Eggleston’s Albums

November 30, 2010

William Eggleston has had a long history with music and musicians, from his “red ceiling” image on Big Star’s 1974 album Radio City to Spoon’s Transference in 2010. It’s no wonder so many bands have been influenced by his beautiful images of everyday objects and settings. Eggleston’s photos, currently on view, have a slight uneasy mood. The rich color and his exacting eye forces you to look twice at a telephone or a coke bottle or a girl’s hair in the sunlight that you might have passed if you were walking by.

Big Star, "Radio City," 1974

Spoon, "Transference," 2010

Being a musician himself (he’s a self-taught master pianist and organist), Eggleston’s understanding of light and color contains a kind of musicality that is evident in his images. David Berman (aka Silver Jews), whose album Tanglewood Numbers features an image from the Los Alamos series, said he chose to use one of Eggleston’s images on the cover because “it’s warm inside these photos.”

Silver Jews, "Tanglewood Numbers," 2005

Songwriters often write from their own personal experience, but what makes a song most memorable and affecting is a universality to which we can all relate. The same could be said for Eggleston’s photographs. Their subjects might be banal objects of the everyday, but they illuminate intricacies of life. As Eggleston himself said, “photographs have nothing to do with words… you can love art and appreciate art but you can’t really talk about it, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Primal Scream, "Give Out but Don't Give Up," 1994

In thinking about the images in the exhibition and the music inspired by them, I created a playlist of selected songs from albums featuring a William Eggleston image on the cover. Those albums are also on view, along with the original photos, in the exhibition. For Alex Chilton’s album Like Flies on Sherbert, Eggleston himself was involved in the  design of the cover. His sketchbook, with drawings from he made for the cover design is also on view.

Alex Chilton, "Like Flies on Sherbert," 1979

Tomorrow on Unframed we’ll have an interview with Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World, whose 2001 album Bleed American also features an Eggleston photograph. For an extra treat, come to the museum on Monday, December 6, for an special performance from Chuck Prophet inside the Eggleston galleries. The concert is free, though tickets are required.

Chuck Prophet, “Age of Miracles,” 2004

Finally, check out the video for Cat Power’s “Lived in Bars,” shot at Eggleston’s house in Memphis and directed by Robert Gordon, who worked with Eggleston to create the Stranded in Canton video, also on view in the exhibition.

Adrienne Adar, Ralph M. Parsons Curatorial Fellow


Call For Entries: Young Directors Night 2011

November 29, 2010

Attention filmmakers! LACMA Muse is now accepting submissions to its tenth annual Young Directors Night. YDN celebrates short films and the emerging artists behind them, showcasing up to eight films at a screening at LACMA. The 2011 edition of YDN will take place on Saturday, March 5. The chosen films will compete for the Art of Film Award, given to best in show as decided among a host panel of industry luminaries and the audience. Past winners have received tickets to the Sundance Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival, and Los Angeles Film Festival.

We’re accepting submissions through January 15. YDN highlights a rich variety of shorts in all manner of genre. Two years ago the Art of Film Award went Adrian Castagna for his foreign-language sci-fi short El Ojo Unico, and last year Kristen Lepore won for her animated short Sweet Dreams (below). Clearly anything goes! The only condition for submissions is the films must be less than 30 minutes in length.

Click here to download the YDN application. There is no fee to submit. All submissions must be postmarked no later than January 15, 2011. Good luck!

Jason Gaulton, Muse Coordinator


Thanksgiving Weekend at LACMA: Members Appreciation Days, John Woo’s Red Cliff, and More

November 24, 2010

It being Thanksgiving, there’s a good chance you’ve got family in town this weekend. Why not bring them to LACMA? Don’t forget that all kids under 18 get into the museum for free. With (count ‘em) eight special exhibitions,  kid-friendly artworks like Urban Light and Richard Serra’s massive sculptures, free art-making activities in the Boone Children’s Gallery, and the park and the tar pits here too, it’s a great place to bring family for a few hours or all day. If you’ve got young kids, we also have Storytelling in the Boone Children’s Gallery on Friday at noon. (In fact, take note: we now have storytelling in the Boone every Monday and Friday at noon!) This weekend we also have storytelling in the museum store on both Saturday and Sunday at 3 pm. On Saturday author Antonio Sacre will read La Noche Buena: A Christmas Story, and on Sunday illustrator Tao Nyeu will present his book, Wonder Bear.

If you’re a LACMA member you have double the incentive to come to the museum this weekend, as we’re holding our annual Members Appreciation Days on Saturday and Sunday. Members get 20% off all merchandise in the museum stores (usually 10%), plus 10% off at both restaurants on campus. There will also be a few author events in the stores and a trunk show from Zenzara. Check here for a detailed schedule of what’s happening when. 

Maybe you don’t want to shop this weekend, and instead would prefer a five-hour epic of third-century Chinese warriors. Good news! We’ve got that too, in the form of the Los Angeles premiere of John Woo’s Red Cliff, starring Tony Leung. The film has broken box office records in Asia and this is the first time the full version will be screened in LA. We’ve broken it into two parts. Part 1 will screen Friday night, and again on Saturday night; Part 2 will screen on Saturday only. Here’s the magnificent-looking trailer:

Finally, our free Sundays Live series continues this weekend with a concert by cellist Ruslan Biryukov and pianist Pavel Petrov, performing works by Handel, Cassadó, and Barber—a perfect ending to a long weekend.

