This Weekend at LACMA

December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays! If you’ve got family in town this weekend, or if you’re just looking for something to do that doesn’t require standing in long lines at the mall, consider the museum. We’ve got plenty on view right now to satisfy just about anyone.

First, a note on our hours this weekend: Friday night the museum is closing at 5 pm, and Saturday we’ll be closed all day. Sunday everything is back to normal.

Have you had a chance to check out India’s Fabled City yet?  The show has been up for a couple of weeks now and it is a feast for the eyes—paintings, decorative arts, sculpture, photographs, even a couple of Bollywood clips for good measure. The exhibition looks at the northern Indian city of Lucknow, an artistic crossroads in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries where artists from India commingled with those from Europe who came to city in search of wealth and patronage. For a brief period, Lucknow was an exhilarating hybrid of cultures and artforms.

Muhammad Azam, Nasir al-Din Haidar, c. 1830, collection Drs. Aziz and Deanna Khan, photo courtesy the Collection Drs. Aziz and Deanna Khan

If you want to make some interesting connections between Lucknow and the rest of the world, this is a good week to do it. Inside the Resnick Pavilion are two European exhibitions whose timelines overlap with India’s Fabled City: Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700–1915 and Eye for the Sensual: Selections from the Resnick Collection—the latter closes on January 2.

Elizabeth Louise Vigée Lebrun, Portrait of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, 1783, collection of Lynda and Stewart Resnick

If you’d like to skip ahead to the twentieth century, you can check out the exhibitions on Steve Wolfe, Blinky Palermo, and William Eggleston—the latter two of which are also closing soon, January 16.

This just scratches the surface of all that is on view. Take a look at our list of smaller installations currently on view, plus the free docent tours on offer every day,  or just pick a permanent collection gallery and start wandering.

Scott Tennent

The Stockings Were Hung in the Exhibition with Care

December 22, 2010

Pair of Woman’s Stockings, Europe, 1700–1725, purchased with funds provided by Suzanne A. Saperstein and Michael and Ellen Michelson, with additional funding from the Costume Council, the Edgerton Foundation, Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer, Maureen H. Shapiro, Grace Tsao, and Lenore and Richard Wayne

It’s hard to believe that these flashy, red hose on display in Fashioning Fashion were modestly kept hidden under ladies’ skirts. We can see how they were worn from the racy work of the eighteenth-century English artist William Hogarth.

William Hogarth, plate three from A Rake’s Progress (detail), 1735, Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Horace Oakley, 1921.340


William Hogarth, The Rake’s Progress: 3. The Rake at the Rose-Tavern, 1734, courtesy Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

LACMA’s stockings, as beautiful as they are, showed signs of their 300-year-old age. They had holes and several long unsightly runs in the knit that were in need of treatment. To address the problem, I proposed re-looping the knit to close up the runs.

Detail of runs

With such a fine gauge knit (approximately 10 stitches per centimeter by 12 rows per centimeter), I used a magnifier, a 0.75 millimeter crochet hook, and size ‘0’ entomological pins for the “operation.” The various yarns were sorted and the knit pattern was re-established. Surprisingly, the cream-colored yarns were very deteriorated, so new threads were added to stabilize the knitted structure.

At work

Detail of the procedure

The back seams tell us that the stockings were first knitted flat on a frame and later seamed.


...and after

Fastening the delicate stockings to the wall of their display case involved a variety of fastening techniques. We looped silk ribbon around the knee areas to suggest garters. Our mountmaker constructed several unobtrusive supports to hold the weight of the stockings. Look closely at the toes, arch and ankles.

Safely hung, the stockings are ready for Santa—or at least for holiday visitors.

Detail of socks on display mount

Susan R. Schmalz, Associate Textile Conservator, LACMA

Sneak Peek at our Plans for Tim Burton

December 20, 2010

Tim Burton opens at LACMA this spring; the exhibition explores the evolution of Burton’s creative genius through hundreds of drawings, paintings, photographs, moving images, storyboards, puppets, maquettes, and ephemera beginning with his days as a kid in Burbank.

Tim Burton, Untitled (Romeo and Juliet) 1981-1984. Pen and ink, marker and colored pencil on paper. Private collection. © 2009 Tim Burton

Recently, our curator Britt Salvesen met with Burton and his team at LACMA and in Toronto, where the exhibition is on view. We talked with Britt about what it was like to meet Burton, and how the show will be installed at LACMA.

Will the show surprise people?

Most people have a really good sense of the Tim Burton style. But the show demonstrates how persistent that vision is and how evident it was from very early on, before he was even thinking about making full-scale feature films. You’ll find motifs of masking, creatures transforming from one thing into another, themes of childhood and adolescence. You also find this really unique mixture of horror and humor from the get-go. To see the ideas emerge in their pure form from his teenage days to the present is really striking!

Tim Burton, Untitled (Edward Scissorhands) 1990, private collection. Edward Scissorhands © Twentieth Century Fox © 2009 Tim Burton

Tim Burton opened first at MoMA. Since then, it has traveled to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and, now, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. How has the exhibition changed from venue to venue?

In the MoMA installation they constructed a very logical narrative starting with his early days in Burbank (the section is called “Surviving Burbank”), coming into his own as a creative thinker (“Beautifying Burbank”), and then they segue to his work in feature film in a third and final section (“Beyond Burbank”).

The next two venues for the show, in Australia and Toronto, are museums specializing in the moving image—film-based museums. So they changed the emphases and flow of the show. In Australia they used projected film clips which hadn’t been used in New York, and in Toronto they began with some of the early feature films rather than the student drawings.

Tim Burton at MOMA, entrance designed by TwoSeven Inc. Photo: Michael Locasiano

How do you foresee the installation at LACMA?

We are using the giant mouth as our entrance, but it won’t look exactly like it did at MoMA. You’ll enter through the giant mouth—you’ll be walking into it.

We have this incredible new exhibition space in the Resnick Pavilion. That’s really kind of a great playground for our thinking about the installation here. Tim and his assistants came to see the space where the Eye for the Sensual exhibition is currently on view. That installation is very spectacular, with its custom wall coverings and columns and the recreation of this elegant interior from another time. We discussed the possibility of retaining some aspects of that décor and transforming it into a Burtonesque version—adding a sense of dilapidation evoking the types of interiors he creates in his films.

We are thinking about how to create connections between different films and bodies of work with sight lines, maybe creating windows within the show where you can see from one section through to another.

We also will have access to the outside world through the windows on the north side of the building; we are hoping to install some pieces in the park, creating a relationship between the exhibition and the campus. The show includes a topiary sculpture of a deer that will be located outdoors. It’s a great photo op!

What was it like to meet Burton?

Sitting in a restaurant over dinner with Tim and his crew, I saw him drawing on napkins, one after another: pictures of things that were coming up in conversation, or things that had happened earlier that day, random things that crossed his mind. I could see that it’s really a way of thinking for him.

I got the impression that this venue means a lot to his team, because it’s their community. Over a lifetime in Tim’s case: his origins and his family and of course a lot of the talent he works with to this day are based here. I feel like it’s personally satisfying for him and his production crew.

Tim and his crew have been really open to museums process for developing and implementing a design. They have not swooped in to take it over as if it were a studio set. They have really been respectful of and helpful in recognizing the differences. It’s been a good collaboration.

Tickets for Tim Burton go on sale May 2. But if you join LACMA you’ll get two free tickets and will be able to make your reservations starting March 30. For the dedicated fan, a limited-edition museum membership is on sale now, including admission to the show.

Amy Heibel

Actor Julian Sands on the Lucknow Exhibition

December 16, 2010

Actor Julian Sands is a long-time friend to LACMA and—currently–a lender to the Lucknow exhibition. We asked him about collecting, and about the Lucknow tureen, one of his treasures.

Julian Sands, with another piece that came to LACMA from his collection: a Paul Storr centerpiece


What and why do you collect?


I don’t think of myself as a collector. I spend a lot of time on mountains doing marathons in remote places where you are carrying with you the minimum you need to exist: a tent, a bed, some fuel, some food. That’s your world. I acquire things with the ferocity of a pirate, but like a pirate I just like to dig a hole in the sand and drop it in and head off for more. It’s an insatiable greed, foiled by this Trappist like renunciation.


Tell us your impressions of the exhibition India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow?


The show reveals Lucknow as this jewel of a place. In local terms, what would it be? San Francisco with downtown New York and New Orleans all rolled up into one! And fabled, with its poets and painters and craftsmen and glamorous courtesans. It was a tremendous meeting point of east and west.


Stephen Markel has been putting this exhibition together for twelve or fifteen years. He has cast his net wide to bring together these great treasures. His passion for his subject is fabulous.




The Lucknow Tureen


Tell us about the Lucknow Tureen, now on view at LACMA in the Lucknow exhibition?


It has sculptural presence, immense beauty and grace. The shape is classically Mughal. But there are these lions which look exactly like an English lion.


Claude Martin, the great nabob of Lucknow, who was drummed out eventually and fled back to England, built a magnificent  building—which is, today, called La Martiniere—in Lucknow. There are motifs on the bowl that you’ll find in the architecture of the building. In particular, the lions are very much like the lions you’ll flanking the Martiniere. So there is every reason to suppose the piece was commissioned as part of a service for the Martiniere.


I like to think somewhere there is a great ladle. But a lot of these things got melted down. The Indian tradition wasn’t to pass things on to keep so much as to pass things on to melt down and people remade things in their own style.




The Lucknow Tureen, detail



How did you come across the piece?


I found the piece through a friend of mine, who is a great scholar of colonial silver: Wynyard Wilkinson. I’ve known him since I was at school. For a long time, I coveted it.


Really great objects have tremendous power and energy. There is something of the nervous system of their creator, the man or woman who chiseled or cast or painted or drew or fabricated the object.


I don’t set out to collect anything for sake of a collection. I get interested in a form, a medium, a type of work. So you go looking for things. And then when you find something you may have been seeking, there’s a release, almost like an Arthurian knight. You are released from the challenge.


What do you like to see when you visit the museum?


All my life I have taken such pleasure from museums.


LACMA, in particular, has amazing space and such great light – you feel that it’s an organic, ongoing, 21st century, vibrating beacon of forward-looking culture bringing the past into the present. There’s a great fusion of possibilities here.


When I’m here at LACMA I usually visit the paintings and sculpture in the Modern galleries – the quality and balance is superb. The presentation of sculpture is wonderful. I love the great Tony Smith, and going in the new Resnick Pavillion, a place of beauty and an architectural wonder.


India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow is on view through February 27th, 2011. View a slideshow of 19th century photographs of courtly Lucknow at



Amy Heibel

The Corrido of LA

December 15, 2010

This weekend, Ozomatli performs corridos submitted by students across Los Angeles. The event is the culmination of The Corrido of LA: in celebration of the centennial of the Mexican revolution, we invited students in grades 7 to 12 to compose a ballad song about the city they call home.

Corridos are storytelling ballads, often about heroism and struggle. They became popular during the Mexican Revolution and, later in the 20th century, as a way to raise social consciousness about civil rights and political justice.

Here are just a few selections from the entries we received.

Yo Soy un Ilegal, by Veronica Zelaya, 11th grade, Roosevelt High School, begins:
Yo soy un ilegal
Que he venido a luchar
Para a mis padres ayudar
Un trabajo de verdad
Y que tengo miedo de enfrentar…

Lyla Matar, an 8th grader at Highland Hall in Northridge submitted this video of her corrido, titled “Dreaming of a City”:

Erendira Hernandez, a 12th grader at LA Leadership Academy, submitted this audio recording of her corrido:
We are a different city, we love, we hate, we play, we fight as well…”

You can view all of the submissions here.

Ozomatli’s performance–free, by the way–starts at 2 pm on Saturday in the Bing Theater at LACMA. Ozomatli will be performing later that evening at Club Nokia.

Amy Heibel


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