This Weekend at LACMA: Farhang Short Film Fest, Nowruz Celebration, and More

March 15, 2013

Celebrate the Persian New Year with two different events at LACMA this weekend. First, on Saturday, LACMA and the Farhang Foundation are partnering to present the 2013 Farhang Foundation Short Film Festival, featuring works from emerging international talents. A private reception with the winners  of the contest and other filmmakers will follow. You can visit farhangfilmfest.org to view all the nominees’ films and lacma.org for ticket information.

Continuing the spring equinox festivities, Sunday is the Nowruz Celebration at LACMA. For five consecutive years the Farhang Foundation has hosted one of the biggest Iranian New Year’s celebrations in town and this year it has only gotten bigger. There’s a full day of exciting activities throughout the campus, including a world-premiere music-dance-video performance created by Shahin Yousefzamani, a free live performance by Rana Mansour and Erwin Khachikian, free story reading and calligraphy for children, and a traditional Nowruz display known as “Haft Sîn.” Visit the event page for more details and ticket information. Nowruz at LACMA runs from 11:30 am–7 pm. While you’re here celebrating Nowruz, be sure to visit our galleries for Islamic Art in the Ahmanson Building and objects from the ancient near east in the Hammer Building.

Plate with a Portrait Medallion of a KingIran, 224-651, anonymous gift

Plate with a Portrait Medallion of a King
Iran, 224-651, anonymous gift

Also in the Hammer Building is the just-opened Ming Masterpieces from the Shanghai Museum, which features a beautiful representation of 15th and early 16th century Ming dynasty court painting. Earlier this week the L.A. Times characterized it as “a rare opportunity for American audiences.”

Li Zai, The Daoist Adept Qin Gao Riding a Carp, Ming dynasty, 15th century, Shanghai Museum

Li Zai, The Daoist Adept Qin Gao Riding a Carp, Ming dynasty, 15th century, Shanghai Museum

Elsewhere in our galleries, you’ll find Stanley Kubrick, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, and Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ—the latter comes to an end on March 24, next Sunday!

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

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

Closing out the weekend, Sundays Live presents violinist Phillip Levy, cellist Andrew Shulman, and pianist Rina Dokshitsky at 6 pm with their rendition of Debussy: Violin Sonata and Ravel: Piano Trio. Sundays Live is always free and open to the public. We hope to see you here!

Roberto Ayala

 


What Do Cats Have to Do With It? Welcome to Our New Collections Website

March 14, 2013

Two years ago, we launched an experiment: an online image library where we made 2,000 high-resolution images of artworks that the museum deemed to be in the public domain available for download without any restrictions.  This week, we’ve exceeded ourselves with the launch of our new collections website, giving away ten times the number of images we offered in the initial image library. Nearly 20,000 high-quality images of art from our collection are available to download and use as you see fit (that’s about a quarter of all the art represented on the site). Just look for the “download” option beneath the photo of the artwork. (If you want to see all of the public domain artworks in the collection, run a search and then select “Show only unrestricted images” at the top of the page.)

Image1

Why would a museum give away images of its art? As Michael Govan often says, it’s because our mission is to care for and share those works of art with the broadest possible public. The logical, radical extension of that is to open up our treasure trove of images. When we first launched our early experiment with giving images away online, we heard a resoundingly positive response from many quarters: school teachers, parents, graduate students, journalists and the occasional creative person interested in printing their own Mother’s Day cards. So far, we have yet to hear of a situation where one of our public domain artworks has been misused or abused.

The new collections website does more than just give images away. It also uses a powerful open source search technology to create an interface that makes it easier than ever to sift through the roughly 80,000 works of art we have online. Whereas our old website privileged curatorial distinctions as the primary way into the museum’s treasures (“American art” versus “Art of the Pacific” and so on), the new site lets you decide where to dive in.

HomepageOne of my favorite features is the “On View” facet. Select a location in the museum, and you can see all of the results in our database that are on view in that location. It seems so obvious, right? But this is the first time our visitors (and our staff!) can go online, or whip out an iPad in the galleries, and quickly see, for example, all the works on view in the Ahmanson Building on the second floor—from Roy Lichtenstein’s Cold Shoulder,  to Lee Bontecou’s fantastic Fish,  and Marino Marini’s Horse and Rider.  The location information updates every night, so you’ll know about a new work on view almost as fast as we do.

