This Weekend at LACMA: Monet/Lichtenstein Closes, Golden Stag New Year’s Party, Special Ray’s Menu, Holiday Hours

December 30, 2011

It’s New Year’s weekend—have you decided how you’ll celebrate? Hopefully you’ve already got your tickets to LACMA Muse’s Golden Stag New Year’s Eve Party—because it’s sold out! For those who got their tickets, we’ll see you at the legendary Park Plaza Hotel for a night of Jazz Age big bands, dancers, and more. (Did you miss out? Join Muse so you hear about these parties first.) 

For a more culinary New Year’s Eve experience, make a reservation at Ray’s. Chef Kris Morningstar has assembled a one-night-only four course meal that sounds absolutely wonderful. Reservations are recommended. (By the way, the accolades keep rolling in for Ray’s. Thanks to everyone who has come to restaurant and bar in its first year!)

Ray's and Stark Bar


Though Ray’s and Stark Bar will be open ‘til midnight on Saturday, the galleries will be closing early, at 5 pm. Plan accordingly—and make sure you find time this weekend to see Monet/Lichtenstein: Rouen Cathedrals. Monday will be your last chance to see the small but powerful exhibition, which includes a few paintings by Monet that have never before been on view in the United States.

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

We have many more exhibitions on view as well, but others are closing soon too—Edward Kienholz, Maria Nordman, Glenn Ligon, Mural Remix, and Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World are all closing in January. Happy New  Year!

Scott Tennent

A New Year’s Kiss

December 29, 2011

In honor of the coming weekend’s festivities, which for some will mean a kiss at midnight, let’s look at works from LACMA’s collection that illustrate this intimate act. This simple but complex action communicates an emotion that transcends all barriers—continent, race, gender, time—and continues to inspire artists to capture it in their work.

Edvard Munch, perhaps best known for The Scream, depicts the blossoming of love in this woodcut piece, in which a couple shares a tender and passionate embrace, their bodies blending together toward the bottom of the work.

Edvard Munch (Norway, Løten, 1863–1944), The Kiss, 1905, Los Angeles County Fund

In this engraving by artist Noel Le Mire, which was part of a suite of plates made for the book Collection complète des oeuvres de J. J. Rousseau, a woman grants a first kiss to her lover (who looks slightly taken aback).

Noel Le Mire (France, Rouen, 1724–1801), The First Kiss of Love, 1773, Gift of Mrs. Mary B. Regan

Because kissing is not just reserved for intimate moments between lovers, artists have recreated other examples of the loving gesture. Shown on this Greek bottle circa 360–350 B.C., a mother and child kiss and engage in a mutual embrace.  The mother is the love goddess Aphrodite and the son is the eternally boyish god Eros. You can read more about this piece in our Collections Online.

CA Painter (attributed to the) (Greece), Bottle with Aphrodite and Eros between Two Women and a Servant Girl, circa 360-350 B.C., William Randolph Hearst Collection

This ivory Japanese netsuke from the 18th century shows a pair of geese kissing and is only about two inches tall.

Japan, Kissing Geese, 18th century, Raymond and Frances Bushell Collection

And I do love this print by Austrian artist Hochenleiter. It is so comical and there is such movement to it, as if the artist captured it right when the man on the left grabbed the man on the right and pulled them together.

Hochenleiter (Austria), The Kiss, Gift of Mrs. Irene Salinger in memory of her father, Adolph Stern

Alex Capriotti

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in the Jazz Age

December 28, 2011

This Saturday, LACMA Muse has the privilege of hosting The Golden Stag New Year’s Eve Celebration at one of Los Angeles’s oldest and best-kept secrets—the Park Plaza. The beautiful neo-gothic building was built in 1925 as Elks Lodge no. 99 by architect Claud Beelman. Park Plaza provided the Elks with a haven from Prohibition, hosted indoor swimming events for the 1932 Olympic Games, and has a staggering number of film shoots under its belt.

Photo courtesy

Hiding in plain sight on the edge of MacArthur Park, the impressive façade features an array of sculptures and shelters a breathtaking interior. Once inside the Park Plaza’s doors, you are taken through time to the grandeur of the jazz age. Detail is everywhere from the high, intricately designed ceilings to the grand staircase in the foyer, to the brilliant Gold Room, Bronze Room, and Grand Ballroom. The Gold and Bronze Rooms (or Parlor and Speakeasy come Saturday) open to an expansive patio. Upstairs, the wood-paneled Grand Ballroom holds a large dance floor, perfect for the 18-piece jazz orchestra that will be on hand for the New Year’s festivities. Walking through the Park Plaza’s halls, it’s easy to see what made the ’20s roar.

Photo by Richard Min, courtesy

Inspired by the hotel, we, along with Sypher Art Studio, created The Golden Stag to build on the Park Plaza’s Jazz Age spirit. The environment, entertainment, and service pay tribute to the bygone era. It’s going to be the cat’s pajamas. Check out this video of Alice Underground, one of Saturday’s many performers, for a preview of what’s in store at The Golden Stag. For more information on the party, including tickets, visit The Golden Stag page.

Jason Gaulton, Muse Coordinator

What Kids Like at LACMA

December 26, 2011

It’s the week after Christmas, and you’d like to spend the day at LACMA with your kids. Overwhelmed by all the art options? Here are some suggested works that are usually a big hit with the younger crowd.

For the sports fan or aspiring soccer star

Ceremonial Ball Game, Mexico, Nayarit, 200 BC–AD 500, the Proctor Stafford Collection, purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch

This sculpture from ancient Mexico is a peek into the past and shows us that people have been playing sports for thousands of years! If you take a closer look, you and your kids will see some familiar sights: spot the players on the court, spectators on the side lines, and the all-important piece of equipment—the ball? The players are even wearing protective belts (see the white lines painted on their waists) and pads on their knees. Looks like a scene that you’d come across today, right?

Cool fact: The players hit the ball with their hips–never with their hands or feet!

Where to find it? Art of the Americas Building, Level 4

A fun work to look for color, shapes, and patterns

David Hockney, Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio, 1980, purchased with funds provided by the F. Patrick Burns Bequest

Los Angeles–based artist David Hockney was inspired by the commute from his home in the Hollywood Hills to his studio. Take a moment to look at the painting as a whole from a distance, and then walk closer to check out the details. See how Hockney reimagined everything he saw? Ask your kids to look for familiar objects such as swimming pools, trees, and houses. How are they different in real life? You and your family can also talk about different colors shapes, and patterns. Here’s an idea for a home project: Using colored pencils or crayons, make a Hockney-like drawing of your commute from home to school.

Cool fact: This painting is so heavy that it is almost impossible to move from its current location.

Where to find it? Art of the Americas Building, Level 3


A playful work of art that makes everyone feel small

Claes Oldenburg, Giant Pool Balls, 1967, anonymous gift through the Contemporary Art Council

This sculpture of giant pool balls shows that art can be playful and whimsical. Each pool ball is two feet tall! How big would you have to be to play pool with these balls? Imagine how big the pool table would have to be! Claes Oldenburg had a comic vision of life and celebrated everyday life. There is no hidden meaning in the artwork—just sheer delight!

Cool fact: Los Angeles musician and artist Phranc says that seeing Giant Pool Balls at LACMA when she was a child made her want to be an artist.

Where to find it? Ahmanson Building, Level 2

A great work of art to visit after being inside the galleries

Chris Burden, Urban Light, 2008, The Gordon Family Foundation's gift to Transformation: The LACMA Campaign

Your kids will love how playful this forest of city street lights can be. It is the only work of art they can touch, and it has inspired many games of hide-and-seek and even processional marching. Encourage kids to take a close look at the ornate detailing on the bases and columns of the light posts. Take another moment to step back and notice how the lamps are organized. Another topic of conversation is the idea of collecting. Artist Chris Burden found his first street light at a swap meet. After he bought one, he just couldn’t stop! Who are the collectors in your family and what do they collect?

Cool fact: Urban Light is powered by solar panels on the roof of the museum.

Where to find it? LACMA’s BP Grand Entrance, visible day or night from Wilshire Boulevard

Not for the squeamish

School of Bernard Palissy, Oval Rustic Dish with Shells and Reptiles, 1560–1600, purchased with funds provided by Mrs. Carl G. Riege in memory of her parents Mr. and Mrs. Julius Ziegert of Philadelphia, Guy Robertson Stewart Bequest, Mrs G. Rose, Mr. H.E. Rose, Mr. and Mrs. Harry D. Salinger, C.R. Sargent, W.H. Shilling and Mrs. R. Shuhart

Take a good look at this plate. What do you see? Some people might not think that lizards and slimy fish are good subjects of fine art, but French artist Bernard Palissy did! He combined his love of nature with his artistic talent to make a series of ceramic plates. If you were to make an artwork using images of animals, which ones would you include? Why?

Cool fact: The artist made molds of real bugs, frogs, and fish to create this plate!

