This Weekend at LACMA: 6 Exhibitions Closing, L.A. on Film, Free Concerts, and More

July 19, 2013

Earlier this summer, LACMA debuted a vision for the future of the Miracle Mile institution in The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA. Within the exhibition, guests can see clips from movies that are set in and around the museum. Now, in the exhibition film series Los Angeles Past, Present, and Future, we screen films that highlight the evolution of our fair city. Beginning on Friday at 7:30 pm, The Salvation Hunters is one of the first independent films from the U.S.A. and is set in the Southland. See this restored classic with a live musical accompaniment by Robert Israel and an introduction by the director Nicholas von Sternberg. Then, at 8:50 pm, director Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity stars Barbara Stanwyck in this quintessential film noir. Tickets for both films are available online or by phone, 323 857-6010.

Music aficionados and weekenders alike flock to LACMA each weekend for the varied selection of free concerts. Jazz at LACMA, on Friday at 6 pm, features the up-and-coming guitarist and vocalist Brent Canter. Latin Sounds, on Saturday at 5 pm, presents Oscar Hernández, an artist on the cutting edge of the contemporary Latin scene. Finally, Sundays Live, on Sunday at 6 pm, brings violinist Alexandru Tomescu to the Bing Theater, performing works by Bach, Paganini, and Ysaÿe.

For families, Andell Family Sundays brings the essence of the prolific Hans Richter to life at the free art-making workshop on Sunday from 12:30—3:30 pm in the North Piazza. See Richter’s short film Ghosts Before Breakfast below and on view in the robust exhibition.

The end of this month also means the end of several of our most alluring installations. Closing this weekend on Sunday are: Jack Stauffacher: Typographic Experiments and his printed kinetic compositions; the iconic works from Katsushika Hokusai in Japanese Prints: Hokusai at LACMA; and rare Balinese paintings in The Temptation of Arjuna: A Tale of Spiritual Triumph. Also worth seeing before they close on July 28: the experimental film work Alia Syed: Eating Grass; Masterpieces from the National Museum of Korea with exquisite landscapes from the Joseon Dynasty; and 17th–19th century Indian court paintings and photographs in Unveiling Femininity in Indian Painting and Photography. Don’t delay!

Still from Eating Grass (2003), a film by Alia Syed. 16mm film transferred to HD Video, Sound, 22 minutes, 56 seconds, © Alia Syed. Courtesy of the artist and Talwar Gallery

Still from Eating Grass (2003), a film by Alia Syed. 16mm film transferred to HD Video, Sound, 22 minutes, 56 seconds, © Alia Syed. Courtesy of the artist and Talwar Gallery

Finally, a reminder that LACMA stays open late—till 11 pm—Friday nights all summer long. And, if you’re an L.A. County resident, admission is free starting at 3 pm. So, come for Jazz at LACMA, enjoy food and spirits at Ray’s and Stark Bar, then view contemporary art in BCAM and Resnick Pavilion for the perfect summer night.

Roberto Ayala


Japan x LACMA x Los Feliz Library

July 18, 2013

Art museums and libraries have always fascinated me – the depth of information, the fusion of pasts, presents and futures. When I was a youngster, my mother, artist Hilda Garcia, would frequently take my brothers and I to museums and art/music events. So when LACMA’s education department asked me to conduct ongoing, year-round arts workshops in libraries as part of Art Programs with the Community: LACMA On-Site, I was very enthusiastic imagining the endless possibilities of working with libraries and LACMA’s amazing collections as resources!  For my current workshops at Los Feliz Library, I chose to create arts workshops focusing on Hokusai’s well-known prints The Great Wave off Kanagawa and South Wind, Clear Dawn (“Red Fuji”) as well as the “Waterfall” print series currently on view in LACMA’s Pavilion for Japanese Art.

Katsushika Hokusai (Japan, 1760-1849), South Wind, Clear Dawn, circa 1830-31, Color woodblock print, Image and Paper: 10 x 14 3/8 in. (25.4 x 36.5 cm), Gift of the Frederick R. Weisman Company, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Katsushika Hokusai (Japan, 1760-1849), South Wind, Clear Dawn, circa 1830-31, Color woodblock print, Image and Paper: 10 x 14 3/8 in. (25.4 x 36.5 cm), Gift of the Frederick R. Weisman Company, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

The high-school students at Los Feliz Library created artworks inspired by Hokusai’s prints, contemporary Japanese art, and manga, using mixed media to create their own narrative-based artworks.

