served as chief curator of MOCA from 1990 to 2012, where he soon made a name for himself championing important Los Angeles artists including Paul McCarthy, Chris Burden, Mike Kelley and Charles Ray, and taking on big, sweeping themes in contemporary art. His ambitious, generation-defining surveys for MOCA included the provocative 1992 “Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s” contemporary art exhibition. The legendary show featured the work of 16 artists and was chastised by critics for its dark sexual and violent content––perhaps not surprising given the exhibition’s Helter Skelter title, forever conjoined with the Charles Manson killings.
“I got like three months of my ass getting kicked day in and day out by the press,” Schimmel told a writer in 2012. “Who knew it would become a legacy builder both for me and the institution.”
Among the praises, Schimmel has been called an “intellectual powerhouse” and “one of the smartest guys in the art business.” His surveys for MOCA also included the 1998 performance-art extravaganza “Out of Actions,” the altered-states show “Ecstasy” in 2005, and in 2011, the survey of the 1970s Californian art diaspora, “Under the Big Black Sun.”
Prior to MOCA, he was chief curator of the Newport Harbor Art Museum in Newport Beach, Calif., and curator and senior curator of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in Houston, Texas.
Schimmel has been the recipient of numerous awards, including two from the Association of Art Museum Curators, six from the International Association of Art Critics, and the Award for Curatorial Excellence given by The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (2001).
He has organized major, one-person retrospectives for artists Chris Burden, Willem de Kooning, Takashi Murakami, Laura Owens, Sigmar Polke, Charles Ray, and Robert Rauschenberg; and, although some have already been mentioned, significant thematic exhibitions such as "The Interpretive Link: Abstract Surrealism into Abstract Expressionism: Works on Paper, 1938-1948” (1987); "The Figurative Fifties: New York Figurative Expressionism” (1988); "Hand-Painted Pop: American Art in Transition 1955–62” (1992); "Helter Skelter: LA Art in the 1990s” (1992); "Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object, 1949-1979” (1999); "Ecstasy: In and About Altered States” (2006); "Collection: MOCA’s First 30 Years” (2010); "Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981” (2011); and "Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949-1962” (2012).
He most recently curated an exhibition of the diverse postwar collection of German gallerist and collector Reinhard Onnasch called, "Re-View: Onnasch Collection,” shown in Hauser & Wirth’s London and New York galleries (2013-2014).
Schimmel has served as a National Endowment for the Arts panelist and was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House (2010-2012). In 2012 he received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute.