This Weekend at LACMA: Van Gogh to Kandinsky and John Altoon Open, Final Day of Kaz Oshiro: Chasing Ghosts, The Conclusion of Orson Welles Film Series, and More!

June 6, 2014

Visit LACMA this weekend to explore masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cézanne and discover how their work inspired an entire generation of artists—Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Wassily Kandinsky, among others—in Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky. On view first (and free) to LACMA members during Member Previews, the expansive exhibition features more than 40 artists, 90 paintings, and 45 works on paper, telling the story of the extraordinary cultural dialogue that took place among German and French artists in the early 20th century.

Across the way and an excellent pair to Van Gogh to Kandinsky, John Altoon is the first major retrospective devoted to this under-known yet important artist whose brief but significant career unfolded in Southern California in the 1950s and 60s. Seventy paintings and drawings, combining abstraction and figuration, demonstrate Altoon’s post-modernist, erotically charged, and socio-politically conscious work. Members get access first on Friday and Saturday during Member Preview Days, before it opens to the public on Sunday.

Wassily Kandinsky, Sketch I for Painting with White Border, 1913, Phillips Collection, © 2013 Wassily Kandinsky/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, photo © The Phillips Collection

Wassily Kandinsky, Sketch I for Painting with White Border, 1913, Phillips Collection, © 2014 Wassily Kandinsky/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris,photo © The Phillips Collection

For more Friday entertainment, see the latest installment of Jazz at LACMA with the Grace Kelly Quintet at 6 pm in a free, live, outdoor performance at the museum. To the south, visit the Compton Art+Film Lab at Lueders Park for a free screening of Be Kind, Rewind at 8 pm on Friday and learn a new skill during the Composition Workshop on Saturday or the Sound Art Workshop on Sunday. Academy @ LACMA presents the 60th-anniversary screening of On the Waterfront at 7:30 pm on Friday, with the standby line beginning at 6:30 pm.

On Saturday, visit our satellite gallery at Charles White Elementary School for the final Family Day at Kaz Oshiro: Chasing Ghosts (closing Saturday, June 7) from noon to 4:30 pm, with family-friendly tours and hands-on art projects for the kids. At Latin Sounds, legendary Brazilian musician Airto Moreira plays a free outdoor concert at Hancock Park at 5 pm. The final two films from the series The Essential Orson Welles happen this Saturday with Chimes at Midnight at 5 pm and F for Fake at 7:30 pm. Earlier in the day, Wrapped Up—Korean Textile Workshop is fully reserved but offering a standby line at 1:45 pm.

In the galleries, Agnès Varda in Californialand highlights six decades of filmmaking from the “grandmother of the French New Wage,” Sam Doyle: The Mind’s Eye looks at the impassioned artwork of South Carolina–born Sam Doyle, and The Painted City: Art from Teotihuacan draws from the museum’s extensive collection of Art of the Ancient Americas, presenting painted ceramics dating back to the fifth century. By the way, purchase a special ticket to Van Gogh to Kandinsky and you’ll receive admission to Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, featuring exhibition design from Pritzker Prize–winning architect Frank Gehry. Andell Family Sundays begins at 12:30 pm on Sunday and is followed by a free talk at 1 pm, Expressionist Encounters with the French Avant-Garde: Protecting and Crossing Borders with Dr. Christian Weikop, coinciding with the opening of Van Gogh to Kandinsky. The exciting weekend ends with a performance from UCLA Camarades during Sundays Live at 6 pm.

Roberto Ayala

 


Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky

June 5, 2014

Today the term Expressionism is widely considered to designate a distinctly German movement. In its beginnings in the early 20th century, however, Expressionism was not assigned to a specific nationality. The movement evolved within a lively cosmopolitan atmosphere in Europe, where German and French artists responded to new developments in modern art with brightly colored and spontaneously rendered canvases. Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky, which opens this Sunday in the Resnick Pavilion at LACMA, proposes an inquiry not only about artistic influence, but also about culture and geography. Where did Expressionism come from? How did it relate to national boundaries?

