human condition art installation

Where Art Checks In

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

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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.