Political Animals

Two female-centric museum shows spring up this fall.

© Diana Thater, photo © Roman Mensing/

Frisky dolphins, dancing honeybees, Hindu temple monkeys…the installations of West Coast video artist Diana Thater plunge you into the natural world with the force of the best wildlife documentaries, merging light, sound, color, and architecture to hypnotic effect. Thater doesn’t anthropomorphize animals but presents them on their own terms, a metaphor for her view of the female perspective. With “Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination,” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) November 22 through February 21, 2016, she gets the largest solo exhibition LACMA has ever accorded a female artist.

Kathryn Andrews’s Bozo™ The World’s Most Famous Clown Bop Bag With Occasional Performance (Blue Variation), 2014. Photograph by Fredrik Nilsen/Julie Miyoshi, Miyoshi Art Projects LLC/Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles.

Photography©2014 Fredrik NIlsen, All Rights Reserved

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles artist Kathryn Andrews’s first U.S. solo museum show, “Kathryn Andrews: Run for President,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (November 21 through May 8, 2016), riffs on Bozo the Clown’s presidential bid, something his originator, Larry Harmon, actually pursued in 1984. (You might say there are imitators still.) Fifteen artworks, including three Bozo sculptures, are set against a mural of political-documentary photographs, inviting viewers to ruminate on how politicians, celebrities, and artists use imagery to gain and maintain power. And why, sometimes, it’s the imagery they can’t control that’s their undoing.