“Van Gogh struck modern art like lightning,” a German observer once said about the influence of this pioneering modern artist’s work on artists in Germany in the 1910s. The work of Vincent van Gogh—who died in relative obscurity 15 years earlier—was finally becoming widely available due to a network of cultural exchange between Germany and France in the form of exhibitions; burgeoning public and private collections; trade on the art market; and travel by artists, dealers, and museum directors.

Vincent van Gogh, Wheat Field with Reaper (Harvest in Provence) (Champ de blé avec moissonneur), 1889, Museum Folkwang. Photo Credit: bpk, Berlin / Museum Folkwang/ Art Resource, NY

Vincent van Gogh, Wheat Field with Reaper (Harvest in Provence) (Champ de blé avec moissonneur), 1889, Museum Folkwang. Photo Credit: bpk, Berlin / Museum Folkwang/ Art Resource, NY

Wheatfield with Reaper (Champ de ble avec moissonneur), 1889, was the first work by Van Gogh to enter a German museum. Purchased in 1902 by collector Karl Ernst Osthaus, it was shown at his private Folkwang Museum in Hagen. The avid collecting and exhibition of works by Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, and others were complemented by lively critical discussions in illustrated art periodicals and books, notably publications by art critic Julius Meier-Graefe, as well as among artists through correspondence and conversation at such meeting points as the Café des Westens in Berlin and the Café du Dôme in Paris. German art dealers such as Wilhelm Uhde and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler opened galleries in Paris and were instrumental in introducing Henri Rousseau and Pablo Picasso to the larger public. German artists Emil Nolde and Paula Modersohn-Becker studied at the Académie Julian and the Académie Colarossi in Paris, while the galleries Bernheim-Jeune, Durand-Ruel, and Ambroise Vollard offered Alexei Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter, and many others the opportunity to discover not only Van Gogh but works by the Nabis, the Neo-Impressionists, Cézanne, and Gauguin, among others.

Paul Gauguin, Swineherd (detail), 1888, gift of Lucille Ellis Simon and family in honor of the museum's twenty-fifth anniversary

Paul Gauguin, Swineherd, 1888, gift of Lucille Ellis Simon and family in honor of the museum’s 25th anniversary

Exhibitions were especially important in exposing German artists to the most recent trends from France. Annual exhibitions such as the Salon d’Automne or the Salon des Indépendants were also an occasion to discover the work of the French avant-garde. For instance, Gauguin’s Swineherd (Le Gardien de porcs), 1888 was presented at the 1906 Salon d’Automne, which also included works by Jawlensky and Kandinsky. Beginning in the late 19th century, exhibitions in Berlin, Dresden, and Munich presented in-depth surveys of Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism.

Paul Gauguin, Haystacks in Brittany (Les Meules / Le champ de pommes de terre), 1890, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., gift of the W. Averell Harriman Foundation in memory of Marie N. Harriman, 1972.9.11, image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Paul Gauguin, Haystacks in Brittany (Les Meules / Le champ de pommes de terre), 1890, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., gift of the W. Averell Harriman Foundation in memory of Marie N. Harriman, 1972.9.11, image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Beginning in 1904–5, around the same time of the birth of Expressionism, exhibitions in Germany also made the works of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and (eventually) Henri Matisse widely available. Gauguin’s Haystacks in Brittany (Les Meules / Le Champ de pommes de terre), 1890, was exhibited in 1905 in the first major exhibition of Gauguin’s work in Germany, which was organized by the progressive museum director Harry Count Kessler in Weimar.

