Film Independent at LACMA kicks off October 13

September 13, 2011

Earlier this year, we announced our partnership with Film Independent—the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival—to collaborate on a new film program, presented by The New York Times. We’re now excited to share the first programming schedule for the new series, Film Independent at LACMA, with an opening line-up that represents the broad range of the program.

Under the curatorial leadership of film critic Elvis Mitchell, Film Independent at LACMA will present classic and contemporary narrative and documentary films; artists and their influences; emerging auteurs; international showcases; and special guest-curated programs, all rounded out with conversations with artists, curators, and special guests.

The series launches on October 13 with the world premiere of The Rum Diary, the long awaited passion project produced by its star, Johnny Depp, who is scheduled to be in attendance that evening, along with director Bruce Robinson and co-stars Amber Heard and Aaron Eckhart.

The introductory line-up also includes a Live Read, conceived by award-winning director Jason Reitman who will serve as the series’ first guest artist, bringing classic screenplays to life with some of today’s best actors. For the Live Read debut, Reitman has selected the John Hughes’ classic The Breakfast Club (1985), with a surprise cast who will read the script together for the first time and allow the audience to see them shape start-to-finish performances on the fly.

The series kick-off will also include a members-only screening of Martha Marcy May Marlene, by writer-director Sean Durkin which won him the Directing Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival; a restored print of Modern Times (1936); and director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s first film Accattone (1961) that forever changed the definition of Italian Neorealism. The regular weekly schedule for Film Independent at LACMA will begin October 27, and complement the museum’s ongoing Tuesday matinee series and film programs presented in conjunction with special exhibitions.

Christine Choi

Installing California Design

September 12, 2011

If you’ve been inside the Resnick Pavilion recently, you have seen the major installation work happening for our upcoming exhibition California Design, 1930-1965: “Living in a Modern Way”, opening October 1. This multimedia exhibition includes furniture, ceramics, metalwork, fashion and textiles, industrial and graphic design, cars, and more. Building the structural framework to support all of these objects has been an intense process for our exhibition designers.

Building the framework for the walls of the exhibition.

An Airstream Clipper sits nearby while the crew assemble the framework for the walls of the exhibition.

Creating the walls that will house the Eames living room installation.

Recreating the living room of Charles and Ray Eames.

Putting it all together.

Putting it all together.

The show opens to the public on October 1st. Member preview days are September 29th and 30th— join now for a sneak peek.

Alex Capriotti

This Weekend at LACMA: Wayne Shorter, Asco Tour, Muse ‘til Midnight, And More

September 9, 2011

 Tonight’s free Jazz at LACMA is a truly special occasion. We’ll be presenting the third annual L.A. Jazz Treasure Award to none other than Wayne Shorter. Shorter began his career in the 1950s as a member of (and composer for) Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, followed by a stint in the 1960s with the Miles Davis Quintet and later as a founder of the fusion group Weather Report. He is inarguably one of the all-time great jazz musicians. Here’s a clip of Shorter soloing with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in 1963:

Tonight at 6:30, curator Rita Gonzalez will lead a tour through Asco: Elite of the Obscure, which she co-organized. This is a great (free!) way to get insight into the exhibition, which just opened last week.

Asco, Cinearte 76 (detail), 1976, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library

Also just opened are two more exhibitions that are part of Pacific Standard TimeMaria Nordman FILMROOM: SMOKE, 1967–Present, which got a nice write-up on Culture Monster this week, and Edward Kienholz: “Five Car Stud” 1969–1972, Revisited. The Kienholz show, as you may have heard, has strong content that is both thought-provoking and, frankly, difficult to experience. That’s why every weekend that the show is open, we have educators in the gallery who are there to answer questions and engage in conversations.

We’ve been talking up our Saturday events all week on Unframed, so here’s one more reminder. At 4 pm in the Art Catalogues bookstore, artist Mungo Thomson will be in conversation with Piero Golia, discussing Thomson’s limited-edition artist book commissioned by LACMA.

As the sun goes down, things will really start to pick up with our annual Muse ’til Midnight event. As described in yesterday’s post, the collective dublab has gathered 25 DJs and performers to create music especially for different galleries on campus, including the modern and contemporary galleries and Tim Burton and Asco. You can see the full schedule here [pdf], and you can sample “Tim Burton” by Daedelus to give you a sense of what you might expect. (PS: open beer & wine bar.) Buy your tickets here

On Sunday we launch a new theme for the weekly Andell Family Sundays: We Want Pie! Make art with your kids and tour the galleries together, for free. (Stay tuned for next week’s Sunday events, which will include KCRW’s Pie Contest!)

Sunday night, hear Mozart’s Duo in G major and Dohnanyi’s Serenade for String Trio as performed by Endre Balogh (violin), Steven Gordon (viola), and Dennis Karmazyn (cello) during our weekly free Sundays Live concert.

Scott Tennent

Listening to Art

September 8, 2011

This Saturday, LACMA’s Muse membership group will put on an innovative program in the galleries fusing art and music. We talked to Jason Gaulton, Muse Coordinator, about organizing the event, working with 25+ DJs, and how the program will augment the usual museum experience.

What was the inspiration for this program?
One of Muse’s platforms is to celebrate art in all its forms and music is a form we’ve been especially eager to explore. LACMA is such a beautiful campus that just begs for a soundtrack. I have a background in concert promotion and am someone that cannot sustain without music. I often go through the galleries with my headphones in and notice differences in how I view the art. With the right song, paintings leap out of their frames and sculptures begin to move in mysterious ways. It’s an experience everyone should have and Muse is thrilled to present that opportunity on Saturday.

