This Weekend at LACMA: New York Noir, De Maria Film, Final Days for Lost Line and Michael Heizer: Actual Size, and More

February 16, 2013

Happy President’s Day Weekend! The weather is beautiful and our museum in a park has plenty happening inside and out. If you want to soak up the sunlight, take a stroll through Chris Burden’s Urban Light and Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, enjoy a drink or a meal at Ray’s and Stark Bar, or spend some time with your kids during our free Andell Family Sunday activities.

Inside the galleries we’ve got something for everyone, from the blockbuster Stanley Kubrick exhibition to nineteenth-century French ceramics or American landscapes, to German Expressionism and cinema. If that’s enough for you, check out the list of even more exhibitions on view.

Fitz Henry Lane, Boston Harbor, Sunset, 1850–55, gift of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr., in honor of the museum’s 25th anniversary

Fitz Henry Lane, Boston Harbor, Sunset, 1850–55, gift of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr., in honor of the museum’s 25th anniversary

On the contemporary art front, this is a special weekend. For fans of Walter De Maria and his 2000 Sculpture, stop into the Bing Theater today or Sunday at 3:30 for a free screening of his 1969 film short Hard Core. This weekend is also one of your last chances to see two exhibitions in BCAM—Michael Heizer: Actual Size and Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection, the latter featuring works by the likes of Gabriel Orozco, Robert Smithson, Uta Barth, Steve McQueen, Analia Saban, and many more.

Walter De Maria, The 2000 Sculpture (detail), 1992, Collection of Walter A. Bechtler-Siftung, Switzerland, © 2012 Walter De Maria, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Walter De Maria, The 2000 Sculpture (detail), 1992, Collection of Walter A. Bechtler-Siftung, Switzerland, © 2012 Walter De Maria, photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Tonight our New York Noir film series continues with two thrillers—Little Fugitive (new 35mm print!), from 1953, which impacted the French New Wave, and a gritty portrait of the Lower East Side, The Window, from 1949.

Alternatively, step into the Bing Theater on Sunday not for film but for music, where emerging artists from Junior Chamber Music and the USC Thornton School will perform a free concert for our free Sundays Live series.

And of course, don’t forget this is a three-day weekend! Thanks to Target, Monday is a Free Target Holiday Monday (excluding Stanley Kubrick), featuring live music and story time in the Boone Children’s Gallery.

Scott Tennent


Love Hurts: A Self-Guided Tour

February 14, 2013

For Valentine’s Day, we’ve put together a self-guided tour of works of art inspired by heartache, jealousy, sadness, and tragedy. Come to LACMA tonight for our special Valentine’s evening or print the full tour and bring it with you on your next visit. Here’s just a taste of what you’ll find . . .

Antoine Watteau, The Perfect Accord
In love, all is not what it seems.  The French of the rococo period (roughly the first part of the eighteenth century) enjoyed scenes of aristocrats at play. Watteau excelled at these scenes but often included an ironic or satirical twist. Here, a not-very-attractive older gentleman plays a flute, wooing a lovely young lass. (Note the well-dressed and well-matched couple in the background— they have already hooked up!) The clown in the striped shirt on the left and the statue of Pan on the right imply that the painting’s theme is both erotic and comical. The love scene’s comedic punch line is the title:  The Perfect Accord. One might think the wooing couple would make beautiful music together. In reality, French society would have considered the older musician a completely inappropriate match for the beautiful young lady—making this a scene of discord!

Jean-Antoine Watteau, The Perfect Accord, 1719, Gift of The Ahmanson Foundation

Jean-Antoine Watteau, The Perfect Accord, 1719,
Gift of The Ahmanson Foundation

Francois Le Moyne, Diana and Callisto
The scoundrel Zeus (Jupiter), lord of the gods, is at it again. His long-suffering wife Hera (Juno) has quite had it with all his extra-marital affairs. He has taken to disguising himself as all sorts of things (gold coins? A bull?) to curry favor with the objects of his affection. French aristocrats loved these scenes because they were an acceptable way to visually show erotic tales of lovely nude women. Anyway, this rather complicated story comes down to this: Callisto, daughter of a king, has taken a vow to remain a virgin and is serving as one of the goddess Diana’s nymphs. Details differ in various versions, but Zeus manages to disguise himself, separate Callisto from the other nymphs, and impregnate her. Callisto’s pregnancy is discovered when she is reunited with Diana and the others, and the women bathe in the woods, which is the scene pictured here. Furious, Diana expels Callisto from the group. Another long series of events ensues, but the outcome is that the jealous Juno turns Callisto into a bear. Subsequently, Jupiter places both Callisto and her son safely in the heavens, where we know them today as the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