Faceted search, which is what this is called, combines the ubiquitous direct search (an open search box, like Google) with navigational search (structured hierarchies and taxonomies, derived from library and information science). The end result is that you can now indulge your personal idiosyncrasies on our new collections website running lightning-fast searches for anything you can think of.

Cats

And apparently a great many of you are thinking about cats, because “cat” has regularly come up in our web usage report as a highly popular search term. If I enter “cat” in the open search box on our new website, in a fraction of a second, I’m faced with 210 LACMA cats. If I then scroll down to “chronology” on the left side of my results, I can see that these cats span the range of human history. This particularly jaunty statue with his pierced ear dates back to sometime between 1081 and 525 BC.  He makes a fine companion to this mid-twentieth century Japanese example.

By the way, if you want to save your favorite records all in one place, choose “My Gallery” beneath any image. You’ll be prompted for a simple login username and password. Once you’ve registered, you’ll be able to save your favorites for future reference. You can even add comments, and help us tag the collection to make search smarter and more responsive to the way the public uses the site.

Have a question about a work of art you see in our collection? Log in and share your question in the comments section–our curators and research library staff have offered to field these questions, creating an open online dialogue about our evolving knowledge (and yours) regarding the works of art at LACMA.

Enjoy!

Amy Heibel

P.S. Special thanks to our Drupal developers, Urban Insight; our collections information team led by Robyn Sanford and Robin Chung; our in-house developer James Vitale; and our digital asset manager Heidi Quicksilver!


Designs for Nowruz: Q&A with Sheida Koufigar

March 13, 2013

This weekend, the Farhang Foundation welcomes the spring equinox with the fifth annual Nowruz (Iranian New Year) celebration at LACMA, the largest event of its kind in Los Angeles. Over two days bustling with activities, the museum plays host to a short film festival, special presentations of artworks, musical and dance performances, family programs, Persian food, and more. You may have noticed Nowruz street banners strewn around Los Angeles and wondered about their symbolism. Sheida Koufigar, an Iranian-American graphic designer currently studying at California State University, Long Beach, was named the winner of the Farhang Foundation’s 2013 Nowruz Festival banner contest, which called upon the public to submit designs that visually represent the spirit of Nowruz. Unframed’s Stephanie Sykes caught up with Koufigar to learn how she came up with the prize design.

Sheida Koufigar, winning design for LACMA's Nowruz Festival street banner

Sheida Koufigar, winning design for LACMA’s Nowruz Festival street banner

You were born and raised in Iran but are currently based in Los Angeles. Have your Nowruz traditions shifted within the context of a new city? What is the tradition that resonates with you the most?

The whole experience of Nowruz is completely different here compared to Esfahan, where I grew up in Iran. Over there, one can smell the Hyacinth flowers everywhere. There are little vendors selling goldfish at every corner, and basically the whole country celebrates. I really miss that feeling here. However, I am pretty lucky to be living in a city where there is a large Persian community celebrating this great tradition. Having different events celebrating Nowruz here in Los Angeles makes it easier for me to forget about not being home with my family during this holiday.

For me, Nowruz is all about setting up the Haft-sîn (the traditional table setting), shopping, and visiting family and friends.

Can you walk us through the process of developing your winning banner design?

My design process always starts with research. Even though I had a good idea about the history and traditions of Nowruz, I still could not skip this step of my process. I had to figure out how Nowruz has been introduced in other non-Persian communities before. In other words, I needed to study how Nowruz advertising has been done before outside of Iran. After that, I just sketched and worked with all the visual elements—for instance color, type, and illustration style—to make sure everything worked together to make sense for the public.

When designing this banner, my goal was to show a specific Nowruz tradition in a very contemporary and minimal style. Haft-sîn, which literally means “seven S’s,” is the traditional Nowruz table-setting which includes seven items starting with the letter Sîn, “S.” Each one of these items symbolically represents something in life. For instance, an apple, or sib in Persian, symbolizes beauty and health. Haft-sîn is probably one of the most major traditions of Nowruz that has stayed with people for many years.

