Curator Britt Salvesen on The Sun and Other Stars

September 19, 2012

Recently, we spoke with curator Britt Salvesen about The Sun and Other Stars: Katy Grannan and Charlie White, on view through September 14th. Britt worked directly with the artists, bringing together their respective bodies of work, which explore portraiture and celebrity via distinctive sensibilities and points of view. Britt also drew a connection to Young, a current installation of photography of children, on view through December 2nd, and observed that both shows raise questions about the ubiquity of images, particularly images of youthful subjects in today’s omni-present media and social media culture.

Amy Heibel

Artists Respond / Fredrik Nilsen on Ken Price

September 16, 2012

Fredrik Nilsen is the latest contributor to our Artists Respond series of web-based project inspired by an exhibition at LACMA. Nilsen made all of the exquisite photographs in the publication associated with the Ken Price exhibition that just opened this weekend; for Artists Respond, Nilsen shares his own artistic practice, pairing some of his own work with selected works by Price in an online gallery that he describes here:

In early 2011, I began photographing Ken Price’s work for the catalog of his 2012 retrospective at LACMA. I was honored to be involved from the beginning of the project and spent the balance of the year traveling and shooting works by this extraordinarily inspiring artist. I spent hours looking intensely at his objects, studying them and choosing the angles and lighting that would best represent the works, to tell their story.

The experience culminated in a trip to Taos to work with Kenny and his amazing family. Working side by side with the man in his studio, photographing his work space and the gardens and the landscape surrounding his home, I gained a deeper understanding of who he is as an artist and as a person. We swapped stories of our passion for surfing, and I learned he was a waterman. I believe that the fluid characteristics of much of his work may have come, in part, from his knowledge of the wave and the nature of water.

Ken Price, Mo, 2000 ©Ken Price, photo © Fredrik Nilsen

In 2008 I began a body of work that I simply refer to as water studies. Each water study consists of two images closely aligned. They depict two watery scenes, shot within moments of each other at either the same camera angle or an offset position. The offsets and re-filtrations by the moving water produce either a very similar or a very dissimilar juxtaposition. In this series I feel an affinity to Ken’s work.

Water Study: Temescal © Fredrik Nilsen

I present here a selection of my photographs of Ken’s sculpture paired with my water studies where I see parallels. Many of these water studies were shot before I began to shoot Ken’s work. As I studied Ken’s artworks it became apparent to me that Ken’s work reflected an interest in natural forms which coincides at certain points with my own study of the nature of water.

Detail, Avocado Mountain, 1959, Ken Price © Ken Price, photo © Fredrik Nilsen

Water Study © Fredrik Nilsen

     — Fredrik Nilsen


Amy Heibel

This Weekend at LACMA: Ken Price Opens, Exclusive Film Club Screening, and More

September 14, 2012

The busy fall season at LACMA officially begins this weekend with the opening of Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective. The exhibitions brings together more than a hundred objects, including works Price finished just a few weeks before his death earlier this year. Exhibition design was done by Frank Gehry, Price’s longtime friend. The show has already gotten a rave review from the Los Angeles Times, which called Price “one of the great American sculptors of the last half-century.” (PS: check out this great photo from the exhibition’s opening this week: a who’s who of L.A. greats turned out to see the exhibition.)

Installation view, “Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective,” September 16, 2012–January 6, 2013, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, © Ken Price, photo © 2012 Fredrik Nilsen

Ken Price Sculpture is on view now for members only, and opens to the general public on Sunday. If you’re not a member yet, now is the time to join. Not only will you get access to Ken Price right away, but you’ll also get exclusive member previews to next week’s Ed Ruscha exhibition and four more major exhibitions this fall alone. Members will also get two free tickets to Stanley Kubrick and two free tickets Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy, both opening in November. Members-only reservations for both shows begin on Wednesday, so now is the time to get in. Those tickets alone are an $80 value, never mind the twelve months of free general admission to the rest of the museum. What are you waiting for? Show your support for LACMA and become a member.

Tonight award-winning saxophonist Kamasi Washington performs for Jazz at LACMA. Washington has performed with jazz greats like Wayne Shorter and Billy Higgins as well as pop stars like Snoop Dog, Mos Def, and Raphael Saadiq.

Tonight we’ve also got a special film screening open exclusively to members of LACMA Film Club, Film Independent, or the New York Times Film Club: the world premiere of Chu Chang-min’s stylized costume drama Masquerade. The film stars Byung-hun Lee, who plays the dual role of a paranoid king and an actor who is forced to replace the ruler. Lee will be in attendance for the screening and will take part in a Q&A following the film. (Not a Film Club member? Join now—you’ll get access to free screenings like this plus priority tickets to popular events like Jason Reitman’s Live Reads and more.)

Spend the rest of the weekend checking out our other exhibitions or going deeper into our collection. Have you been up to the top floor of the Ahmanson Building lately? In the Islamic galleries we’ve just installed a beautiful fountain taken from a a reception room in a Damascus house, circa 1766-67. (More on this fountain on Unframed next week.)

