This Weekend at LACMA: Four New Installations Open, How To Train Your Dragon, Free Concerts, and More

August 17, 2012

In addition to our five special exhibitions currently on view, as well as monumental artworks like Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass and Chris Burden’s Metropolis II, this week we’ve opened a number of smaller exhibitions and installations. Opening Saturday in the Art of the Americas Building is The Studio Glass Movement: 1962–2012. Museums across the country are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the studio glass movement, which originated at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962 in workshops led by artist Harvey Littleton. Since then glass has ceased being considered a solely industrial material and is now a vibrant artistic medium in and of itself. LACMA’s exhibition includes works by Littleton, Dale Chihuly, Stanislav Libensky, and more.

Harvey Littleton, Red/Blue Combination Arc, 1984, gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser

Also just opened in the Ahmanson Building is a small but diverse collection of photographic prints under the simple title Young, which look at the theme of childhood, and looking at children as subjects of art.

Jan Saudek, Child, gift of Graham and Susan Nash

In the South and Southeast Asian galleries, two installations have are now on view: Unveiling Femininity in Indian Painting and Photography,  which presents works from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries on the title theme. Not far from that installation is Alia Syed: Eating Grass, a presentation of films by this contemporary experimental filmmaker. Keep your eyes on Unframed for blog posts on both of these shows soon.

This week is heavy on concerts at LACMA: last night was all about hip hop with Through the Mic, tonight is Jazz—Guitarist Grant Geissman brings his exuberantly named Pop! Bang! Boom! Band to Jazz at LACMA—while Saturday sees Brasil Brazil take the stage for Latin Sounds. The weekend winds up with a Sundays Live tribute to Debussy, who was born 150 years ago this year.

Our free Friday-night family-friendly outdoor films continue tonight with the dazzling animated fantasy How to Train Your Dragon.

The dragon theme continues on Sunday during our free Andell Family Sunday, where you and your kids can learn about dragons in our collection and then make your own!

Scott Tennent


Tonight! Through the Mic: Freestyle Fellowship and Breakestra

August 16, 2012

Our monthly hip hop concert series Through the Mic returns tonight with co-headliners Freestyle Fellowship and Breakestra. Freestyle Fellowship are among the forefathers of L.A. hip hop. The quartet–Aceyalone, Myca 9, Self Jupiter, and P.E.A.C.E.–formed more than twenty years ago and were staples of the legendary Good Life Cafe scene. Their albums To Whom It May Concern and Innercity Griots are landmarks of independent hip hop, and all four members have stayed prolific as a group or as solo artists ever since. Their fifth and most recent album is The Promise, from 2011.

Breakestra  has been around nearly fifteen years, taking on different line-up permutations but always retaining a blend of 60s and 70s funk and soul, and 80s and 90s hip hop, adding up to something that is totally contemporary. Breakestra has released albums on excellent hip hop labels Stones Throw and Ubiquity, including their most recent, Dusk ’til Dawn, which features singer Afrodyete and Jurassic 5 MC Chali 2na. For tonight’s concert Breakestra will assemble as an eight-piece band that is not to be missed.

Scott Tennent


Artists Respond: Joe Biel on The Sun and Other Stars

August 15, 2012

Artist Joe Biel is the latest to take part in our Artists Respond series: web-based projects inspired by an exhibition at LACMA. Joe chose The Sun and Other Stars: Katy Grannan and Charlie White as his jumping-off point.

Inspired by the show, Biel created this online project, called Archive (fragment).  Here’s what he had to say about his response to White and Grannan:

I thought the exhibition was brilliantly curated, because both artists deal with a unified view of image but in totally different ways. My response is made up of images of things that I thought about while looking at the work in the show. There are all these things that leap to mind about society, image, entertainment, what’s real and what’s fictitious.

Charlie White, From the series “Casting Call,” 2010, LACMA, purchased with funds from the Ralph M. Parsons Fund, © Charlie White

For example, in the exhibition, Charlie White has this series of visually unified and similar looking blonde girls at a casting call. It communicates a real sense of uniformity. Looking at that work, I’m thinking about traditional ideas of beauty. So there are faces throughout my response– an image of JonBenet Ramsey, an image of an American Idol contestant, a girl from a Budweiser commercial, juxtaposed with mug shots of drug addicts and other documentary photos. I’m thinking about dichotomies, in response to that uniformity that Charlie presents.

