Acquired This Weekend: 8 Works by Christian Marclay, Ai Weiwei, and More

April 18, 2011

Our annual Collectors Committee event was held this weekend, and the results are in: we’ve just acquired eight new works, from contemporary to ancient times, for the permanent collection. All this week Unframed will be running in-depth blog posts from our curators about each of these artworks, but for now, here’s a quick look at the weekend’s bounty:

Christian Marclay, The Clock (still), 2010, purchased with funds provided by Steve Tisch through the 2011 Collectors Committee, © Christian Marclay, photo courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010), a 24-hour single-channel montage constructed out of moments in cinema and television history depicting the passage of time.

Ai Weiwei, Untitled (Divine Proportion), 2006, gift of the 2011 Collectors Committee, photo: Giovanni Tarifeño, courtesy of Friedman Benda and the artist

Ai Weiwei’s Untitled (Divine Proportion) (2006), a spherical wooden structure carefully crafted using a tenon and mortise (nail-free joinery) technique.

Mexico, Oaxaca/Guerrero border region, Painted Panel, 1200–1400, purchased with funds provided by an anonymous donor through the 2011 Collectors Committee

An ancient and richly painted panel (AD 1200-1400), from the region bordering Oaxaca and Guerrero in Mexico, rare in its scale and elaborate imagery.

Japan, Head of a Buddha, 1000–1050 AD, gift of the 2011 Collectors Committee

An ancient, wooden Heian-period Head of a Buddha—one of the finest sculptures of its age and size—from 1000–1050 AD Japan.

Craig Kauffman, Untitled, 1969, gift of the 2011 Collectors Committee

Craig Kaufman’s Untitled (1969), part of the artist’s loop series (ten in total, each a different color), a painted-plastic hybrid between painting and sculpture.

Donald Judd, Prototype Desk, 1978, purchased with funds provided by Kelvin Davis in honor of his brother, Paul Davis, through the 2011 Collectors Committee

Donald Judd’s seminal Prototype Desk (1978)—one of the few pieces the artist made himself—demonstrates the same philosophy about space, geometry, and proportion that characterizes his body of sculpture.

Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, Three Casta Paintings, c. 1760, gift of the 2011 Collectors Committee

Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, Three Casta Paintings, c. 1760, gift of the 2011 Collectors Committee

Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, Three Casta Paintings, c. 1760, gift of the 2011 Collectors Committee

Three casta paintings from a series by Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, circa 1760, representing the process of racial mixing among Indians, Spaniards, and Africans in colonial Mexico: VII. From Spaniard and Morisca, Albino (De español y morisca, albino), IX. From Spaniard and Albino, Return Backwards (De español y albina, torna atrás), From Spaniard and Return Backwards Hold Yourself Suspended in Mid Air (De español y torna atrás, tente en el aire).

Peru, Inka (1450–1532) or early colonial period (16th century), Hanging or Mantle, 1500–1600, purchased with funds provided by Camilla Chandler Frost through the 2011 Collectors Committee

An intricately woven Peruvian textile (1500–1600), symbolic of universal order.

Each year the Collectors Committee gathers for a weekend of events that include a chance to see a handful of proposed acquisitions installed in one of our galleries and to hear LACMA curators give presentations on each artwork. At the culmination of the weekend, the members convene at a gala dinner and vote on which artworks to acquire with funds raised through Collectors Committee membership dues. You can also see what we acquired in 2010 and 2009 through these generous and essential donors.

Stay tuned to Unframed all week for a closer look at each of these objects, starting tomorrow with looks at Christian Marclay’s The Clock and Ai Weiwei’s Untitled (Divine Proportion).

Scott Tennent


This Weekend at LACMA: Jazz at LACMA Begins, Burton Selects from LACMA’s Collection, and More

April 15, 2011

 Quick—take a look out your window. Isn’t it beautiful outside? Don’t you want to be outside? Doesn’t a nice (free) outdoor concert sound perfect tonight? Well you’re in luck: the new season of Jazz at LACMA starts tonight and will run every Friday through the end of summer. Just to make Jazz at LACMA that much more fun, don’t forget we now have Ray’s and Stark Bar right there, so you can enjoy dinner or an after-work drink while the father/son duo of John and Gerald Clayton let loose on stage. For more on the Claytons, check out John Clayton or Gerald Clayton’s websites for music and video samples.

In addition to the special exhibitions on view nowDavid Smith, Vija Celmins, Elizabeth Taylor in Iran, and Human Nature—we also have two smaller shows opening this weekend.

To whet your appetite for Tim Burton, opening May 29, we’re giving you Burton Selects: From LACMA’s Collection, on view in the Ahmanson Building starting Saturday. We invited Burton to comb through our entire encyclopedic collection and guest curate a “Burton-esque” exhibition. The result mid-sixteenth-century Mannerists, ghostly Japanese prints, skeletons from Mexico, and plenty of German Expressionists, among others.

Otto Dix, Illusion Act, 1922, the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies, © Otto Dix Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG BILD-KUNST, Bonn

Just upstairs from Burton Selects, in the South and Southeast Asian Galleries, is The Way of the Elders: The Buddha in Modern Theravada Traditions.  The historic Buddha, Shakyamuni (c. fifth century BC) is depicted in all manner of manuscripts, textiles, and monastery walls in the Theravada school of Buddhism (practiced in Sri Lanka and much of Southeast Asia). This installation of permanent collection works looks at a number of such depictions.

Buddha Shakyamuni, (detail) Burma (Myanmar), Mandalay, 20th century, gift of Gerald Stockton and S. Louis Gaines

Sunday, bring your kids for Egyptian-themed art-making activities during our free Andell Family Sunday (12:30–3:30 pm).  Later in the evening, check out the Chamber Ensembles from the Colburn School for our weekly free Sundays Live concert series.

Scott Tennent


Changing Perspective on Photography

April 13, 2011

If you wander through the current exhibition Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection,  you will find photography, video, and installation work in amongst the usual suspects—painting, drawing and sculpture.

Hannah Wilke, S.O.S. Starification Object Series (guns), 1974 Purchased with funds provided by the Judith Rothschild Foundation, the Modern and Contemporary Art Council, and the Ralph M. Parsons Discretionary Fund

That wasn’t the case so long ago, when photography, as a practice or when displayed, was considered in terms that separated it from the rest of the contemporary dialogue. Then Cindy Sherman and a few others happened.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait, 1980, The Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

Now we have photo imagery everywhere and, I hope, a greater appreciation for the medium—though one could make a case for oversaturation—and its challenges. In fact, a lot of artists using photography (see Baldessari) are creating work that retells photo history or plays off those very elements that initially entranced, namely the depiction of the real.

Yinka Shonibare, Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 21.00 Hours, from the Diary of a Victorian Dandy Series, 1998 Purchased with funds provided by the Modern and Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund and the Ralph M. Parsons Fund

No longer are we able to look at photographic imagery and have an expectation of truth, and there is an understanding that a photographer “makes” his/her images rather than “takes.”

Nikki Lee, The Hispanic Project (25), 1998 Ralph M. Parsons Fund

With photography incorporated into the larger picture of modern art history, a different story of influences, themes, and concepts emerges.

Eve Schillo


Memories of Simon Rodia

April 12, 2011

The first time I visited the Watts Towers was in 1990, when I came to Los Angeles to attend a conference. From the airport I asked my cab driver to “take me to Watts Towers” before going to my hotel. A lifelong East Coaster, I had no sense of the scale of western cities, so even though it was possibly my largest cab fare ever, the experience was worth it. During every visit since then I have made a private pilgrimage to the Towers because it is my way to honor the artistry and mastery of their maker, Simon Rodia. I find the towers to be out of this world, one of the most unusual and important artworks in our country. Now I live in L.A., thanks to my new job at LACMA, where one of my responsibilities is to oversee the work we are doing for the city at Watts Towers.