Art Programs with the Community: LACMA On-Site, Los Feliz Library

Art Programs with the Community: LACMA On-Site, Los Feliz Library

I chose to focus on Hokusai’s artwork for two main reasons. First, I noticed that the high-school students who are part of the Los Feliz Library art workshops are very interested in Japanese manga/anime and its roots. And secondly, I chose Hokusai for the simplicity and elegance in his work, as well as its narrative qualities. His work has been used as inspiration by many artists and connects to contemporary manga and “Superflat” art in Japan. For the workshop, I checked out books from the Los Feliz Library on Hokusai, and I brought in examples of artworks by contemporary Japanese artists such as Yoshitomo Nara, Takashi Murakami, Chinatsu Ban, and others who  are deeply inspired by Hokusai and the Japanese anime and manga art.

Katsushika Hokusai (Japan, 1760-1849), Amida Falls on the Kiso Highway, circa 1833, Color woodblock print, Image and sheet: 14 ¾ x 9 15/16 in. (37.5 x 25.2 cm), Gift of Max Palevsky, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Katsushika Hokusai (Japan, 1760-1849), Amida Falls on the Kiso Highway, circa 1833, Color woodblock print, Image and sheet: 14 ¾ x 9 15/16 in. (37.5 x 25.2 cm), Gift of Max Palevsky, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Japanese Prints: Hokusai at LACMA is now in its final days: it closes this Sunday.

Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vaca, Artist


Ends and Exits: Back to the Future or Into the Past

July 16, 2013

In Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collection of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, you can almost hear the hip hop lyrics of The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder/ How I keep from going under/ It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder/ How I keep from going under.” Art starts as revolt, lives as prose, and ends as poetry—at least that’s my take. The ’80s may be the über-aesthetic generation, a time of audacity and the sweet smell of grandiosity. There was the Drug War and the AIDS pandemic. It was high energy, big hair, big shoulder, and greed-declared-good. It’s lust, stuff, celebrity, and techno dreams.  

Installation view, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Some of us who lived through it felt its heart-racing immediacy, its “now” state, the emblematic shimmering static which at those moments of time lost a beat for an instant. Ensconced in the Chelsea Hotel at the time, for me, Ends and Exits felt refreshingly glamorous yet socially conscious—pop art with teeth. But for the young guards, I sense that it’s “lost in translation”–the pretentiousness of the grandeur that may be odd or slightly misplaced, and some of the images totally misunderstood.  Perhaps pathetically, there is something about the present that is distressingly like the ’80s but with a deeper imbalance. If this is the post-post-80s Zombie version of the ’80s—and it may very well be—then this is the wrong conversation. 

Actually, Ends and Exits is a reply to a previous generation’s dystopian reading of art and painting.  And though there were other prominent movements in the ’80s, such as the id-infused Neo-Expressionists, these particular young artists, the picture generation, brought a clearer, sharper distinction to the vagaries of art and American popular culture.

Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

The picture generation was a time when art was about pictures not painting, and the wild child, or rather the chaotic symbol of change, gave it a voice. On the other hand, art was the cool kid: idealizing, romanticizing, connecting the dots, and constructed as if in the asymmetrical rhythms of an earthy streetwise hip hop beat.  Draped under the spell of Warhol’s Voodoo wisdom, where everyone seemed eager for their 15 minutes, the culture was best understood through the vision of many of the artists present in this exhibition. It was artist as wizard or cultural soothsayer with its small, elegant charms and white magic, but, most importantly, its cultural hipness. The ’80s would prove that self-consciousness would not hinder belief in the consumer’s haunting dream. The item became the icon, the icon the item.

Installation view, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Ends and Exits provides a portal into the future for some and into the past for others.  Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, and Robert Gober encapsulated America’s self-made object lust of cars, trains, and sculptural puns that went the distance to exemplify the craft of the artists and their absurdist visions. Here, fabrication from LEDs to the kitchen sink morphed into comment and questions of ambiguity on the original, and one sees the ironist humor of Meyer Vaisman’s work and Han Haacke’s political 3D irony, unflinchingly literal. Sherrie Levine’s appropriation gestures made the Duchamp Pandora’s box an art available to its own self-importance, “ideas and media as indirect irony of the personal.”