From Archive (fragment) by Joe Biel

I’ve been working on a large scale drawing of 1100 television sets stacked up in towers, called Veil. The images that I chose to use in Archive (fragment) are part of the archive of imagery I’ve been collecting for Veil. I’ve been collecting those images the way a writer might approach a novel, creating categories of images the way a novelist might sketch out characters.

From Archive (fragment) by Joe Biel

For me, it was a challenge to work on something for the web. I traditionally make drawings and paintings. I don’t think I’ve ever made a web piece before. It was really freeing though. It allowed me to not worry about certain problems that I do worry about when I’m making an “object”: surface quality, scale, how the drawing will occupy a gallery space. I thought about this project more as a piece of literature. These are the pure images out of my archive before they’ve been manipulated. For that reason, the piece has a more anthropological quality than one of my drawings, which is cleaned up by choice. Looking at the online response is like reading someone’s diary, rather than reading a novel. I found the process interesting and liberating.

From Archive (fragment) by Joe Biel

As a slideshow, the piece is time-based, and that’s not a medium I’ve worked in much. This project allowed me to take what I’m working on in my big project and see a different aspect of it. I think of it as a circle rather than as a line. I wanted the slideshow to resemble a novel like Infinite Jest or Finnigan’s Wake, where at the end you loop back to the beginning. The last image is an image of Wittgenstein, and the first image is this Russian guy. To me they represent different sides of the same character.  The Russian guy has this look of intense tragedy on his face and Wittgenstein has this weird smile. But I’m bringing those opposites together by looping them together.

In real life, things that we try to keep apart are actually joined together in a messier way than we might want to acknowledge.

Amy Heibel


Q&A with Josh Graves, Pastry Chef, Coffee + Milk

August 13, 2012

Unframed’s Stephanie Sykes sat down with C + M’s pastry chef, Josh Graves, to talk about his inspiration, passion for pop tarts, and C + M’s seasonal appeal.

You’ve worked in a number of food establishments across the city: Boule, Mani’s, Mercantile, just to name a few.  What is it like to work in a museum setting?

I do love working in this artistic environment. Coming in in the morning and being surrounded by all the different architecture makes it such an inspiring place for me. I feel like everyone who works here is so creative. I love it.

Josh Graves

How was the experience of building a pastry menu from scratch?

Patina approached me about opening a café at LACMA and wanted to see what I could come up with in terms of tarts, cookies, and cakes.  They hadn’t seen that side of me at Ray’s yet. I drew from things I’d made before and some ideas I had, tweaked them, and here we are.  I really enjoy baking— it’s so focused.  It’s a lot of fun to take these ideas for flavors and manifest them into one final product: a cake or a pop tart.

Bacon Date Pop Tart

Where do get your inspiration for both the pastries and their names?
I get ideas everywhere! Sometimes I’ll see or try something and get inspired to make it my own way.  Take the Bacon Date Pop Tart, for example. I grew up eating Pop Tarts as a kid and loved them, and I‘ve always wanted to make a gourmet version.

Or let’s look at the Black Velvet Cake.  I don’t like to use food coloring very often.  I don’t think it’s necessary. So, I used the same ingredients as a red velvet cake but kept its natural color. I liked the idea of calling it a Black Velvet cake because the term black velvet makes you think of both the song and the whiskey.  The taste and element of pop culture lend themselves to a nice sense of familiarity.

Another example is the Elvis Cake, inspired by the Elvis Sandwich made of peanut butter, banana, and bacon. It was his favorite sandwich—that’s what he’d always ask for!

Elvis Cake

Ray’s is staunch in their farm-to-table approach. Is the same true of C+M?

Yes, we use a lot of the same vendors, and we have a forager who constantly sources things from various farmers markets.

Our gardener plants a lot of herbs on-site at LACMA, which encourages us to try things. The lavender on the Lemon Lavender Pop Tart is taken from the garden behind Ray’s.

Can you walk us through the transition of ingredients from summer to fall?

This is the best time of year for desserts because we have so many stone fruits and berries, two of my favorite things. Peaches are excellent right now, so it’s a great moment for the peach pie. As we move into fall, you’ll see strawberries fade out pretty soon and give way to something else. We’ll also see more stone fruits in the fall.

Pastries at Coffee + Milk

What’s the deal with the milk sorbet we’ve been hearing so much about?

