Vidal Sassoon, the hairstylist whose pioneering cuts set fashion standards in the 1960s while “fit[ting] right in with the fledgling women’s liberation movement,” according to the Associated Press, has died at the age of 84. Initial reports say that he died of natural causes. While we rarely cover hairstylists on these pages, it happens that the Los Angeles artist Alex Israel recently interviewed Sassoon for his As It Lays series, which Observer columnist Adam Lindemann reviewed last month when it screened at Reena Spaulings Fine Art on the Lower East Side.
Jeffrey Deitch’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, is nothing if not of the moment. Only about a month after it ended its run at Reena Spaulings on the Lower East Side, Alex Israel’s bizarre and thoroughly pleasurable “As It LAys” video series is traveling to L.A., where it will screen on the Henson Soundstage on May 19, from 6 to 9 p.m., with a “special performance” at 7:30 p.m. The screening is being organized by MOCA.
Alex Israel is a youngish L.A. artist whose pastel-color panel paintings look like the sets of ’80s porn flicks; they’ve been selling like hotcakes at chic galleries in Paris and Berlin. I tried to see his recent one-man show at the übercool and cutting-edge Lower East Side gallery Reena Spaulings Fine Art, but the gallery is so übercool and cutting edge that, on the Friday afternoon I chose for my visit, it wasn’t even open. In fact, the two times I have ventured to this gallery in an attempt to see an exhibition, during regular gallery hours, they have managed to have the doors locked and the lights turned off. I’d given up on writing about Mr. Israel’s work, when I realized that I could simply review his new TV show, As It LAys, the one he’s recently uploaded to You Tube and for which he created a website: www.asitlays.com. This interview show, with Mr. Israel as host, reminds me of Andy Warhol’s famous “Screen Tests”: both projects are, in superficially different but actually very similar ways, forms of video portraiture.