What to do with your Valentine

January 31, 2012

Today marks two weeks until Valentine’s Day. The LACMA stores are great places to shop for your sweetheart. We have jewelry, clothing, limited edition prints, books, posters, exhibition-specific items, notecards, and more.

A beautiful jewelry piece in our shop is the sterling silver Love Necklace by Alexandra Grant, which was designed to benefit the Watts House Project. The shape of the sculpture embodies both the hand-made and universal aspects of love. A great way to enhance this gift would be to visit the Watts House Project together to see how love has made the Watts neighborhood project come together.

In conjunction with our California Design exhibition, we partnered with Bedhead to make these fun pajamas for men and women inspired by a modern textile design by Paul László. Start your Valentine’s Day with a visit to the exhibition, buy two sets of pajamas (and maybe the exhibition catalogue too!), eat a delicious meal with the mid-century-inspired décor at Ray’s, and then cuddle up on your couch in your matching pajamas.

Celebrate sensuality with this small and expressive netsuke. The woman represents Tame no Uzume, a plump, merry Shinto goddess, who was often depicted as Okame, a woman who reveled in her sensuality. This piece is a hand-painted reproduction of an original netsuke in our collection. Check out the rest of our netsuke collection in the Japanese Pavilion before heading to Little Tokyo for a Japanese dinner.

Our shop also has numerous limited edition prints. In David Salle’s lithograph Vista (2010), which was commissioned for LACMA, two orange armchairs rest in the open air. This print almost demands a relaxing day for two at the beach. With the amazing weather we have had lately, maybe a little R&R at the beach is what you both need.

Check out more great gift ideas in our online shop or onsite (view our shop hours).

Alex Capriotti

Film Independent at LACMA Double Bills

January 30, 2012

This and next week, Film Independent at LACMA is hosting three nights of fascinating double bills. If you are not yet a LACMA Film Club member, now would be a great time to join. From neo-noir to political conspiracies to true classics, these interesting pairings are not to be missed.

This Thursday, the films focus on ambitious Danish director and screenwriter Lars von Trier. The evening starts with Von Trier’s 1991 noir-soaked thriller set in postwar Germany—Zentropa (aka Europa).

Zentropa is followed by Von Trier’s Medea, an atmospheric and intimate adaptation of the Greek myth of a woman scorned by her lover. Von Trier’s version was originally made for television and was based on a screenplay by famed Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer.

Friday’s films were just announced today! Critically acclaimed actor Gary Oldman, who recently earned his first Academy Award nomination for his role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, will be in conversation in between screenings of two of his celebrated films. Starring alongside Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Robin Wright, and John C. Reilly, Oldman portrays an Irish mobster in the 1990 neo-noir film State of Grace, which was inspired by the real-life Hell’s Kitchen gang The Westies. Please note that State of Grace is only open to LACMA Film Club, Film Independent, New York Times Film Club, and LACMA members.

After the conversation, we will screen The Contender, in which Oldman plays Republican congressman Shelly Runyon.

Next Friday, February 10, Film Independent at LACMA continues its celebration of Paramount Pictures’ centennial with two films directed by Sidney J. Furie that feature Richard Pryor teamed with Billy Dee Williams. The first is the award-winning film Lady Sings the Blues, a Billie Holiday biopic starring Diana Ross. The 1972 film was nominated for five Academy Awards and its beautiful soundtrack hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

The celebration continues with Paramount’s 1973 action film Hit!, the story of a CIA agent seeking to avenge the death of his daughter.

Alex Capriotti

This Weekend at LACMA: In Wonderland Opens, Contested Visions Closes, Film, Music, Book Signings, and More

January 27, 2012

The groundbreaking exhibition In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States is open to members now and opens to the public on Sunday. In Wonderland features more than one hundred and seventy-five surrealist works of art created by women, including painting, sculpture, photography, and more.

Rosa Rolanda, Autoretrato (Self Portrait), c. 1945, © Estate of Rosa Rolanda Covarrubias, photo courtesy of Andrés Blaisten, by Francisco Kochen

Where one adventure begins, another comes to an end. The highly acclaimed exhibition Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World closes Sunday night, having been hailed by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best exhibitions of 2011. This weekend is a unique opportunity to see three major exhibitions, including California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way,” together in the Resnick Pavilion for just two days.

The Apparition of San Miguel del Milagro to Diego Lázaro (La aparición de San Miguel del Milagro a Diego Lázaro), first half of the 18th c., Museo Universitario Casa de los Muñecos, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico

Chris Burden’s Metropolis II gears up for another weekend of futuristic commuting. Be sure to check the hours of operation before visiting to ensure that you see Metropolis II in action.

  • Fridays: 12:30–1:30 pm; 2:30–3:30 pm; 4:30–5:30 pm; 6:30–7:30 pm
  • Weekends: 11:30 am–12:30 pm; 1:30–2:30 pm; 3:30–4:30 pm; 5:30–6:30 pm

There’s a lot going on outside of our galleries too. Tonight at 7:30 pm, we’re screening the Mexican film The Other Conquest, followed by a panel Q&A that includes the film’s director, Salvador Carrasco. The screening is free and tickets are available via a standby line that will form at the Hammer Building Ticket Office at 6:30 pm.

Andell Family Sundays switch themes this weekend, focusing on the zodiac and Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads.

Brasil Guitar Duo performs works by Rameau, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and others during the free Sundays Live concert in the Bing Theater.

On Sunday at 2 pm, author Amy Novesky reads from her children’s book Me, Frida. Also on Sunday, sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand and filmmaker Alex McDowell discuss models as tools and interpretations of worlds at Art Catalogues in the Ahmanson Building at 4 pm.

One note: The Art of the Americas Building will be closed this weekend; however, Maria Nordman FILM ROOM: SMOKE, located on level two of the Art of the Americas Building, will remain open throughout the weekend.

Jenny Miyasaki

Welcome to Wonderland: Surrealist Women Exhibition Opens Sunday

January 26, 2012

Opening to the public this Sunday—and to members starting today—In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States features approximately one hundred and seventy-five works by nearly fifty women artists active in North America who engaged with surrealism in their art. It is the first exhibition to present a view of surrealist art based on this body of work and to depart from canonical histories of surrealism that privilege its male practitioners and European origins. In Wonderland includes a number of Mexico’s designated national treasures by Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo, and María Izquierdo. Paintings, sculptures, drawings, photography, and film by such leading figures as Dorothea Tanning, Kay Sage, and Louise Bourgeois are installed in a 1940s surrealist exhibition–inspired space along with works by many women artists whose work has remained little known—until now.

Frida Kahlo, The Two Fridas (Las dos Fridas), 1939, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, © 2011 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo courtesy Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, reproduction of Frida Kahlo governed by Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBA)

The idea for the exhibition was itself surreal—based on a chance meeting between Ilene Susan Fort, curator of American art at LACMA, and Mexico-based curator Tere Arcq at the opening of LACMA: Obras Maestras 1750–1950, an exhibition of LACMA’s core American paintings collection loaned to the Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL) in Mexico City in 2006. Both curators discovered their shared interest in women artists and surrealism from their respective countries, and the desire to organize an exhibition to bring them all together was born.

Dorothea Tanning, Birthday, 1942, Philadelphia Museum of Art, purchased with funds contributed by C.K. Williams II, 1999, © Dorothea Tanning Collection and Archive/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York/ADAGP, Paris, photo © Philadelphia Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY

The curators identified recurring themes explored by the artists in In Wonderland, such as national and self-identity, domesticity, war and politics, fascination with the occult, and much more. As these women delved into the nature of creative expression and experimentation with surrealist methods and technique, they created a mass of work that is often touching and sometimes a startlingly profound reflection on their personal lives.

Leonora Carrington, Green Tea (La dame ovale), 1942, collection of Hector Fanghanel, © 2011 Estate of Leonora Carrington/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA by Jorge Perez de Lara

In Wonderland is on view through May 6. Reserve your tickets today. Become a member to receive free tickets to In Wonderland and all specially ticketed exhibitions. For upcoming events at LACMA related to In Wonderland, keep your eye on the calendar.

Devi Noor, Curatorial Administrator, American Art

Expanded Abstraction: Animated Film and Digital Art on View at Stark Bar

January 25, 2012

By popular demand, this program has been extended through February 16!

