This Weekend at LACMA: ArtWalk, Malick Series, Black American Art Roundtable, and More

May 13, 2011

Is it just me, or is everyone starting to get into the summertime mood? It’s time to get out, have fun with friends, stay up late, enjoy yourself. You can do that all weekend at LACMA in a variety of ways—like tonight, with Jazz at LACMA. The Greg Porée Group (GPG) performs for free in front of Urban Light, just steps away from your best dinner/drinks option in the Miracle Mile, Ray’s and Stark Bar.

On the other side of campus, our Terence Malick film series, which began yesterday, continues with The Thin Red Line, his third film, made in 1998. The wartime film stars Jim Caviezel, who will be here in person. Saturday night, travel back twenty years to 1978 for Malick’s masterful Days of Heaven, with Richard Gere and Sam Shepherd.  Production designer and longtime Malick collaborator Jack Fisk will be at the screening.

As mentioned yesterday, this Saturday is the annual Muse ArtWalk—aka free admission to LACMA and all the other museums on the Miracle Mile. All the galleries in the area will be open as well and there are tons of site-specific performances and artworks commissioned specially for ArtWalk.

While you’re here, be sure to stop in to the Bing Theater for a free roundtable discussion celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the LACMA exhibition Two Centuries of Black American Art, including exhibition curator David Driskell (now professor emeritus, University of Maryland), UC Irvine professor Bridget Cooks (who we interviewed earlier this week), and LACMA curators Franklin Sirmans, Austen Bailly, and Brooke Davis Anderson. We’ve just launched an archival site for this historic exhibition—have a peek, and check in to Unframed again next week for more.

Henry Ossawa Tanner, Daniel in the Lion's Den, 1907-1918, Mr. and Mrs. William Preston Harrison Collection

On Sunday, bring your kids during the day for Andell Family Sundays, or stop in for a free evening concert by The Colburn Chamber Orchestra, performing works by Boccherini, Bernstein, Bartok, and Britten.

And don’t forget: this Monday starting at 11 am, we will be screening Christian Marclay’s The Clock (which LACMA acquired last month) for twenty-four hours straight in the Bing Theater. Admission to this screening is free.

Scott Tennent

This Saturday: Muse ArtWalk 2011

May 12, 2011

This Saturday, Muse Artwalk explores the Miracle Mile with free access to LACMA, the Architecture+Design Museum, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Page Museum, and Petersen Automotive Museum, along with fifteen participating galleries and a wide range of artist projects. No genre is ignored as ArtWalk plays host to painting, music, dance, readings, film, and conversation. Here are just a few of the highlights:

It’s Cool, I’m Good by Stanya Kahn
“With a complex sound score and over twenty locations featured, It’s Cool, I’m Good reflects a stressed personal state amidst a stressed environment…With an inexorable sense of humor, Kahn’s protagonist is vulnerable and manipulative, narcissistic and generous, steering the viewer as an enthusiastic tour guide all the while offering a non-stop flow of anecdotes, observations, and advice on how to navigate this difficult reality.” —ArtSlant 

Vox Humana Project with LA Art Machine
Founded in January 2010 and based in L.A., Vox Humana is a program of carefully selected live art happenings and mural installations in the U.S. and abroad by celebrated street artists and muralists from around the world. Artists participating at ArtWalk include Mear One, Jamie Johnson, John Park, and Hans Haverson, plus Jean Wells installs her Urban Fruit Tree.

John Park and Hans Haveron

A Gallerina’s Guide by Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre
In addition to site-specific dance performances all over LACMA’s campus, A Gallerina’s Guide is a living art show and interactive exhibit that explores real opportunities for engagement with contemporary art. With the audience listening on infrared headsets, live performers in oversized frames expose the mysteries of the Nude, the action of Still Life and the kaleidoscope of Color Field.

