This Weekend: Final Jazz at LACMA, Steve Wolfe Opens, Hard Boiled Hong Kong, and More

November 19, 2010

Tonight is the final installment of the 2010 Jazz at LACMA series, so be sure to come down and take the series out with a bang! The John Altman Big Band will giving us a sendoff until the series resumes next year.

Steve Wolfe, Untitled (Study for Mumm/Jose Cuervo Cartons), 1994, collection of Lawrence Luhring

Tomorrow we have a new exhibition opening—our sixth new special exhibition since October: Steve Wolfe on Paper. Wolfe is a Italian-born, San Francisco-based artist who uses tromp l’oeil techniques to bring pop cultural objects like books and records to life. His drawings, collages, and prints on view in this exhibition almost beg to be touched (but, uh, don’t).

Meanwhile our Hard Boiled Hong Kong film series continues this weekend with a quartet of crime flicks. Tonight, Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels and Tsui Hark’s Time and Tide; tomorrow, Hark’s Once Upon a Time in China is preceded by Johnnie To’s Exiled. Trailers for all four: 

That’s not all that’s happening at LACMA this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, in conjunction with the current Olmec exhibition, archaeologist David Cheetham discusses his work at Canton Corralito, a site on the Pacific Coast of Chiapas, the earliest known colony in the Americas. The lecture starts at 2 pm and is free. 

Also free, as always, is our Sundays Live concert, which closes out the weekend. Pianist Kyu-Yeon Kim will perform works by Robert Schumann. For a preview, here’s a clip of Kim performing Schumann’s Kreisleriana No. 6, 7 and 8 at the Cliburn International Piano Competition last year.

Scott Tennent

Contemplating Color and Form

November 18, 2010

Interesting interactions between art and architecture are diverse and plentiful on this campus. Right now, you can contemplate architectural minimalism as a foil for ancient Olmec sculpture in the Resnick Pavilion; study a wall of Impressionist masters in a gallery illuminated by a bank of windows overlooking the palm trees of Wilshire Boulevard; and be captivated by the emotive brushwork of seventeenth-century Zen monks in the luminous natural light of Bruce Goff’s Pavilion for Japanese Art.

But a new installation on the top floor of BCAM has me ascending the escalator over and over again lately.

Curator Franklin Sirmans installed Color & Form, a selection from the Broad Collection, on the east side of the building’s top floor. Works by Imi Knoebel, John McCracken, Christian Eckart, Gunther Forg, and Peter Halley populate the vast white walls beneath the Renzo Piano skylights.

The installation is interesting on a number of levels. In terms of the story of art history, it ties in directly with the Blinky Palermo show one level down (Palermo and Knoebel were close). It also continues a story begun with our 2009 Joseph Beuys installation, as Knoebel and Palermo were his students. It extends an investigation of color and form begun by an earlier generation of European modernists like Malevich and Mondrian (our Mondrian is on view one building over in the Ahmanson galleries.) And it suggests a thread of continuity leading right up through Jeff Koons (in galleries adjacent to Color and Form) and beyond. (Halley and Koons were peers in the New York art scene of the 1980s.)

So it’s a presentation with a lot of connective tissue. But all of that aside, I enjoy seeing people moving through these skylit galleries. They look spectacular and randomly choreographed populating that landscape of big, vivid, paintings. When we were editing the video interview with Frankin, below, I found that the silent b-roll images of visitors passing through the galleries were accidentally beautiful unto themselves.

The curator thoughtfully left certain walls empty, a visual breath between affecting fields of strong color. (Peter Halley’s Initial Sequence is a downright electrifying orange.) He also included enough benches so that you can rest and be enveloped by the environment of the galleries.

Amy Heibel

Why John Galliano Loves This Vest

November 17, 2010

Photo © LACMA/Museum Associates

One of the garments receiving a lot of attention in Fashioning Fashion is this vest, and one of its many admirers is designer John Galliano. He’s chronicled his vest love in the preface to the exhibition catalogue—a snippet of which we thought we’d share with you here.