We liked the oxymoron of a milk sorbet because sorbets are obviously not meant to have dairy in them. Like with all of our dairy products, we use only organic ingredients—Strauss organic milk, to be specific. The milk sorbet is lighter than ice cream and is perfect for our ice cream sandwiches and milkshakes.

Stephanie Sykes


This Weekend at LACMA: Alia Syed and Femininity in Indian Painting open, outdoor films, and more

August 10, 2012

If you are looking for a way to beat the heat this weekend (temperatures are forecasted to be in the high 80s around LACMA and into the high 90s in the Valley), come to our cool, air-conditioned galleries for relief.

Opening tomorrow are two new installations from our South and Southeast Asian Art department. Alia Syed: Eating Grass features work by experimental filmmaker Alia Syed that explores issues of identity, representation, and intercultural communication through narratives taking place in Karachi, Lahore, and London.

Alia Syed, still from Eating Grass, 2003, photo courtesy of the artist and Talwar Gallery, New York/New Delhi, © Alia Syed

Also opening is Unveiling Femininity in Indian Painting and Photography, an installation that looks at the depiction of women in Indian court painting and photographs from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Because male artists weren’t allowed to enter women’s private quarters, portraits of female nobility from this time are rare. Paintings and photographic portraits in the installation offer a peek into the private and alluring world of women in this time period.

William Willoughby Hooper, Two Nautch Girls on a Bed, c. 1870, collection of Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck

This weekend is the last chance to see the perceptual photographic play in The Continuity of Robert Cumming. In this installation, Cumming explores the spectacle of 1970s Hollywood in humble and playful photographs.

Robert Cumming, Quick Shift of the Head Leaves Glowing Stool Afterimage Posited on the Pedestal, 1978, gift of Sue and Albert Dorskind, © Robert Cumming

In addition to those exhibitions, there is plenty more to see around campus. In BCAM you’ll find Figure and Form in Contemporary Photography, The Sun and Other Stars: Katy Grannan and Charlie White, Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol, Michael Heizer: Actual Size (also on view in the Resnick Pavilion), and Metropolis II. Recently opened in the Pavilion for Japanese Art is fascinating exhibition Ohie Toshio and the Perfection of the Japanese Book.

Ohie Toshio; O Jun, Asters, 2005, novel by Ishikawa Jun (Japan, 1899–1987), published by Shigetsusha, collection of Ohie Toshio, © Ohie Toshio

At sundown tonight, our Animation August outdoor film series continues with the animated hit Puss in Boots. This adult-and-kid-friendly comedy follows the events leading up to the sword fighting cat’s meeting with Shrek and his friends. Bring blankets, a picnic, and even your dog for a fun outdoor evening.

Families are also invited to come to our free Andell Family Sundays. The theme for August is Dragon Days.  Explore depictions of dragons in our collection (like those in our Chinese or Korean galleries), then make your own dragon art during family art-making activities.

As always, the weekend will be filled with live music. Tonight, catch the Dale Fielder Quartet at Jazz at LACMA. Tomorrow, Latin Sounds will get you dancing with the Latin-jazz ensemble Mongorama. On Sunday, get out of the heat and into the Bing Theater for a classical music performance by Los Angeles Electric 8 with special guest LA Trombone Collective.

Alex Capriotti


Figure and Form in Contemporary Photography

August 8, 2012

Bodies are back. Walking through The Sun and Other Stars: Katy Grannan and Charlie White to get to Figure and Form in Contemporary Photography, I was struck by the insistent presence of the human figure. The body has always fueled the photographer’s imagination, but we seem to have returned to the dominance of the studio portrait, where model and photographer collaborate on fantasies of identity and form. Except now cameras—and the people posing for them—can go to, and come from, anywhere.

David LaChapelle, Abel, From the series Awakened, 2007/printed 2012, promised gift of Fred Torres, © David LaChapelle

In fact, Figure and Form offers a surprisingly diverse tour through the intimate exchange between body and photograph through the last century. Drawing from LACMA’s collection, the exhibition explores fashion photography, documentary photography, conceptual photography, the erotic, the playful, the ironic, and the deadly serious.

John Baldessari, Two Men with Alphabets, 1984, gift of Judy and Stuart Spence, © John Baldessari

Vivanne Sassen, Belladonna, 2010, printed 2011, purchased with funds provided by the Ralph M. Parsons Fund and the Photographic Arts Council, 2011, © Viviane Sassen

It demonstrates how central the body has been to photographic practice, both as a subject and as a catalyst for experiments with material and process. And it offers a visually delightful survey of the body posing, prancing, and working hard through some of modern and contemporary photography’s greatest moments.