How were DJs chosen for each gallery? Did they pick galleries that inspired them?
The credit for the choosing the DJs goes to the fine people at dublab. The web radio collective excels at generating creative ideas for any number of scenarios and their crew took the concept and ran with it in incredible fashion. Frosty of dublab has been a regular at the museum bringing a wide array of DJs through the galleries to find their inspiration. Some DJs were obvious fits for certain collections from the beginning while others arrived at their space during the visits.

What was the planning process for the various DJs?
The planning process was different for each DJ. From the initial meeting of the minds, most DJs became repeat visitors while others disappeared into studios and workshops and not only did beats need to be created but so did ways to convey them. For example, Daedelus was nice enough to shake hands first but his attention was immediately diverted to Tim Burton. He whisked his wife away to inhale the exhibition and exhale the musical menagerie Toil and Trouble. Meanwhile, KCHUNG Radio used their visit to digest the layout of the BP Grand Entrance to figure out a way to go “silent” so the party continues outside all the way to 12:30 am. The end result of their hi-tech tinkering utilizes radio waves to create a DJ dance party like you’ve never heard and is going to be a sight to be seen.

Since museums don’t often have music playing in the galleries, how will this change the visitors’ experience?
I am not going to say it will be more fun. That would be rude to all other days at the museum, which are pretty amazing. I will say that there will be even more than normal for visitors to enjoy. For one, the museum after hours is gorgeous. The campus takes on an incredible glow at night that is rarely experienced due to our 8 pm closing time. Also, the headphone system means people have the option to forego a set and walk the galleries as usual but, on Saturday night, they can fit a pair on and have the chance to groove around the galleries.

Listen to Art: Muse ’til Midnight takes place this Saturday at LACMA in multiple galleries including Tim Burton, the newly-opened Asco: Elite of the Obsucure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987, plus the modern, contemporary, and Art of the Pacific galleries.

Font Study (TIME): Q&A with Mungo Thomson

September 7, 2011

LACMA recently commissioned artist Mungo Thomson to create a limited-edition artist’s book, Font Study (TIME), which collects drawings of the Time magazine logo as it has evolved over decades. Thomson will be at LACMA on Saturday to discuss his latest work, in conversation with artist Piero Golia. Here, curator Rita Gonzalez asks Thomson about his project.

Mungo Thomson, Font Study (TIME), 2011, © Mungo Thomson

Mungo, you’ve worked with publications in the past that in some sense are standard bearers in their particular field (Artforum for art and National Geographic for popular ethnography and natural science). What drew you to Time magazine?
The idea that it’s a standard-bearer is probably the reason—it’s “The world’s leading weekly newsmagazine.” I’m drawn to things that have accumulated some consensus, some cultural agreement that lends them an ease of reference. Something has to be familiar before you can attempt to defamiliarize it. At the same time I’m very interested in Heidegger’s concept of “the distance of the near”—the way we stop seeing common things.

I used to do graphic design for a living and I am kind of a font nerd. I try to distinguish fonts on signs and in movie credits and so on, and I spend a lot of time trying to match something to an existing font in my work. And in the course of this project I came to realize that Time magazine might have been my introduction to graphic design. My parents had a subscription to Time and I remember it lying around when I was a kid, changing every week. This was the 1980s, and I remember the banners and the folded-over corner on top of the standard framework of the red frame and Time logo—it got very design-dense then and I remember that it was struggling to manage all this information. So it may be that my own visual literacy begins with Time.

There are so many artists in your generation who are working with newspapers and magazines for imagery to recast and/or represent, especially through drawing. What attracted you to the Time masthead—and why did you want to isolate it compositionally?
When I started this project, I was in a moment of transition in my work from thinking mainly about spatial concerns to thinking more about temporal ones, and starting a new project about time using the Time logo was a shorthand, and sort of a dumb and literal, but also amusing and possibly profound, way to do that. It’s sort of like my Negative Space project: I wanted to make work about “negative space” so I started inverting Hubble photos.

The word “recast” seems astute, because the idea was, at least in part, to recast the Time logo as a stand-in for “time” itself—vast, unknowable, cosmic time. To see if I could take the culture out of something—which of course you can’t. So where Time magazine positions itself as possessing authority and certainty (“Why Your Drugs Cost So Much,” “Why Israel Can’t Win,” “The Meaning of Michelle Obama”), as steering things toward literacy and intelligibility, toward a kind of mass-consumption, fine-grain detail, I am interested in steering the whole enterprise toward abstraction and doubt.

As far as isolating the logo in the drawings, the goal was to make Zen conceptual art with more mass-media noise attached. They are like corporate On Kawaras.

Your artist books are conceptually driven and often not retrospective accounts of bodies of work. Why does the book form attract you?
I have actually made a book on my work that looks like Herman Hesse’s paperback novel Siddhartha (CUENCA) and another that looks like a desert field guide booklet (Easy Field Guide to Mungo Thomson), with drawings of my work instead of photos inside. These were monographs and conceptual projects at the same time. I have said that if I could only make one thing it would be books. I like how when you hold a book, it belongs to you, even though there may be many copies. Circulation is a very appealing idea to me, a singular object that can travel light and have many trajectories.

There are other phenomenological qualities that books have that Font Study (TIME) actually revolves around. Following my publication Einstein #1, which was a full-fledged comic book, I became very interested in the way time happens when you read—how the white gutter between panels in a comic equals time passing, and yet how time pauses when you turn a page. There’s this integral interruption. And then there’s simply that it’s later when you put a book down than when you picked it up. This book was designed in part to call attention to all these things, to its form and structure as a book, to how it is handled and read, as well as to the evolution of the Time logo. So it’s a study of time on all fronts.

Pre-order Font Study (TIME) here. Edition of 50, signed and numbered.

Rita Gonzalez, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art


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