Through Your Lens—Inspiration and Experimentation in Art+Film

February 20, 2014

As part of LACMA’s Art+Film education initiative, LACMA launched Through Your Lens, a new program for middle-school students that just wrapped up its pilot session. Over eight weeks, seventh and eighth graders at John Burroughs Middle School made short films inspired by artwork on view in LACMA’s galleries. Working with filmmaker and LACMA teaching artist Kate Marks, students learned about the filmmaking process and discovered a new way to express themselves using technology.

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Student Nicole Kim posing for a recreation of a Figueroa film still.

Students worked in groups to adapt paintings from the museum’s collection into short experimental films that explored issues they’ve experience in their lives, such as love, friendship, loneliness, and, in one case, war. Students were also inspired by the cinematography of Gabriel Figueroa after touring Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film. As part of their lesson on composition and perspective, the young filmmakers replicated frames from Figueroa’s iconic films within their own work.

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Teaching artist Kate Marks leading students through the exhibition.

After speaking with students about their experience and desire to participate in the program, many spoke about previous interests in filmmaking as well as the desire to express themselves. Surprised by how much work and time goes into making a movie, one student said “I never imagined it would be such a long process. It makes you admire [those] movie directors who make three hour movies.”

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Students learning about composition by recreating stills from Figueroa film.

As the program progressed and students became more immersed in the class, comfort level with technology as well as teamwork improved among the students. Classroom art teacher, Nancy Hanover-Reyes, commented on the students’ improved “decision making and ‘thinking on their feet’.”

One film titled This Is My Story, created by a group of four young women, was inspired by the painting Messengers in the Wind by Rufino Tamayo. Their experimental piece explored the issue of arranged teen marriage in some Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cultures, an issue close to their hearts and homes. The girls used cinematic techniques influenced by Figueroa and narration rather than dialogue to share a story they felt strongly about. Through Your Lens gave the girls an opportunity to express their ideas using moving image and showed them firsthand the accessibility of filmmaking in their generation.

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Director, cinematographer, and assistant director working on shooting a scene.

The program concluded with a screening of student work at the museum and a reception for their families. After each film screened, the students spoke about their inspiration, process, and experience. Seeing these budding filmmakers bravely take center stage and ownership of their work was truly heartwarming. The students and their work become themselves an inspiration for the Art+Film program as it grows to enrich youth through discoveries in art and technology.

In addition to Through Your Lens, other Art+Film events continue as part of LACMA’s commitment to making film more central to the museum’s programming and outreach. Tomorrow, Friday, February 21, the Hacienda Heights Art+Film Lab launches at Steinmetz Park in Hacienda Heights. Take part in the opening festivities featuring a live performance by Los Angeles–based Chicano Batman and a screening of These Birds Walk.

Valentina Mogilevskaya, Art+Film Education Coordinator, Education and Public Programs


Lord of the Manor, Queen of the Castle

February 19, 2014

Like any fan of a certain public television drama about English aristocrats, I am a bit obsessed with all things British, especially if it happens to involve grand country homes, art-filled interiors, and taking tea at every possible moment. Last September, I was given the opportunity to study dozens of country homes and their collections at a residential study program based in Norfolk County, England. Our days were crammed with multiple site visits, specialist-led classes, tea receptions given by the current owner or butler of the house, and more walking than I’ve had in years!

Full days were dedicated to two incredibly grand homes in particular: Holkham Hall and Houghton Hall. Both were built in the early 18th century and modeled on the very popular Italian Palladian villa type (after the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, who referenced ancient Rome and Greek architecture in his designs). The art collections in both houses are enough to make any major art museum envious and included extraordinary examples of sculpture, paintings, silver, tapestries, and more. As a museum educator and art historian, being able to see these collections in their original location was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and will continue to professional inspire me for years to come.

Holkham Hall, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Holkham Hall, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Our first day was spent at Holkham Hall, built by Thomas Coke, the first Earl of Leicester who was greatly influenced by the architecture of ancient Rome. He built his grand home reflecting the growing for and renewal of ancient classicism in Britain, and to display his massive art collection, mostly amassed while in Europe on his Grand Tour. Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery in London, gave our group a private tour of Holkham’s neoclassic and ancient Roman sculpture galleries. Allusions to ancient Rome punctuated our visit, from the Palladian architecture to the Marble Hall (designed to resemble an ancient Roman basilica in both plan and design) to the garden temple, where we had a picnic lunch. While at Holkham, specialists opened the home’s collection of silver and illuminated manuscripts to us allowing hands-on time with part of Coke’s collection.