Megan Driscoll, Research Intern


An English Postcard: Henry Moore’s Monumental Modernisms

August 7, 2012

If the plan was to be in England between the queen’s sixtieth and the Olympic Games, which worked out in my favor, there certainly would be no avoiding the rainiest summer and, particularly, the close encounter, be it over ground or underground. Of course a little time and some exhilarating English art and it was home—be it an old home—at last.

As a young man, I arrived in England at the height of English sculpture in the late 1950s and early 1960s and was quite taken aback by the sheer variety and power of their extraordinary vitality in reimagining or referencing the tenets of the three dimensional form. Henry Moore in particular was a giant and that is not to suggest that one did not see these budding possibilities in say French art.

Constantin Brancusi, Bird in Space, 1925–1926, partial, fractional, and promised gif of Janice and Henri Lazarof, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

There was Constantin Brancusi, who was born in Romania but began his career in France, with his deeply influential Bird in Space and Raymond Duchamp-Villon’s cubist dynamic The Largest Horse, which are in LACMA’s collection; Bird in Space is on view now in the Ahmanson Building. Moore had met both artists in Paris in the 1930s. In fact, Henry Moore met and knew many of the important twentieth-century artists. But the English, as a whole, seemed to embrace this three dimensional universe at that time with an unerring depth and passion that were second to none. And of course it was not just sculpture but painting and collage, which would foster a cool mood of restrained grandeur that would lead me to a master with a single voice. And yet, I had never seen his work, collectively, so imposingly grand.

Raymond Duchamp-Villon, The Largest Horse, 1914, gift of Anna Bing Arnold , © Henri Matisse Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SUCCESSION MATISSE, Paris, photo © 2012  Museum Associates/LACMA

Henry Moore’s Late Large Forms on view now at the Gagosian was simply a revelation! Of course, one had been schooled in a million different ways of Moore’s work with some quite large pieces but the environment may have been the deceptive ingredient all along. Having seen the art inhabit the grandeur of nature, we may have accepted it happily as a part of man’s contribution to nature. But brought indoors, tamed as it were, it is no longer pitted against the giant oaks of Perry Green (home of The Henry Moore Foundation) and that Constable blue sky and dotting yards of generous green grass like my grandsons’ cricket pitch, which stretches to another green-band horizon.

However, in their white, cavernous, and limited box galleries where their forms have no competition, only each other, Henry Moore can instill and inspire wonder and grace, as though one is seeing them for the first time. In their fitful stillness, these vast castings are driven to posture humanity, to seal the family—the coupling in the impenetrable permanence of metal where he could make his art glow as a jewel or seem as stone or hewed in raw hacking strokes—a modernism strolling through sculptural history, unassailably marking points in time. The eye is made to choreograph in the mass, to flow, undulate, and jag upward, rounding off and gracefully looping back with curvaceous ease as the woman’s form sensuously appears and disappears, a journey but never quite coming to rest. In their scale, they displace time, and with their form and its origins, modernism, they are eerily elsewhere. There was something ancient, primordial, for Moore had perfected nature’s geological, haphazard, arbitrary wasting away to give us not only images of ourselves but our abstract dream inventions.

Henry Moore, Three Part-Reclining Figure, 1961–1962, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bart Lytton and the Lytton Foundation, © The Henry Moore Foundation, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

There was no other sculptor whose presence and images mark the time and modernism with such distinction and such a powerful aesthetic resolution and, thankfully without irony, just an intrinsic trust. At times, he is romantically sentimental sculpting in almost every known material with endless moments of embrace and reclining and at others he is brutally abstract.  His powerful iconic imagery, both three-dimensional and two, an art renowned throughout the Western world would serve as humanitarian beacons in the postwar years, healing the dreadful wounds while symbolically binding us to a common humanity.

Impressive as these works were, you get the feeling that scale was not a central theme of his art, for one need but look at the hand-size marquettes in which little is lost. So, reunited with LACMA’s perfectly proportioned pieces in its collection—two marvelous large reclining sculptures from the middle period lodged in the Director’s Roundtable Garden, a beautiful carved marble figure piece from his early period, and a defining abstract bronze from the late period, I concluded that Moore could be any size and the essential impact would remain.

Hylan Booker


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