A Painting for My Los Angeles

January 31, 2013

Last week I traveled to New York for a few days—my first time back in many years. I lived in New York for half a decade in the early aughts, though I always knew my time there would be limited. Like many people I had a love/hate relationship with the city. One need only walk a few blocks in New York to become inspired by its energy and ambition. One need only walk those blocks for many months or years for that inspiration to feel more like an infection—energy and ambition become din and bustle. Eventually it got to me and I finally decided it was time to come to California, where I find life to be vibrant but with less anxiety (or, at least, a different kind of anxiety). Of course, returning to New York after so long away had me feeling nostalgic; the city tempted me to fall in love with it again. I almost did.

While in the city I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where George Bellows is on view through February 18. It’s a beautiful show that ably shows Bellows to be a master of his medium and a superb documentarian of New York in the early twentieth century.

George Bellows, Cliff Dwellers, 1913, Los Angeles County Fund

George Bellows, Cliff Dwellers, 1913, Los Angeles County Fund

Amid the numerous paintings and drawings in the show are a couple of familiar works from LACMA’s collection: Emma in the Purple Dress (1919) and Cliff Dwellers (1913), as well as an early drawing that anticipated Cliff Dwellers. (Fun fact: Cliff Dwellers was the very first work of art acquired by the museum, in 1916, when our budding collection was part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Science, History, and Art in Exposition Park.) Cliff Dwellers is undoubtedly one of the masterworks of LACMA’s collection, though I admit that on a personal level I sometimes feel a desire to get away from it.

To Bellows’s credit, I guess, the painting stirs in me all the feelings about the crowded city that made me want to leave. The close quarters, the darkness in daytime, the noise of children and transit, the odor of labor. Above all else Cliff Dwellers is evocative! And there in the Met’s galleries, where I had just stepped in from the city streets, perhaps even more so. It benefited from being surrounded by other Bellows scenes, as well as from my journey from downtown via the 6 train. I had two thoughts when I saw the painting in the exhibition: “god, what a fantastic painting,” followed quickly by “god, I’m glad I live in Los Angeles.”

George Bellows, Why Don’t They Go to the Country for Vacation?, 1913, Los Angeles County Fund

George Bellows, Why Don’t They Go to the Country for Vacation?, 1913, Los Angeles County Fund

When installed in LACMA’s galleries, Cliff Dwellers is sometimes paired with another prize painting, Millard Sheets’ Angel’s Flight (1931), which is a similar scene—a crowded downtown vignette. The two paintings of a similar style and feel, depicting New York and L.A., are a natural pair. In fact it’s quite possible that the L.A.-based Sheets, who likely visited the County Museum and saw Cliff Dwellers prominently displayed, was inspired by Bellows’s painting. And yet to me the pairing has always felt like an unnatural juxtaposition.

Millard Sheets, Angel’s Flight, 1931, gift of Mrs. L. M. Maitland

Millard Sheets, Angel’s Flight, 1931, gift of Mrs. L. M. Maitland

Of course I can’t say that from an academic perspective—the composition and subject matter invite contrast. It’s not about what the paintings present to me; it’s what I’m projecting onto the paintings. When I think of the two images in simplistic terms—“that’s New York and this is Los Angeles”—the Sheets painting doesn’t evoke my experience of the L.A. the way the Bellows does for New York. Certainly L.A. has its urban center as depicted by Sheets. And, yes, it’s also got some horrendous freeways. If you like you could claim Chris Burden’s Metropolis II as the definitive artwork to evoke that L.A. experience.

For me it’s not the freeways that define this city though. No one falls in love with Los Angeles for its freeways. No, it’s the light. It’s the air. That is why Los Angeles is a beautiful place.