At first, I decided to work with a specific Nowruz tradition from older times when the Haft-sîn was placed on a special tray called Tabagh, and the tray was carried by dancers in elaborate costumes.

Sheida Koufigar, early design for Nowruz street banner

Sheida Koufigar, early design for Nowruz street banner

However, this image looked very specific and there was a risk that it might not have widespread appeal among non-Persian citizens. Therefore, I changed my design to something more recognizable and familiar. I decided to minimally represent Nowuz by focusing on the Haft-sîn itself and illustrating the goldfish as the hero.

Of all the traditional components of a Haft-sîn display, why did you specifically choose to represent the goldfish?

Mahi va Tong (goldfish and the bowl) is one of the Haft-sîn items which stands for life and all living forms. Also, it’s one of the most recognizable elements on the table. In addition to its symbolic meaning, personally, goldfish are one my favorite items on the Haft-sîn. Some of my most exciting memories of Nowruz stem from buying goldfish and setting up the Haft-sîn. Because of this sense of nostalgia, I chose the goldfish to visually represent Nowruz.

How do you feel Nowruz and LACMA fit together?

One thing I love about LACMA is its multiplicity. The museum has art from all over the world and it presents exhibitions and events that correspond to its wide range of art. As a result of that, I think LACMA is a great host to Nowruz because it can help familiarize a wide range of diverse audiences with one of the most significant Persian holidays.

Nowruz at LACMA is held March 16-17. Be sure to steer clear of L.A. Marathon street closures by checking their website for the best available route.


The Emancipation of Black Beauty

March 11, 2013

Michelangelo’s David was my first artistic example of the male muscular body as art and its faint brethren, those alabaster physiques marching through hallways of museums. The picture of the self is made from a thousand words, half-disguised meanings, paintings, and well-intended and not-so-well-intended imagery that can obscure ideas of the self.

But the photo is another self. Art so easily becomes a thin veil through which a version of the self, some autobiographical reference—even if it’s miles off—defines oneself. Thus, it has been his—our—the black man’s ego-image search from the very beginning, which up to now has been an unattractive kaleidoscopic merry-go-around. In the procession of time, this has made black self-idealization an existential and perpetual split personality in which the culture at large and “the self” battle for supreme identity.

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

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

LACMA’s hard-edged and gritty-though-romantic exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ, which closes March 24, has within its dreamy, almost fortyish “Movieland” gay star quality, the challenged and somewhat exaggerated iconography of the black male as not only exotic and erotic, but also some of the most unabashedly striking images of sheer black beauty ever rendered and recorded as art. And though this emancipation by no means compares to the great 1863 one, it does enter the “temple of the muses,” disentangling the object of “derision” from the object of “desire”—that human paradox of sexuality in its most vivid form of carnality.

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

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

Even imagery has journeys, and particularly, this one. Out of the swampy darkness of slavery and Jim Crow—“strange fruit hanging from the popular trees”—images were fixed. The 3/5 of a persona saddled with the weight of those ludicrous tags designed to debase—Tom, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks—and a book by Donald Bogle that illustrates blacks’ film presence in the culture: a mauled version of blackness. The image moves backward and forward, sidewise and facedown, constantly transforming the cultural baggage as it shifts by fits and starts.  The tight grip one had to have on the perceptions and the many contradictions between say, Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington or the cries of W.E. B. Du Bois, which extended the tension that continued between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X—an apparent acquiescence and forthright rebellion vying for the soul of the self-image. Sports heroes and apparent villains: Jack Johnson for one era and Jesse Owen and Joe Louis for another, and yet another existential battle in the single person of Cassius Clay vs. Mohammad Ali. And this would continue on with the Black Panthers and, not to leave out the endless list of entertainers, from the black minstrels to blues Madonnas, which would play out the tragically evocative drama of self-identification. But the beauty itself as iconography remains half hidden in the debris of America’s shadow boxing in an ever-decreasing sandbox of social, racial, and sexual reality.

Winslow Homer, The Gulf Stream, 1899, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906

Winslow Homer, The Gulf Stream, 1899, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906, accession number: 06.1234

Not that there were no captivating images of blacks painted by white and black painters that reek of pathos and sentimentality. I was always struck by Winslow Homer’s  The Gulf Stream, with a black man shipwrecked on a rudderless and sail- less boat in a stormy sea, circled by sharks with a distant ship on the horizon, which was shown in LACMA’s 2010 exhibition American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915. This is an abiding metaphor. There would be beautiful renderings by Joshua Reynolds’s Study of a Black Man, or John Biggers’s Cotton Pickers, or the divinely colorful Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Bashi-Bazouk, and of course a legion of work-related paintings that sadly reinforce the condition of blacks’ status: servitude.

John Anansa Thomas Biggers, Cotton Pickers, 1947, LACMA, purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Crawford, Jr. and the Black Art Acquisition Fund

John Anansa Thomas Biggers, Cotton Pickers, 1947, LACMA, purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Crawford, Jr. and the Black Art Acquisition Fund

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Bashi-Bazouk, 1868–69, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 2008, accession number: 2008.547.1

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Bashi-Bazouk, 1868–69, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 2008, accession number: 2008.547.1

The power of the imagery by this endearingly charming man, Robert Mapplethorpe, filled with honest warmth and a sensuous admiration was to free the black male from the shackles of invisibility as this shadowy dark otherness of the so-called American Dream by the very means it was feared: a full-frontal revelation of his maleness. In the exhibition, the stellar beauty of the flowers counterbalance the metallic grays of skin, bone, and muscle restlessly exchanged as classic poetic forms. Like hot ice, Mapplethorpe burns coolness into the image possibly in an effort to capture the ecstatic realism that was before him. Homosexuality, combined with sadomasochistic leather/chain garb, reinforces a shared profound otherness of the black male; and yet in an odd way, it releases a whole society of the hitherto unseen but with a deeply felt presence.  Not only is it in-your-face art, but it pulls from its dubious depth an intrinsic beauty.

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

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

The black-and-white film that the buttery Hassleblad lens enhances brings a luscious tactility to the black skin and the deep encroaching shadows, as if of some mystical nature, the chiaroscuro intrinsically ethereal and base, soft and hard, and made visible our physical subterranean worlds. XYZ, by Mapplethorpe’s own stated intention was not meant for everyone. For me, these portfolios are about an art through a portal of pleasure and pain. But art this raw, this free, was a Pandora’s Box of “the sacred and the profane” that, once opened, would change everything.

Hylan Booker


This Weekend at LACMA: Free Family Activities, final days of Expressionist Cinema, and More

March 8, 2013

You may be losing an hour of your day this weekend to daylight savings time, but there are plenty of things to do at LACMA to ease this perennial pain.

Saturday is a perfect day for the curious explorer in all of us. LACMA has once again collaborated with the Charles White Elementary School Gallery near MacArthur Park (just five miles east of LACMA on Wilshire) to present the unique work of New York–based artist Shinique Smith. On Saturday, join LACMA at the Charles White Gallery for free drop-in family activities all day including tours of the exhibition, a scavenger hunt, and a life-drawing workshop with a costumed model. Or, if you’re closer to campus, bring your family to the museum for free, bilingual family tours of the collection on Saturday starting at 11 am.

Sally Victor, Woman’s Hat, circa 1942, gift of Betsy Talbot Blackwell

Sally Victor, Woman’s Hat, circa 1942, gift of Betsy Talbot Blackwell

Sunday is another excellent opportunity to spend time together at the museum during our free Andell Family Sundays. This week’s activities focus on “Fruit & Flowers on Fabric.” Then, in the afternoon, learn about traditional Korean ceramics and how they inspire contemporary artists today. Dr. Burglind Jungmann, professor of Korean art history at UCLA and curator of Life in Ceramics: Five Contemporary Korean Artists, will give the talk. By the evening, when you’re wondering where the weekend went, you can slow down and take a step back to enjoy the UCLA Philharmonia performing works by Mozart and Schumann at Sundays Live (always free!).

