Gao Brothers, Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin's Head


Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin's Head

Currently on view outside Ace Museum

Ace Museum presents Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head, by the Gao Brothers. Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head is a 20-foot tall chrome sculpture depicting the miniscule and diminutive figure of Chinese Communist revolutionary and founding father of the People’s Republic of China Mao Zedong, as he attempts to balance on the slippery slope of Vladimir Lenin’s oversized head. The sculpture is located on the corner of South La Brea and West 4th Street.

Mao stands with a long balancing pole atop Lenin’s head as a commentary on the relationship between the two leaders’ political ideologies. A principal contributor to the communist movement both in development of theory and in implementation, Lenin pioneered the idea that in order for communism to succeed, the proletariat must first revolt to violently overthrow capitalism and instate a dictatorship. Mao builds upon Lenin’s social ideology in his formulation of Maoism, which also preaches physical and sociopolitical revolution by the proletariat against the state, but additionally focuses on industrialization of rural farmlands to abolish all distinction between town and countryside. Clayton Perry writes of the sculpture and its depiction of these two political figures: “the position and scale of the two figures simultaneously questions and ridicules their relative positions in an undeniable communist commentary.” Furthermore, the Gao Brothers portray Mao with female genitalia in direct reference to the control exercised over Mao by his third wife, former actress Jiang Qing. Jiang Qing acted as a leader of China’s cultural revolution, using her husband’s political position to strengthen her own political influence. Due to the controversial nature of the sculpture, Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head has been banned from China.

The Gao Brothers, Zhen and Qiang, were born in Jinan, in the northeast of China, and now live and work in Beijing. In 1968, when the brothers were twelve and six respectively, Zhen and Qiang’s father was jailed by the state. He died in prison. Experiencing the death of their father and witnessing other acts committed by Mao’s People’s Republic of China fueled the Gao Brothers’ anger against the state and inspired the brothers to pursue an artistic practice emphasizing political critique. The Gao Brothers create artworks from a variety of media and have been collaborating to create installations, performances, sculptures, photographs, and written publications since the mid-1980’s.

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Ace Museum presents The Golden Hour, a video installation by Andrew Holmes. The Golden Hour is comprised of ten two-hour videos, VHS tapes filmed in 1989, which run simultaneously. The Golden Hour is located on the first floor of Ace Museum.

Holmes’s The Golden Hour explores the mobile infrastructure of greater Los Angeles and the “lines of transportation that artificially sustain the city across the harsh surrounding desert.” 1 Filmed just before sunset in the fading golden light of early dusk, the videos document locations that a driver might encounter during a journey through Arcadia. These locations include a house, billboard, truckstop, freeway, gas station, power plant, grain silo, gas storage facility, car, and Laundromat, all of which Holmes terms “Nonuments.” The Nonuments are observed in real time to draw attention to the fact that “complex industrial structures of remarkable scale and intricacy are in continual motion ... and cannot be encompassed by plan or rendering.” 1 Holmes communicates the non-stasis nature of transportation infrastructure systems supporting greater Los Angeles.

Andrew Holmes was born in 1947 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, and studied at the Architectural Association, London. After graduating, Holmes pursued a career as an artist, architect, and teacher. He is Professor of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, Guest Professor at the TU Berlin, and a Visiting Scholar at the Getty Research Institute Los Angeles. Holmes currently lives and works in London.

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400 S. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036


Komar and Melamid, Self portrait Young Pioneers, oil on canvas, 1982, 72"(H) x 50" (W)

Notes From the Underground

Opening Late Spring 2016

Ace Museum presents Notes from the Underground, the first historical retrospective of Sots Art to be presented in the United States.

Sots Art originated in the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. A contraction of “socialism” and “art,” the term “Sots” was coined in 1972 by two Moscow artists, Vistaly Komar and Alexander Melamid. Following World War II, the Soviet state passed resolutions formally denouncing all Western cultural influences and declared a strict aesthetic doctrine of Social Realism. Rebellious Soviet artists, Sots Artists, reacted against the state by creating artworks that flouted the officially sanctioned style and undermined its conventions. Because Sots Artists were unable to publicly share their artwork or engage in official public discourse, Sots Art as an artistic genre is stylistically diverse, but tends to engage common themes. Sots Art paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures often appropriate and subvert state-issued propaganda images and slogans and employ irony to ridicule the state, similar to the manner in which Pop Art ridiculed capitalism. Sots Art investigates and critiques Social Realism with the objective of deconstructing the political and cultural ideological systems associated with the artistic style. Sots Art also frequently includes references to Russian traditions or folk culture.

Notes from the Underground presents a collection of Russian art from museums and private collections spanning from 1952 to today. Notable artworks include Erik Bulatov’s American Dream, Vladimir Yankilevsky’s People in the Box, Ernst Neizvestny’s Tree of Life, Ilya Kabakov’s In the Tretyakov, and Komar and Melamid’s Winter in Moscow. Featured artists are Komar and Melamid, Ilya Kabakov, Oleg Vassiliev, Erik Bulatov, Leonid Sokov, Vladimir Nemukhin, Ernst Neisvestny, Oscar Rabin, Vladimir Yankilevsky, Grisha Bruskin, Oleg Tselkov, Eduard Steinberg, Lev Kropivnitsky, Valentina Kropivnitskaia, Andrei Grositsky, Vasily Sitnikov, Dmitrii Krasnopevtsev, Leonid Lamm, Igor Shelkovsky, Alek Rapoport, Timur Novikov, Anatoly Zverev, Alexander Kosolapov, Ernst Neizvestny, Evgeny Chubarov, Tatiana Nazarenko, Natalia Nesterova, Viatcheslav Kalinin, David Burliuk, Dmitri Plavinsky, Vladimir Yakovlev, Ivan Chuikov, Boris Orlov, Yui Albert, Eduard Gorokhovsky, Anatoly Brusilovsky, Evgeny Rukhin, Simon Faibisovich, Mikhail Chemiakin, Viktor Pivovarov, Ulo Sooster, Boris Sveshnikov, Lydia Masterkova, Alexander Yulikov, Olga Kisseleva, Anatoly Basin, Alexei Khvostenko, Yuri Gourov, Alexander Ney, and Edouard Zelenine.

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Microscopic Perfect Cube (2005)

Through April 2015

From the collection of Andrea Nasher.

The primary apparatus is designed as a vibration-free chamber to house the microscopic cube, coupled with a video magnification system to make the central object viewable. The cube itself is made of solid steel that has been reduced to a hundredth of an inch. Works from the Perfect Cube series are fabricated to a level that exceeds our ability to visually judge the accuracy that their titles declare; hence the power of these works lies in their ability to take such values to an extreme, creating a bar of distinction so high ('nano-precision') that it can't be met by the art viewer.

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Location and Hours:

Ace Museum is open
Tuesday – Friday, 1pm to 6pm

Free Admission

400 South La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(At the SE corner of La Brea & 4th Street)

Free parking is available in the lot behind the museum. Entrance adjacent to museum parking lot.