Behind the Scenes: Installing “Stanley Kubrick”

October 24, 2012

In anticipation of the opening of Stanley Kubrick on November 1, we thought we’d give you a behind-the-scenes look at installing the exhibition. The first retrospective of the legendary filmmaker in the United States, this exhibition brings together hundreds of objects that document Kubrick’s uncompromising vision and his groundbreaking films, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The Shining, Lolita, and many more.

Reserve your tickets now. Want to see Stanley Kubrick before anyone else? Join LACMA today (members get free tickets and preview days: October 28–30) or buy a ticket to LACMA Muse’s Stanley Kubrick–themed Costume Ball—partygoers get a sneak peek.

Reproduction Korova Milk Bar Mannequin, A Clockwork Orange, c. 2003, Replica: Cornelius Korff Breymann, Mutterschied, Wigs: Katy McClintock, Frankfurt am Main, Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt am Main, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

A member of the LACMA conservation team readies a mannequin for display. Reproduction Korova Milk Bar Mannequin, A Clockwork Orange, c. 2003, Replica: Cornelius Korff Breymann, Mutterschied, Wigs: Katy McClintock, Frankfurt am Main, Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt am Main, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Helmet of the astronaut Bowman, Original, c. 1967, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dennis Gilliam Collection, Riverside, California; Eyemo Camera with Case, The Kubrick Estate, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

1967 Spacesuit Costume, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Avie Hern Collection, Los Angeles, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

A member of LACMA’s conservation team examines Stanley Kubrick’s Eyemo camera with case, The Kubrick Estate, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

War Room Model, scale 1:20 Reproduction: Workshop Jörg Kallmeyer, Frankfurt am Main, Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, c. 2003, Deutsches Filmmuseum, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

War Room Model (detail), scale 1:20 Reproduction: Workshop Jörg Kallmeyer, Frankfurt am Main, Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, c. 2003, Deutsches Filmmuseum, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

War Room Model (detail), scale 1:20 Reproduction: Workshop Jörg Kallmeyer, Frankfurt am Main, Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, c. 2003, Deutsches Filmmuseum, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Photos by Yosi Pozeilov, Senior Photographer, Conservation Center


Curators Talk Mapplethorpe at the Getty and LACMA

October 22, 2012

Last year the Getty and LACMA jointly acquired the art and archives of Robert Mapplethorpe, including more than 2,000 works of art as well extensive documentation of this important artist’s celebrated career and working methods. Now both museums are presenting Mapplethorpe exhibitions for the first time since this historic acquisition, in anticipation of a larger, jointly organized retrospective planned for 2016. On view now at LACMA is Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ, while In Focus: Robert Mapplethorpe opens at the Getty tomorrow. In collaboration with the Getty Iris, I sat down with Getty curator Paul Martineau to discuss the two exhibitions and what the acquisition means to both institutions.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Cedric, N.Y.C. (X Portfolio), 1978, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, partial gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust, 2011, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Britt Salvesen: What appealed to you about acquiring the Mapplethorpe collection?

Paul Martineau: One of the things that Curator Emeritus Weston Naef set as a goal when he established the Getty Museum’s photographs collection was to collect an artist’s work in depth, so that the museum would be in the position to represent his or her career from beginning to end.

Salvesen: That’s interesting, because Robert Sobieszek, the founding curator of LACMA’s photography department, took a slightly different approach: acquiring singular examples from many artists. He was especially interested in experimental photography, and uses of the medium beyond the fine-art photography realm as it used to be defined.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Irises, N.Y.C. (Y Portfolio), 1977, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, partial gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust, 2011, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Martineau: A few other important factors made this acquisition appealing to us as well: the Getty Museum holds the historical collection of photographs that Sam Wagstaff (Mapplethorpe’s lover and mentor) established in the 1970s, and the Getty Research Institute holds Wagstaff’s papers and the papers of Mapplethorpe’s art dealer Harry Lunn. What appealed to you about the acquisition?