Fountain from a reception room in a Damascus house, Damascus, Syria, room dated 1180 AH/1766–67, Robert Haber and Associates, Inc.

On that floor you’ll also an installation by contemporary Iranian artist Siamak Filizadeh, Rostam 2—The Return. On the western side of the same floor, take a walk through our South and Southeast Asian galleries for a number of smaller installations—Tibetan Thangka Painting and Furniture, Tibetan silver, 17th–19th century paintings and photographs from India depicting women, and experimental films from Alia Syed.

‘Monk’s Hat’ Ewer, Tibet, late 19th century, gift of Julian Sands

If you’re here on Sunday, get inspired by Tony Smith’s Smoke and make geometric art during Andell Family Sundays. Later that evening, the Salastina Music Society will perform works by Shostakovich at our free Sundays Live concert series.

Scott Tennent

A Curator’s 34-Year Journey: From “Happy’s Curios” to “Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective”

September 12, 2012

In the late 1970s, I was introduced to sculptor Ken Price by Betty Asher, then curatorial assistant in the department of modern art. Betty was an avid collector and a close friend of Ken and his wife, Happy. Fellow curator Maurice Tuchman and I were preparing a show of Price’s decade-long endeavor Happy’s Curios—which consisted of individual wooden units filled with exuberantly colored cups, vessels, and objects that celebrated and honored Mexican folk art.

Department of modern art, 1978, left to right: Betty Asher, Maurice Tuchman, Stephanie Barron, Cecil Ferguson, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

I traveled to Taos then to see Price in the studio and to work with him on the catalogue and presentation.

Installation view, “Ken Price: Happy’s Curios,” LACMA, 1978, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

More than thirty years passed since that initial visit. In 2009 I traveled to Taos again to visit with Ken in his new home and studio to discuss plans for this retrospective. He was already ill, and pretty much confined to his home and studio. But instead of limiting him, he turned the last three years of his life into some of the most productive of his career, creating hundreds of sculptures in the studio by painstakingly painting them up layer-by-layer, and then judiciously sanding down the surfaces to reveal astonishing layers of color.

Ken Price, “Kaolin,” 2011, fired and painted clay, 21 x 15 1/2 x 18 inches, collection of Ken Price. © Ken Price, photo © Fredrik Nilsen

The journey of preparing this show and the accompanying catalogue has been an unforgettable adventure and privilege.  Our amazing team—architect Frank Gehry, who immediately accepted my invitation to design the show of his old friend Ken; catalogue designer Lorraine Wild, who had the great idea to invite Fredrik Nilsen to photograph the works; and assistant curator Lauren Bergman—made several trips to Taos to meet with Ken.

Happy Price, Frank O. Gehry, Stephanie Barron, and Ken Price discussing the installation design for Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective in the Price home in Taos, New Mexico, 2009

He was involved with us in everything, including the selection of works, how they were reproduced, and how they would be installed. Sadly, he died in February 2012, just months before the show opened. I’ve had the chance to work together with Frank Gehry on five shows since 1980.  This may be the most beautiful combination of works of art and installation design imaginable. Even though Ken never got the chance to walk among his retrospective of fifty-three years of work, I hope that we have given him the show his work deserves.

Installation view, “Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective,” LACMA, © Ken Price, photo © Fredrik Nilsen

Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator and Department Head, Modern Art

In Case You Missed It: Zócalo Public Square: How Can L.A.’s Art Museums Thrive?

September 11, 2012

Last Friday our own Michael Govan joined the Hammer Museum’s director, Ann Philbin, and the Getty’s brand-new director, Timothy Park, in a wide-ranging conversation about museums in Los Angeles, moderated by the Los Angeles Times’ Jori Finkel. Their talk covered many topics, from community engagement to artist collaborations to Hollywood, philanthropy and, yes, the current travails at MoCA.  You can watch the entire hour-long conversation, or download the audio as a podcast, at Zócalo’s website, and it is worth the time if you have interest in L.A.’s museum community.

Jori Finkel, Timothy Potts, Ann Philbin, and Michael Govan. Image via, photo by Jake Fabricius

Art of the Pie: Q&A with Nicole Mournian, Winner of Good Food Pie Contest

September 10, 2012

Nicole Mournian, general manager of Gjelina Take Away in Venice, was the big winner at the fourth annual KCRW’s Good Food Pie Contest, which took place this past weekend at LACMA, taking home an incredible four blue ribbons for best fruit pie (Blackberry Huckleberry Ginger), best savory pie (Pork and Peas), best crust (Pork and Peas), and best in show (Pork and Peas). Among the judges of this year’s contest were LACMA’s own Kris Morningstar (Ray’s) and Josh Graves (Coffee + Milk), as well as culinary luminaries such as Jonathan Gold, Joy the Baker, Sherry Yard, Huell Howser, Krista Simmons, Michael Voltaggio, and Ilan Hall.