Norman Zammitt, Untitled, 1984, gift of William J. and Marilyn Lasarow

Norman Zammitt, Untitled, 1984, gift of William J. and Marilyn Lasarow

One of the first exhibitions to go on view after I started working at LACMA some time ago was called SoCal, which drew mostly from LACMA’s collection and anticipated the kind of content many saw in last year’s various Pacific Standard Time exhibitions. Bookending the exhibition were two paintings by Norman Zammitt. I’d found my “Los Angeles” painting. This was how L.A. made me feel. It was big, light, beautiful, soft, expansive, open, awesome. It was a vista, inviting me to look.

Scott Tennent


Fashioning Fashion Debuts in Paris at Les Arts Décoratifs

January 30, 2013

Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700–1915 explores the changes in European fashionable dress spanning two centuries. Originally on view at LACMA in 2010 as one of three inaugural exhibitions commemorating the newly opened Resnick Pavilion, Fashioning Fashion opened in Paris on December 13, 2012, the final destination of a two-venue European tour. Fashioning Fashion showcases LACMA’s recent acquisition of more than 200 men’s, women’s, and children’s historic costume and accessories. After its showing at LACMA, Fashioning Fashion first traveled to Berlin and was installed and exhibited at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM) from April 29 to July 29, 2012, before arriving in Paris at Les Arts Décoratifs, where it is on view now through April 24, 2013.

Fashioning Fashion banner outside Les Arts Décoratifs at the Palais du Louvre

Fashioning Fashion banner outside Les Arts Décoratifs at the Palais du Louvre

Similar to the installation process of Fashioning Fashion at DHM, the art was uncrated, condition reported, mounted, and installed by LACMA staff in collaboration with our host curators, conservators, registrars, and installation specialists. In the days leading up to the Paris opening of Fashioning Fashion, Brigitte Production created three short teaser videos for Les Arts Décoratifs that capture each step of the installation process. (DHM also produced a short documentary highlighting the installation process in Berlin.)

Unpacked and assembled mannequins wait to be dressed before installation

Unpacked and assembled mannequins wait to be dressed before installation

LACMA and Les Arts Décoratifs staff installs a vitrine that displays late 19th century garments

LACMA and Les Arts Décoratifs staff installs a vitrine that displays late 19th century garments

The first teaser video illustrates the delivery of the crates that were previously in Berlin to Les Arts Décoratifs. Altogether the exhibition consisted of forty-eight crates filled with art, mannequins, invisible mounts, paper wigs, dressing supplies, and installation materials. Upon delivery at each of the two European venues, the entire contents of the crates were unpacked and condition reported, a process also shown in this video.

After uncrating, all objects were examined for condition and then installation began in earnest. Detail shots of the dressing process are shown in the second video.

The third and final video, shot in the last days of the month-long installation, feature images from the completed exhibition.

Unlike previous presentations of Fashioning Fashion at LACMA and DHM where the eighteenth- through early twentieth-century dress and accessories were displayed in four thematic sections—Timeline, Textiles, Tailoring, and Trim—Les Arts Décoratifs curators Denis Bruna and Véronique Belloir restructured the exhibition chronologically in the two-story galleries. The exhibition itself portrays a timeline of the changes in European fashionable dress over the two-hundred-year period. Themes of textiles, tailoring, and trim were presented within the context of the historic eras (eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century fashions on the first floor; nineteenth- and early twentieth-century fashions on the second) providing a different, yet likewise striking, exhibition.

Comparable to the varying approaches to exhibition design at LACMA and DHM, Les Arts Décoratifs displayed the art using their unique scenography. The original installation of Fashioning Fashion at LACMA in the Resnick Pavilion showed the dressed mannequins emerging from gray shipping crates, while the DHM presented the objects on platforms in four harmonious shades of green. In contrast, the exhibition design at the Les Arts Décoratifs, conceived by Frédéric Beauclair, utilized mirrors, a pale-gray color scheme, and gently undulating back-lit screens to display the dressed mannequins and floating mounts inside vitrines.

