This Weekend at LACMA: Celebrate Kubrick with a Party and Films, CicLAvia, the Music of Stephen Prina and Hans Richter, and More

June 21, 2013

LACMA’s silver screen plays host to four films this weekend, two nights worth of the Kubrick and Co film series. Friday night, beginning with Hour of the Wolf at 7:30 pm and The Shining at 9:10 pm in the Bing Theater, we journey into the minds of tortured artists. Add a touch of surrealism and, for good measure, a child with ESP and call it a night. For a glimpse into the madness, view the teaser trailer for Kubrick’s modern horror below. On Saturday night, beginning at 5 pm, two period films, Lola Montes and Barry Lyndon, recount tales of yore, both with masterful cinematography and intricate costumes. Tickets for Kubrick and Co. evenings are available over the phone, 323 857-6010, or online.

On Saturday night we’re throwing the Stanley Kubrick Closing Party and staying open late till 11 pm for the occasion. Everyone’s invited to one of the last few chances to see the sweeping Stanley Kubrick exhibition before it closes on June 30. Tickets to this LACMA Muse event are available to the general public but are going fast.

Barry Lyndon, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1973-75, Barry Lyndon (Ryan O'Neal) and the Chevalier de Balibari (James Magee) at the roulette table. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Barry Lyndon, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1973-75, Barry Lyndon (Ryan O’Neal) and the Chevalier de Balibari (James Magee) at the roulette table. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

CicLAvia takes over Wilshire Boulevard Sunday morning and the western end of the route stops at LACMA’s doorstep. Join us from 9 am–4 pm for a free Spin Art Studio, a free Temporary Tattoo Parlour, a free Costume Photo Booth with unlimited prints, KCRW DJ Dan Wilcox spinning from 1–3 pm, Andell Family Sundays, giveaways, and more. Expect large crowds—ride your bike or take Metro to avoid the stress of very limited parking.

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CicLAvia–Iconic Wilshire Boulevard spans six miles from Downtown to LACMA

Two exhibitions on the west side of campus have related special programming, Stephen Prina: As He Remembered It and Hans Richter: Encounters. Stephen Prina Concert: The Way He Always Wanted It XI is the artist’s new sextet, set to play in the Pavilion for Japanese Art at 2 pm on Saturday. The concert is followed by a tour of the exhibition led by the artist himself.  On Sunday at 3 pm in the Brown Auditorium the program Keeping Score: Hans Richter’s Filmic Encounters with Music, presented in cooperation with USC, addresses the way Richter incorporated music into his diverse films. Both events are free and require no reservations.

Hans Richter, Filmstudie (Film Study), 1928, © Hans Richter Estate

Hans Richter, Filmstudie (Film Study), 1928, © Hans Richter Estate

Listen to free music all weekend long. Jazz at LACMA features The Jazz Leaders on Friday night at 6pm; Latin Sounds brings Bobby Matos & His Afro Cuban Latin Jazz Band to Hancock Park; and violinist Irina Tseitlin and pianist Kevin Fitz-Gerald perform at Sundays Live on Sunday at 6 pm in the Bing Theater.

Lastly, Redlands Art + Film Lab continues at the University of Redlands with another free, outdoor film screening of El Barrendero and The Misfits on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. Additionally, be part of a free film making workshop and an oral history project. The Art + Film Lab is in Redlands until July 7.

Roberto Ayala


Stephen Prina Finds Inspiration in Bruce Goff

June 20, 2013

The overlapping of disciplines and artistic expressions is at the core of Stephen Prina’s practice. Visitors to the exhibition Stephen Prina: As He Remembered It in the 3rd floor of BCAM have observed Prina’s engagement with modern architecture, specifically two homes built by R. M. Schindler. As the exhibition continues in the Pavilion for Japanese Art, visitors see Prina’s long-term interest in a different architect, Bruce Goff.

Stephen Prina, As He Remembered It, installation view, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2013. © Stephen Prina

Known for his unconventional and eclectic buildings, self-taught American architect Bruce Goff designed the Pavilion for Japanese Art before he passed away in 1982. When the building opened on the LACMA campus in 1988, critics responded in a variety of ways. “There is simply nothing like it anywhere,” wrote one critic, while another one explained that the east gallery “is a marvelous room,” noting that it is “at once energetic and serene.”