Nicole, her accolades, KCRW’s Evan Kleiman,David LeFavre , Kris Morningstar, Roxanna Jullapat, and Krista Simmons

This isn’t your first year competing in the contest. What did you do differently this year to perfect the art of the perfect pie?

I didn’t get into pie making until last year, as a baker I have loved many pies and made a few here and there—but never to this degree. Last year I was dead set on serving some witty, new-fangled flavor combinations. This year my focus was on creating flavors from the simple placement of high-quality ingredients with other high-quality ingredients.

Nicole dishing up a champion.

Did you have a specific strategy going into this year’s contest?

My strategy was total domination. Just kidding . . . or am I? I knew I would enter the savory and fruit categories—savory pies are my favorite. Second, I thought about the judges. I might sound creepy when I admit this but let me explain: I work in a kitchen and working with chefs you learn a lot about the overall character of “The Crave” and essentially what turns people on in food. I knew several things:  there were some chefs on the judging panel who love pork and also they probably would not hesitate to eat a room temperature pork-based pie. So pork pie it was, and “pork and peas” is really fun to say out loud. Did you hear Jonathan Gold say “pork and peas”? Delightful!

Blue-ribbon-winner Pork and Peas

Your Pork and Peas was the belle of the ball. Can you describe for those who didn’t get to taste it what makes this pie so delicious?

Super-flakey crust filled with organic roasted pork shoulder, peas, Gravenstein apples, Dijon mustard, rosemary, and pork belly. I used the pork belly in place of butter. When you make a pie, you dot the surface with a few pats of butter to create a nice sauce. In this pie, the pork belly was the butter. While I was making it, I said out loud, “Jonathan Gold will love this.”

Judges Ilan Hall (Chef, The Gorbals) and Krista Simmons (Top Chef Masters Judge and Food Editor for LAist) diving into Nicole’s Blackberry Huckleberry Ginger pie

Can you let us in on the secret to a perfect crust?

Secret? No secret here. It’s just the usual suspects: nice flour, quality butter, sugar, salt, ice cold water. I guess my secret is a splash of vinegar in the ice water. Other than that I think it’s just comfort level—pie dough is like a wild animal: it can sense your fear.

Jenny Miyasaki

This Weekend at LACMA: Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol and Three More Exhibitions Close, KCRW Pie Contest, and More

September 8, 2012

Our busy fall season is just around the corner, but in the meantime many of our summertime exhibitions are coming to a close this weekend. In BCAM, Sunday is your last chance to see Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol. The exhibition includes photographs and a five-channel film installation by Lockhart on the subject of the late Israeli dance composer Noa Eshkol. Eshkol developed a precise movement notation system in the 1950s, and believed in an extremely minimal presentation of her compositions; in Lockhart’s films, black-clad dancers perform only to the sound a metronome in a room that is empty but for textiles created by Eshkol. More of Eshkol’s beautiful textiles are also on view in the exhibition.

This weekend is also your last chance to see …Is James Bond, our exhibition of the opening credit sequences of all of the James Bond films. Though the exhibition is closing, we continue to screen James Bond films every Thursday in September, so check the calendar for upcoming screenings.

Tomorrow Never Dies (still), © 1997 Eighteen Leasing Corporation & Danjaq, LLC. All rights reserved. Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Eon Productions

Two more installations are coming off view this weekend: in the Resnick Pavilion, Michael Heizer’s Actual Size: Munich Rotary—an actual-size projection of his 1969 negative sculpture Munich Depression—will come down after Sunday; however, his large-scale photographs on view in BCAM will remain on view through the end of October. Finally, The German Woodcut: Renaissance and Expressionist Revival explores the development of the woodcut medium during the Renaissance and its revival by German artists in the twentieth century.

Käthe Kollwitz, Memorial sheet for Karl Libknecht, 1919–1920, The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies

Starting at 2 pm we’re happy to host KCRW’s fourth annual Good Food Pie Contest. Judges for the contest, hosted by Good Food‘s Evan Kleiman, include Jonathan Gold, and Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times, Huell Howser of PBS, and chefs Michael Voltaggio, Karen Hatfield, Kris Morningstar, and more. In addition to more typical categories like best Fruit Pie, best Savory Pie, and so on, the judges will also be choosing the best pie inspired by Chris Burden’s Metropolis II. These pies must be seen—and tasted—to be believed. (PS: want free admission to the museum? Wear an apron.)

Sunday, in conjunction with The Sun and Other Stars: Katy Grannan and Charlie White, we are offering a free panel discussion, “Camera Ready: The Allure of Stardom.” Historian and poet Iris Berry, Toddlers and Tiaras producer Suzanne Rauscher, and USC professors and authors Sarah Banet-Weiser and Leo Braudy will discuss the impact of celebrity imagery on popular consciousness.

Finally, end your weekend with free concert from pianist Petronel Malan, who will perform works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky.

Scott Tennent

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