I ♥ the Eames Chair

March 4, 2009

Last week, Tom wrote about a little painting in the European galleries that caught his attention. I too am captivated by one of LACMA’s smaller objects—Child’s Chair (1945) by Charles and Ray Eames, on view in the American galleries.

Charles and Ray Eames, Child's Chair, 1945

What really gets me about the chair is the same thing that enchants me with great design in general. I can easily imagine this chair in my house in a way that I can’t imagine, say, a massive Richard Serra sculpture which would require blowing out ceilings and walls and removing all furniture from my normal-scale home. Also, as a mother of a small child, I can envision my son interacting with this charming object as part of our daily life.

In researching the chair for this post, I discovered that the sweet little heart cutout in the back is actually meant to serve as a child’s finger hold—though, according to Bent Wood and Metal Furniture: 1850-1946, “The shape of the perforation in the back of the chair… was felt by many to be a sentimental gesture out of keeping with the progressive aesthetic and technical innovations of the design.” About 5,000 were produced, and the form, along with other Eames children’s furniture, was discontinued after four years because it was not commercially successful.

Bobbye Tigerman, assistant curator of decorative arts and design, notes that another children’s toy, the Eames plywood elephant, has been recently reissued in a limited edition. We both agree that the chairs would fly off the shelves these days. (Nudge, nudge fabricators…)

Allison Agsten

Young Directors Night

March 3, 2009

Rani DeMuth

This Friday (March 6) is LACMA’s Eighth Annual Young Directors Night—a celebration of film, showcasing eight shorts by up-and-coming directors in Los Angeles. Here, Jason Gaulton, LACMA’s membership marketing coordinator, sits down with Rani DeMuth, winner of last year’s Art of Film Award, to find out what she’s been up to since her big win, and what she’ll be looking for on Friday as a member of the judging panel.

Almost one year ago, your film The Double took home Young Directors Night’s first Art of Film Award. Where has your film career taken you since then?

Since receiving the Art of Film Award I have completed a feature screenplay. I’m currently directing a one-woman show.

Attached to your victory was a trip to the Sundance Film Festival. How was your experience there?

Sundance was awesome. The films I saw were edgy and interesting. It was inspiring to see low-budget films with such strong artistic vision.

What movies did you see? Which were your favorites, and are there any surprise films we should look out for?

Among my favorites were In the Loop, Louise Michel, Big Fan, and a short film called Cattle Call that I’m obsessed with. The political farce In the Loop was my favorite feature. I missed a film I really wanted to see called Push. I’d look out for that one, but don’t be confused by the Dakota Fanning feature with the same name!

The current economy is making things difficult across the board; film financing is down though ticket sales are actually up. How has the economy impacted your work?

Because I have yet to send out my script or look for a producer, I don’t feel affected by the current economy. I think being a filmmaker is one of the hardest things one can do. You need to accept that fact—then just move forward. It all starts with a great script. I’ve been a film snob for a long time, but maybe the economy will necessitate a digital shoot.

As a former student filmmaker on the rise and part of a generation that has a whole new bevy of technology at their fingertips, do you have any advice for those looking to advance their own career in film?

The people who make the greatest impact in the arts seem to be those who don’t look for what’s already popular and don’t think about how things progress in a linear fashion. You have to create a path for yourself because no one else will. Be as specific as possible about what you want to do, and then you may actually do it. That being said, it’s a good time to learn about 3-D cinema.

You will be participating in this year’s Young Directors Night as a member of the Host Committee. What are you going to be looking for in the films you review when it’s time to pass judgment?

Do I feel something? Am I engaged? Do I believe the story? The characters? Is there emotional truth? Can I go inside the film and move around? Is the film true to itself? Is it a self-contained world? Is there command of vision? Is there a fully realized style? Is it original?

Let’s a play a little bit of art association. I am going to give you some giants in the world of art and I want to know what director comes to your mind as the equivalent in the film realm.

Michelangelo: Elia Kazan
Salvador Dalí: Federico Fellini
Andy Warhol: Quentin Tarantino
Claude Monet: Terrence Malick
Pablo Picasso: Akira Kurosawa

Finally, I have to ask, who is your favorite director and why?

It’s a toss-up between Bergman and Kurosawa. Both are master storytellers who compellingly evoke the dream world. They were artists who moved the medium forward.

Jason Gaulton, Membership Marketing Coordinator

Another Big Winner: BCAM Cake Wins the LACMA Bake-Off!

March 3, 2009

The American Art Department recently sponsored their annual bake-off for LACMA staff. The competition was fierce; while favorites included a decadent flan and a cake topped with raspberries and Gran Marnier, the top winner of the event was the head of the Graphics Department, Amy McFarland, who took both first prize and “Most Creative” (as an art museum, how could we not have this category?). Her winning confection featured three layers clearly inspired by works on display in BCAM. The base layer was pound cake, in reference to the denseness of Richard Serra’s Sequence and Band; the middle layer was German chocolate, for the Art of Two Germanys exhibition; and a top banana layer whimsically brought Jeff Koons’s Michael Jackson and Bubbles to mind. Topped with a cream cheese frosting, the BCAM cake also featured slats of white chocolate for the roof and licorice décor for the red accents of Renzo Piano’s design.

Devi Noor

And the (Urban Light Contest) Winner is…

March 2, 2009

The idea for how to celebrate the first anniversary of the installation of Chris Burden’s Urban Light at LACMA began almost as soon as this new and inspiring landmark in Los Angeles was installed in February 2008. Throughout the days and nights of the past year, photographers and videographers have made their pilgrimage to Urban Light. The artwork’s temple form and its 24-hour invitation to walk within its structure so perfectly fuse the physical reality and transcendental magic of Los Angeles. It is, therefore, no surprise that the challenge to create and then capture the myriad experiences that Urban Light offers has been taken up by so many image-makers.

With more than 1,000 photo submissions for our Urban Light open call, we had a wealth of images to choose from. Many of the photographs describe the strong formal qualities of the lines of lampposts, others emphasize the experience of standing within their towering forms. Some of the photographs were cleverly timed to bring these urban lights and the ambient light of the sun and the moon together within the same frame. There are other wonderful juxtapositions of the precision of Urban Light with human action, the dramatic shadows cast by the structure upon the sidewalk, and the organic poles of the palm tree trunks along Wilshire Boulevard. The winning photograph by Doug Hein stood out for me because it was unlike any other photograph we received.

Doug Hein, Long Beach, California

More than this, I really enjoy the economy of means that Doug employed—creating a distilled, rather than descriptive, experience of Urban Light. Perfectly timed for a full moon, Hein’s photograph captures the way that Urban Light itself condenses the pedestrian’s experience of this open-sky, luminous city.

Congratulations also to the other photographers (and writers) featured in our online Urban Light exhibition and print on demand book.

Charlotte Cotton

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