January is the last month to view a special HD program of abstraction for three screens at LACMA’s Renzo Piano–designed Stark Bar. Curated by Cindy Keefer from the Center for Visual Music (CVM), the program features stunning abstract animated film and digital work by artists Scott Draves and The Electric Sheep, Robert Seidel, Baerbel Neubauer, Christina McPhee, and Maura McDonnell, as well as a historical piece by Charles Dockum (1904–1977).

Two of the works presented at Stark Bar were created specifically for LACMA; three originated in other cities. Scott Draves’s Generation 244 genetic algorithms and Robert Seidel’s vellum have been presented as site-specific, multiple-screen installations in New York and Seoul. Baerbel Neubauer’s playful animated Water Ambiences, a new work created for the LACMA screens, explores water rhythms, one of the themes also seen in Christina McPhee’s new nine-screen Bird of Paradise. Maura McDonnell’s Silk Chroma was originally performed as a visual music installation in Dublin. Charles Dockum’s 1969 Mobilcolor Projector film, originally a 16mm film document of his color organ performance in three movements, was preserved by CVM, transferred to HD, and reformatted to three screens for this LACMA program.

Scott Draves and The Electric Sheep, Generation 244 (still), © Scott Draves and The Electric Sheep

Robert Seidel, vellum (still), © Robert Seidel

Baerbel Neubauer, Water Ambiences (still), 2011, created especially for this CVM Program, © Baerbel Neubauer

The artists here investigate silent lyrical abstract art, though many also work in the visual music tradition of establishing a strong interrelationship of image and sound. Charles Dockum’s Mobilcolor work, live performance of projected abstract colored lights, is part of the color organ history that includes Thomas Wilfred and is a pre-digital forerunner to today’s veejay culture and live cinema. Dockum worked in Altadena for decades and was supported by the Guggenheim Museum (then the Museum of Non-Objective Painting).

Christina McPhee, Bird of Paradise (still), created especially for this CVM Program, © Christina McPhee

Maura McDonnell, Silk Chroma (still), © Maura McDonnell

Charles Dockum, Mobilcolor Projections, 1969, courtesy of Center for Visual Music, © Greta Dockum

The Center for Visual Music is a non-profit archive dedicated to visual music, abstract cinema, and experimental animation. Its film and video programs can be seen in museums and cultural centers worldwide, and its archives house the world’s largest collection of visual music resources, including the films and papers of filmmaker-artist Oskar Fischinger. In 2011, CVM presented a Jordan Belson retrospective at LACMA, and in April it will present two special film programs in the Bing Theater in conjunction with the current exhibition California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way, including a retrospective of films by Oskar Fischinger.

The videos can be seen at Stark Bar, located on the BP Grand Entrance, through January 31. You can catch them every morning (besides Wednesday) from 10:30 am to noon. In addition, the videos are also on view Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 pm to 11 pm and Tuesday from 9:30 pm to 11 pm.

Cindy Keefer, Center for Visual Music

Ellsworth Kelly: An Appreciation from Los Angeles

January 24, 2012

While Los Angeles may not figure directly in his work, Ellsworth Kelly has made a distinct impression on the city—from the close working relationships and friendships he has formed, through the collections that preserve his work, to the artists he continues to inspire. His latest exhibition, Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings, is now on view at LACMA.

In the 1960s, when his career was just beginning to gain traction in the competitive New York City art scene, Kelly had his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles at the Ferus Gallery (1965), and a number of L.A. patrons began to acquire his works. He would continue to exhibit regularly at Ferus and later at Irving Blum’s gallery until 1973. One of his early supporters in L.A. was Betty Asher, who worked in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s modern art department between 1966 and 1979, at which point she launched the Asher/Faure Gallery in West Hollywood and continued to distinguish herself as an astute collector.

The 1960s also saw the establishment on Melrose Avenue of the now-legendary print workshop Gemini G.E.L. by Ken Tyler, Sidney Felsen, and Stanley Grinstein. In their hope to attract the leading artists of the day, they first invited Kelly to make prints with them in 1968. After meeting with Tyler, Felsen, and Grinstein in New York, and taking into consideration the strong recommendation of Frank Stella and Barbara Rose, Kelly accepted the offer. He came to Gemini for the first time in January 1970, initiating what would become a forty-year working relationship.