Salvesen: There were only a small number of photographs by Mapplethorpe in public hands in Southern California, so making this acquisition would not only correct that, but also establish Los Angeles as the center of Mapplethorpe scholarship.

Martineau: How did you decide on the contents of your show?

Salvesen:  I was immediately drawn to the X, Y, and Z portfolios as a kind of ready-made exhibition—they are, in effect, curated by Mapplethorpe himself, and they represent his own statement of his key themes.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Leigh Lee, N.Y.C. (Z Portfolio), 1980, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, partial gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust, 2011, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Martineau: By contrast, the Getty exhibition features a broad selection of Mapplethorpe’s work from his early mixed-media objects, to his portraits, nudes, and still lifes. While the show includes a number of Mapplethorpe’s best-known works, the artist’s mixed-media objects and Polaroid instant prints are not well known by the public.

Salvesen: Why did you decide to show Mapplethorpe’s best-known work next to his least-known work?

Martineau: It’s all about gaining a better understanding of Mapplethorpe’s artistic journey. The early mixed-media objects and Polaroid snapshots demonstrate the struggle of a budding artist to find his proper medium of expression and develop his vision, while the carefully crafted gelatin silver and platinum prints make evident Mapplethorpe’s mature style as well as his eye for prints of the highest quality and beauty. I decided to organize it chronologically, so that the aesthetic trajectory of the artist’s career would be visible.

Do you expect the S&M photographs [in the X portfolio] will generate controversy as they have in the past?

Salvesen: There’s no question that the photographs still have a strong impact today. However, our culture now makes sexually explicit imagery so accessible, and our attitudes about same-sex relationships have changed so much since 1990. I think the discussion now will be about those major societal shifts.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Jim, Sausalito (X Portfolio), 1977, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, partial gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust, 2011, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Martineau: You did something different when planning your layout, didn’t you?

Salvesen: We took up Mapplethorpe’s own suggestion, which he stated in a 1989 interview, that the portfolios be displayed in three rows. That allows the viewer to see the common formal aspects among all the different subjects, and to take them in as a totality.

Martineau: That was a great idea. I am excited to see your show and to observe how your visitors react to it.

Salvesen: I look forward to your installation as well.  And to working together on a larger Mapplethorpe exhibition in 2016!

Britt Salvesen, curator and department head, Wallis Annenberg Photography Department


This Weekend at LACMA: Drawing Surrealism and Robert Mapplethorpe Exhibitions Open, Surrealist Film Series, Ohie Toshio Closes, and More

October 19, 2012

Two exhibitions are opening at LACMA this weekend—Drawing Surrealism and Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ—in addition to many others currently on view like Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective, Ed Ruscha: Standard, and more. Filling half of the second floor of BCAM, Drawing Surrealism is the first large-scale exhibition devoted to surrealist artists’ innovative approach to drawing, such as the exquisite corpse, automatic drawing, collage, and more. The exhibition overflows with roughly 200 works on papers by 90 artists, including surrealist giants like Salvador Dalí, André Breton, Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Wifredo Lam, and more. Fans of our recent In Wonderland exhibition will find drawings by Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, and Frida Kahlo as well. The exhibition is currently open to members only; it opens to the general public on Sunday. (Not a member yet? Don’t forget: in addition to member previews to exhibitions like Drawing Surrealism, you’ll also get free tickets to both of our upcoming specially ticketed exhibitions, Stanley Kubrick and Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy, both opening in November. Join now!)

André Breton, Yves Tanguy, Jacqueline Lamba, Cadavre exquis, 1938, Sylvio Perlstein, © 2012 André Breton Estate, © 2012 Jacqueline Lamba Estate/ARS/ADAGP, Paris, © 2012 Estate of Yves Tanguy/ARS

In conjunction with the opening of Drawing Surrealism we are presenting three special screenings this weekend. Tonight is Animating the Subconscious—a variety of cartoon shorts from the 1930s–1950s that dive into dreamlike territory, including classic Looney Toons, Silly Symphonies, and Salvador Dalí’s Disney-produced Destino. The films start at 7:30pm; come early and enjoy the Kim Richmond Sextet during Jazz at LACMA, starting at 6pm.