This weekend is also the closing of Masterworks of Expressionist Cinema: Caligari and Metropolis. Visit this exhibition to see vintage posters, set stills from these two iconic films, and selected prints from the Robert Gore Rifkind Collection.

Set photograph from the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1919, The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies

Set photograph from the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1919, The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies

Also nearing its end in our galleries is the exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ. Together with the J. Paul Getty Museum, LACMA has been able to show the three transformational portfolios, X, Y, and Z, in their entirety—a true rarity. Catch it before it closes on March 24.

Finally, visit our newest exhibition, Ming Masterpieces from the Shanghai Museum. This exhibition presents ten masterpieces of early Ming dynasty court painting from the 15th and 16th centuries. If you run out of time this weekend, this exhibition will be open through June 2.

Roberto Ayala, Marketing Coordinator


LACMA and MOCA: A Message from Michael Govan

March 7, 2013

As you may have read in the Los Angeles Times today, LACMA was recently approached by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles to discuss the possibility of a merger between the two museums as they consider partnerships of various kinds. MOCA has received a proposal from LACMA.

Like so many others in the art world, we appreciate the impact MOCA has had, both on Los Angeles and on the world stage.  Our chief desire is to see MOCA’s program continue and to serve the many artists and other Angelenos, for whom MOCA means so much.

Combining LACMA and MOCA would strengthen both.  LACMA’s mission is to share world-class art with the widest array of audiences possible. MOCA’s downtown location, extraordinary collection and devoted constituency, combined with LACMA’s modern art masterpieces, large audiences and broad educational outreach (especially in schools near downtown L.A.) would create a cultural institution that is much more than the sum of its parts. LACMA’s strong leadership, its history of fundraising, and its support from Los Angeles County and other donors will provide MOCA with the stability it deserves.

The founding of MOCA in 1979 and the subsequent opening of the Temporary Contemporary (now The Geffen) in 1983 and the Arata Isozaki–designed MOCA at Grand Avenue in 1986, along with major acquisitions and gifts including the landmark acquisition of the Panza Collection, were key to establishing Los Angeles as a world power in contemporary art and breathing new life into downtown L.A. as a cultural center. Many “MOCAs” around the world have followed. Almost none kept up with the ambition and rigor of MOCA’s exhibitions and publications, or the speed with which a world-class art collection was assembled in just a few years.

Today, MOCA’s collection is among the finest of contemporary art museums, and MOCA has helped bring interest in contemporary art into the mainstream. LACMA, which has acquired contemporary works by living artists since its founding in 1965, recently has reinvigorated its contemporary programs through the opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in 2008 and through major acquisitions and commissions of contemporary art. With public artworks including Chris Burden’s Urban Light, Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, Robert Irwin’s palm garden, and Barbara Kruger’s monumental mural, LACMA has tied its identity to the work of contemporary artists.

LACMA collects and exhibits contemporary art with a global perspective and in relation to its collections of art of all times and places. With approximately 120,000 artworks amassed in less than fifty years, LACMA has become the most significant general art museum in the Western United States. Recent acquisitions not only of contemporary art but also modern masters such as those included in the Lazarof Collection have made LACMA a growing destination for twentieth-century art. Combining MOCA and LACMA would create one of the largest and most significant art museum collections in the United States. Uniquely, LACMA/MOCA would become a general museum with a substantial commitment to contemporary art in three or more facilities designed expressly for that purpose. The scale and common purpose of the larger combined institution would provide stability, confidence, and opportunity for donors. Each facility and location could retain individual character and the potential to reach different audiences.

It is appropriate for a large art museum in Los Angeles to have a special emphasis on contemporary art. Today L.A. may be home to the most important concentration of contemporary artists in the world. Only time will tell, but with proper patronage and institutional focus, we could be living in a great time and place for art to be made–like New York in the 1950s and 60s, Paris or Vienna around the turn of the twentieth century, or even the cities of the Italian Renaissance. A combined MOCA and LACMA could make history.

Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director


The Anatomy of an Exhibition

March 7, 2013

As discussed in the previous blog post on the exhibition design of In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women in Mexico and the United States, this post will give some the behind the scenes insight as to how the installation process works for a major exhibition.