Where to find it? Ahmanson Building, Level 3

More tips for a successful visit: Don’t try to see too much at a time. Keep the visit fresh and fun by exploring art inside, having a snack in the park, and seeing sculptures outside of the museum. Remember—with NexGen you and your child can come again, and again, and again. For free!

Alicia Vogl Saenz

This Weekend at LACMA: Holiday Hours, Free Docent Tours, Special Exhibitions

December 23, 2011

As we head into the Christmas weekend, LACMA’s hours will be reduced: on Christmas Eve we will close at 5 pm (Ray’s will close at 3 pm), and we will be closed all day on Sunday. That said, many of you have today and/or Monday off (not to mention family in town looking for some fun)—and there is plenty to see at the museum. Check our calendar for a variety of free docent-led tours every day, including special exhibitions and the permanent collection and lasting anywhere from fifteen to fifty minutes. Whether you opt for a tour or not, there are plenty of exhibitions to see that will satisfy any number of appetites. Here’s a rundown, moving across campus from west to east:

Monet/Lichtenstein: Rouen Cathedrals, installation view

Monet/Lichtenstein: Rouen Cathedrals (closes January 2!) | BCAM

Glenn Ligon, “Hands,” 1996, collection of Eileen Harris Norton, courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles, © Glenn Ligon, photograph by Fredrik Nilsen

Glenn Ligon: AMERICA | BCAM

Robert Therrien, No Title (Blue Plastic Plates), 1999, museum purchase in memory of Ruth H. Gribin with funds provided by Ansley I. Graham Trust, © Robert Therrien/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Robert Therrien: Selections from the Broad Collection and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art | BCAM

“Our Lady of Cocharchas under the Baldachin,” Peru, 18th century, private collection, photo © D. Giannoni

Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World | Resnick Pavilion

Richard Neutra, Kaufmann House, Palm Springs, 1946, photo by Julius Shulman, 1947, © J. Paul Getty Trust. Used with permission. Julius Shulman Photography Archive, Research Library at the Getty Research Institute (2004.R.10)

California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way” | Resnick Pavilion

Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, installation view, © Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads | North Piazza

Sketch by Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte, promised gift of Rodarte (Kate and Laura Mulleavy)

Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection | Ahmanson Building

Sandra de la Loza, “Mural Remix: Unknown, Artist Unknown, c. 1970s,” 2010, © Sandra de la Loza

Mural Remix: Sandra de la Loza | Ahmanson Building

Edward Kienholz: Five Car Stud 1969–1972, Revisited, installation view, photography by Tom Vinetz, © Kienholz, collection of Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Sakura, Japan, courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA and The Pace Gallery, New York

Edward Kienholz: Five Car Stud 1969–192, Revisited | Art of the Americas Building

Maria Nordman Filmroom: Smoke, 1967–Present, installation view of film projection, © Maria Nordman

Maria Nordman Filmroom: Smoke, 1967–Present | Art of the Americas Building

We also have a variety of installations on view, including works by Henri MatisseEdward Biberman, and Shadi Ghadirian, as well as masterpieces of KoreanJapanese, and Southeast Asian art. 

Finally, of course, there is the permanent collection, including beautifully reinstalled galleries for European, Korean, Chinese, and South Asian art as well as Latin American, Modern, and much more. Happy Holidays!

Scott Tennent

What Is It About Chairs?

December 22, 2011

What is it about chairs?  I once drove past a garage sale in San Francisco and caught a glimpse of a chair. I pulled over and begged the price down to $80. That same chair design, by Luther Conover, is in our California Design exhibition.

The Luther Conover chair, circa 1950.

Last year while doing interviews for our California Design show, I asked designer John Kapel why chairs have such allure. He gave a thoroughly compelling explanation of why chairs are particularly expressive opportunities for a designer.

According to Kapel, a chair is a showpiece, one that is often positioned in a living room such that it can be appreciated from many different angles – unlike, say, a sofa, which typically sits against a wall. He also explained the complex geometry of a chair, its assortment of lines and angles that invite design innovation. And he made the point that, unlike, say, a table, a chair cradles the human body, and reflects our physicality.

The Huntington has a current exhibition, The House that Sam Built, part of Pacific Standard Time, about the work of another chair master, Sam Maloof, and his midcentury cohort, centered around Claremont. In a stroke of exhibition design genius, one gallery features a Maloof chair you can actually sit in.

Yes, you can sit in it. At the Huntington exhibition The House that Sam Built.

When we interviewed textile artist Kay Sekimachi for our own California Design show, she was sitting in a beautiful Sam Maloof rocking chair.