Scott Tennent


Taming the Emotions While Filling the Belly

November 23, 2010

With the coming of the holidays we think, perhaps, more of eating than we do of browsing art.  These days of pies, cakes, and puddings recall any number of Dutch still lifes from their Golden age. But it is Abraham van Beyeren’s  Banquet Still Life where I most want to be. I can smell the warmth and feel the heat of the steamed food. The citrus peels sting the nose. I can taste the wine on my lips. The translucent grapes are the best examples I’ve ever seen for the study of how to paint water droplets. The senses blur as I imagine the smooth, cool grape skin on my tongue. 

Abraham van Beyeren, Banquet Still Life, 1667, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation

Thanksgiving definitely makes us hunger for normal sustenance, but people’s introspective behavior at this time of year also makes our minds flip toward other nourishments. It becomes mawkishly routine, this strange fall slump. We might get the idea lodged in our brain that hope and well wishes become the only necessary commodity of exchange. The simple machinations going on throughout our bodies blur from focus. Potassium keeps the heart beating. What is it that happens when we drink that warm cup of black coffee? We are too busy focusing on what is external, what is behind us, or what is ahead. Food brings us back to the moment. If your Thursday night dinner table doesn’t bring that home for you, perhaps seeing Beyeren’s still life in the gallery might. 

Laura Cherry, Collections Management Intern


Chris Burden’s Metropolis II on Its Way to LACMA

November 22, 2010

You may have read in last week’s New York Times that Chris Burden’s kinetic, large-scale sculpture Metropolis II will be coming to LACMA on long-term loan in the near future. Be sure to watch the mesmerizing and incredibly noisy video of the work, featuring 1,200 toy cars on their roller-coaster ride through the “city.” Watch Unframed for further details, as we document the move of the sculpture from Burden’s Topanga studio to its installation here at the museum.



This Weekend: Final Jazz at LACMA, Steve Wolfe Opens, Hard Boiled Hong Kong, and More

November 19, 2010

Tonight is the final installment of the 2010 Jazz at LACMA series, so be sure to come down and take the series out with a bang! The John Altman Big Band will giving us a sendoff until the series resumes next year.

Steve Wolfe, Untitled (Study for Mumm/Jose Cuervo Cartons), 1994, collection of Lawrence Luhring

Tomorrow we have a new exhibition opening—our sixth new special exhibition since October: Steve Wolfe on Paper. Wolfe is a Italian-born, San Francisco-based artist who uses tromp l’oeil techniques to bring pop cultural objects like books and records to life. His drawings, collages, and prints on view in this exhibition almost beg to be touched (but, uh, don’t).

Meanwhile our Hard Boiled Hong Kong film series continues this weekend with a quartet of crime flicks. Tonight, Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels and Tsui Hark’s Time and Tide; tomorrow, Hark’s Once Upon a Time in China is preceded by Johnnie To’s Exiled. Trailers for all four: 

That’s not all that’s happening at LACMA this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, in conjunction with the current Olmec exhibition, archaeologist David Cheetham discusses his work at Canton Corralito, a site on the Pacific Coast of Chiapas, the earliest known colony in the Americas. The lecture starts at 2 pm and is free. 

Also free, as always, is our Sundays Live concert, which closes out the weekend. Pianist Kyu-Yeon Kim will perform works by Robert Schumann. For a preview, here’s a clip of Kim performing Schumann’s Kreisleriana No. 6, 7 and 8 at the Cliburn International Piano Competition last year.

Scott Tennent


Contemplating Color and Form

November 18, 2010

Interesting interactions between art and architecture are diverse and plentiful on this campus. Right now, you can contemplate architectural minimalism as a foil for ancient Olmec sculpture in the Resnick Pavilion; study a wall of Impressionist masters in a gallery illuminated by a bank of windows overlooking the palm trees of Wilshire Boulevard; and be captivated by the emotive brushwork of seventeenth-century Zen monks in the luminous natural light of Bruce Goff’s Pavilion for Japanese Art.

But a new installation on the top floor of BCAM has me ascending the escalator over and over again lately.

Curator Franklin Sirmans installed Color & Form, a selection from the Broad Collection, on the east side of the building’s top floor. Works by Imi Knoebel, John McCracken, Christian Eckart, Gunther Forg, and Peter Halley populate the vast white walls beneath the Renzo Piano skylights.

The installation is interesting on a number of levels. In terms of the story of art history, it ties in directly with the Blinky Palermo show one level down (Palermo and Knoebel were close). It also continues a story begun with our 2009 Joseph Beuys installation, as Knoebel and Palermo were his students. It extends an investigation of color and form begun by an earlier generation of European modernists like Malevich and Mondrian (our Mondrian is on view one building over in the Ahmanson galleries.) And it suggests a thread of continuity leading right up through Jeff Koons (in galleries adjacent to Color and Form) and beyond. (Halley and Koons were peers in the New York art scene of the 1980s.)

So it’s a presentation with a lot of connective tissue. But all of that aside, I enjoy seeing people moving through these skylit galleries. They look spectacular and randomly choreographed populating that landscape of big, vivid, paintings. When we were editing the video interview with Frankin, below, I found that the silent b-roll images of visitors passing through the galleries were accidentally beautiful unto themselves.

The curator thoughtfully left certain walls empty, a visual breath between affecting fields of strong color. (Peter Halley’s Initial Sequence is a downright electrifying orange.) He also included enough benches so that you can rest and be enveloped by the environment of the galleries.

Amy Heibel


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