Suddenly art had this huge political face with Jenny Holzer revealing the utter power of light and word as witty euphemistic truism writ large or engraved in stone. Or the powerful Barbara Kruger graphic consumer lust, sin and feminism supersized, with lettering the height of the wall as declared confrontation. Race and its political weight were symbols found in Dung, and numbers in the imagery of Lorna Simpson and David Hammons, like some stealth current rising to the top of a visible swamp of denial. Jonathan Borofsky’s painted male made horrors with gritty realism that raises the gender role starkly.

Installation view, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Along the way, the sheer seduction of glamour where Sarah Charlesworth’s faceless images would find fixation, or as Louise Lawler’s photo documents lush settings, and a scene possibly for Lorraine O’ Grady’s kid glove gown as the living sculpture to a strange passion. While the consumer’s techniques for the use of a product are mockingly manipulated to place art’s multiples in aesthetic subversion, Allan McCollum plays an old game against expectation in his “Surrogates” works. The ’80s would be an irony binge in ecstatic expression of social awareness of the profound ambiguities that lie within the American Dream. Maybe it is just that Keith Haring’s almost mystical graffiti street art passionately braved a path of the new aesthetic. Perhaps as my remarks began so shall they end, as with rap lyrics toward the end of the 80s:

Public Enemy: “ You gotta go for what you know/ Make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be/lemme hear you say…/ Fight the Power”

Hylan Booker


Hokusai’s Waterfalls

July 15, 2013

Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) is the Japanese artist best known in the Western world, primarily because of his iconic images known as The Great Wave and Red Fuji, both of which are in LACMA’s collection, and are on view now in Japanese Prints: Hokusai at LACMA. In Japan, Hokusai was the greatest printmaker and painter between 1800 and 1850.

Katsushika Hokusai, South Wind, Clear Dawn, circa 1830-31, gift of the Frederick R. Weisman Company, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Katsushika Hokusai, South Wind, Clear Dawn, circa 1830-31, gift of the Frederick R. Weisman Company, Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

He was also a prodigiously productive artist: it is estimated that he created over 50,000 prints and paintings over his lifetime. Most of his best work was produced after he was 60; he lived until he was 88. He took the ukiyo-e woodblock print from its previous limited sphere of portraits of kabuki actors and courtesans into the world of landscape prints, some of which are considered the finest landscapes ever produced. He was eccentric: he changed his name more than thirty times over his life (helping us to date his works)—including taking on the name “old Man Mad about painting” later in life. Hokusai also changed his residence almost one hundred times. His work constantly evolved; he always considered himself an artist in training, striving to become ever more accomplished.

Katsushika Hokusai, Amida Falls on the Kiso Highway, c. 1833, gift of Max Palevsky

Katsushika Hokusai, Amida Falls on the Kiso Highway, c. 1833, gift of Max Palevsky

In 1833, as Hokusai completed the designs for his most famous work, the Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji, he approached the new topic of depicting water, in the legendary series known as A Tour of Waterfalls in the Provinces.

In the Shinto religion of Japan, nature gods and spirits (called kami) inhabit trees, rocks, mountains, and waterfalls. In his waterfall series, Hokusai portrayed each waterfall differently, emphasizing the unique features of each site. He was the first Japanese woodblock print artist to focus on water as a design, and here we see the genius of his visual imagination.

Katsushika Hokusai, The Yoshitsune Horse Washing Falls at Yoshino, Izumi Province, c. 1833-34, gift of Max Palevsky

Katsushika Hokusai, The Yoshitsune Horse Washing Falls at Yoshino, Izumi Province, c. 1833-34, gift of Max Palevsky

Although the Mt. Fuji series is better known, the Waterfalls series is considered Hokusai’s finest work in series form: each of the eight waterfall views is a masterpiece, and together they form an integrated whole greater than the sum of its parts. extraordinarily rare, LACMA’s recently acquired set—a gift of the late Max Palevsky—is one of a few complete sets in the world; indeed, only one other set even approaches the print quality and superb condition of the set presently on display.