In Berlin, the forward-looking director of the National Gallery, Hugo von Tschudi, started buying modern French art, while Paul Cassirer was among the first to exhibit Van Gogh’s works in Germany at his commercial gallery. Cassirer organized numerous exhibitions that also travelled to other German cities such as Dresden. It was there that the exhibition of Van Gogh’s work was shown at Galerie Arnold in 1905, generating great excitement among the artists of the Brücke, the first Expressionist group, founded only a few months before the exhibition opened. Van Gogh’s spontaneous and vivacious brushwork and departure from local color (where leaves are green and skies are blue) in favor of a deep emotional engagement expressed through color (where skies can become green, as in Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Reaper) offered an entirely new avenue away from what members of the Brücke regarded as a restrictive reliance on perception alone, typical of both Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism. The Brücke artists decried this tendency to be “the accidental, merely frugally natural impression” to which they preferred a more emotionally felt “inner” experience.

The work of these artists—Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, joined later by Cuno Amiet, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein, and others—soon exploded in bright colors, the characteristics of which can be seen in representative works in Expressionism in Germany and France.

At the same time that this activity was taking place in Berlin, back in Paris, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Matisse (the latter two having been introduced to one another at a Van Gogh exhibition) joined Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy, Albert Marquet, and others to seek an alternative to Impressionism that would focus on bold colors and vivacious brushwork. They exhibited their findings at the 1905 Salon d’Automne, in which Jawlensky and Kandinsky were also shown. Confronted on this occasion by such works as Matisse’s Open Window, Collioure (La Fenêtre ouverte, Collioure), 1905 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), critic Louis Vauxcelles coined the term Fauves (or “wild beasts”) subsequently used to describe the work of these French artists. The painter Max Pechstein saw the Fauves’ colorful paintings while living in Paris three years later, and their influence may have informed his casual approach in his Young Girl (Junges Mädchen), 1908 (cover of this magazine).

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Reclining Nude in Front of Mirror (Liegender Akt vor Spiegel), 1909–10, Brücke-Museum, Berlin (Inv.-Nr. 31/72), © Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Courtesy Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern. Photo © Brücke-Museum, Berlin, photographer: Roman März

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Reclining Nude in Front of Mirror (Liegender Akt vor Spiegel), 1909–10, Brücke-Museum, Berlin (Inv.-Nr. 31/72), © Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Courtesy Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern. Photo © Brücke-Museum, Berlin, photographer: Roman März

Soon the Fauves were being exhibited in Germany, including in an exhibition in Dresden, in which the Brücke artists also participated. Kirchner and Pechstein saw the 1909 Berlin exhibition of Matisse’s work (hung by the artist himself) at Paul Cassirer and informed Heckel via a postcard that it was “wild.” Indeed Kirchner must have been overpowered by Matisse’s experimentation with composition and space—it is hard to ignore the Frenchman’s influence on Kirchner’s Reclining Nude in Front of Mirror (Liegender Akt vor Spiegel), 1909–10.

Vincent Van Gogh, Pollard Willows at Sunset, Arles (Saules au coucher du soleil, Arles), 1888, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands, Photo Credit: Art Resource, NY

Vincent van Gogh, Pollard Willows at Sunset, Arles (Saules au coucher du soleil, Arles), 1888, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands, Photo Credit: Art Resource, NY

In Munich, Van Gogh’s Pollard Willows at Sunset (Saules au coucher du soleil), 1888 was shown at the Moderne Kunsthandlung gallery in 1908. The Blaue Reiter group, established in 1911, was well aware of current artistic trends in Paris. The group’s founding members—Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Münter, and Marianne Werefkin—frequently sojourned in Paris and presented their works at the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Indépendants. The spectacular colors of Fauvism first found their way into their art beginning in 1908, when the group started to spend their summers in the alpine village of Murnau, where they responded to the subtle atmospheric light of the region. This palette is reflected in Jawlensky, Münter, and Werefkin’s flamboyant landscapes as well as in the already well-established abstraction of Kandinsky’s Sketch I for Painting with White Border (Entwurf zu Bild mit weißem Rand), 1913. Neither of these paintings is imaginable without the experience of Murnau, nor would they be possible without Fauvism. Yet, each original work was created by a mature artist who took a fully independent direction.