Stephen Prina, As He Remembered It, installation view, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2013. © Stephen Prina

Prina’s work frequently develops in a series of multi-year projects that he rearranges and re-presents in different contexts; his contemplation of Goff’s work is similarly multi-layered and has taken various forms. In the film The Way He Always Wanted It II (2008), Prina uses Goff’s 1947 Ford House in Aurora, Illinois, as a ready-made set. For the exhibition currently on view in the Pavilion, Prina created new work, including a series of paintings that resonate with the colors within the Pavilion (both in the artwork and the building) and sculptures made of coal and slag glass that sit on acrylic panels, referencing materials used to build both the Ford House and the Pavilion for Japanese Art.

This Saturday, June 22, LACMA premiers Prina’s new flute sextet The Way He Always Wanted It XI, in the Pavilion. Before devoting himself fully to architecture, Goff was a composer and painter, as well. Prina focuses on one melody programmed by Goff for player piano as the generating material for this composition.

Stephen Prina, As He Remembered It, installation view, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2013. © Stephen Prina

The Way He Always Wanted It XI premiers on Saturday at 2pm in the Pavilion for Japanese Art. The performance will be followed by a tour of the exhibition with Stephen Prina. It is free, and no reservations are required.

Elizabeth Gerber, Education and Public Programs


LACMA and CicLAvia—Iconic Wilshire Boulevard

June 19, 2013

More than 100,000 people will fill Wilshire Boulevard this Sunday, June 23, as Angelenos partake in CicLAvia—Iconic Wilshire Boulevard. This car-free event, a celebration of Los Angeles’ public spaces and alternate modes of transportation, invites anyone and everyone to bike, skate, run, or walk the six mile stretch of legendary thoroughfare from Downtown to LACMA. From 9 am till 4 pm participants of all ages will have free range on this typically frenzied road—a principal residential, commercial, commuter, and cultural corridor of our city. You’d expect no less from your favorite neighbors: LACMA will be joining in on the fun.

Named after land developer, entrepreneur, and Socialist, Henry Gaylord Wilshire (1861–1927), Wilshire Boulevard, an exceptionally long and linear street, has taken many forms throughout generations and has, almost inadvertently, become the spine of the city. In one of our newest exhibitions, Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA, (and as thoroughly investigated, documented, and displayed by the Page Museum) we learn that centuries ago prehistoric mammals roamed this mineral-dense land. Infamously, the La Brea Tar Pits would become the final resting place for many of these Jurassic denizens. Travel forward through time to the 1880s, and we find a burgeoning Southern California town in the midst of a land boom, where the boulevard’s namesake fatefully purchased a 35-acre tract of land that would eventually be bisected by a 120-foot wide street bearing the family name—the first iteration of Wilshire Boulevard and the creation of a main L.A. artery.

Parking Lots (Zurich-American Insurance, 4465 Wilshire Blvd.) #15, Edward Ruscha, 1967, Ralph M. Parsons Discretionary Fund

Parking Lots (Zurich-American Insurance, 4465 Wilshire Blvd.) #15, Edward Ruscha, 1967, Ralph M. Parsons Discretionary Fund

With the turn of the century, horse-drawn carriages began sharing this road with steam-driven motor cars and in 1911 the first church, Wilshire Christian Church, popped up on the boulevard. The 1920s welcomed in another boom and residential lots and small office spaces began to sit in the shadows of larger, high-rise apartment buildings and hotels. Soon enough neon signs became a staple of the street and Wilshire Boulevard began to take on its iconic figure. The Depression did not hinder Wilshire Boulevard’s growth to prominence, as the nation’s first fully electric and air-conditioned retail store opened late into the 1930s, alongside other department stores between La Brea and Fairfax Avenues.

Two decades later, building height restrictions were lifted and made way for skyscraper office buildings. Around the same time, the four-level highway interstate exchange (between the 110 and 10 freeways) near Downtown broke ground under Wilshire Boulevard and was deemed one of the country’s largest urban development plans ever. Downtown would thus be nearly vacated for many years to come and Wilshire would become a portal into the west side of town. In a matter of ten years, between the 1960s and 1970s, close to two dozen high-rise office buildings were erected on Wilshire Boulevard.

Parking Lots (May Company, 6067 Wilshire Blvd.) #25, Edward Ruscha, 1967, Ralph M. Parsons Discretionary Fund

Parking Lots (May Company, 6067 Wilshire Blvd.) #25, Edward Ruscha, 1967, Ralph M. Parsons Discretionary Fund

Into the 1980s plans for the Wilshire subway started to take hold and, mired in a decade’s worth of political controversy spanning municipalities, were cut short, ending the line at Western Avenue. Notably, during the same period, the illustrious Wiltern Theater was purchased by a developer and saved from demolition. This lasting Art Deco building with its relatively small architectural footprint is a type of tower one can only find in Los Angeles. Bringing us into the present, we now see a Wilshire Boulevard that is evolving, however slowly, into a more pedestrian-friendly location. CicLAvia is a way to revel in the history of our public realm and take another step toward shedding our veritable suburban roots.