This Weekend at LACMA: Hitchcock 9 Ends, Late Summer Fridays Roll On, Free Concerts, and More

July 12, 2013

While fireworks shows won’t be nearly as abundant as a week ago, this weekend has a lot to offer at LACMA. The Hitchcock 9 silent film series reaches its dramatic conclusion with double-headers on Friday and Saturday evenings in the Bing Theater. First, see The Pleasure Garden at 7:30 pm followed by Easy Virtue at 9:30 pm on Friday. The Pleasure Garden is Hitchcock’s first feature-length film and focuses on two dancers from different sides of the tracks. Easy Virtue follows a wrongly accused woman and her attempt to escape a marred past. Saturday evening presents The Farmer’s Wife at 5 pm and Blackmail at 7:30 pm. A departure from Hitchcock’s customary tones of betrayal and peril, The Farmer’s Wife is a romantic comedy about a housekeeper’s attempt to pair her employer with a wife. In Blackmail, Hitchcock is at his best in this thriller about a young woman turned killer and her boyfriend detective assigned to investigate the murder. Interestingly, this film was released as both a silent film and talkie, as it was made and released at the dawn of the new era of cinema. Moreover, all four films will feature live musical accompaniment by Robert Israel. This is your final opportunity to see the rare, fully restored Hitchcock gems with an expertly orchestrated live soundtrack!

On Friday nights in July and August, BCAM and the Resnick Pavilion stay open till 11 pm for Late Summer Hours. Better yet, L.A. County residents can visit select galleries and exhibitions on the west side of campus at no cost (paid admission is required for James Turrell and Perceptual Cell)! Included in this list of free access are Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA, Hans Richter, Stephen Prina, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art, and Metropolis II. Also worth noting, parking at LACMA is free after 7 pm entry.

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

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

Free concerts are happening across LACMA each day this weekend, per usual. Friday night’s Jazz at LACMA concert will feature David Ornette Cherry and his piano stylings in front of Urban Light at 6 pm. On Saturday at Latin Sounds, Luis Conte, Modern Drummer’s Percussionist of the Year, performs in Hancock Park starting at 5 pm. And on Sunday at Sundays Live, the Angeles Consort performs music for Bastille Day in the Bing Theater at 6 pm. All concerts are free and open to the public.

Not to mention the wall-to-wall art literally everywhere around campus. In its final weeks on view, Japanese Prints: Hokusai at LACMA includes the immensely popular Red Fuji and The Great Wave by the Japanese legend, as well as his woodblock printed books and preparatory drawings. This exhibition closes on July 21. In the adjacent Hammer Building, the recently unveiled Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa features lush wooden sculptures from one of the most prominent kingdoms in central Africa (the Los Angeles Times says the collection of “fascinating objects…reveals a robust, visually sophisticated culture”).

Male Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luba Peoples, 19th Century, Wood (Schinziophyton rautaneii), Royal Museum for Central Africa, RG 23470 (collected by O. Michaux in 1896), Photo R. Asselberghs, RMCA Tervuren ©

Male Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luba Peoples, 19th Century, Wood (Schinziophyton rautaneii), Royal Museum for Central Africa, RG 23470 (collected by O. Michaux in 1896), Photo R. Asselberghs, RMCA Tervuren ©

Next door in the Ahmanson Building you’ll find Pinaree Sanpitak: Hanging by a Thread, an elegant display of handcrafted hammocks. A few floors down Henri Matisse: La Gerbe is an intimate look at Matisse’s large ceramic and the paper cut-outs that lead to this brilliant piece. And, in the Art of the Americas Building, see Jack Stauffacher: Typographic Experiments from San Francisco based printer as he explores the possibilities of typography. The latter exhibition closes July 21.

Jack Werner Stauffacher, Print from Wooden Letters from 300 Broadway, 1998, gift of the 2012 Decorative Arts and Design Acquisition Committee (DA2)

Jack Werner Stauffacher, Print from Wooden Letters from 300 Broadway, 1998, gift of the 2012 Decorative Arts and Design Acquisition Committee (DA2)

Lastly, Andell Family Sundays on the North Piazza from 12:30–3:30 pm introduces children and parents to the the spirit of Hans Richter in a workshop that challenges participants to express themselves through movement and painting. Come for an hour or stay for the day!

Roberto Ayala


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