View of a mid-19th century crinoline and dress on the second floor of Fashioning Fashion

View of a mid-19th century crinoline and dress on the second floor of Fashioning Fashion

A majority of the works in Fashioning Fashion are French in origin, including a rare French Revolutionary vest. This final installation at Les Arts Décoratifs establishes a sort of reunion of LACMA’s French and European costume and accessories with Paris—the birthplace of fashion.

Clarissa Esguerra and Nancy Lawson Carcione, Costume and Textiles


Art & Music Series 2013: Caravaggio Ballet, Steve Reich, Stewart Copeland, ICE, more

January 29, 2013

Unframed‘s Stephanie Sykes spoke with Mitch Glickman, LACMA’s director of music programs, about the upcoming season of LACMA’s Art & Music concert series, an innovative series that pairs music and dance performances with LACMA’s collections and exhibitions. This season gets underway with the ballet Caravaggio, performed by the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, on February 6.

Stephanie Sykes: How did you develop the Caravaggio-focused program for LACMA’s first Art & Music event of 2013? 

Mitch GlickmanArt & Music is a contemporary-themed concert series, so the question is: How do you take a Baroque artist and make it modern? And how do you celebrate the numerous paintings in the exhibition that feature musicians and instruments from the day? With this concert celebrating Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and his Legacy, I am trying something very different for our Art & Music series. The first half of the program features Baroque instrumentalists performing throughout the galleries in front of paintings depicting musicians. These performances take you through the entire exhibition and will establish connections to the work; for example, you will have a lute player in front of a painting of a lute player. The second half of the concert program moves to the Bing Theater for a special performance of the ballet Caravaggio.

Theodoor Rombouts, The Lute Player, c. 1625–1630, Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917, photo © 2012 Philadelphia Museum of Art, all rights reserved

Theodoor Rombouts, The Lute Player, c. 1625–1630, Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917, photo © 2012 Philadelphia Museum of Art, all rights reserved

SS: What is the story behind Caravaggio and bringing the performance to LACMA?

MG: The presentation of ballet is another first for the Art & Music series. I am indebted to Alberto di Mauro, director of the Italian Cultural Institute, for introducing me to a new ballet by leading Italian composer Giovanni Sollima appropriately titled Caravaggio. The ballet is a brilliant fusion of past and present, Baroque and contemporary, expertly choreographed by the resident choreographer of Balletto Teatro di Torino, Matteo Levaggi. Through the support of IIC, we were able to bring out Mr. Levaggi from Italy to work with one of Southern California’s leading dance troupes, the L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, led by Kate Hutter. We are thrilled to be able to present the U.S. premiere of this stunning work that captures the energy, passion, and soul of Caravaggio.

SS: What other highlights can we look forward to in the 2013 season of Art & Music?

MG: One highlight this season is our May 7 concert featuring Steve Reich & Friends. The concert features Reich works, old and new, including the LA premiere of Piano Counterpoint with Vicki Ray. Reich will perform in the concert along with percussionist David Johnson and the CalArts Percussion Ensemble, the Lyris String Quartet, and pianist Joanne Pearce Martin. We are also excited to again be working with Long Beach Opera presenting an afternoon with composers Stewart Copeland (The Police) and Mark Gordon (Bang on a Can), and this year’s series closes with the New York–based group ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) directed by recently announced MacArthur Grant award winner Claire Chase. It is rare treat to experience such a wide array of today’s finest contemporary performers and composers.

Tickets to all Art & Music performances are on sale now

Stephanie Sykes


Shop for Your Valentine at LACMA

January 28, 2013

The LACMA Store and Art Catalogues are filled with great books, posters, housewares, art, jewelry, and more for your Valentine. Here are just a few suggestions from the selection.

Symbols of love, longevity, and peace, cranes mate for life. This lacquer box, exclusively at LACMA, was inspired by Cranes, the set of screens by Maruyama Ôkyo, currently on view in the Pavilion for Japanese Art.

Lacquer_Box_Cranes_S6r_large

Madam X, visionary artist and spiritual guide, created the series TRUE LOVE. This TRUE LOVE pennant is the perfect way to announce your feelings to the world—or to that special someone. Other items in the series include Madam X’s box of 100% true love and her set of three little books on love.

Madam_X_Pennant.6_large

In conjunction with the exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ, this porcelain candle and cup, adorned with Mapplethorpe’s delicate flower still life photograph, includes a fragrance created by the Givaudan perfumers Shyamala Maisondieu and Olivier Pescheux.

Mapplethorpe_Candle_Red_tulip_and_box.6_large

Alexandra Grant’s special edition sterling silver Love Ring and Love Necklace were designed to benefit the Watts House Project (WHP).

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To go along with the color scheme of Valentine’s Day, a perfect gift for your special someone is a LACMA gift membership. A LACMA membership gives all year with free admission, discounts on talks, films, and concerts, priority ticketing and admission for major special exhibitions, and more.

BAGGU_Biggers

Both shops are open Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm; Fridays from 10:30 am to 8 pm; and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 am and 7 pm. You can also shop online any time. LACMA members get 10% off off every purchase. Happy shopping!

Alex Capriotti


This Weekend at LACMA: Free Admission Sunday, Free Film w/ Gael Garcia Bernal, Diane Keaton Talk, Family Art Activities

January 25, 2013

The art and film worlds intersect for a picture-perfect weekend at LACMA. Reserve tickets for tonight to see Stanley Kubrick (one ticket gets you into Kubrick and the soon-to-close Caravaggio and His Legacy), and then hop in line to see a free screening of Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín’s No tonight in the Bing Theater.

Fresh off of an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, No stars Gael García Bernal as an advertising executive who spearheads a campaign to oust military dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1980s. Larraín, Bernal, and costar Antonia Zegers will be on hand for a Q&A. Though tickets are no longer available, a standby line will form at the Hammer Building Ticket Office at 6:30 pm.

Top off your movie night with Stanley Kubrick–themed dinner at Ray’s (“Pho Metal Jacket”) and cocktails at Stark Bar (i.e. “The Wind Doesn’t Blow, It Sucks,” aka “The Full Metal Daiquiri”).

On Saturday night at 7 pm, Oscar-winning actress Diane Keaton and D.J. Waldie, writer and Los Angeles Times contributing editor, will take part in a free discussion about their latest collaboration, House, a book about architecture and interior design. Tickets to the conversation are no longer available in advance, but a standby line will form at 6 pm.

House, by Diane Keaton with text by D.J. Waldie

House, by Diane Keaton with text by D.J. Waldie

And then there’s more art—and lots of it.

LACMA, along with eighteen other area museums, is offering FREE general admission this Sunday as part of the eighth annual Museums Free-For-All.

Though this doesn’t include admission to Stanley Kubrick or Caravaggio and His Legacy, you will get free access to all other exhibitions and galleries, including Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection, Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ, Compass for Surveyors: 19th-Century American Landscapes, The Ancient Maya World: Masterworks from the Permanent Collection, and much more.

Installation view, Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection, November 15, 2012–February 24, 2013, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection, November 15, 2012–February 24, 2013, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Vessel with Supernatural Profile, Belize, Uxbenka region, Maya, AD 650-900, purchased with funds provided by Camilla Chandler Frost

Vessel with Supernatural Profile, Belize, Uxbenka region, Maya, AD 650-900, purchased with funds provided by Camilla Chandler Frost

Also, while you’re here, you must see the rare pair of eighteenth-century Japanese screens depicting seventeen cranes by seminal Japanese artist Maruyama Okyo that went on view last weekend. These screens are an unprecedented acquisition for LACMA, which was, after years of pursuing by curator of Japanese art, Robert Singer, granted the rare opportunity to acquire them by the government of Japan.

