“Testing” the Resnick Pavilion—with Walter De Maria’s Help

June 8, 2010


If you peer through the doors of the new Resnick Pavilion, you’ll see an orderly grid of geometric shapes arranged on the floor according to a precise logic. They catch the northern light, emphasizing the broad expanse of undivided space. The 2000 Sculpture, by Walter De Maria, is the first work of art to inaugurate the pavilion.

Even though the building will not officially open until the fall, we installed a “test” artwork. Michael Govan, who has worked with De Maria on other projects in the past, explained it this way: “The sculpture provides an ideal way to test the Resnick Pavilion’s capacity to deal with large-scale work in the context of its architecture. Certain works of art will never benefit from traditional gallery spotlighting, and the installation of a monumental work as we acclimate this building gives the chance to test new strategies in anticipation of future projects where we may choose to use the entire space for major installations.”

Amy Heibel

The Rise of the Resnick Pavilion

June 7, 2010

I can’t tell you how refreshing and energizing it is to walk out onto the east side of our campus and see the Resnick Pavilion in all its glory—unobstructed by construction fencing and surrounded by Robert Irwin’s palm trees. This side of campus feels more open and airy than ever before. Although you can’t get inside the building just yet—it officially opens October 2 (sooner if you’re a member)—you can still get a good look inside as the building has two glass facades. That said, we can get inside—and tomorrow we’ll give you a peek.

It seems like just yesterday that this area north of BCAM was an expanse of dirt and concrete. As far as major buildings go, the Resnick Pavilion sprang up pretty quickly. Here’s a look at how it all came together.

Scott Tennent

WoW: NexGen Artwork at LACMA and Beyond

June 4, 2010

If you pass by the corner of La Cienega and Melrose before June 8 you can see dragons, tigers, bamboo, and even a few portraits and abstract artworks—created by visitors to the Boone Children’s Gallery.

The Center for Early Education, a not-for-profit school in West Hollywood, invited LACMA’s Education Department to be a part of WoW: Windows on West Hollywood—a project showcasing artwork created in programs serving the families of West Hollywood and Los Angeles. The Boone Children’s Gallery jumped at the chance to be a part of the project and exhibit brush paintings made by kids, teens, families, and adults made at LACMA.

One of the most successful components of the Boone Children’s Gallery has been its informal community gallery—which all visitors love to add to. At any given time there is an unjuried installation that reflects the ages, interests, and skills of the diverse NexGen population. Some works reveal that families work collaboratively on one painting together. Other paintings show that the artist formally studied the art of brush painting before while other works indicate an extreme novice (i.e. toddler!).

All the paintings currently displayed in CEE’s three large windows facing out onto La Cienega at Melrose were proudly donated to the Boone Children’s Gallery by their makers. In a few weeks a new round of art will be on display created by children and families from another of CEE’s community picks. Check it out.

Karen Satzman, Manager, Art Classes and Family Programs

Perception and Palm Trees: Robert Irwin’s New Installation at LACMA

June 3, 2010

Now that the fence surrounding the new Resnick Pavilion is down, visitors can appreciate a varied collection of palm trees installed in orderly grids, many in cor-ten containers set into the ground. They are the work of artist Robert Irwin. Since 1970, Irwin has been exploring perception with indoor and outdoor installations that push the boundaries of art and artistic practice. His palm garden at LACMA is an evolving installation.

I interviewed Bob when the installation surrounding Resnick was still in a conceptual stage. He talked about the sensory experience of the palm installation. “What I wanted to do is to make a garden that represents this particular place in time,” he said. “Art is a perfect representation of a moment in time, a set of values that define a particular culture and moment.”

“The site itself is very unique—the La Brea Tar Pits, this primordial ooze that is coughing up bones of saber-toothed cats and mammoths. So you take that as a place to begin, and marry that with this primordial kind of tree. Certain types of palm, cycads, like the ones in front of BCAM, are actually the first plants on earth, as far as anybody knows.” Irwin also noted the status of the palm as an icon of Southern California, making it a logical place to create what he calls “an important collection of these primordial plants.”

Irwin described the difference between studio practice and an artistic project on this scale, which must take into account certain logistical challenges, such as the fact that the garden sits atop an underground parking garage. “The beauty of being a studio artist is that you can make the world look any way you want, as long as you don’t expect anybody else to agree with you. But when you actually start to work in the world, you have to accept that your work is going to be affected by all kinds of conditions, issues, and restrictions. It’s much more complicated.” The unique environmental requirements of each type of palm also played into the project, and Irwin worked with landscape architect Paul Comstock to address those considerations and ensure the health and longevity of the palms.

Bob urges visitors to experience the palms without trying to know too much about them in advance. “One of the key things about seeing is attending,” he says. “You can’t see without employing your body as part of the process. The more you put in preconditions or quantitative rationales, the less you’re going to see; the more you want to know dates and origins and so on, the less you’re going to know.”

Watch Robert Irwin in conversation with Michael Govan.

Amy Heibel

Joint Acquisition: Edition Jacob Samuel

June 1, 2010

When one hears the term “etching” one thinks most likely of Rembrandt, Goya or Picasso, highly acclaimed masters of the intaglio print medium that flourished from the sixteenth–eighteenth centuries and was “revived” in the mid–late nineteenth through the early twentieth century. In an age of digital reproduction, one might think that incising a copper plate and cranking it through a press is outmoded or even obsolete. That’s clearly not the case, as evidenced by the more than 500 prints (mostly etchings) that make up Edition Jacob Samuel. The archives of this Santa Monica-based master printer and publisher were recently acquired jointly by LACMA and the Hammer Museum and are currently on view at the latter through August 29, 2010. More than forty major contemporary artists from all over the world have made etchings with Samuel, including Marina Abramovic, Rebecca Horn, and Jannis Kounellis from Europe, Gabriel Orozco from Mexico, Anish Kapoor from India (based in London), and local artists John Baldessari, Chris Burden, and Andrea Zittel.

In many cases, the artist had never made etchings before. Samuel sees the master printer’s role as one of a technician who “translates” the artist’s vision through his knowledge of etching techniques. Indeed the list of techniques in a print by Giuseppe Penone (hard ground etching, soft ground etching, spit bite aquatint, white ground aquatint, and drypoint with chine collé and letterpress), for example, reads like a print glossary. Samuel’s technical skill and innovative spirit allows the artists he works with to expand on their own creative potential. Kounellis, for example, approached the plate as if it were a sculptural object, not a planar surface. Plates were subjected to fingernail scratches, a mallet, chisel, powerdrill, molten lead, and smashed glass, among other unconventional tools and materials. What the Kounellis portfolio and indeed all etchings by Edition Jacob Samuel make clear is that the physical process of etching, from marking up the plate to pressing the paper, is still relevant, perhaps even imperative, for many contemporary artists who choose NOT to just push “print.”

Leslie Jones, Associate Curator, Prints and Drawings

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