The Marble Hall at Holkham Hall

The Marble Hall at Holkham Hall

Garden Temple at Holkham Hall

Garden Temple at Holkham Hall

The Saloon at Holkham Hall

The Saloon at Holkham Hall

A seminar on silver at the North Dining Room at Holkham Hall

A seminar on silver at the North Dining Room at Holkham Hall

Houghton Hall, built in the early 18th century by Great Britain’s first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, was an incredibly rare treat. On view was the exhibition Houghton Revisited, which restored the painting collection to its original grandeur. In 1779 Walpole’s heir sold several of the collection’s important paintings to Catherine the Great of Russia for her collection. For this exhibition, the paintings were returned to Houghton and restored to their original location for the first time in over 200 years. This created a complete and rare snapshot of a grand 18th-century country house and helped reinforce Walpole’s prestige and power in the grandest manner possible, allowing us to experience the original splendor of the house.

Now the home of Walpole’s descendant, the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall is filled with Old Master paintings and William Kent interiors, but also has an extensive contemporary art collection including two works by James Turrell (one of which is currently on view as part of James Turrell: A Retrospective at LACMA).

Houghton Hall, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Houghton Hall, Norfolk, United Kingdom

The Saloon at Houghton Hall

The Saloon at Houghton Hall

Exterior of James Turrell's Skyspace at Houghton Hall

Exterior of James Turrell’s Skyspace at Houghton Hall

James Turrell's Skyspace at Houghton Hall

James Turrell’s Skyspace at Houghton Hall

Although I visited several other homes, including a 15th-century moated manor that houses tapestries made by Bess of Hardwick and Mary, Queen of Scots; a seaside medieval hall house; a 17th-century estate with an infamous ghost; stately Georgian townhouses; and more tea and cookies than I could have eaten in a lifetime, my visit to Holkham and Houghton remained the highlight of the study program. The collections in these homes were so complete that it was very easy to visualize and understand how the original 18th century splendor was meant to be understood by the visitor.

The Stone Hall at Houghton Hall

The Stone Hall at Houghton Hall

I am leading an upcoming gallery course focusing on objects from LACMA’s own collection. Many of these objects were originally owned by English aristocracy and part of grand country home collections. The artwork at Holkham Hall and Houghton Hall will springboard our discussion as we examine objects from LACMA’s collection of sculpture, paintings, and silver.

Amber Smith, Education and Public Programs


LACMA Paper Conservation Workshop Generously Funded by Linda Shaffer and Peter Loughrey

February 17, 2014

The science and research surrounding art conservation is a dynamic and evolving field of study. The paper laboratory in the Conservation Center at the Los Angeles County of Museum of Art (LACMA) recently held an informative two-day workshop on aqueous cleaning and stain reduction for works of art on paper. The class included lectures as well as, hands-on training, highlighting the use of ammonium citrate di-/tri-basic, sodium borohydride and agarose gels.  The workshop was taught by Antoinette Dwan (private paper conservator from Northern California). The workshop would not have been possible without the generous support and funding by Linda Shaffer (private conservator from Shaffer Conservation) and Peter Loughrey (Director of Modern Design & Fine Art from Los Angeles Modern Auctions).

Participants included thirteen conservators, including Antoinette Dwan (left), LACMA staff and other professionals

Participants included 13 conservators, from Antoinette Dwan (left), LACMA staff, and other professionals

Traditional methods of stain reduction include the use of oxidizing bleaches (not over-the-counter!) and exposure to sunlight (don’t try this at home). Over the two-day series, Antoinette Dwan described novel approaches to stain reduction which take advantage of the ionic properties found in ammonium citrate dibasic (ACD) and ammonium citrate tribasic (ACT) to break up “dirt complexes” and reduce discoloration and  sodium borohydride, a safe and controllable reducing bleach, also used to reduce discoloration and staining in works of art on paper.