Wassily Kandinsky, Sketch I for Painting with White Border, 1913, Phillips Collection, © 2013 Wassily Kandinsky/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, photo © The Phillips Collection

Wassily Kandinsky, Sketch I for Painting with White Border, 1913, Phillips  Collection, © 2014 Wassily Kandinsky/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, photo © The Phillips Collection

Franz Marc and August Macke soon came in contact with the chromatic abstraction of Robert Delaunay, whose colorful “simultaneous” paintings were exhibited in the first Blaue Reiter exhibition of 1911, which was organized by Kandinsky and Marc. This experience caused Franz Marc to repaint his Stony Path (Mountains/Landscape) (Steiniger Weg [Gebirge/ Landschaft]), 1911 (repainted 1912) with wonderful results. Kandinsky and Marc also explored in their paintings folk art and constructions of the “primitive”—inspired by the paintings of Rousseau, which they illustrated in their Blaue Reiter Almanach. (Rousseau’s paintings will be examined in an entirely new light in the scholarly catalogue.)

Franz Marc, Stony Path (Mountains/Landscape) Steiniger Weg (Gebirge/Landschaft), 1911 (repainted 1912), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of the Women’s Board and Friends of the Museum, photo © San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Franz Marc, Stony Path (Mountains/Landscape) Steiniger Weg (Gebirge/Landschaft), 1911 (repainted 1912), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of the Women’s Board and Friends of the Museum, photo © San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The development of Expressionism took place in the cosmopolitan milieu of artists, galleries, and museums in both France and Germany in the early 20th century. The founding of groups nearly synonymous with the term Expressionism—the Brücke and the Blaue Reiter—came at a heightened moment during which artists working in Germany were paying close attention to the styles developing in France. This exhibition seeks to bring together French and German masterpieces accompanied by their essential historical context—when and where they were exhibited, collected, and seen by artists—so that they may be enjoyed again by us while also capturing the moment when the artists that made them were inspired by one another.

Timothy O. Benson, Curator, Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies

Editorial note: A version of this article originally appeared in the spring 2014 (volume 8, issue 2) of LACMA’s InsiderExpressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky opens to the public this Sunday, June 8, but LACMA members can enjoy early access (for free!) during Member Previews beginning today. Simply click through the link and make your reservation in advance.


Last Chance for Kaz Oshiro at Charles White Elementary

June 4, 2014

“What did you discover today?” This is how I conclude my weekly art classes at LACMA’s off-site gallery at Charles White Elementary School. After an hour of making art, the students sit down in the brightly painted space and reflect on what excited them during their art making. “I discovered that I can use stuff like a sponge to make art,” said one student. He was referring to the various materials and tools the kids got to use when they made monoprints (a type of printmaking process), such as stamps, rollers, cotton swabs, and fabric scraps. Every student had a different moment that thrilled them and inspired them to think outside the box, like when they created a new color or made an expressive mark.

Abstract painting using primary colors. Photo by Valentina Mogilevskaya

Abstract painting using primary colors. Photo by Valentina Mogilevskaya

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Student making abstract collage. Photo by Valentina Mogilevskaya

LACMA’s gallery has been a source of joy and excitement for the students at Charles White Elementary School. Over the course of nearly five months, they participated in numerous hands-on art-making activities and collaborations with LACMA staff and Kaz Oshiro, whose work served as a source for inspiration. Every Wednesday morning, the students and I explored themes of experimentation, collaboration, abstraction, and illusion using unexpected materials for making art. They made collages and paintings and learned printmaking techniques, with every project opening new discoveries in using nontraditional materials to make art. After several opportunities to work directly with Oshiro, the kids began to see him as a superstar, recalling how he lifted up what looked to them like a painted dumpster, revealing that it was instead made out of wood and canvas. It was a magical moment finding out that what they perceived to be an everyday object was actually an illusion created by the artist in front of them.

Student painting a canvas in the shape of a dumpster inspired by Oshiro’s piece Dumpster (Yellow with Blue Swoosh), 2010. Photo by Valentina Mogilevskaya

Student painting a canvas in the shape of a dumpster inspired by Oshiro’s piece Dumpster (Yellow with Blue Swoosh), 2010. Photo by Valentina Mogilevskaya

Monoprint made by third-grade student. Photo by Valentina Mogilevskaya

Monoprint made by third-grade student. Photo by Valentina Mogilevskaya

This idea of illusion is a theme in the exhibition Kaz Oshiro: Chasing Ghosts. In the gallery you will find the artist’s trompe l’oeil sculptures along with works by Abstract Expressionist masters who inspired him along his journey.  The space embraces the visitor in splashes of every color imaginable, with every object giving us a glimpse into Kaz’s artistic practice. It is so unusual yet so pleasing to see an artist’s work next to that of the kids whom he/she inspired. The level of collaboration in the show, between the artist and the students and the school and the museum, is truly unique. Come see for yourself when the gallery is open to the public for the final day of the exhibition on June 7, 2014, from 12:30 pm to 4 pm, and join in on the collaboration by participating in free art making activities for families.

Valentina Mogilevskaya, Education Assistant


Capturing the South through Words and Images

June 2, 2014

When you enter the exhibition Visions of the South, you will notice—among the colorful paintings, expressive prints, dramatic photographs, and delicate drawings—a flat screen showing a short film that complements the exhibition. Since the “south” can evoke so many different things, we wanted to give a voice to artists and writers who were fascinated by it.

From Visions of the South © Frauke Josenhans & Alexa Oona Schulz

From Visions of the South © Frauke Josenhans & Alexa Oona Schulz

The notion of the south has inspired some of the greatest writers, among them the German poet, novelist, scientist, and art amateur Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832). His vision of the south related largely to Italy—as was the case for most of his contemporaries. The Italian peninsula was considered a sort of Arcadia, an ideal land with beautiful nature and remains from antiquity. Going there was considered almost a duty for artists, writers, and noblemen alike. In 1786, Goethe, at the apogee of his success, and seeking to escape the pressures of court life in Weimar, decided to finally visit Italy to find new inspiration there. After arriving in Rome, Goethe wrote: “Yes, I have finally arrived in this city, the capital of the world! . . . My desire to reach Rome was so great and increased so much with every passing moment that I could no longer stay anywhere, and stopped in Florence for only three hours.”

Martinus Rørbye, Palermo Harbor with a View of Monte Pellegrino, 1840, oil on canvas, Gift of the 1990 Collectors Committee

Martinus Rørbye, Palermo Harbor with a View of Monte Pellegrino, 1840, gift of the 1990 Collectors Committee

After spending months in Rome, visiting the famous monuments and sites, Goethe travelled further south, first to Naples, then to Sicily. There, he was taken by the beauty of the Sicilian coast: “No words can describe the misty transparency that hovered around the coasts as we sailed up to Palermo on the most beautiful afternoon: the purity of the contours, the general softness, the distinctness of the tones, the harmony of sky, sea, and earth. To have seen it is to remember it for the rest of one’s life.”

Some 100 years later, the Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894) found his “south” in France, more specifically in Provence: “My first impression was on rising at Orange and throwing open the shutters. Such a great living flood of sunshine poured in upon me, that I confessed to having danced and expressed my satisfaction aloud. . . . I hope this time to send you a weekly dose of sunshine from the south, instead of the jet of snell Edinburgh east wind that used to was.”

From Visions of the South © Alexa Oona Schulz

From Visions of the South © Alexa Oona Schulz

In the early 20th century, the south could have referred to Italy or Provence, but the term also applied to faraway regions in the Pacific. In 1914, the German painter Max Pechstein travelled to Palau Island, where he found inspiration in the luxurious nature there. In his book Memories, published several decades later, he recalled his experience: “One day followed another in calm and serenity. There was nothing to disturb my soul’s peace. Whether I observed the Palau people while carving, fishing, hunting, or at rest, my pencil always captured their convivial life. After I had found this paradise, I really hoped never to have to return to Europe. Nature in unheard of splendor surrounded me, abundantly luxuriant growth everywhere, unknown plants in proliferation: palms and breadfruit trees, bamboo, and sugar cane.”

A more in-depth representation of Max Pechstein’s work soon can be seen in the exhibition Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky, opening on June 8 at LACMA.

Modern artists László Moholy-Nagy and Nicolas de Staël were captivated by the strong southern light in Provence and the vivacious life in the port of Marseille. This prompted Moholy-Nagy to shot a film there, Impressions from the Old Port of Marseille ( France, 1929), excerpts of which can be seen in the Visions of the South film. Nicolas de Staël wrote in many of his letters how the light in Southern France changed his perception of color.

From Visions of the South © Frauke Josenhans & Alexa Oona Schulz

From Visions of the South © Frauke Josenhans & Alexa Oona Schulz

Next to these testimonies of famous artists and writers, we also found anonymous voices, who were equally bewitched by the beauty of the south. The images we used to create the film are excerpts from home movies—travelogues—filmed in Super 8 format by Americans traveling the South of Europe, as well as the tropics, in the 1950s and 60s. Just as the painters and poets, they were fascinated by the light, beautiful colors, architecture, and landscapes of southern destinations. With their old-fashioned Super 8 cameras, which have recently experienced a strong comeback in the world of filmmaking, our nameless travelers banned on celluloid glimpses of a southern paradise they wanted to hold on to and bring home to share with families, friends, and maybe even us, viewers in the distant future, excited to encounter their exquisite film footage half a century later.

Experience for yourself how all these visual and oral testimonies evoke the different faces of the “south” and share your own vision with us.

Frauke Josenhans, Curatorial Assistant, Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies
Alexa Oona Schulz, Multimedia Producer and Film Director


This Weekend at LACMA: The Sketchbook Project Visits, Curators Talk Chinese Paintings and Fútbol, Fresh Film and Music, and More!

May 30, 2014

Making a two-day stop at LACMA this weekend, The Sketchbook Project is a mobile library filled to the brim with books from an international slew of artists. Search the truck’s catalog by theme, medium, geographic location, and unique tags created by the artists. The Sketchbook Project is free and open on Friday from 4:30 to 8:30 pm and on Saturday from 3:30 to 7:30 pm.

At Friday night’s Jazz at LACMA see a performance from bop jazz vocalist Judy Wexler at 6 pm in front of Urban Light. Following the free concert, the film series Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema continues at 7:30 pm with surrealist The Hourglass Sanatorium and an ethereal study of faith, sin, and redemption in Mother Joan of Angels.

Visitors on Saturday are invited to learn more about the 30 masterpieces from the exhibition Chinese Paintings from Japanese Collections (most of which have never been on display outside of Japan) in a presentation at 2 pm with Stephen Little, Curator and Head of Chinese and Korean Art Department at LACMA. This talk is free and open to the public. Later, in the Bing Theater, The Essential Orson Welles presents The Trial, an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s portrait of paranoia, and Touch of Evil, boasting an impressive array of memorable performances, all beginning at 5 pm. Top it all off with the Afro-Cuban and Brazilian sounds of Soul Sauce (named after the Cal Tjader album) at Latin Sounds also at 5 pm.

At the Compton Art+Film Lab at Lueders Park see a free outdoor screening of My Brother’s Wedding on Friday at 8 pm, take part in a filmmaking workshop on Saturday at noon, and contribute to the city’s narrative during oral history drop-ins on Sunday beginning at 12:30 pm.

John McLaughlin, #5, 1974, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with matching funds of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Modern and Contemporary Art Council, © John McLaughlin Estate

John McLaughlin, #5, 1974, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with matching funds of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Modern and Contemporary Art Council, © John McLaughlin Estate

Visit the galleries and see Four Abstract Classicists for a dose of hard, clean edges, John Divola: As Far as I Could Get for a look at a photographic practice, and Pavilion for Japanese Art: Paintings in Celebration of 25 Years honoring a quarter century of architect Bruce Goff’s exemplary building. Come on Sunday for the latest Andell Family Sundays project—Dig It: Egyptian Art—starting at 12:30 pm. Talk sports, soccer, and the U.S. and the world on Sunday at 1 pm during the free panel discussion “The Upcoming World Cup in Brazil: Soccer’s Current Standing in American Sports,” including curator of Fútbol: The Beautiful Game, Franklin Sirmans. Swing by Art Catalogues at 4 pm for a talk between Doug Aitken and Philippe Vergne as they explore ideas and new models for working within and outside of museums. Call it a weekend with classical music from pianist Inna Faliks and violinist Tim Fain at Sundays Live at 6 pm.

Roberto Ayala


Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Behind the Scenes

May 29, 2014

Is there a Van Gogh hiding in this crate? Or maybe a Kandinsky or a Kirchner? It is hard to describe the excitement you feel when you unpack the numerous crates, in which these artworks travel, arriving from major institutions all around the word: New York, Washington, D.C., Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Zurich . . .

Even if you have seen most of these works—paintings drawings and prints—on the walls of museums before, to see them coming out of their crates and waiting to be hung on the wall in the huge exhibition space of the Resnick Pavilion is a very special kind of thrill. It is particularly delightful to discover the bright and bold colors used by painters such as Gauguin, Van Gogh, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Gabriele Münter, Max Pechstein, Henri Matisse, Paul Signac—something that is often difficult to capture in reproductions. But to see the subtle use of bright greens, white highlights, flamboyant reds and sunny yellows and to notice the vigorous brushstrokes used by painters like Kirchner, Pechstein, or Van Gogh is a very special kind of pleasure.

Crate_LACMA_2_OK

 

The reason why we are having all these wonderful pieces coming to LACMA, is the upcoming exhibition Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky. This exhibition will assemble major works by artists from Germany, France, Russia, and other countries, who were seeking a new visual language at the beginning of the 20th century, developing almost simultaneously Expressionism, Fauvism, followed by Cubism. In this attempt, they were looking toward modern masters such as Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cézanne and found inspiration in their bold use of color, the deconstruction of form and space, and in the turn toward a subjective vision of the world. The exhibition is a testimony to this exceptional cultural and artistic dialogue, which took place before World War I between artists based in France and Germany.

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The exhibition’s title wall. Photo courtesy of and © Frauke Josenhans

For a major international loan exhibition such as this one, presented at different venues, the workload is quite enormous—the exhibition first opened with a slightly different selection of works at the Kunsthaus Zürich, and it will then travel to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where the exhibition opens in October. The weeks preceding the opening of the exhibition are the busiest; the construction of the gallery space is finished, the walls are painted* and the crates are waiting to get unpacked. New works are being delivered every day, and each day, more and more paintings and prints go up on the wall.

Vincent van Gogh, Pollard Willows at Sunset, 1888, Oil on canvas mounted on cardboard, Kröller‑Müller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands, Photo Credit: Art Resource, NY.

Vincent van Gogh, Pollard Willows at Sunset (Saules au coucher du soleil, Arles), 1888, Kröller‑Müller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands, Photo Credit: Art Resource, NY

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Reclining Nude in Front of Mirror, 1909–1910, Oil on canvas, Brücke‑Museum, Berlin © Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Courtesy Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern Photo © Brücke-Museum, Berlin.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Reclining Nude in Front of Mirror (Liegender Akt vor Spiegel), 1909–10, Brücke‑Museum, Berlin © Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Courtesy Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern Photo © Brücke-Museum, Berlin

During installation, the exhibition galleries resemble an anthill; art preparators, expert art handlers and paper and painting conservators are being busy making sure that the artworks are handled properly and that they are all in good condition (every move represents a potential danger to the artwork). Electricians are adjusting the lights to the adequate light level, designers are placing the numerous wall graphics and registrars are overseeing everything, making sure that the installation is going according to the schedule and that artworks are delivered and unpacked properly; couriers of the different lending museums are waiting in line to see their artwork safely hung up on the wall. And the curators, well, they place and replace the artworks, making last-minute changes and keeping everyone very busy! Installing an exhibition is a team effort and you will be able to discover the wonderful result of years of work in a few days!