A Gallerina's Guide

Scott Benzel  Concentric Circles (After David Smith)
Benzel’s performance/installation is for 3 (infinite) lock groove lacquers and a string trio. Benzel is joined by Heather Lockie and Cassia Streb on viola along with Jessica Catron on cello. Taking place inside the Resnick Pavilion, the ethreal sound will give the exhibition a cinematic quality.

This is just a small taste of everything planned for this Saturday’s free extravaganza. For the complete list of museums, galleries, and programs, visit

Jason Gaulton, Muse Coordinator

Time Passes Before Your Eyes

May 11, 2011

As you may have read, last month we acquired The Clock, Christian Marclay’s 24-hour film collage. This Monday, starting at 11 am, we will be screening The Clock in the Bing Theater for 24 hours straight—for free!—for the first time anywhere on the West Coast. (Beginning Friday, May 20, The Clock will be on view during regular museum hours in a gallery setting.)

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

Watching The Clock is like watching the clock—quite literally. The sudden realization when you’re observing this work that you don’t need to keep checking your own watch because the visuals and audio on screen are actually in real time hits you hard. “I’ll just stay five minutes,” you tell yourself, and then you get sucked in.

What’s that actor’s name? Oh, I know this movie! I remember this TV series! You’re hooked.

“I’ll stay a few minutes longer,” and the minutes go by… then quarter hours, and then hours go by without you really realizing—except that you do, because the time is constantly being thrust in your face, in full sight and sound, on the screen in front of you. Time seen on a clock face, the chime of a timepiece, the passing of time. Time flies by. It’s visually compelling and at the same time frustrating, because you want to stay but you know you have to leave—there are things to do, places to go, work to be done. But the opportunity to see as much as you can of this visual extravaganza of film and television clips ensnares you, and you feel compelled to stay and see as much as you can. That is, if you have the time to spare. Time waits for no one.

Miranda Carroll, Director of Communications

Medieval Mourners

May 10, 2011

The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy just opened last weekend. The installation is beautiful, with spotlit alabaster figures set on a platform in a dramatic darkened gallery. The figures are not commonly seen in such a minimalist setting; they come from the lower register of the elaborate tomb of John the Fearless, one of the powerful 15th century dukes of Burgundy. The tomb is now a centerpiece of the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. The gallery that houses it is being renovated, so the figures have been on the road for over a year. Isolated as discrete works of art, the sculptures (each about sixteen inches high) stand out like miniature portraits of distinct personalities who retain their individuality despite the passage of more than five and a half centuries.

Each figure is captured in an apparently spontaneous posture of grief. Some wipe their tears, while others bow their heads, sing, or wring their hands.

Jean de la Huerta and Antoine le Moiturier, Mourner with Head Uncovered, Wiping His Tears on His Cloak with His Right Hand, no. 55, 1443-56/57, alabaster. Musee des Beaux-Arts, Dijon. Image FRAME 2010. Photography by Jared Bendis and Francois Jay.

They are so detailed that even those who appear to hide under their cloaks have finely carved facial features if you bend down and peek under their hoods.

Mourner with Cowl Pulled Down, Right Hand Raised, Left Hand Holding a Book in a Flap of His Cloak, no. 78, 1443-56/57, alabaster, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Dijon. Image FRAME 2010. Photography by Jared Bendis and Francois Jay.

The French Regional American Museum Exchange (FRAME) has produced an extraordinary online collection of photographs of the mourners. Before the figures were transported to the US for exhibition, they were documented in more than 14,000 high res and stereo 3D photographs. Mourner no. 64 is my favorite, caught in a very personal gesture, pinching his nose as if to stop his tears. You can view the images full screen, zoom, rotate them, and select various angles.