Join us on Sunday for an excellent day, enjoying quentissential L.A. locales and seeing what and who this city is made of. Visit LACMA for a free Spin Art Studio, free Temporary Tattoo Parlour, free Costume Photo Booth, the sounds of KCRW DJ Dan Wilcox at 1 pm, Andell Family Sundays, and food and drinks from Patina Restaurant Group. Activities begin at 9 am, the museum opens at 10 am.

CicLAvia is a collaboration with the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A., a sprawling survey of the postwar built environment of the city.

Roberto Ayala


Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer’s Monolithic Sculpture

June 19, 2013

While it’s hard to believe it has already been one year since Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass made its public debut at LACMA, it’s impossible to forget the monolith’s momentous trek from the Jurupa Valley to Miracle Mile in early 2012. As part of the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, LACMA debuts Doug Pray’s documentary, Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer’s Monolithic Sculpture, on Thursday, June 20, 2013. The film traces the boulder’s famed journey from concept to completion: from the mountain of paperwork (almost as tall as the boulder itself!) required to plan such a colossal feat, to its custom-built transporter inching through the streets of Riverside and Los Angeles, to its final home here at the museum. LACMA’s Erin Wright worked with Doug on the project and spoke with him about his experience filming Levitated Mass.

For more information about tomorrow night’s screening, click here.

Doug Pray and Michael Heizer on construction site at LACMA for the sculpture Levitated Mass

Doug Pray and Michael Heizer on construction site at LACMA for the sculpture Levitated Mass

Erin Wright: How did you learn about Michael Heizer’s plans for Levitated Mass at LACMA?

Doug Pray: Three years ago I got a phone call, out of the blue, from producer Jamie Patricof wondering if I was interested in filming the transport of a massive rock being moved through LA. He said that it was so big it might involve the removal of traffic signals and streetlights and would take many days to move from Riverside to LACMA.  Without any further information and no prior knowledge about the work of Michael Heizer, I told Jamie, “Yes.”

EW: Why did it this project and artist interest you?

DP: At first, it was all about the rock. My father is a geologist, so I grew up running around in quarries, and I’m a big fan of boulders and natural structures of the Southwest. The mere idea of being able to film a two-story tall rock rolling by a Southern California drive-thru was enough of a visual juxtaposition to justify an entire documentary. But as I learned about Michael Heizer’s past and future artwork, his intentions for Levitated Mass, and a bit about his “western maverick” character, the film gained momentum in my mind. As a filmmaker, I’ve always been drawn to people and subcultures that seem misunderstood by mainstream society, and Heizer seemed to fit that interest. A third component of the film that excited me was the basic, “Can they do it?” story about the physical challenges of the sculpture’s construction and the inordinate bureaucratic and logistical hurdles that LACMA—along with the construction, engineering, and transport companies—had to overcome to make it happen. The whole enterprise, on some level, seemed so absurd to so many people, and it seemed the movie might be able to ask again the eternal question of “What is art?” in a large-scale, very public arena. All of these elements interested me, and I’ve tried to weave all of them together into the film.

EW: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

DP: Two facts made this a challenging project.  First, the rock wouldn’t move when they said it would. For months on end, we were given legitimate starting dates for the boulder’s transport, which had to be postponed at the last minute due to route permit issues from any one of the twenty-two cities it had to satisfy. This became a controversy itself and a great story within the film, but made it extremely difficult to plan the production. When it finally rolled, in late February of 2012, nobody could believe it.

The second challenge for me was the realization that Michael Heizer doesn’t happen to be the kind of artist who likes to talk about his art or his past. More than anyone I’ve ever met, he lets his artwork speak for itself. In an age of non-stop media noise, I respect and admire this trait. But it was upsetting at first because every documentary filmmaker secretly hopes their subject will unleash, tell all, and provide the perfect narrative for their story as a free gift to their film. Heizer did, however, give us rare access to his process and thoughts during the making of Levitated Mass, and that forms an essential part of the film. Ultimately, I think it’s a much stronger story, not being a standard biopic.

EW: There are so many interviews with the public that came to watch the boulder being moved.  How did you direct your camera crew in terms of the kinds of people they should talk to?