Ellsworth Kelly, Red-Orange Yellow Blue, 1970, lithograph on special Arjomari paper, collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer, © Ellsworth Kelly and Gemini G.E.L. Los Angeles

In Kelly’s prints, although each edition proceeds according to its own requirements, the element of collaboration is always paramount, and the standards always stretch the limits of perfection. In large part, Kelly’s dedication to Gemini rests on two factors: his utmost trust in the workshop’s directors and master printers, and his preference for direct lithography from metal plates. Many presses, then and now, favor offset, which eliminates the problem of image reversal. But Kelly—who engages with printmaking intellectually as well as aesthetically—had learned to love the direct process early on, with Marcel Durassier at Imprimerie Maeght in Paris. The hydraulic lithographic presses Tyler had designed and installed for Gemini were doubtless an inducement to give the new workshop a try. Working with Gemini’s printers to devise means of transferring drawings and hand-cut plastic negatives to the plate, Kelly has turned the technical challenges of direct lithography into conceptual triumphs.

In all media, Kelly achieves surface purity, essential form, and harmonious scale, according to his unerring personal sense of these elusive qualities. Printmaking in particular has served as a platform of sorts, on which all the variables can be placed and replaced. In requesting what must sometimes have seemed beyond the scope of the medium, Kelly has ended up expanding it.

Kelly’s work has always appeared to advantage within the context of encyclopedic museums such as LACMA. It has utter integrity in the true spirit of Modernism, and it connects to the span of art history and visual culture. With his profound admiration of the traditions of other times and places, Kelly not only draws inspiration for his compositions, he leads us to discover archetypes of our own. We are privileged to premiere a comprehensive exhibition of Kelly’s prints on the occasion of the artist’s eighty-ninth year.

Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings co-curators Stephanie Barron and Britt Salvesen

The Dragon Is Coming!

January 23, 2012

If you have ever dined at a Chinese restaurant, you have probably seen something printed with the signs of twelve animals—rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar—known as the zodiac animals. The Chinese use these signs to mark years, a system that follows the lunar calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar used in the West. The first day of a lunar year is the most important holiday, celebrated in many countries in Asia, such as China, Korea, and Vietnam.

January 23, 2012, is the first day of the year of the dragon. To celebrate this special occasion, we have installed a gallery with dragon related works from LACMA’s permanent collection. The dragon is the only mythical animal among the twelve zodiac animals, bringing special auspices to the year of the dragon. In addition, the dragon is believed to possess supernatural powers such as controlling the rain. As a result, it is one of the most popular themes for Asian artists.

Vase with Everted Fluted Lip and Raised Dragon Décor, Japan, nineteenth century, gift of Allan and Maxine Kurtzman

Jar with Dragon and Clouds, Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), nineteenth century, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jae Min Chang and The Korea Times

In the gallery, you will see ceramics from China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Although the objects are different shapes and sizes and were made at different times in different regions, each piece has a dragon (or a pair of dragons) as its decorative motif. The earliest piece displayed in the gallery is a bronze mirror made in China circa 200 BC, where the interlaced bodies of the dragons emphasize the animal’s long and curvilinear body.

Mirror (Jing) with Interlaced Dragons, China, probably Anhui Province, the Phil Berg Collection

In ancient China, the dragon was seen as the embodiment of the emperor, who claimed himself as a “son of heaven.” In the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1911), only the imperial family was allowed to use dragons to decorate their homes, furniture, and clothes. The embroidered image of a dragon on display in this special installation is a rank badge, probably worn by a prince in the seventeenth century.

Badge (Lizi) of the Imperial Prince with Dragon, China, late Ming dynasty (1368-1644), mid-seventeenth century, gift of Miss Carlotta Mabury

The dragon emerges from a background of waves and clouds. The waves symbolize the yin element of the ocean, and the clouds the yang element of the sky. Here the dragon resides within the perfect harmony of yin and yang, which can also be seen as the imperial house’s supreme power over the universe. Other works included in the gallery, such as a Japanese ink painting of a dragon and a jade belt buckle in the shape of a dragon, testify to the popularity of the dragon in Asia.

Christina Yu Yu, Assistant Curator, Chinese and Korean Art

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