Since living and working in Los Angeles I have been curious to learn how locals talk about and experience the Towers. For the past few months I have been talking to an assortment of citizens about the artist, the Towers, and the neighborhood. It has been a unique and singular way to be introduced to our inspiring city!

I didn’t seek out Richard Hardy and Ted Tennorio. Rather, they happened to meet my husband Jay at IHOP one morning. They started talking about L.A., and LACMA, and soon they were talking about Watts Towers. Jay was surprised to learn that his new friends had grown up by the Towers and used to walk by them while Simon Rodia was still alive. It was a moment when one realizes that sometimes history is not too long ago.

Sanford H. Roth, Simon Rodia/Watts Towers, c. 1950, Beulah Roth Bequest

Richard and Ted both lived near 107th Street and they both remember that back in the 1950s Watts was a “rural place and way out from the city,” said Richard. “It was a mixed community with a lot of Italian families and a combination of ethnic groups in the neighborhood, where neighbors had cows in backyards, there was no real plumbing, and the attitude was laid back. It was almost like a sleepy Mexican village. I don’t even remember any freeways. Space was cheap and there were a lot of jobs.” The Towers, said Ted, were “just part of the neighborhood. We would collect bottles and give them to Simon Rodia, but mostly we just left him alone. We never really met him or spoke to him—we were kids—but we saw him in the neighborhood and left supplies for him.”

Richard continued, “When the Watts Rebellion happened we were in our early twenties and do you know that the Towers were not destroyed at that time? It is because they are sacred. Whatever happens in this neighborhood, Rodia’s Towers are respected in Watts.” 

Brooke Davis Anderson, Deputy Director of Curatorial Planning


Video: Human Nature, contemporary art from the collection

April 11, 2011

On view through July 4th, 2011, our exhibition Human Nature features selections from the permanent collection of contemporary art. In the short video below, Franklin Sirmans talks about various themes of the show, including the use of language, the development of conceptualism, and a growing internationalism in contemporary art. He touches on neon work by Bruce Nauman and Glenn Ligon, body art from the late 1960s and 70s, and new directions in painting, including De Style, by one of my favorites, Kerry James Marshall.

There’s also some great footage of Haegue Yang’s Doubles and Couples, a large scale mixed media installation that uses components of domestic appliances, like a stove and a washing machine, and takes up most of the center of one of the largest galleries.

Amy Heibel


This Weekend at LACMA: Kuba Textiles, Free Lectures, and More

April 8, 2011

This Sunday marks your last chance to see the small installation of Kuba Textiles on view in our modern art galleries.  The varied patterns are beautiful, and installed in the modern galleries it’s easy to draw connections from these textiles to the twentieth-century European art which they influenced.

Ceremonial Textile Panel, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Kuba Culture, Shoowa People, late 19th–early 20th century, gift of the 2009 Collectors Committee

The critics are weighing in on David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy and they like what they see. It’s on view along with a bevy of other exhibitions.  

On Saturday and Sunday we have a pair of free lectures, so drop in on the Brown Auditorium while you’re here for some stimulating talks. Saturday, author April Dammann will discuss her new book, Exhibitionist, a biography of Earl Stendahl, founder of the now 100-year-old Stendahl  Galleries. Damman will talk about this colorful impresario and his impact on art collecting in Los Angeles. The talk will be followed by a book signing.

Sunday, UC Santa Barbara professor Miriam Wattles will talk about the legendary Japanese painter Hanabusa Itcho (1652–1724). Itcho was banished from Edo for more than a decade and became a symbol for the “artist-rebel.”

Hanabusa Itcho, Otafuku, late 17th–early 18th century, purchased with funds provided by Mrs. William Coberly, Jr., and Neil R. Applegate Bequest

Later that evening the Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra will perform music of the Italian Baroque for our free Sundays Live concert series.  

Finally, a heads up for a special event happening on Monday: Lari Pittman and MOCA curator Paul Schimmel will be in the Art Catalogues bookstore to discuss Pittman’s art and career on the occasion of his new monograph.

Scott Tennent


A Transformational Gift for Korean Contemporary Art

April 6, 2011

Last week LACMA became the recipient of a gift that has blown my mind—Korean cosmetics company AMOREPACIFIC has given the museum $1 million to be used toward acquisitions of contemporary art over the next five years.

As a native-Californian Korean-American curator who has perpetually looked toward works by international artists to contribute to global points of entry and contact in contemporary art, this is especially heartening. Of course contemporary Korean artists—whether those featured in Venice or Gwangju or others living and working around the world in a variety of capacities—have been creating vital, rich, and strong works for the past couple of decades (and longer). This is something, I’m happy to note, that LACMA has already demonstrated with the recent exhibition Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea, as well as a number of acquisitions of Korean contemporary art already in the collection.  

Franklin Sirmans and I just installed LACMA’s first contemporary permanent collection installation in six years, Human Nature, on the 2nd floor of BCAM. It seems people have been blogging about the abundance of great work by Korean artists installed throughout the exhibition.

Nikki S. Lee, The Hispanic Project, 1998, Ralph M. Parsons Fund

What a treat to hang Nikki Lee’s Hip Hop Project and Hispanic Project (2001) alongside Yinka Shonibare’s Diary of a Victorian Dandy (1998) and across from Lorna Simpson’s 1957–2009 Interior #3 (2009), which is the first series of the artist’s impressive oeuvre since the early 1980s in which she herself appears. All three and others in the gallery, including L.A. artists Kori Newkirk and Rodney McMillian, are types of self-portraits in which the artist inserts themselves as a strategy around perception and portraiture (with Robert Mapplethorpe’s self-portrait from 1980 holding the sightline throne).

Haegue Yang, Doubles and Couples, 2008, purchased in honor of Lynn Zelevansky with funds provided by The Broad Art Foundation, Hyon Chough, the Korea Arts Foundation of America (KAFA), Wonmi and Kihong Kwon, The Hillcrest Foundation, Tony and Gail Ganz, Terri and Michael Smooke, Judy and Stuart Spence, Steven Neu, and other donors through the 2009 Collectors Committee

Recently, the museum acquired Haegue Yang’s Doubles and Couples (2008) featured in the Turin Triennale in 2009. Having represented Korea at the last Venice Biennale and having just had exhibitions at the New Museum in New York, the Walker Art Center, and REDCAT in Los Angeles, this Korean artist living and working in Germany is truly a global provocateur and genius whose practice spans the examination of history and philosophy alongside personal narrative. This monumental piece occupies the largest gallery space in the exhibition.

Do Ho Suh, Gate, 2005,purchased with funds provided by Carla and Fred Sands through the 2006 Collectors Committee

Last but not least, it was a thrill to install a signature Korean gate installation by one of my all-time favorite artists and dear friend Do Ho Suh. The gate, a replica from his family home in Seoul—but made of silk—is installed in a gallery with a great international and sculptural emphasis including works by Aligiero Boetti, Mauricio Cattalan, Martin Puryear, and Zhang Huan. Do Ho has had a long relationship with LACMA, which I hope will continue for many years to come.

AMOREPACIFIC’s gift presents great opportunity for us to build on this foundation and continue the dialogue between contemporary Korean artists not only with the rest of the global contemporary art world but also with Korea’s own cultural history, as told through our comprehensive permanent collection of Korean art stretching back to ancient times. Lots of thoughts, lots of excitement, lots of potential… just sharing the exciting news has my mind ticking, clicking, and churning away!

Christine Y. Kim, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art 


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