DP: We had to film the ten-night long transport with two crews. At night (from 8 pm to 5 am), I’d shoot the rock moving and interviews with people lining the streets, along with cinematographers Chris Chomyn and Edwin Stevens. By day, Erin Heidenreich and her crew would direct interviews in all the different neighborhoods along the 105-mile route where the rock was parked. Besides the workers involved with the process, Erin and I talked to all types of people along the way. The goal of our interviews was to highlight the impact this rock was having on them individually and as a region. From the Inland Empire, through the South Bay, and into urban Los Angeles, the responses we found were as diverse as the communities themselves.

EW:  What experience from making the film resonates with you the most?

DP: Like every documentary film journey, there have been many moments of victory and despair, all memorable. A few highlights: the first time I saw the rock at the quarry and realized it wasn’t actually fifty stories tall but still loved its form and the fact that it would be one of the heaviest things ever moved by humans; the first time I was allowed to walk behind-the-scenes at a major art museum (not sure why, but that’s just cool for an outsider); going out into the desert and experiencing Heizer’s 1969 “Double Negative” sculpture and realizing how far he’d go to create a physical art experience; filming the moment Emmert International’s boulder transport finally arrived at its destination in front of LACMA at 4:30 am with horns blaring and a huge celebration; and of course, meeting the artist Michael Heizer for the first time and realizing that everything about him and this project was different than what I’d expected going in. Just the way it should be.


“Only if It Bothers You”: Ruminations on the Display of Latin American Art

June 17, 2013

At a recent event I had the chance to sit next to actor Cheech Marin. We talked about his collecting of Chicano art, the enduring struggles of Latino artists to gain recognition, and the persistent need to classify and categorize artists who are traditionally not considered part of the mainstream. One anecdote particularly stayed with me: he related how when John Valadez was once asked if he considered himself a Chicano artist, he wryly retorted, “Only if it bothers you.” This, I thought, is much more than an exacting punch line.

1943 drawing by Joaquín Torres García, illustrated in the cover of the Escuela del Sur (Montevideo: El Taller Torres García, 1958)

1943 drawing by Joaquín Torres García, illustrated in the cover of the Escuela del Sur (Montevideo: El Taller Torres García, 1958)

As a curator and scholar of Latin American art, I often think about how best to present Latin American art within an institutional context. The center-periphery discussion is nothing new in our discipline. Every art historian of Latin American art is familiar with Joaquín Torres García’s iconic inverted map: a proto-conceptual attempt to reverse hierarchies and position the South (perceived to be in the edges of the art world) as the North (the center of artistic innovation).

Wifredo Lam, The Jungle, 1943, gouache on paper mounted on canvas, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Wifredo Lam, The Jungle, 1943, gouache on paper mounted on canvas, Museum of Modern Art, New York

We are also aware of how MoMA once used to display Wifredo Lam’s iconic The Jungle, now considered a masterpiece of modernism, on a wall next to the coatroom. Although the perception of the field has grown in leaps and bounds over the last decade or so, how we present Latin American art in an encyclopedic museum remains contested territory.

Installation of the ancient art galleries at LACMA; casework designed by Jorge Pardo

Installation of the ancient art galleries at LACMA; casework designed by Jorge Pardo

At LACMA, for example, we devoted an entire floor (Art of the Americas building) to Latin America for the first time in 2008. One half of the floor, designed by the artist Jorge Pardo, encases our world-class collection of pre-Columbian art. The other half of the floor is devoted to our expanding collections of Spanish colonial, modern, and contemporary art.

Installation of the Spanish colonial art galleries at LACMA

Installation of the Spanish colonial art galleries at LACMA

A fair question (and one that does not go unasked), is why divide the material geographically? Shouldn’t modern Latin American art be included in the modern art galleries and contemporary Latin American art in our contemporary art building (BCAM)? What about Spanish colonial art? Does it belong in the European or American art galleries?

These questions, as useful as they are, are also telling of the liminal position that the field continues to occupy within encyclopedic museums and the art historical canon in general. I am always puzzled as to why the question does not get much asked for other fields, say Islamic, Japanese or Indian art—though I am not implying that these areas, as well as others, have not undergone vicissitudes of their own.

To be sure, most of us have an innate impulse to classify the chaos that surrounds us, to create neat packages of information that are easy to manage and engender “meaning.” Sometimes these categories stick for years. But despite our best efforts, the process is impossible to fix and the resulting narratives we devise are always subject to revision. In other words, there are many ways to tell a story, and there are many stories to tell.