Saturday evening at 5pm sees Collage in Motion—a free program of shorts from the 1950s to this decade. This is followed at 7:30pm by a Spotlight on Lewis Klahr, the acclaimed L.A.-based experimental filmmaker. Among other Klahr films to be screened, the evening will feature the premiere of his latest work, The Pettifogger.

Lewis Klahr, Prolix Satori, 2012

Also opening this weekend is Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ (opens to members on Saturday, and to the general public on Sunday). You may recall that last year LACMA and the Getty jointly acquired the art and archives of Mapplethorpe—thousands of photographs, documents, and archival materials related to the artist and his life. This small exhibition, which opens simultaneously with a second small Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Getty, is the first presentation of works by Mapplethorpe in L.A. since that acquisition. XYZ presents three portfolios from 1978–81, each depicting different subject matter: nude portraits of African American men (Z), flower still lifes (Y), and homosexual sadomasochistic imagery (X). The X portfolio in particular was at the center of the Culture Wars at the time of the infamous Mapplethorpe exhibition The Perfect Moment. Watch Unframed next week for more on the exhibition.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Alistair Butler, N.Y.C. (Z Portfolio), 1980, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, partial gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

On the same day that these exhibitions open to the public, another closes. Sunday is the last day to see Ohie Toshio and the Perfection of the Japanese Book, on view in the Pavilion for Japanese Art. You may have seen the artist himself in the galleries of his exhibition over the course of its run; on Sunday he will give a more formal (and free) talk in the Brown Auditorium, where he will discuss how he introduced the art of bookbinding to Japan in the 1970s.

Ohie Toshio; O Jun, Asters, 2005, novel by Ishikawa Jun, published by Shigetsusha. collection of Ohie Toshio

While you’re here on Sunday, enjoy family art-making activities during Andell Family Sundays, or stay into the evening for a free Sundays Live concert in the Bing Theater—pianist Mariangela Vacatello, performing pieces by Haydn, Liszt, Debussy, and Rachmaninof.

Scott Tennent


Drawing Surrealism: Techniques of the Sublime

October 17, 2012

Surrealism evokes bizarre, dreamlike imagery and complex psychological allusions, yet the creative methods employed by many surrealist artists couldn’t have been more ordinary and accessible. Drawing Surrealism, which opens on Sunday, October 21 (and opens to members on Thursday), highlights the surrealist use of drawing-based techniques, such as automatic drawing, frottage, collage, the game of exquisite corpse, and decalcomania, as means to bypass the rational mind and tap into the subconscious realm. While the names of some of these techniques may be unfamiliar, the techniques themselves are probably not. In fact, you may have well practiced them as a child.

Andre Masson, Delire Vegetal (Vegetal Delirium), 1925, private collection, Paris, © 2012 Andre Masson Estate/ARS/ADAGP, Paris, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Automatic drawing is the act of drawing automatically or aimlessly, that is, without thinking. (A form of doodling you could say.) For the surrealists, the resultant imagery could provide clues to one’s psyche and reveal an alternative form of visual expression that challenged the deliberate and calculated forms of the rational status quo.

Max Ernst, Systeme de monnaie solaire, 1925, Galerie Jeanne Bucher/Jaeger Bucher, © 2012 Max Ernst Estate/ARS/ADAGP, Paris, photo courtesy Galerie Jeanne-Bucher/Jaeger Bucher, Paris, photo by Losi

Frottage involves rubbing graphite (or other drawing media) on paper that is placed on a textured surface, such as a wood floor, string, or leaves, for example. With frottage, surrealist artists were able to “lift” textures and forms from the physical world without drawing them, at least in the conventional sense.

Andre Breton, Yves Tanguy, Marcel Duhamel, Max Morise, Cadavre exquis, 1926, collection of Gale and Ira Drukier, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

The exquisite corpse is a collaborative game in which several people compose drawings on separate sections of a folded piece of paper, none of the participants having any idea of the nature of the preceding contributions. Surrealists first intended exquisite corpse to be a game of sorts, but it eventually became a fruitful technique, which resulted in fantastic and often grotesque creatures that defy logical explanation.