 Maruyama Okyo, Cranes, 1772 (An'ei period, 1772-1780), gift of Camilla Chandler Frost in honor of Robert T. Singer

Maruyama Okyo, Cranes, 1772 (An’ei period, 1772-1780), gift of Camilla Chandler Frost in honor of Robert T. Singer

Sunday is also a perfect day to bring the family to LACMA. Not only can your family enjoy art-making activities and tours during Andell Family Sundays, but you can also sign your child up for Arts for NexGen, LACMA’s free youth membership program, and accompany him or her to the museum for free all year-round.

Round out the weekend with a free classical music concert featuring Chamber Ensembles from the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute in the Bing Theater at 6 pm.

Have a great weekend, and we’re looking forward to seeing you at LACMA!

Jenny Miyasaki


Director David Slade on the Legacy of Stanley Kubrick

January 23, 2013

Our free Stanley Kubrick app for iPad/iPhone (and, coming soon, Android!) includes a number of original interviews, including an excerpt from this one with director David Slade.

Slade was kind enough to visit during the installation of the exhibition to share his memories and thoughts about the legacy of Kubrick’s filmmaking. Slade was at Kubrick’s headquarters in the UK on the day the legendary director passed away, a day he recalls in the interview segment included in the app. But Slade’s tribute extends well beyond Kubrick’s death, to the lasting impact of his films on directors working today. Here, he talks about being shaken by A Clockwork Orange, and what it means to cultivate a creative vision.

Amy Heibel, video by Alexa Oona Schulz


How Do You Clean a 242-Year-Old Painting? Very Carefully

January 23, 2013

In early February the National Museum of Korea, in Seoul, will present Art Across America—the first major historical survey of American art ever to be presented in Korea. The exhibition was co-organized by LACMA, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Terra Foundation. LACMA sent nearly forty paintings to be part of the show, including major works like Mary Cassatt’s Mother about to Wash Her Sleepy Child,   Georgia O’Keeffe’s Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose, and Henry Inman’s No-Tin (Wind). Also among the paintings was John Singleton Copley’s Portrait of a Lady, painted in 1771 (learn more about the painting here).

Before Treatment: John Singleton Copley, Portrait of a Lady, 1771, purchased with funds provided by the American Art Council, Anna Bing Arnold, F. Patrick Burns Bequest, Mr. and Mrs. William Preston Harrison Collection, David M. Koester, Art Museum Council, Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr., The Ahmanson Foundation, Ray Stark, and other donors, photo by Yosi Poseilov, © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Before Treatment: John Singleton Copley, Portrait of a Lady, 1771, purchased with funds provided by the American Art Council, Anna Bing Arnold, F. Patrick Burns Bequest, Mr. and Mrs. William Preston Harrison Collection, David M. Koester, Art Museum Council, Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr., The Ahmanson Foundation, Ray Stark, and other donors, photo by Yosi Poseilov, © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

In advance of its journey to Korea, Portrait of a Lady made a stop in LACMA’s conservation center for a much-needed cleaning. We captured the process on video so you could see the remarkable transformation.

Our amazing conservators are able to carry out extraordinary efforts like this thanks to contributions from our members and gifts in any amount to the LACMA Fund. So, as you peruse the list of great benefits you can get as a member (like free tickets to Stanley Kubrick and Caravaggio, and free general admission all year), bear in mind that being a member means even more—we can preserve history thanks to you.

After Treatment: John Singleton Copley, Portrait of a Lady, 1771, purchased with funds provided by the American Art Council, Anna Bing Arnold, F. Patrick Burns Bequest, Mr. and Mrs. William Preston Harrison Collection, David M. Koester, Art Museum Council, Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr., The Ahmanson Foundation, Ray Stark, and other donors, photo by Yosi Poseilov, © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

After Treatment: John Singleton Copley, Portrait of a Lady, 1771, purchased with funds provided by the American Art Council, Anna Bing Arnold, F. Patrick Burns Bequest, Mr. and Mrs. William Preston Harrison Collection, David M. Koester, Art Museum Council, Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr., The Ahmanson Foundation, Ray Stark, and other donors, photo by Yosi Poseilov, © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Scott Tennent


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