This Weekend at LACMA: A Kubrick Farewell, Family Outings, Free Concerts, and More!

June 28, 2013

Stanley Kubrick closes this Sunday. If you have yet to experience it, reserve tickets before this expansive, special exhibition ships out. If you have seen it, come back for seconds! You’ll be surprised how much more Stanley Kubrick has to offer on return visits. Delve once more into the mind of one of the greatest visionaries in modern film this final weekend in the exhibition and in the Bing Theater.

Kubrick and Co.’s closing act presents Full Metal Jacket with China Gate on Friday night and Eyes Wide Shut after Belle de Jour on Saturday night. The first evening features stories of desperate camaraderies, born in jarring Pacific war theaters. The second evening centers on the fates of curious lovers, their infidelities, and their fantasies. Make reservations posthaste–this is your last and best shot to see two of Kubrick’s classics on the big screen. On Saturday, make a night of it and dine with executive chef Jason Fullilove and his RED Dinner series, a specially themed four-course prixe fixe meal. This time around, plates like “Spartacus” with pork duo, loin & cheek, fennel puree, chanterelles, and Persian shelling beans are inspired by all of Kubrick’s masterworks. For reservations, call 323 377-2698 or email red@patinagroup.com.

Musically, fans of (free) jazz, Latin, and classical music will have their hands full this weekend. Friday night, at Jazz at LACMA, vocalist and songwriter Inga Swearingen graces the stage in front of Urban Light; Freddie Ravel and his rhythmic keyboards light up Hancock Park (behind the museum) for Latin Sounds; and Sundays Live on Sunday features the Capitol Ensemble performing Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda and Johannes Brahms.

For families, visit the museum on Saturday morning for a free Family Tour, meeting at the BP Grand Entrance. Andell Family Sundays on Sunday afternoon shares workshops and activities based around the theme “Architecture is Art.” In neighboring Redlands, the LACMA9 Art + Film Lab hosts two films, Steamboat Bill Jr. and El Norte, on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, along with a free Mini Documentary film workshop where you get to tell the story of a person or place yourself and a free Soundscapes workshop. This is the second to last weekend of the LACMA9 Art + Film Lab in Redlands before it roves over San Bernardino on July 26.

Pinaree Sanpitak, Hanging by a Thread, 2012, Courtesy of the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York. Installation views, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2013 © Pinaree Sanpitak. LACMA/Museum Associates 2013

Pinaree Sanpitak, Hanging by a Thread, 2012, Courtesy of the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York. Installation views, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2013 © Pinaree Sanpitak. LACMA/Museum Associates 2013

Around the museum visit the Pavilion for Japanese Art to see the notorious Red Fuji and The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai in Japanese Prints: Hokusai at LACMA, entering its last month in Los Angeles. Recently opened in the Ahmanson Building, Pinaree Sanpitak: Hanging by a Thread, Bangkok-based artist Pinaree Sanpitak displays eighteen hammocks woven from printed cotton textiles conveying the solace she experienced after the devastating 2011 floods in Thailand. On the west side of campus see Peter Zumthor’s vision for the future of LACMA in The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA and the buzzworthy James Turrell: A Retrospective.

Roberto Ayala


Looking Back on Stanley Kubrick

June 27, 2013

After nearly eight months, Stanley Kubrick is finally reaching its conclusion this weekend—Sunday is your last chance to see this fantastic overview of Kubrick’s entire career, from his early days of photojournalism to his last and unrealized films. (We expect a busy closing weekend, so buy your tickets in advance.)

Eyes Wide Shut, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1999, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and Stanley Kubrick during a break in shooting on the set. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Eyes Wide Shut, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1999, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and Stanley Kubrick during a break in shooting on the set. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Photo: Manuel Harlan

We should note that, while the Kubrick exhibition is going away, we’ve still got a wealth of Kubrick material for you to enjoy—download our free Stanley Kubrick app for interviews with Kubrick himself, numerous directors and collaborators, archival material, and more.

