Q&A with Artist Adam Silverman

October 5, 2011

In conjunction with California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way,” LACMA invited artist Adam Silverman to create a limited-edition work. The ceramic multiple he created is very much inspired by the time period that is examined in LACMA’s exhibition and is made in homage to the architecture and design of the era. In 2008 Silverman launched a partnership with Heath Ceramics to open a gallery/studio in Los Angeles. He is both the studio director and the permanent artist-in residence there. We asked him a few questions about his practice and the pieces he created for us.

Adam Silverman's limited-edition ceramic works at Art Catalogues

Your own work deals very much with surface and texture. As an artist with an architecture background, do you feel that your architecture training has informed your practice as an artist?
Yes, absolutely. Architecture is very much in my DNA. Critical thinking through a design lens is important to the process I go through to make things, particularly with a project like this one for LACMA. The form, surface, and texture are each individual elements that I think about and try to integrate specifically, much like in a building. Many of the most influential people on my personal practice are architects like Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Tadao Ando.

Limited-edition ceramic by Adam Silverman

Designs by Heath Ceramics are featured in the exhibition, which was one of the reasons we felt it was an opportunity to invite you to create something for LACMA. What initially drew you to consider a partnership with Heath?
It was a very unique set of circumstances. Cathy [Bailey] and Robin [Petravic] had just purchased the company from Edith Heath, and were in the process of restoring it. They are both very smart, hardworking people who had grand plans for Heath. So it was a chance to be part of something with a great history and legacy, as well as a very exciting future. Heath gives me a great amount of freedom as well as a great foundation to work from. I have access to amazing people and technical resources, and I think that the partnership has been very successful so far.

Adam Silverman's studio at Heath Ceramics

With so much material included in California Design, were there particular artists, designers, or architects you were thinking about when you made this piece for LACMA?
Initially when I met with [exhibition co-curator] Bobbye Tigerman and looked at what was going to be in the show, I thought that maybe there would be an object that would inspire what I was going to make. In the end, however, there was so much great work in the show that it became impossible, and perhaps too literal, to focus on one person or thing. Instead what I left our meeting with was an idea that the show was not just focusing on the objects, but also on the imagery and publications that recorded and promoted the objects, so my project became about that.

For the object itself I decided on a timeless and region-less form, one that references the gourd, the bean, the torso, the guitar, the violin, etc—a form that has been made for thousands of years in many materials, but that is still contemporary and relevant. In a way it references all of the work and none of the work in the show. Then I decided to take a black-and-white 35mm photo of the work being made in my studio, and from that I made postcards, too. So the edition is a pot, a framed photo, and a stack of postcards, so you can have your object, appreciate the making process and context, and then disseminate the image yourself.

Learn more about Adam Silverman’s limited ceramic edition.

Erin Wright, Director of Special Projects

Monet/Lichtenstein: Cathedrals Remembered, Reimagined

October 4, 2011

One of the world’s most celebrated and recognized artists, Claude Monet created a body of breathtakingly beautiful and conceptually sophisticated work that has been full heartedly embraced all over the world.  I never imagined I would have the opportunity to install a Monet, let alone five of Monet’s Rouen Cathedrals, for the exhibition Monet/Lichtenstein: Rouen Cathedrals. Working on this project allowed me to reflect on the memories I had of Monet’s Rouen Cathedrals and how much these experiences shaped my understanding of modernism.  I can still picture the moment when I entered the gallery at the Musée d’Orsay where several of Monet’s cathedrals hung side by side along one wall; their ability to be both unique and serial at the same time was totally mind blowing.  Afterward, I traveled to Rouen—an hour’s train ride from Paris—where I saw firsthand the cathedral that inspired this series of paintings.

Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral, the portal. Morning Sun, Blue Harmony, 1893, Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France (Inv. RF2000). Photo courtesy of Réunion des Musées Nationaux by Thierry Le Mage/Art Resource, NY.

Due to my experience at the Musée d’Orsay, installing these works was an incredibly surreal experience, made only more so because this exhibition also reveals the distinctive role the Southern California art scene has played in modernism.  In 1968, John Coplans, former director of the Pasadena Museum of Art (now the Norton Simon Museum of Art) and a vocal advocate for Los Angeles art, organized the landmark exhibition Serial Imagery.  During a meeting with Coplans to discuss the planning of the exhibition, young pop artist Roy Lichtenstein saw photographs of Monet’s cathedrals, inspiring him to use those images for his own series of paintings and prints (the largest set of these paintings, owned by the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection, is on view in the exhibition).

Roy Lichtenstein, Rouen Cathedral (Seen at Five Different Times of Day), Set III, 1968–69. The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Photo courtesy of the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection by Douglas M. Parker Studio.

With Pacific Standard Time opening this past weekend, I find this connection particularly poignant and timely.  Bringing together these chronologically disparate artists reminds us of the importance of exhibitions in shaping contemporary art production and the strong connection between works of art and their preceding movements, which is one of the most important functions of an encyclopedic museum such as LACMA.

Lauren Bergman, Curatorial Assistant, Modern Art

Happy Birthday, Resnick Pavilion

October 3, 2011

This week, we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Resnick Pavilion. This massive addition—it added 45,000 square feet of gallery space—has allowed us to showcase exhibitions that highlight LACMA’s encyclopedic nature, from ancient Olmec sculpture to macabre Tim Burton sketches to midcentury furniture and design, all in one building. The diversity of exhibitions has attracted numerous visitors in the year the pavilion has been open.

How numerous, you ask? Here is the Resnick Pavilion’s first year, by the numbers:

  • # of hours open: 2,652
  • # of exhibitions hosted: 8
  • # of artworks exhibited: 2,196
  • # of years spanned in art exhibited: over 2,800
  • # of guests that attended the exhibitions: 590,805
  • # of guests that attended docent-led tours: 6,327
  • # of students that attended as part of a school group: 6,233
  • # of buses provided to bring students to Resnick Pavilion exhibitions: 19

The space is actually one large square (a full acre of art). Since the inaugural trio of exhibitions, however, it has been split into three spaces to accommodate the exhibition schedule. Looking back at a year of the constant metamorphosis of the pavilion, you can see how the space adapts to the objects it holds.

Here is a quick look at the exhibitions that have been housed in the Resnick Pavilion over the past year.

Installation view, photo by Alex Vertikoff

Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico
October 2, 2010–January 9, 2011
Installation view, photo by Alex Vertikoff

Eye for the Sensual: Selections from the Resnick Collection
October 2, 2010–January 2, 2011
Installation view, photo by Alex Vertikoff

Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700–1915 October 2, 2010–March 27, 2011

Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700–1915
October 2, 2010–March 27, 2011
Installation view

David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy
April 3–July 24, 2011
Installation view, © The Estate of David Smith/VAGA, New York
Photo © 2011 Museum Associates/LACMA

Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at Islamic Courts
June 5–September 5, 2011
Installation view

Tim Burton
May 29–October 31, 2011
Installation view

California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way”
October 1, 2011–March 25, 2012
Installation view

We’ll be adding another exhibition to this list, Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World,  next month, plus many more in the coming year.

Alex Capriotti

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