Workshop participants placing various paper samples into multiple aqueous cleaning solutions

Workshop participants placing various paper samples into aqueous cleaning solutions

Paper conservator Linda Shaffer locally applying ammonium citrate di-basic for surface cleaning

Paper conservator Linda Shaffer locally applying ammonium citrate di-basic for surface cleaning

The completed test sample (below) presents the results of the various treatments undertaken in the workshop. The strip at the top was not treated and is typical of how paper ages over time. Notice the test sample was cut into sections allowing us to compare various treatment approaches. The results range from little or no stain reduction to a noticeable shift in color indicating a successful reduction of discoloration and yellowing.  These positive results were very exciting as the removal of stains and discoloration can both slow the deterioration of the paper substrate while also presenting a more aesthetically pleasing work of art.

     Completed test sample

Completed test sample

There are few opportunities to share information and spend time with colleagues is in a small workshop setting. As IMLS Fellows we were especially thrilled to take part in the workshop and learn new methods, techniques, and approaches to treatment from a seasoned professional such as Antoinette Dwan.

IMLS Fellows: Asti Sherring and Laura Moeller
Photos by Erin Jue and Gawain Weaver
Generously funded by Linda Shaffer and Peter Loughrey


This Weekend at LACMA: Dozens of Exhibitions and Installations on View, Docent-Led Tours, Free General Admission on Presidents’ Day, and More!

February 14, 2014

Enjoy Presidents’ Day weekend at LACMA with free tours, free public programs, and free general admission on Monday, February 17, as part of Target Free Holiday Mondays. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to come out for a day full of free art-making activities, live music, and fun. Performing at 12:30 and 2:45 pm, the band Quattro will put on a show that blends Latin pop and contemporary jazz unlike you’ve heard before. Plan ahead, as we expect a crowd!

Free general admission on Monday, February 17

Visit LACMA on Monday, February 17, for free general admission as part of Target Free Holiday Mondays

Visit over the weekend, and you’ll encounter over two dozen exhibitions and installations on view, including Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, Fútbol: The Beautiful Game, and David Hockney: The Jugglers. Add in the countless galleries centered around the collection, and you’ll have plenty to discover. With so much on view, free docent-led tours of temporary exhibitions and the permanent collection are the best way to digest everything we have to offer. This weekend check out 50-minutes tours of See the Light—Photography, Perception: Cognition: The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection on Saturday at noon, the galleries of American Art on Sunday at 2 pm, and the Modern Art galleries on Monday at 3 pm. For a full listing of tours view the online calendar.

Josef Sudek, Scaffolding in Grand Apse of St. Guy, 1928, The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection, gift of the Annenberg Foundation, acquired from Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin

Josef Sudek, Scaffolding in Grand Apse of St. Guy, 1928, The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection, gift of the Annenberg Foundation, acquired from Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin

Great for a special occasion The Art of Wine: The Best of Bordeaux art and wine tour takes place on Saturday at 6 pm. Make reservations online or by phone. Lastly, guests on Sunday will be treated to a free art workshops at the weekly edition of Andell Family Sundays beginning at 12:30 pm and a free classical music concert in the Bing Theater featuring the 70-member Colburn Youth Orchestra with Maxim Eshkenazy conducting at Sundays Live at 6 pm.

Roberto Ayala


Love Hurts: Heartache, Jealousy, Sadness, and Tragedy

February 14, 2014

Few subjects have inspired artists over the centuries as much as love. But these works of art don’t always capture a scene of bliss. In fact, artists have depicted everything from love and lust to heartache, jealousy, sadness, and even tragedy. The following works of art are all currently on view on the third floor of the Ahmanson Building. We’ve partnered with discoverLA.com to create this self-guided tour for Valentine’s Day.

A version of this post was originally published on discoverLA.com. Check them out on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Judgment of Jupiter

John Deare, "Judgment of Jupiter," 1786–87, gift of Anna Bing Arnold

John Deare, Judgment of Jupiter, 1786–87, gift of Anna Bing Arnold

John Deare, an English sculptor who spent his entire professional career in Rome, was commissioned by the Royal Academy to create this relief for an exhibition in 1787. Deare’s sculpture is a scene is from Homer’s Iliad, depicting a fateful decision that would ultimately lead to the Trojan War.

Jupiter sits among the gods at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (at left). All were invited except Eris, the goddess of discord. As payback for the slight, Eris tosses a golden apple inscribed “to the fairest” among the guests. Minerva, Juno, and Venus each claim it. Jupiter wisely refuses to pick the most beautiful goddess, and hands the apple to his messenger, Mercury, who flies above. Jupiter instructs Mercury to pass the apple—and the thankless task —to the mortal prince, Paris. Each goddess offers Paris a bribe—Juno would make him the king of Europe and Asia, while Minerva would grant him wisdom and skill in war. Paris chooses Venus, who presents him the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife. She is Helen of Sparta, who becomes Helen of Troy. The Greeks’ expedition to retrieve her is the mythological basis for the Trojan War, symbolized by Mars, the god of war, shown at the far right.

The Perfect Accord

Jean-Antoine Watteau, "The Perfect Accord" (detail), 1719, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation

Jean-Antoine Watteau, The Perfect Accord (detail), 1719, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation

Many works of art created in the Rococo period (roughly the first part of the 18th century) depicted scenes of aristocrats at play. Jean-Antoine Watteau excelled at depicting these scenes, which often included an ironic or satirical twist. The artist is credited with inventing the genre of fêtes galantes—scenes of bucolic and idyllic charm, suffused with an air of theatricality. In The Perfect Accord (1719), an older gentleman plays a flute, attempting to woo a lovely young lady. A jester to the left and the statue of Pan on the right imply that the painting’s theme is both erotic and comical. The love scene’s comedic punchline is the painting’s title, which suggests the couple will make beautiful music together. In reality, French society would have considered the unattractive older musician a completely inappropriate match for the beautiful young lady, making this a scene of discord.
Diana and Callisto

François Le Moyne, "Diana and Callisto" (detail), 1723, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation, courtesy of and © Museum Associates/LACMA

François Le Moyne, Diana and Callisto (detail), 1723, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation

Callisto, the daughter of a king, has taken a vow to remain a virgin and is serving as a nymph of the goddess Diana. Jupiter disguises himself to avoid detection by his long-suffering wife Juno, separates Callisto from the other nymphs, and impregnates her. Callisto’s pregnancy is later discovered when she is bathing in the woods with Diana and the others, which is the scene depicted in Diana and Callisto (1723) by François Le Moyne, who worked during the Rococo period in France. French aristocrats loved these scenes because they were an acceptable way to visually show erotic tales of lovely nude women. Furious, Diana expels Callisto from the group. Callisto subsequently gives birth to a son, Arcas. Juno gets her revenge by transforming Callisto into a bear. Years later, as Arcas is about to kill his mother with a javelin, Jupiter places Callisto and her son among the stars, where we know them today as the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, respectively.
Cupid Wounding Psyche

François Boucher, "Cupid Wounding Psyche," 1741, gift of Hearst Magazines,

François Boucher, Cupid Wounding Psyche, 1741, gift of Hearst Magazines

The story of Cupid and Psyche was well known from antiquity and, like other tales with similar erotic content, acceptable for decoration in such a setting. Although she isn’t a goddess, Psyche is so beautiful that Venus, the goddess of beauty, becomes jealous. Venus sends her son, Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with an ugly mortal by piercing her with one of his legendary arrows. As Cupid arrives at her side, Psyche awakens. Cupid, about to strike with the arrow, is so startled by her beauty that he scratches himself instead, and falls in love with her. After a series of calamities, godly tests, and other events, the lovers are reunited and Jupiter makes Psyche an immortal, so that she may marry Cupid. Cupid Wounding Psyche (1741) was painted by François Boucher, one of the most influential artists of the 18th century. His painterly technique and playful, colorful pastorals and genre scenes of Parisian society helped to define the Rococo style. You have to look up to see this love story—Cupid Wounding Psyche decorated an aristocratic home in Paris and was supposed to hang above a door in a room used for informal entertainment.
The Sleeping Danae Being Prepared to Receive Jupiter
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Hendrik Goltzius, The Sleeping Danae Being Prepared to Receive Jupiter (detail), 1603, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation

This love story has it all: lust, greed, and gold. Danae was the daughter of the king of Argos. Upon learning from the oracle at Delphi that he would be killed by his daughter’s son, the king imprisons Danae in a bronze tower to keep her childless. Jupiter is smitten by Danae’s great beauty, and disguises himself as a shower of gold coins that rains down upon the sleeping princess—the hero Perseus is born from this encounter. Perseus eventually kills his grandfather by accident, thus fulfilling the prophecy. The Sleeping Danae Being Prepared to Receive Jupiter (1603) was painted by Hendrik Goltzius, the leading Dutch engraver of the early Baroque period who later became a renowned painter. The Dutch valued hard work and wealth, but not greed. Goltzius’ painting celebrates the innocent beauty of the princess, but also provides a warning. Does love or gold conquer all?


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