Letter, courtesy of the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts, London.

Letter, courtesy of the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts, London.

Here on Unframed we’ve had a lot of fun delving into different aspects of the exhibition, talking to some of Kubrick’s collaborators, and reminiscing on the ways Kubrick has impacted our lives. Today we thought we’d take a look back on some of the past blog posts we’ve devoted to the show.

Our initial post on the show went up before the exhibition was ready for viewing—we detailed all that went into installing a massive exhibition full of artworks, videos, models, and more.

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, 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

Elvis Mitchell, curator, Film Independent at LACMA, astutely draws on Kubrick’s background as a photographer, and his ability both to compose and to edit out what is inessential: “The best photographers—from Mary Ellen Mark to James Van Der Zee to Robert Capa—are artists who function both as directors and cutters: each shot is basically an entire movie tailored into a single frame…. Kubrick is first and foremost a photographer, like them, and almost any still from his monochromatic movies tells a complete story.”

Sue Lyon as Dolores “Lolita” Haze, Lolita, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1960–62, GB/United States, © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., photo by Bert Stern

Sue Lyon as Dolores “Lolita” Haze, Lolita, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1960–62, GB/United States, © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., photo by Bert Stern

By far our most popular Kubrick-related blog post was written by Tim Deegan, our Director of Guest Services. Many years ago Tim was an intern for Kubrick during the making of 2001; he recalls how Kubrick literally went to a moviehouse to fix a camera projecting his film: “Kubrick did not like the distraction of fuzzy edges,” Tim writes, “so he brought his chisel into the projection booth to clean the edges so 2001 would be seen with crisp, clean edges on the screen.”

2001: A Space Odyssey, set photo, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1965-68

2001: A Space Odyssey, set photo, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1965-68

We talked to actor Matthew Modine, star of Full Metal Jacket, about the making of that film as well as his Full Metal Jacket Diary app for the iPad. “[Kubrick is] often accused of being cold or inhuman, that his films have such a hard veneer,” Modine says. “I don’t think that’s the case at all. What Stanley Kubrick did, perhaps better than any filmmaker, was take an honest look at human beings….not what we hope to look like, but who and what we are.”

Screenshot from Full Metal Jacket Diary

Screenshot from Full Metal Jacket Diary

As mentioned above, we have our own app for the exhibition as well. Among the many highlights of that app is a video from director David Slade (Twilight: Eclipse, among others), who recalls being at Kubrick’s offices on the day Kubrick passed away. On Unframed we ran an outtake from our interview with Slade, in which he talked about his reaction to seeing A Clockwork Orange for the first time.

Assistant curator of film, Bernardo Rondeau, gave an overview of our initial Kubrick film series and by extension an overview of Kubrick himself.

On the topic of Kubrick’s complete body of work, we asked you what your favorite Kubrick film was and why, you all picked nearly every single one of his films (sorry Killer’s Kiss). Here’s what you said.

The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1980, The daughters of Grady (Lisa and Louise Burns). © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1980, The daughters of Grady (Lisa and Louise Burns). © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

We’ve done a number of Kubrick-related film series since the show began, including the great “Science Fiction after Kubrick.” Sean Savage of the Academy Film Archive wrote about Saul Bass’s sole feature-length film, Phase IV, which has some resonance with 2001 and was screened in that film series. (Visitors to the exhibition will also see Bass’s sketches for The Shining, ultimately rejected by Kubrick.)

A few of Kubrick’s infamously unmade films are highlighted in the exhibition too—Napoleon and The Aryan Papers, as well as his early research into A.I., later made by Steven Spielberg. For The Aryan Papers, we invited artists Jane and Louise Wilson to create a video piece in response to the unmade film. Their work, Unfolding the Aryan Papers, features actress Johanna Ter Steege, whom Kubrick had cast to play the lead in his film.

It’s easy to talk about how impactful Stanley Kubrick’s films are. Our last post on the exhibition illustrated that directly when educator Valentina Mogilevskaya showed us how some high school students connected to the Kubrick exhibition and created work inspired by 2001.

Students at HeArt Project Hollywood Media Arts Academy using vegetable oil and paint to create stop-motion animation inspired by the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Students at HeArt Project Hollywood Media Arts Academy using vegetable oil and paint to create stop-motion animation inspired by the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Eight months is a long time for a temporary exhibition to be on view—but honestly, Kubrick never got old. For all the topics we covered on the exhibition, we’ve still got a list as long as Jack’s manuscript in The Shining, full of material we never even got to. It’s been an inspiring show all around, and judging from the many photos on Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest, it inspired you too. Thanks for coming to see it; we loved being able to offer it to you.

2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1965-68; GB/United States). Stanley Kubrick on set during the filming. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1965-68; GB/United States). Stanley Kubrick on set during the filming. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Scott Tennent


The History (and Future) of a Museum in a Park

June 26, 2013

In planning The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA, we decided to begin our story with the famed La Brea Tar Pits. While it may seem unusual to start an architectural history in the Ice Age, we were inspired by Zumthor’s deep investigation of his project sites.  We soon found that LACMA’s unique location has impacted its buildings almost from the very beginning.

William L. Pereira and Associates. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, c. 1965. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

William L. Pereira and Associates. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, c. 1965. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

In March 1965 LACMA opened the doors to its three William Pereira-designed pavilions amid great civic celebration. Newly separated from the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art, the art museum—hailed as the “largest ever to be built west of the Mississippi”—represented L.A.’s emergence as a cultural capital. The opening night fireworks were reflected in the man-made lake that surrounded the structures; one reviewer described the structures as “set like a gleaming white island in the shimmering pool of water.”

Carlos Diniz for William L. Pereira and Associates. Early rendering for Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1960. Offset print on paper of pen-and-ink drawing. Courtesy Carlos Diniz Family Collection and Edward Cella Art+Architecture

Carlos Diniz for William L. Pereira and Associates. Early rendering for Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1960. Offset print on paper of pen-and-ink drawing. Courtesy Carlos Diniz Family Collection and Edward Cella Art+Architecture

The water was central to Pereira’s concept for the site, showing up in early renderings (such as this 1960 depiction by master delineator Carlos Diniz). As the architect envisioned it, “The restful splashing of the fountains block out the noise of the traffic, and the surrounding pools of water set the museum apart visually from the activities on the boulevard.”  This plan echoed recent trends in civic architecture, drawing comparisons to New York’s Lincoln Center and the Music Center that had opened a few months earlier in downtown Los Angeles.

William L. Pereira and Associates. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, c. 1965. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

William L. Pereira and Associates. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, c. 1965. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

Within months of the opening, however, the inherent flaws in the architect’s idyllic vision began to quite literally bubble to the surface.  By October 1966, the board of trustees was already concerned about “highly inflammable gas” in the east pool, noting that they had drained the water four times in the previous five weeks. While Pereira’s planning documents acknowledge that the tar pits required special consideration, he didn’t anticipate all of the ways that this would affect his design. Soon, the board began to consider replacing the problematic pond with a high-end restaurant, with some arguing that “water can be eliminated without aesthetically damaging the property.”

Concrete breaking, 1974. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

Concrete breaking, 1974. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

Despite this, the pools remained in place for nearly a decade. In 1974, the museum announced that the grounds would become a sculpture garden, and that June they hosted what they called a “concrete breaking” on the original plaza.  In an interview, the chairman of the board of trustees declared “This is an instance of necessity being the mother of invention,” calling the fountains “an attractive nuisance” and noting that in addition to the issues related to the tar pits, the pools attracted litter and used 1,500 gallons of water a day.

B. Gerald Cantor  Sculpture Garden, 1975. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

B. G. Cantor Sculpture Garden, 1975. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

The design by local landscape architect Howard Troller, highlighted nine Rodin bronzes from Cantor alongside works by modernist masters such as Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, David Smith, and John Mason.

B. Gerald Cantor  Sculpture Garden, 1975. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden, 1975. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

Newspapers noted that the 3-acre garden included 23,000 feet of walkways, 107 new trees, and a spiral staircase by architect Craig Elwood.

B. Gerald Cantor  Sculpture Garden, 1975. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden, 1975. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, photographic archives

The 1975 garden represented major change to the campus, but beginning in the early 1980s, a series of additions were built to address the space constraints and circulation issues of the original campus. The sculpture garden has evolved along with buildings, as different artists and architects (most recently Robert Irwin) have addressed the connections between the museum, the tar pits, the park, and the entrance on Wilshire Boulevard.

Installation view, The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA

Installation view, The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA

Zumthor’s proposal explores new ways to integrate the park and the museum—opening up walkways through the campus and making artworks inside of the “park-level” cores visible from outside—continuing the longstanding conversation of how to unify the many elements of this important but challenging site.

Staci Steinberger, Curatorial Assistant, Decorative Arts and Design


Why Are There Hammocks in the Southeast Asian Gallery?

June 25, 2013

This summer, visitors to the 4th floor of the Ahmanson Building will likely be surprised to encounter—as they wander through the South and Southeast Asian galleries—a contemporary installation of hammocks fabricated from traditional Thai textiles by the Bangkok-based artist Pinaree Sanpitak.

Pinaree Sanpitak, Hanging by a Thread, installation view

Pinaree Sanpitak, Hanging by a Thread, installation view

The opportunity to display her artwork arose as a result of the department’s plans this year to entirely redo its gallery for Southeast Asian sculpture. The space was in sore need of attention, having last received a partial makeover in 1983.

View of the Southeast Asian gallery before the installation

View of the Southeast Asian gallery before the installation

Since the reinstallation plans involved emptying out the gallery (except for one sculpture), removing pedestals, and tearing out three walls of casework, the interim space seemed like it might be perfect for a contemporary experiment. The only caveat was that any contemporary work shown there would have to share the stage with a monumental stone sculpture of the Hindu god Vishnu.

The Hindu God Vishnu, Cambodia, tenth century, gift of Anna Bing Arnold

The Hindu God Vishnu, Cambodia, tenth century, gift of Anna Bing Arnold

One of the museum’s most important works from Southeast Asia, the tenth-century Khmer sculpture is difficult to move because of its tremendous size and weight (over one ton). Furthermore, it is fixed into a base isolator, weighing over two tons, which cannot be resituated without extensive engineering analysis of the floor’s load-bearing capabilities.  (The base isolator was installed after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, during which the Khmer sculpture had fallen and broken in several parts. You can get a closer look at how the isolator works here.)

LACMA’s Vishnu sculpture after the Northridge earthquake

LACMA’s Vishnu sculpture after the Northridge earthquake

Pinaree Sanpitak’s installation, entitled Hanging by a Thread, perfectly bridges the distance between the historical collection, as represented by the Khmer Vishnu, and concerns of a contemporary generation of Southeast Asian artists.  Sanpitak created the installation in the aftermath of the 2011 monsoon floods that ravaged Thailand. Royal-sponsored relief efforts included the distribution of traditional printed cotton cloths known as paa-lai and paa-kao-maa.  It is from the paa-lai fabrics—used primarily by women—that the artist crafted the individual hammocks.

Pinaree

Although Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country, Hindu deities were introduced into the region in the early centuries CE, and continue to be revered there today. Images of Vishnu were created in great numbers across the Khmer kingdom, which encompassed parts of modern Thailand as well as Cambodia, between the seventh and thirteenth centuries. Block-printed and hand-painted textiles—of the type that inspired the paa-lai cloths—were exported from India for royal use in Thailand from as early as the 14th century. These longstanding connections between India and Thailand are underscored by both the Vishnu sculpture and the contemporary installation. Pinaree Sanpitak: Hanging by a Thread will be on view through September 29.