Jindrich Styrsky, Stehyovaci cabinet, 1934, collection of Annie Le Brun, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Collage involves the gluing of pieces of paper (usually found in printed matter). Collage was used by the surrealists because it allowed for the creation of uncanny scenarios through the unlikely juxtaposition of everyday images.

Georges Hugnet, Untitled, c. 1935–36, purchased with funds provided by Alice and Nahum Lainer through the 2006/2007 Drawings Group, © Georges Hugnet Estate, 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

To make a decalcomania, the artist applies gouache to a sheet of paper and/or stencil and then presses it with another sheet, creating a transfer image that is revealed when the sheets are pulled apart. (Décalquer means to transfer an image in French.) Originally a decorative technique popular in the nineteenth century, the technique was repurposed in the 1920s for therapeutic purposes and designated the Rorschach test. It was reinvented with surrealist aims in 1935 by Spanish surrealist Oscar Dominguez.

The surrealists emulated inexpert art forms, like those of children, because they challenged the more academic modes privileged by the status quo and because they represented a more instinctual and illogical (ie. surreal) means of expression.

Drawing Surrealism opens to the public on Sunday, but LACMA members can get a sneak preview starting today. The exhibition will travel to the Morgan Library & Museum in New York in January after completing its run at LACMA.

Leslie Jones, Curator, Prints and Drawings


Walter De Maria’s “The 2000 Sculpture”

October 15, 2012

It is such a rare treat to see Walter De Maria’s work in person. I hear he has been wandering around LACMA quite a bit. He came for an inspiring if underground visit in 2010 when the Resnick Pavilion was not quite open, installing The 2000 Sculpture in its luminous space, which allowed the work to float. And I caught sight of him in one of Michael Heizer’s photographs on view in BCAM, just the other day (he is featured, unidentified and with his back turned, in one of the photographs included in Michael Heizer: Actual Size). Inspiring and underground—could there be better words for De Maria, who continuously insists on the power of art and creates  ways to encounter it?

Walter De Maria, The 2000 Sculpture, 1992, Collection of Walter A. Bechtler-Siftung, Switzerland, © 2012 Walter De Maria, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Now The 2000 Sculpture is installed in the Resnick Pavilion again, this time open to the public. It fills the space of the pavilion in a grand horizontal gesture that activates and pushes against the architecture. Immediately engaging the viewer, it asks her for a slow consideration of its patterns, which are visually discernible, but quite difficult to pin down. Do we all stand at the end counting sides trying to get a handle on it? Or do we allow our vision to rest and wander in a more ambiguous appreciation of the form? No understanding of the pattern (5 7 9 7 5-5 7 9 7 5) could ever describe an experience of the work. No photograph can capture its form. This resistance to the translations of criticism and photography has been De Maria’s point all along: that we engage physically and mentally with the presence of art and its ensuing complexity. “No matter how pure I try to be, something always enters in, a streak of non-purity,” De Maria said in 1968.  “It’s at that point where warm meets cold, action meets inaction, that’s what interests me. And what goes on in people’s minds.”

Walter De Maria, The 2000 Sculpture (detail), 1992, Collection of Walter A. Bechtler-Siftung, Switzerland, © 2012 Walter De Maria, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

The 2000 Sculpture may allow us to think of purity because of its meticulousness, and with this we should all be impressed; but its mathematical formulations also echo with time, history and thus, I suppose, death. De Maria has more than once alluded to this central theme of life (and death). Looking out over the work’s herringbone puzzle, I see resonances with military airfields, airstrikes, and cemeteries as easily with the patterns of the ancient I-Ching, (in relationship to which De Maria has also made work). But it is not about any of these things. They are already part of our formal, social, and visual space, and his art asks us to engage with it. Enjoy.

Jane McFadden, Associate Professor, Art Center College of Design


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