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Photo courtesy of and © Frauke Josenhans

*For the design of the show, here is a little bit of insight: you might notice that the walls in the gallery are painted in two different shades: a dark grey and blue. These colors have been chosen very carefully. Indeed echoes of the blue in the central spine—the so-called Paris-spine—can also be found in some of the adjacent galleries. The blue highlights works that were shown in Paris—either in exhibitions or at galleries—and could have been seen by German artists traveling to France.

Frauke Josenhans, Curatorial Assistant, Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies

 

 


Sketchbooks on Tour

May 28, 2014

The Sketchbook Project, a mobile library filled with thousands of artist sketchbooks, is traveling from Brooklyn, New York, across the country to stop at museums, community centers, and universities to share their collection. Visitors can browse their stacks when it stops at LACMA. You’ll even get your own library card!

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Courtesy of the Sketchbook Project

Jessica Sugarman, of Art House Coop—the umbrella for the Brooklyn Art Library and the Sketchbook Project, tells more.

Karen Satzman: How did the Sketchbook Project get started?

Jessica Sugarman: The Sketchbook Project started in 2006 when the project’s cofounders, Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker, met as students at Savannah Collage of Art and Design in Atlanta, Georgia. They were studying printmaking and graphic design respectively, and started forming the idea of doing a creative project that could involve the participation of other people. The project moved up to Brooklyn in 2009 and opened Brooklyn Art Library, the storefront exhibition space for the Sketchbook Project.

KS: Why Sketchbooks?

JS: Sketchbooks weren’t the first platform explored for ways to invite people to create and submit artwork, but ended up really catching on. We’ve seen that a sketchbook is pretty universal—whether you are an architect, screenwriter, professional artist, student, casual doodler, or really anyone, it’s either a format you already use in your practice or would feel comfortable exploring.

The blank pages of these books have not only been filled with sketches but could be memoirs, poetry, printmaking, painting, textiles, photography, or any other medium. Some are interactive, fold out into sculptures, are rebound, etc. Not every book is a defiance of what one might expect to be inside a sketchbook, but when viewing books in the collection you see a really wide range of content, and the format of a sketchbook invites that range or exploration.

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Courtesy of the Sketchbook Project

KS: What can we learn from looking at artists’ sketchbooks? 

JS: Looking at someone’s sketchbook is like getting a look inside their life. When checking out books in the Sketchbook Project, the first book you view may be the work of a professional artist or illustrator who did a book as fun side project, and the next book you view might be by a first-time art maker who had never shared their work before doing this project. You might be getting a glimpse inside the mind of a middle school student in Sudan, a mom in Kansas, or a designer in New York. The project has always been open to anyone regardless of age or experience, and we hold that each book tells a story. You might learn that you can relate to people through their sketchbook who you never have imagined having something in common with.

KS: Artist’s sketchbooks can be very personal. Why would an artist give up this personal and revealing piece of themselves to be a part of the project? 

JS: The interesting thing is that someone submitting to the Sketchbook Project is filling their book intentionally knowing that it is joining a collection that will be shared and viewed over and over again. The amount of deeply personal outpourings that have become a part of the project was not something we expected when the project first started—in fact there was more of a straightforward expectation that books would come back filled for the most part with sketches. However, some of the most-viewed books in the collection touch on very personal stories and experiences – there is a book that a participant started on the day she was diagnosed with cancer and then sent in her completed book once she was cured—her story of recovery has connected with a lot of people.

Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and submitting your own book to a collection of now 30,000 sketchbooks and counting allows you to contribute your creative voice to something really special.

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Courtesy of the Sketchbook Project

This mobile library of sketchbooks will park on LACMA’s campus on Friday, May 30, and Saturday, May 31. You can search their catalog by artist name, theme, city and country to find a book that might interest you or take a chance on a random pick. If you are inspired to become part of their collection, ask their librarians how you can submit your sketchbook to the project.

Karen Satzman, Director, Youth and Family Programs


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