‘50 Kitchens’ Explained: LACMA Will Present Mark Grotjahn Piece

A post on Mark Grotjahn’s Instagram on April 7, 2018.

Last month, the artist Mark Grotjahn posted a series of cryptic images to Instagram—self-portraits adorned with digital scribbles and doodles—that included a phrase, “50 Kitchens,” and a date, May 20, 2018. Naturally, this resulted in some speculation and questions from his many followers. “Wtf r these posts about?” one wrote. “Does everybody understand except me? Or does nobody understand except Mr. G?” Another pointed out that Grotjahn’s 50th birthday was coming up. Perhaps it was all some sort of celebration!

Finally, though, the meaning of Grotjahn’s posts now seems to be clear, thanks to a page on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s website that quietly went up recently. It states that May 20 will mark the opening of a show at LACMA of a piece by the artist called 50 Kitchens (2013–18). Here’s a bit of the museum’s blurb:

Conceived as one work, 50 Kitchens takes its inspiration from a single composition (in black and cream-colored pencil) that Grotjahn made to meet the dimensional specifications of a wall in his kitchen. The more than 50 subsequent chromatic drawings explore pairs of radiating colors (like Tuscan Red and Chartreuse, or Grass Green and Canary Yellow) and together create a prismatic display.

The release of the news is intriguingly last-minute, compared to the long lead times that museum’s typically adopt when promoting shows.

Speaking of longer lead times, the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A. is reportedly at work on a Grotjahn show that is set to open in 2020.

Earlier this year, the artist generated no small amount of debate when he backed out of being honored at MOCA’s annual gala. According to the Los Angeles Times, he told Maurice Marciano, a co-chair of MOCA’s board, in a statement: “Since the day you extended your invitation to me, our country and the world have changed in ways that were difficult to anticipate. There is a new urgency to change the power dynamic and we have an opportunity to do so.”

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