Julio Le Parc, Mural: Virtual Circles, 1964-1966, wood, aluminum, stainless steel, and polished metal, purchased with funds provided by Debbie and Mark Attanasio, Jane and Marc Nathanson, Jane and Terry Semel, The Loreen Arbus Foundation, Janet Dreisen Rappaport and Herb Rappaport, an anonymous donor, Alyce Woodward Oppenheimer, and the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund through the 2013 Collectors Committee

Julio Le Parc, Mural: Virtual Circles, 1964-1966, wood, aluminum, stainless steel, and polished metal, purchased with funds provided by Debbie and Mark Attanasio, Jane and Marc Nathanson, Jane and Terry Semel, The Loreen Arbus Foundation, Janet Dreisen Rappaport and Herb Rappaport, an anonymous donor, Alyce Woodward Oppenheimer, and the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund through the 2013 Collectors Committee

Having galleries devoted specifically to Latin American art tells one story. Broadly, it does two things: it calls attention to the cultural achievements of the region across a broad stretch of time and geography. It also emphasizes the theme of “locality.” Let us consider, for example, our recent acquisition of Julio Le Parc’s Mural: Virtual Circles, an iconic op art work by an Argentinean-born artist who has lived and worked most of his life in France. In our current galleries, the work is displayed alongside others by abstract artists active in South America (e.g., Jesús Rafael Soto, Sérgio de Camargo, and Raúl Lozza). Together, they show that artists from Latin America were key players in the development of abstractionism and kinetic art internationally. This is especially significant because for a very long time Latin American art was—and to an extent still is—equated with the “picturesque” and the likes of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and cohort.

Diego Rivera, Mexico, 1886–1957, Still Life with Bread and Fruit, 1917, oil on canvas, Gift of Morton D. May

Diego Rivera, Mexico, 1886–1957, Still Life with Bread and Fruit, 1917, oil on canvas, Gift of Morton D. May

Some may rightly argue that Le Parc’s work therefore best belongs in the modern European galleries, as do many other works in the collection—including Rivera’s cubist painting Still Life with Bread and Fruit. And surely, when asked, many artists would prefer not to be categorized according to the nationality noted in their passport. But here is the thing: context is important and does inform an artist’s work. In the case of Le Parc, it is instructive to remember that throughout his life he maintained one foot in Latin America, where he frequently traveled and exhibited his work. And when he went on to win, with great fanfare, first prize at the 1966 Venice Biennial, he represented Argentina, not France! Is Mural: Virtual Circles therefore the work of an artist from Argentina, Europe, or both? The question of where best to display the work and what context is more “appropriate” can be mystifying—and at the end of the day the decision is entirely subjective and made by those who at the moment can (i.e., museum professionals and scholars).

I am not espousing one view, or stating that having galleries devoted to Latin American art is the model to follow. Geographically-based galleries can be rather constricting and marginalizing. What I would like to suggest, instead, is that by moving towards erasing all borders, establishing a totalizing and “international” global narrative, we also need to consider that we are in danger of sacrificing other contexts that can be equally meaningful. By the same token, the limitation of defining artists by strict geographic parameters is patent. So what to do?

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In the ideal museum (and nowadays this is a much talked about topic in reference to LACMA), we could perhaps think of devising contiguous spaces. Think of turning Torres García’s upside down map sideways and extending it across the globe. These areas—nodal points—could intersect and retain some specificity that would allow for the creation of various and simultaneous narratives. The idea would be, for example, to have galleries devoted to early modern art (16th–18th centuries) and modern art that would be more all-encompassing and include works from regions beyond Europe, but without presenting them as a footnote or afterthought. In other words, the works could be displayed together and separate.

This way the art produced by Latin American artists—particularly after the Conquest—could be presented in manners that emphasize (instead of hinder) connections and a multiplicity of contexts. It is not about “shaking up the box” and “mixing and matching”—it is about devising thoughtful adjacencies that would allow the art to “speak” on many levels (including aesthetic), and emphasize local, European, African, and Asian cultural traditions that informed the creative output of the region. After all “globalism” is nothing new. There were always networks of exchanges and vectors of transmission that inextricably linked cultures together.

By rethinking the politics of displaying Latin America art, which still sits so uncomfortably between categories (local vs. international; high art vs. low art; original vs. derivative), perhaps we could also question the so-called more canonical areas of museum and academic art discourse. In the end, as the artist John Valadez astutely implied when pressed to define his “artistic lineage”—art is about much more than genealogical fabrications.

Ilona Katzew, Curator and Department Head, Latin American Art


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