Tushara Bindu Gude, Associate Curator, South and Southeast Art


Steve Roden on Hans Richter

June 24, 2013

As part of our Artist’s Respond series, and in conjunction with the exhibition Hans Richter: Encounters, Steve Roden is creating a series of sountracks for the Richter film “Ghosts Before Breakfast” (the original soundtrack was destroyed by the Nazis). Steve describes the project this way:

Steve Roden: In 1927, Hans Richter was asked by the Gessellschaft Fur Neu Musik in Berlin to make a film together with Paul Hindemith for their annual festival of music in Baden-Baden. Hindemith suggested that the film be bucolic. Because time was short, Richter, for the most part, used objects as actors, and in his own words,  “started to apply a method I had used before: improvisation.”

The resulting film was titled “Vormittagsspuk”, which Richter titled in english “Ghosts Before Breakfast” and “Ghosts Before Noon” (a literal translation would be closer to “To Spook Before Noon” or “Morning Spook”). One of the things that stands out in the film’s history is the loss of the original soundtrack.

While it would be presumptuous to attempt to create a definitive new score, the absence of the original offers an interesting situation, allowing one to explore Richter’s ideas in relation to film and sound in the context of one of his own films, now rendered incomplete.

The accompanying soundtracks should be seen and heard as a kind of sketchbook, exploring various approaches – both logical and confused. Cues come from Richter’s words, and the film’s history.

One technical note: these soundtracks were not created for “ear buds” or tiny built-in laptop speakers. If possible, I recommend listening to these soundtracks with a good pair of headphones or a nice set of stereo speakers.

Steve is keeping a diary of each week’s process whereby he comes up with a new soundtrack. The first soundtrack, which you can experience here, is described below.

Steve Roden: A couple of months ago a friend sent me some info on a free iPhone app called Tunetrace, which makes music from images. 

An excerpt on the app from evolver.fm: “Once you input a drawing by taking a photograph of it within the app, Tunetrace analyzes each skeletal line and configuration in your drawing and turns it into code. Afterwards, twinkling lights fill the screen as they move along each pathway in the drawing, interpreting the code and playing corresponding music as they go.”

After spending some time making drawings and music with the app, the results were underwhelming, so I decided to use photographs instead of drawings – hoping that if I confused the app it might lead to more interesting music. 

Since the app arrived right around the time I was beginning to work with “Ghosts Before Breakfast,” I decided to try capturing screen shots from Richter’s film off my laptop. While the sound wasn’t really any more exciting, the process offered a kind of integrity in that the sound was truly being generating from the film. In a way, the app became a vehicle of alchemy – where a soundless image was transformed into sound, offering a relevant new voice where one had been lost.

Screen capture from "Ghosts Before Breakfast" in the Tunetrace app.

Screen capture from “Ghosts Before Breakfast” in the Tunetrace app.

After listening to the loops generated by the app, I decided to manipulate the results through fragmentation, playing them backwards and shifting their pitch. The hope is that while the sounds have been altered, the integrity of the app’s results remain somewhat intact…and I view this approach more as an example of creative editing than digital processing.

This soundtrack was not created while watching the film, nor were the sound files necessarily matched with the images that generated them. Instead, I worked on the composition as an audio work, later nipping and tucking the soundtrack to fit within certain film sequences. All of the emotional resonance between the sound and image is a matter of happenstance.

I also decided that that in every iteration of the score, the stop motion scene of the plant will remain silent.

Thanks to Stephen Biller for steering me to the tunetrace app.

To view future iterations of Ghosts Before Breakfast with new soundtracks by Roden, follow lacma.org/Richter/Roden.

Amy Heibel


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