Photo © LACMA/Museum Associates

Photo © LACMA/Museum Associates

I was particularly taken with a gentleman’s vest; it is simply charmant (charming), to quote the coquettish collar. The piece dates back to the eighteenth century and the time of the French Revolution, an era I have always found to be a rich source of inspiration. You can spend hours studying this vest. It gives many clues about the turbulent time, weaving style with politics, rebellion, and the tricolore. Here fashion speaks its owner’s mind through intricate needlework and beauty rather than through the violence of the day. As well as the collar, other clues can be found on the pockets. One is the phrase. “L’HABIT NE FAIT PAS LE MOINE” (“The habit does not make the monk”), a caution to never judge a book by its cover or, indeed, take things, such as fashion, and its wearer, on face value alone. The other pocket reads, ‘HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE,” a motto I recognized from the English Order of the Garter, which originally comes from the Old French saying, “Shame upon him who thinks evil of it.” Powerful messages to carry on your person! It is genius. I love the hidden messages and use of heroic symbolism and dandy analogy to, quite literally, wear your loyalties on your chest. For me fashion is there to empower, but you can also play with it, and use it to disguise and conceal. This vest is a brilliant example of all this. It also serves as a strong visual reminder to always look past the frosting and seek the person within.

So, why don’t you look even closer at the vest? There are still many clues to unravel. Through its design and embroidery it tells how the wealthy once dressed like caterpillars by day, ostentatious butterflies by night, but then had to remember their loyalty to the state, to the blue, white, and red. This wearer is, as the collar hints, a bit of a charmer and seems to play it safe and profess both loyalties. Take the tiny lapels: they are embroidered, one with a shorn caterpillar, the other with a butterfly with its wings cut. Does this mean the wearer’s wings have been cut? Ort is he glad that the rich, with their decadent ways, have been stopped? Well, this he can debate whichever way the company prefers…

I wish I had been commissioned to design this vest; it is a masterpiece of fashion and function as well as showing sadness, sympathy, beauty, and wit. The vest is both a political and a fashion statement that captures the mood at the beginning of a new era. It also shows how style reacted, like a fickle mirror, and instantly rejected the gaudy finery so beloved before…

For more on the Fashioning Fashion catalogue, or to purchase your own copy, visit LACMA’s online store.

Brooke Fruchtman

A Consistent if Insatiable Appetite

November 15, 2010

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

—William Butler Yeats

Francois Boucher, Leda and the Swan, 1742, Collection of Lynda and Stewart Resnick

Francois Boucher’s Leda and the Swan, on display in Eye for the Sensual, is a bit of well-rendered dream. The Swan’s foot is perfectly webbed, scaled, and highlighted. The sweep of the neck, in paint and varnish, catches light in one beautiful motion.

It can be said about Jupiter, in disguise or not, that he certainly has his eyes on a certain “type” of woman. The two women in this painting could be sisters. He seems determined to be around their nudity. Jupiter’s wife, Juno (a Rembrandt work also residing in Los Angeles) bares quite a similar countenance. The three ladies’ bosoms are ample, their eyes are made lustily for the bedroom, and their cheeks are full and ruddy. Why, with only a squint they might be interchangeable.

So while I may question Jupiter’s motivations and tactics, I can at least appreciate his consistency.

Laura Cherry

This Weekend at LACMA: Hard Boiled Hong Kong

November 12, 2010

In addition to the many exhibitions currently on view, the weekend at LACMA is bookended, as usual, by two free concerts—tonight, the Littleton Brothers perform for Jazz at LACMA, and on Sunday pianist Gonzalo Farias will take the stage in our Sundays Live series.

In between, bring your bulletproof vest to the Bing Theater for the start of our latest film series, Hard Boiled Hong Kong, unfolding over the next three weekends. The series looks at four pillars of the gangster genre in Hong Kong—John Woo, Johnnie To, Tsui Hark, and Wong Kar-wai—and includes their classic sagas as well as the LA premiere, later this month, of Woo’s newest epic, Red Cliff.

The series begins with four classics of the genre. Tonight, John Woo’s breakout 1988 film The Killer, starring Chow Yun-fat, followed by Wong Kar-wai’s 1988 film As Tears Go By. Tomorrow, Johnnie To’s The Mission will screen at the special time of 5:30 pm, for the special price of just $5, followed by Woo’s other classic collaboration with Chow Yun-fat, Hard Boiled. Check out the trailers for each of these films—though I should warn you that they’re all pretty violent.

Scott Tennent

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