…Completing that circle, the show at the Huntington features some of Kay’s weavings (her husband, Bob Stocksdale, was a close friend of Maloof, and his work appears in all of the PST shows discussed here).

Kay Sekimachi weavings at the Huntington.

After the Huntington, I continued on to the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation to see the house that Sam did build, out in Alta Dena, and another small Pacific Standard Time exhibition, In Words and Wood. A lifelong work in progress, the house is magical – full of Maloof’s furniture, paintings by his wife (and her collection of kochina dolls from her days as an art teacher in New Mexico), more carved wooden bowls by Stocksdale, sculpture by Sekimachi, and ceramics by various Claremont friends and colleagues. I intended to spend an hour and spent three.

Outside the shop at the Maloof Foundation.

One thing leads to another, and for me that day, chairs led to ceramics: from Alta Dena, I went to downtown Pomona to see the American Museum of Ceramic Art in its brand-new location. They have an excellent selection of work by Harrison McIntosh amongst many others (Paul Soldner, Peter Voulkos) in the exhibition Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California 1945-1975.

Ceramic work by Harrison McIntosh with a mural by Millard Sheets in the background at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona.

Our own show at LACMA includes work by McIntosh, who grew up in Los Angeles (in an interview we did with him, available here, he described how he and his parents commissioned a modest house from Richard Neutra in 1939, adding just enough space and light in the garage to allow Harrison a workbench where he began working with terra cotta). In a room full of notable ceramic works at the AMOCA, his sang.  AMOCA is a focused museum, with deep ties to the Claremont arts and crafts scene that included McIntosh and Maloof, as well as Paul Soldner, Millard Sheets, and Rupert Deese. (If you go, I highly recommend a visit to the ceramic studios in the back to see work in progress by a new generation of ceramic artists).

One of the striking things about PST, and particularly the design-related shows, is how small the midcentury SoCal design scene was. You can trace certain relationships amongst friends across shows, and see who shared studio space, taught at the same college, or frequented the same Claremont coffee shop, sharing inspiration and practical advice. Plan a route and trace your own narrative thread here.

At the Sam Maloof house, I heard tell of a visitor from Germany who came to Los Angeles for a month, just to see all of the PST shows. It’s not hard to imagine such a journey. Especially because this is what Southern California looks like in December:

Gardens at the Huntington.

The gardens at the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation.

Amy Heibel

The Muse: France’s Rouen Cathedral

December 20, 2011

After seeing how obsessed both Claude Monet and Roy Lichtenstein were with the Rouen Cathedral in our exhibition Monet/Lichtenstein: Rouen Cathedrals—Monet painting numerous versions at various times of the day and year and Lichtenstein mirroring that repetition with Pop art renderings—I began to wonder if other artists had taken the building as their muse.

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

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 The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection by Douglas M. Parker Studio

Construction of the current structure began in the 12th century, so the potential inspiration has been looming for hundreds of years. Around the same time that Monet painted his set of cathedral paintings, other painters flocked to the city of Rouen. Versions of the cathedral were painted by English Romantic landscape painter and watercolorist Joseph Mallord William Turner in the 1830s. Then, a few years after Monet’s works were completed, Camille Pissarro painted the cathedral from a farther distance.

Camille Pissarro, The Roofs of Old Rouen: Grey Weather, 1896, Toledo Museum of Art

The inspiring nature of the cathedral extended past painters. In French writer Gustave Flaubert’s work Three Tales, the story The Legend of St Julian Hospitator was motivated by a stained glass window in the Rouen Cathedral depicting a medieval tale. In 1898, French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans wrote the novel La Cathédrale which was based on the Rouen Cathedral and described the building in such great detail that tourists often used it as a guidebook.

Many artists were inspired by Monet’s paintings of the cathedral rather than the cathedral itself. Even a Project Runway contestant was taken by Monet’s work. When the competition brought them to The Getty in 2009, contestant Gordana Gehlhausen chose The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light as the inspiration for a gown. She used silk organza to mimic the brush strokes in the painting and was even told by judge Hiedi Klum that her creation best mirrored her inspiration.

Gordana Gahlhausen, Project Runway

Contemporary photographer Renato Cerisola created serial photographic work based on Monet’s canvases. He too focused on the building in various lights and used the exposure of the photographs to mimic Monet’s brushstrokes and Impressionist style.

Both the Rouen Cathedral itself and Monet’s serial paintings continue to act as a muses today as can be seen by their ever-growing Flickr stream.

Alex Capriotti

%d bloggers like this: