This Weekend at LACMA: Eakins, Opie (in Person!), Lubitsch, and More

July 23, 2010

The place to be this weekend is the Art of the Americas Building, where two new exhibitions are opening: Manly Pursuits: The Sporting Images of Thomas Eakins and Catherine Opie: Figure and Landscape.

Thomas Eakins, “The Biglin Brothers Turning the Stake,” 1873, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection, 1984.1927, photo courtesy the Cleveland Museum of Art

Catherine Opie, Untitled #7, courtesy Julia Pistor and David Eisenman, © Catherine Opie

Though their work is separated by almost a century, the Opie and Eakins shows work as complements to each other—both studying the athlete and the culture of sports. The show opens to the public on Sunday. Here’s where it pays to be a member, though: the shows are open today and tomorrow for members only.

Opie fans, be sure to come on Sunday. The artist will be in conversation with writer Eileen Myles in the Bing Theater.  The event is free, though tickets are required; they’ll be available one hour prior to the conversation.

Also opening on Sunday is a small installation nestled inside the Eakins show: Tad Beck: Palimpsest.  Be sure not to miss it if you’re here. We’ve got a blog post in the works about this installation coming soon.

Our Ernst Lubitsch series is now into its third weekend. Tonight sees a double feature of musicals made with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette McDonald—One Hour with You and The Merry Widow. Here’s the trailer for the latter:

Saturday the Lubitsch love continues with To Be or Not to Be and A Royal Scandal, written and produced by Lubitsch but directed by Otto Preminger due to Lubitsch’s health problems in 1945.

If art and film aren’t your thing (though surely they are your thing, since you’re reading a museum blog), perhaps it’s the free concerts that will lure you here. Tonight Grant Geissman and his Cool Man Cool Band will take the stage for Jazz at LACMA. Head to his website for audio and video samples. Don’t forget the galleries are also free to L.A. County residents after 5 pm.

Tomorrow guitarist Ciro Hurtado will perform in Hancock Park for Latin Sounds. Here’s a video of Hurtado performing “Manha de Carnaval”

Finally, stick around after seeing the new exhibitions on Sunday to catch artists from iPalpiti perform an Homage to Schumann in the Bing Theater.

Scott Tennent



Happy Birthday, Eakins!

July 22, 2010

This Sunday, we will be opening a new exhibition, Manly Pursuits: The Sporting Images of Thomas Eakins. That day, the July 25, also happens to be Eakins’s birthday. Eakins is no longer with us (he would be 166), but his art is a good stand-in.

Unknown, “Eakins, in the Chestnut St. Studio, Three-Quarter View,” c. 1891, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Charles Bregler’s Thomas Eakins Collection. Purchased with the partial support of the Pew Memorial Trust, 1985.68.2.581

The opening of the exhibition, which concentrates on Eakins’s depictions of the modern heroes of American life, the athletes of the late nineteenth century, is especially eventful for me not just because I organized the show. Eakins and I shared significant backgrounds. We were both born and raised in Philadelphia. Also, the art bug and the “City of Brotherly Love” were strongly ingrained in both of our psyches. Eakins’s also was a significant force in determining my profession. As a child I began going regularly to the Philadelphia Art Museum, which has the largest collection of Eakins art and archives. You see, my father loved art and history and for vacations he would take my mother, my sister Tina, and me on automobile excursions up and down the East Coast to visit historic houses and museums. As a result Tina became an artist and history buff and I became an art curator. It was Eakins who determined my focus on American art, as the first memory I have of visiting the Philadelphia Museum was to see a display of perspective drawings that Eakins created as preparatory work for his rowing paintings. I can still remember the gallery full of those large studies.  They are meticulous pencil and ink drawings that will amaze you. And you now can see them for yourself as several are on view in Manly Pursuits at LACMA.

The exhibition will only be shown in Los Angeles. So why don’t you go visit the Eakins exhibition on July 25, enjoy the rowers, the men skinny dipping, the equestrian riders, the bicyclists, boxers, and wrestlers, and then walk across the museum plaza to Pentimento and celebrate good old Tom’s birthday  with a sweet dessert and bubbly, and sing “Happy Birthday” to him. I know that’s what I plan to do on Sunday!

Ilene Susan Fort, Curator


Rodarte Re-imagines the Collection

July 20, 2010

Last week as part of Cell Phone Stories, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the design duo behind the fashion label Rodarte, created five designs based on works from our collection. Clearly they found inspiration in our Latin American galleries, using works by Rufino Tamayo, Roberto Matta, and Mathias Goeritz (a personal favorite), as well as a censer and decorated skull from our ancient American collection. Additionally they picked up on Brancusi’s Bird in Space, bronzes by Alberto Giacometti, and a woodblock print by nineteenth-century Japanese artist Utagawa Hirosige. If you’re subscribed to receive texts from Cell Phone Stories, you already saw these, but the Mulleavys’ sketches are so stunning we wanted to share them on the blog, too. (Click on a sketch to enlarge.)





Cell Phone Stories isn’t done yet. Still to come, stories by Barry Yourgrau, Kianga Ford, and Adrienne Ferrari. Text “LACMA” to 67553 to get in on the stories. You can also check the Cell Phone Stories archive blog for past projects you might have missed. Plus—twitter followers, brace yourselves—Rainn Wilson will commandeer our twitter feed during the first weekend in August.

Scott Tennent


The Weather at LACMA

July 19, 2010

I don’t usually think about weather. One of the luxuries of living in Los Angeles is the predictably warm temperature, but lately the weather has been weird, with fog followed by a burst of heat and then… thunderstorms? As unexpected grey rain clouds rolled by overhead last week and a flash flood warning appeared on my television, I thought of this Tamayo painting, Messengers in the Wind, which hangs in our Latin American art galleries. I love the urban detail of the telephone wires, the bricks and cement, combined with the magic of the two figures in flowing white robes sweeping past.

Rufino Tamayo, “Messengers in the Wind (Mensajeras en el viento),” 1931, The Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art

The heat and humidity that followed made the Dutch paintings galleries in the Ahmanson Building a welcome respite. The weather in there, particularly the sky as painted by the great seventeenth-century painter Jacob van Ruisdael, is clearly from a cooler clime. A long wall of Ruisdael paintings feature dramatic and sometimes imposing skies, often making up the better part of his spectacular landscapes.

Jacob van Ruisdael, “Landscape with Dunes,” 1649, gift of Dorothy G. Sullivan

If you just turn to the wall to the left of the spectacular Ruisdaels, there’s a very different picture, Hendrick Avercamp’s Winter Scene on a Frozen Canal—one of my favorites in the museum. This scene of townspeople skating on a frozen canal in Holland perfectly captures the way the ice reflects the flat winter sky of northern places. All the warmth and color in the picture comes from the costumes of the characters zooming around on the ice, chatting, making money, and playing games.

Hendrick Avercamp, “Winter Scene on a Frozen Canal,” c. 1620, partial gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward William Carter and purchased with funds provided by The Ahmanson Foundation, the Paul Rodman Mabury Collection, the William Randolph Hearst Collection, the Michael J. Connell Foundation, the Marion Davies Collection, Mr. and Mrs. Lauritz Melchior, Mr. and Mrs. R. Stanton Avery, the Estate of Anita M. Baldwin by exchange, and Hannah L. Carter

For another wall of spectacular weather, I visited the newly installed Impressionist gallery at the south end of the Ahmanson Building, on the same floor as the Dutch galleries. Across from a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows hang a number of pictures by Monet including The Beach at Honfleur. In contrast to the moodier Ruisdael paintings, the sky here is crisp blue with innocuous white clouds high overhead, and the beach baking in the flat bright light of the coast.

Claude Monet, “The Beach at Honfleur, 1864–66, gift of Mrs. Reese Hale Taylor

If it’s possible to simulate weather through mechanical means, Thomas Wilfred does it for me with his Lumia light composition, Luccata Opus 182. I sat in front of the piece in the Ahmanson Building for a while. I’ve heard it described as “visual music.”

Thomas Wilfred, “Luccata, Opus 182," 1967–68, lent by Carol and Eugene Epstein, Los Angeles

In the shifting colors and shapes, I saw what reminded me of moonrise, the purple night sky of the desert, wisps of cloud and celestial bodies. The label for the piece refers to it as a “composition of infinite duration” and it struck me that the same could be said of the weather.

Amy Heibel


This Weekend at LACMA

July 16, 2010

Saturday is the perfect day to come to LACMA if you’re looking for something fun—and free!—to do with your family. As part of Target’s Arts & Wonder Weekend, LACMA is free all day tomorrow! We are one of eighty other institutions around the country who are opening our doors for free thanks to Target. We’re open from 11 am–8 pm, but be sure to bring your kids between 12 and 5 pm for some fun art-making activities on the Los Angeles Times Central Court. (With or without children, this is also a good excuse to come see the John Baldessari show, too.)

Concerts, we’ve got ‘em: tonight the CJS Quintet performs as part of Jazz at LACMA. You can sample songs from their latest album at their website.  Tomorrow for Latin Sounds the salsa group Costazul will take to Hancock Park, and Sunday evening will see an Homage to Chopin in the Bing Theater. All of these concerts are free.

Meanwhile our Ernst Lubitsch film series continues into its second weekend. Tonight we have the double feature of Design for Living and the Maurice Chevalier musical The Smiling Lieutenant. Tomorrow, the classic The Shop around the Corner followed by Angel, starring Marlene Dietrich. Shop contains one of James Stewart’s great performances—even if he did ignore the fact that he was supposed to be Hungarian. It’s the folksiest small-town shop you’ll ever find in Budapest.

Scott Tennent


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