Collection Favorites: Jizo Bosatsu

June 15, 2010

Japan, Jizo Bosatsu, late Heian Period (c. 1070–1120), gift of Anna Bing Arnold

When I think about what my favorite object is in the collection, I have to reexamine what object continues to move me the most, or the object that I will go out of my way and see over and over again. My choice tends to come back to an object that has been in our collection for over thirty years—the Jizo Bosatsu (c. 1070–1120), a wooden sculpture of a Buddhist monk that has been quietly present within the Japanese Pavilion galleries.

Jizo is worshiped as the protector of children, mothers in childbirth, travelers, and others in distress. This object stands on a lotus base. The pure flower rises above murky waters, symbolizing release from the karmic wheel of rebirth. The golden, peach-shaped object that he holds in his right hand is a wish-granting jewel attesting to his transcendent power. In my opinion, no other object comes close to its simplistic beauty. Japanese aesthetics prides itself in embracing asymmetrical composition, yet the carving underneath his feet of the symbolic lotus blossom is perfect symmetry. Hints of paint still sit on top of the weathered wood. I find the draping around his robe poetic. I’ve encountered this object by looking down on its head, or looking upward toward its feet. Both views move the spirit in equally humbling ways and give the viewer a sense of calm.

Amy McFarland, Associate Director, Graphics

Collection Favorites: Lari Pittman

June 14, 2010

We at Unframed have gone on about some of our favorite works in the permanent collection, but we decided to hear from some of our co-workers. This week we turned to the graphics department. We’ll post the responses over the course of the week.

When I was asked to write about my favorite piece in our collection, I found this to be an impossible task. There are so many pieces that I love, it’s too difficult to choose just one. Instead, I thought I would write about the piece that’s had the longest lasting memory for me: Lari Pittman’s This Wholesomeness, Beloved and Despised, Continues Regardless.

Lari Pittman, This Wholesomeness, Beloved and Despised, Continues Regardless, 1989–90, purchased with funds provided by the Ansley I. Graham Trust, © Lari Pittman

I was seventeen years old and had just moved to Los Angeles to attend art school. I was a fish out of water—moving from a small town, population less than 20,000, to L.A., population 9,500,000. I had never taken any art classes in high school nor had I ever been to a museum, yet here I was. During my first week of college I was brought to LACMA. My color and design teacher took us on a tour pretty much through the history of art. What I remember from that trip, besides being awestruck, is the Lari Pittman painting.

Pittman was shot in the stomach by a burglar attempting to break into his home and nearly died. After this event his paintings were “morose and filled with images of ruin and desolation,” as former curator Howard Fox wrote. Eventually, he had a more optimistic outlook in his work and painted themes of “forgiveness, compassion, charity, kindness, hope, and faith.”

While overtly sexual, This Wholesomeness is about love. I don’t know if it was the painting or the story I remember most. Looking back on it now through my eyes as a graphic designer, it’s obvious why this painting still resonates with me: there are bold blocks of color, simple shapes, graphic elements, black silhouetted figures, and a clear composition. All I know is that after all these years, this is my first memory of LACMA.

Meghan Moran, Graphic Designer

Small Sacrifices for ArtWalk

June 11, 2010

Are you a morning person? If so, more power to you. I for one am not. I don’t do coffee, always believed sunrises pale in comparison to sunsets, and oatmeal is just wrong. However, I will make the occasional exception—such as for the installation of the large-scale pieces for the annual Muse ArtWalk happening this Saturday

This year, after making the rare traffic-free commute (which I will admit is one advantage of the small hours), I met with Phil Blaine of Insomniac, Marko of LACMA Facilities, and a team of artists to get to work on building some of the pieces that will reside in the La Brea Tar Pits Park for ArtWalk 2010. Armed with reach forks, scissor lifts, and a crane, we fashioned together some of the larger sculptures that will be part of the Insomniac Sculpture Park—all before the park was overrun by its daily influx of schoolchildren.

Lt. Mustardseed's Archway goes up in the Insomniac Sculpture Park


By tomorrow, this and a few others will be complete. See these wonders for yourself, along with free admission to LACMA, the A+D Museum, the Page Museum, the Petersen Automotive Museum, and the Craft and Folk Art Museum. Click here for a full schedule of events. Best of all, the event goes all day—so feel free to sleep in!

Jason Gaulton, Muse Coordinator

Thursday Sneak Peek: The Resnick Pavilion Will Be Open!

June 9, 2010


We’ve been talking about the Resnick Pavilion all week now, even though the building doesn’t officially open for another few months. Cruel, aren’t we? All the worse that we titillated you with pics of Walter De Maria’s 2000 Sculpture, which is installed inside even though no one is allowed in. Doubly cruel!

Well, today (Thursday, June 10)—we’re actually inviting you into the Resnick Pavilion for what we’re calling an all day “flash visit.” It’s a sneak peek at something we’re very proud of—a chance for you to get an advanced look at an incredible artwork and a stunning building before it’s been installed with walls, exhibitions, didactics, signs, etc.

As we mentioned yesterday, the Resnick Pavilion will never again look the way it will for you tomorrow—so vast and spacious with only a single work of art cast in the middle. It’s almost meditative and truly something to behold—so we really hope you can stop by and take advantage of this historic opportunity (all that’s needed is a membership card or a general admission ticket, or stop by between 5 and 8 pm when we’re free).

Check it out and let us know about your experience by writing to us here or on Twitter or Facebook!

Scott Tennent

“Testing” the Resnick Pavilion—with Walter De Maria’s Help

June 8, 2010


If you peer through the doors of the new Resnick Pavilion, you’ll see an orderly grid of geometric shapes arranged on the floor according to a precise logic. They catch the northern light, emphasizing the broad expanse of undivided space. The 2000 Sculpture, by Walter De Maria, is the first work of art to inaugurate the pavilion.

Even though the building will not officially open until the fall, we installed a “test” artwork. Michael Govan, who has worked with De Maria on other projects in the past, explained it this way: “The sculpture provides an ideal way to test the Resnick Pavilion’s capacity to deal with large-scale work in the context of its architecture. Certain works of art will never benefit from traditional gallery spotlighting, and the installation of a monumental work as we acclimate this building gives the chance to test new strategies in anticipation of future projects where we may choose to use the entire space for major installations.”

Amy Heibel


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