Thomas Hart Benton’s monumental painting The Kentuckian depicts the protagonists of the 1954 movie The Kentuckian, directed by Burt Lancaster. The Kentuckian follows the adventures of “Big” Eli Wakefield and “Little” Eli Wakefield (played by Lancaster and Donald MacDonald, respectively) as they head West in search of freedom from the constraints of polite society.
Benton energetically conveyed the spirit of the Wakefields’ idealistic quest in his image of Big Eli leading his son and faithful hound to the left (west) across the canvas—a magnificent landscape beckoning and undulating before them. In more recent decades, some artists and animators have found ways to poke fun at this classic narrative of American ambition and individualism enacted by movie stars and projected onto Hollywood’s big screen and Benton’s huge canvas at LACMA.
In a previous post I highlighted conceptual artist Michael Asher’s take on the painting in a site-specific work commissioned for the museum. Then fellow Unframed blogger Devi Noor found this great clip on YouTube of a Simpsons episode in which The Kentuckian makes a hilarious cameo appearance as a campaign image for a politicking Mr. Burns. A testament to the power of Benton’s image, these riffs on the painting also underscore the way meanings of iconic images can shift depending on who is looking and when.
If it’s a holiday Monday, then that means general admission to LACMA is free, thanks to Target. Tim Burton is not included, but the seven other exhibitions on view now, as well as Christian Marclay’s The Clock and all the rest of our permanent collection installations, are no charge. Here’s a reminder of all the special exhibitions on view:
David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy—the first major exhibition on the West Coast devoted to one of the most influential sculptors of the twentieth century. (Resnick Pavilion)
Burton Selects: From LACMA’s Collection—In conjunction with Tim Burton, we asked the director to choose “Burtonesque” works from our permanent collection. Today only we’ll have gallery attendants on hand to enhance your experience of this show. (Ahmanson Building)
Elizabeth Taylor in Iran: Photographs by Firooz Zahedi—In 1976 Zahedi accompanied the late Elizabeth Taylor to Iran, her first and only trip there. This exhibition marks the first time all of Zahedi’s photographs from that trip have been presented together. (Ahmanson Building)
The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy—The thirty-seven small alabaster sculptures in this exhibition belong to the tomb of John the Fearless (1371–1419), where they are organized into a processional. The detail given to the sculptures imbues each Mourner with its own personality. This is a small but powerful exhibition. (Art of the Americas Building)
And if that’s not enough for you, check out all of our smaller installations sprinkled around campus for something else that might hit your sweet spot. You can also pop into any of our permanent collection galleries—in the European galleries, attendants will be on hand to answer your questions.
This afternoon we’ll also have two performances from Italian folk duo Musicantica in Hancock Park. Nearby there will be family art-making activities as well, so this is the perfect way to spend an afternoon with your kids.
The moment many people have been waiting for has finally arrived: Tim Burton is opening to the public this Sunday. And don’t forget: if you’re a member, it’s open NOW. This is a ticketed show, which means it’s ideal if you order your tickets and reserve your times in advance. Tickets are $20—unless you’re a member, in which case you get two FREE tickets to the show. (The theme of this paragraph is: why aren’t you a member?)
In addition to the exhibition itself, we’re also kicking off a Tim Burton film series tonight with Edward Scissorhands—a special 70mm print! Tomorrow night the director himself will be on hand to introduce Ed Wood, preceded by a screening of his early short, Vincent. Again, advance tickets are recommended. Check the film page for future screenings in the series.
You’ll have one other chance on Saturday to see Tim Burton in person—he’ll be signing copies of the exhibition catalogue and The Art of Tim Burton from 12 to 2 pm. The signing is limited to two books per person, and you must have proof of purchase from the LACMA bookstore in order to get your books signed. We have had an overwhelming response to this event and we can’t guarantee that everyone who comes will get their books signed. The signing is first come, first served and will end promptly at 2 pm. One more caveat: Saturday is a members-only preview day, so only members will have a chance to view the exhibition on the day of the signing. (Again: why aren’t you a member?)
In addition to the Tim Burton exhibition in the Resnick Pavilion and the films screening in the Bing Theater, there’s even more Burton-related things to see while you’re on campus—check out the giant Balloon Boy outside of the Bing Theater, the deer perched outside of Ray’s, and the related exhibition Burton Selects: From LACMA’s Collection, on view in the Ahmanson Building, which presents a variety of artworks from our permanent collection that Tim Burton himself chose to put on view.
If you’re looking for something to do with the whole family, there’s lots of kid-friendly activities happening at the museum too. In addition to the Boone Children’s Gallery, where you and your kids can make art all weekend, Sunday is our weekly Andell Family Sunday, featuring free art-making activities for the whole family. Admission to Tim Burton is free for NexGen members, but tickets to that exhibition are required for accompanying adults, and reservations are recommended.
Last but certainly not least, this is a three-day weekend! And that means that Monday is a Target Free Holiday Monday. Tim Burton admission is not included, but the rest of the museum will be open to all for no charge. There will be family art-making activities all day, plus live music in the afternoon and gallery educators in select galleries.
While preparing for the exhibitionTim Burton, opening this weekend at LACMA, we had the opportunity to join colleagues from the Museum of Modern Art for an interview with Doris Adams, Burton’s high school art teacher. She can still recall exactly where he sat in her classroom.
Ms. Adams says that the young Mr. Burton stood out for his talent and imagination–and that he was a quiet, thoughtful student.
For more video interviews with Tim Burton himself, check out the handheld tour of the exhibition, for rent when you purchase tickets.
If you’ve happened to poke your head behind the walls of Ray’s and Stark Bar, you’ve probably come across our newest outdoor project—an herb garden.
The herb garden behind Ray's.
Ray’s executive chef Kris Morningstar considered a number of things before planting the raised gardens. He focused on ingredients that can be sustainable; those that would be used regularly for his seasonal dishes and in portions that the garden can supply enough of. He also selected herbs that are difficult to find, or even if they could be, they’d never be as fresh as those picked straight from the museum’s back yard.
Herbs from the garden.
Take these chive blossoms; only a pinch is needed to add fresh pops of flavor chef Morningstar’s pen shell clam sashimi with backyard grapefruit, serrano chili, Maldon salt, and local olive oil. Fresh opal basil from the garden completes one his signature dishes, squid ink tonarelli with calamari, garlic, serrano chili, mint, and bottarga.
Squid-ink tonarelli with calamari, garlic, serrano chili, mint, and bottarga
Chef Morningstar does some gardening.
Like any artist, Chef Morningstar finds himself not only inspired by his ingredients, but also influenced by his environment. And like any living artwork, the garden is a work in-progress to be used increasingly as it continues to grow. The chef’s work doesn’t stop there; keep your eyes peeled—Chef Morningstar says another garden of tomato plants may be on the way.
Christine Choi, Communications Manager
Photos by Lauren Noble