Typically curators will work with an exhibition designer, either one that is part of the museum staff or hired from outside of the museum. In some cases, artists work on the design plan as was the case with our Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images exhibition in 2006.

After brainstorming with the curator about how the works of art will be installed, an exhibition designer proposes their concept with a floor plan at the first installation design meeting  with the director, curator, heads of exhibitions, conservation, construction services, and other involved museum staff where everyone can give their input.

After the initial feedback, the designer might have to refine their concept a couple times. But once the design plans get officially approved at the final installation design meeting, construction services gets started.

In the case of In Wonderland, the Tim Burton retrospective preceded the show. In order to maintain costs and keep under budget, we reused several existing main walls and vitrines, but to give In Wonderland its own unique design, senior exhibition designer Victoria Behner presented this concept:

LACMA designer’s original model for the exhibition space

LACMA designer’s original model for the exhibition space

IMG_1975

LACMA designer’s original plans for the exhibition space

Work began in early December, where you can see the shards of walls being built.

Wall shards in progress

Wall shards in progress

It was also at this time where we experimented with the rope. Inspired by artists like Marcel Duchamp and Maya Deren, the rope was an integral element to Behner’s design. In the installation design meeting, the natural rope was preferred, but conservation pointed out that a rope with natural fibers with fraying ends could pose potential alarm to a painting that has not been glazed (protected with a sheet of glass of Plexiglas over the work). So a synthetic natural-looking rope was opted for instead.

"Curator

Curator Ilene Susan Fort, graphic designer Jin Son, exhibition designer Victoria Behner, environmental designer Daniel Young discussing the installation progress; Behner, Time Based Media Exhibition Manager Eddy Vajarakitipongse, curator Ilene Susan Fort and Curatorial Assistant Marvella Muro deciding where the exterior for the film should go

Curator Ilene Susan Fort, graphic designer Jin Son, exhibition designer Victoria Behner, environmental designer Daniel Young discussing the installation progress; Behner, Time Based Media Exhibition Manager Eddy Vajarakitipongse, curator Ilene Susan Fort and Curatorial Assistant Marvella Muro deciding where the exterior for the film should go

Since film was also a type of artwork featured in the exhibition, cases were designed to keep much of the light out in order for the public to view the work in. Technicians assist with installing any of the equipment needed for sound or film recordings.

Final exterior case design for Maya Deren’s Witch’s Cradle (1943).

Final exterior case design for Maya Deren’s Witch’s Cradle (1943).

Once the walls are constructed and painted, installation of the actual artwork can begin. It is at least a two-to-three week process, depending on the amount of artwork and couriers scheduled. The Registrar for the exhibition coordinates all the incoming artwork; conservators are also on hand to do the condition reporting of each work once the artwork arrives on the museum premises. After works have been given sufficient time to acclimate upon arrival, they are then installed by the art preparation handlers.

IMG_2367

Templates are made for the size of the artwork so curators can play with the positioning of the work in the actual space.

Ephemeral objects

Ephemeral objects

Ephemeral objects under Plexiglas vitrine

Ephemeral objects under Plexiglas vitrine

Ephemeral objects (documentary works to supplement the content of the artwork in the exhibition) are also installed. Paper conservators will prepare the cases and mount them to the case before the Plexiglas vitrine is installed over it.

Once the artwork is installed, labels are affixed to the walls, and any other didactic panels or treatments are installed and/or finalized. Gallery technicians will adjust any of the lighting to make sure the works look their best.

Installation view, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, January 29-May 6, 2012, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, January 29-May 6, 2012, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, January 29-May 6, 2012, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, January 29-May 6, 2012, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, January 29-May 6, 2012, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, January 29-May 6, 2012, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Conservation will measure light levels to make sure the works are installed under the proper conditions and routinely look over the galleries throughout the exhibition.

Some shots of the complete installation :

Installation view, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, January 29-May 6, 2012, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, January 29-May 6, 2012, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, January 29-May 6, 2012, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, January 29-May 6, 2012, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Devi Noor, Curatorial Administrator, American Art


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