Curator J. Patrice Marandel talks about the poignant humor of the mourners, the artists who carved them, and the installation at LACMA:

Amy Heibel

African American Art at LACMA: Q&A with Bridget Cooks

May 9, 2011

I recently invited Dr. Bridget Cooks to be a panelist in this coming Saturday’s program, Two Centuries of Black American Art: A 35th Anniversary Roundtable, which will revisit this seminal LACMA exhibition. Dr. Cooks, Assistant Professor of Art History and African American Studies at University of California, Irvine, and a former LACMA educator, is the author of the forthcoming book Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum and dedicated a chapter in her study to the show: “Filling the Void: Two Centuries of Black American Art (1976).” An excerpt from that chapter will be an integral part of our soon-to-be-launched online archive for this historic exhibition,  and the cover image for her book was shot in LACMA’s American Art galleries. I sat down with Bridget when she was here planning the cover shoot to learn more about her work and her connections with LACMA.

Bridget Cooks

Austen Bailly: When we were first in touch, you told me you were a LACMA neighborhood kid, which I loved. Can you tell me about your early experiences at the museum? Is there a particular LACMA memory that stands out from your childhood?

Bridget Cooks: My mother used to take my sister and me here often. We’d pack a picnic and walk here from home. We lived a couple of miles away, and we would sit by the Page Museum and have lunch, and we’d bring a hula hoop and play games and roll down the hills, and look at the art in the museum. I have to say that one of my earliest memories of LACMA, in the galleries, was the King Tut show, which I think was 1977. I remember my mother holding me up so I could see all of the jewelry in the cases; that’s really one of my earliest memories, ever, of anything. I remember looking down at the jewelry because she lifted me up so high.

AB: As a former member of LACMA’s Education Department, you created the programming for the museum’s landmark exhibition Made in California (2000). How did that experience inform your book?

BC: The book is based on a lot of primary research, oral histories, and archival work, and was really inspired by my experience as a museum educator and professional. There were so many things that I learned about when I was working in museums about how museums work, the kinds of conversations we have about cultural history and cultural memory; the kind of responsibility that museums have to the community; the kind of narratives we tell. I really wanted to write books about that sort of behind-the-scenes process. Programming for Made in California was about crafting a narrative, trying to reflect everyone’s California—which is a really impossible thing to do—but to try to bring out some of the stories that are not as familiar to everyone, and also capitalizing on common experiences that we all have. In the Education Department I learned a lot about the different layers of memory, the desires that different audiences have of LACMA in particular and museums in general. And those stories, that whole process is just endlessly fascinating to me. That’s definitely been an inspiration for the book.

AB: Tell me about your vision for the book’s cover, which will show African Americans in LACMA’s American galleries.

BC: I have a very strong vision that I’m really excited about for the book, which will be published in August. I wanted to come to LACMA because it is really my museum—because I grew up here. I wanted to show some of the work that we have here in the American galleries, but also show the way that people interact with it, particularly African Americans—as guards, as visitors, and also as people who are imaged in the photographs, and in the paintings and the sculpture. I want to show an image that relays the kind of complexity of that relationship—the way that we have an African American presence in major mainstream museums.

Poster for Two Centuries of Black American Art, 1976

AB: What do you think about the relationships between LACMA and its African American visitors today?

BC: I think that there are a lot of African American people in Los Angeles, and really across the nation, that remember the show Two Centuries of Black American Art and think about LACMA as a place where David Driskell [the guest curator] was able to bring his vision to the world, something that we’re all really proud of. And I think that might be the last really strong memory that the African American residents of Los Angeles really have of a strong black presence at the museum. I like that the work by black artists is interspersed, in their contexts, throughout the museum; I think that’s really wonderful.  I don’t know if the black population that’s interested in art really knows that that’s here. I think they might be relieved and excited to see that there are black artists throughout the collection without a huge announcement or a show that’s just for black artists, but to see that we are becoming more and more integrated into the collection. I really like very much that on LACMA’s website you have a section where you can search and see African American artists that are collected. I think that’s an important part of that public relationship with the larger black community, so they can see that there’s recognition. But, I think, of course, more, more, more.

Austen Bailly, Associate Curator, American Art


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