François Le Moyne, Diana and Callisto, 1723, Gift of The Ahmanson Foundation

François Le Moyne, Diana and Callisto, 1723, Gift of The Ahmanson Foundation

Text prepared by Mary Lenihan, Director of Adult Programs, Education and Public Programs Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA


Exhibition Film Series: Naked City: New York Noir and Neorealism

February 13, 2013

Kicking off last Friday, the series Naked City: New York Noir and Neorealism presents ten films, all of which were shot predominately on the streets and in the apartments of Kubrick’s native metropolis between the years 1945 and 1953. During the same period, Kubrick was documenting the changing face of the city, first in the pages of Look magazine and eventually on the screen with films such as Day of the Fight and Killer’s Kiss.

By working within such specific curatorial parameters, we had to exclude a number of notable film noirs because they either weren’t shot on location or they landed too late in the series’ time frame. As such, we were left with an intriguing cross-section of films. Many of them may not fully qualify as film noir by most people’s definition—although most people don’t have a definition of film noir as delightfully far-ranging as the late Raymond Durgnat, who finds noir to be the modern age’s answer to a “black” aesthetic dating back to Greek tragedy. Accordingly, we’ve broadened the series’ title to account for works filmed in the Big Apple that share the contours of film noir, particularly this sub-strand of films shot in situ, but lack its fatalistic DNA and gangland grit.

This Friday, the series enters its second weekend with Otto Preminger’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, perhaps the purest noir in the lot due in part to the vertiginous decline of its trench-coat-clad anti-hero (Dana Andrews, all darting eyes and clenched jaw) as well as its claustrophobic, after-hours atmosphere. (Preminger’s film is also the most studio-bound effort in the series.)

One-upping Preminger’s austerity while subtracting Sidewalk’s hard-boiled patois, Russell Rouse’s The Thief is a nervous Cold War thriller about an esteemed nuclear scientist (Ray Milland, anxious) who is spying for an unnamed foreign enemy. Entirely devoid of dialogue and punctuated by the chiming refrain of unanswered telephones, The Thief offers a sparse, existentialist portrait of an increasingly desperate fugitive for whom New York is an ever-contracting, labyrinthine prison.

The film that rests most squarely in the neorealist camp also happens to follow a protagonist on the run: Morris Engel’s Little Fugitive has a threadbare plot-a little boy hides out in Coney Island over the course of a bustling summer day-but a surfeit of personality and local color.  This pint-sized drifter, roaming the boardwalk’s Carny wonderland and adjoining soda-bottle strewn beach, is Brooklyn’s precursor to The 400 Blows‘ Antoine Doinel.

Rounding out Saturday’s “kid noir” double-bill is The Window, in which Bobby Driscoll tries to prove that his upstairs tenement neighbors are murderers. Ted Tetzlaff‘s film is set in a pocket of New York at once overcrowded and vacant, an uninhabited wasteland that best resembles a city abandoned in haste after a catastrophe.

The series’ final weekend begins with two films set on the city’s periphery in which brothers betray one another in ruthless cons, and curiously both films have connections  to the Hollywood blacklist: Elia Kazan’s ripped-from-the-headlines urban opera On the Waterfront (“a film noir, given Brando’s negativsm and anguished playing,” pace Durgnat) and its spiritual precursor: Abraham Polonsky’s taut and tragic Force of Evil.

After these two portraits of internecine strife, the series closes with a curious duo of hot-footed journeys in and around Times Square on the heels of terse outliers: a heavy-hearted ex-boxer (Killer’s Kiss) and a war-traumatized stowaway (The Glass Wall). Without a darkly charismatic figure like Marlon Brando or John Garfield to anchor them, these films place the congested vastness of New York front and center, a city as unpredictable as any flesh and blood femme fatale.

Bernardo Rondeau, Assistant Curator, Film


Good Fortune: Okyo’s Cranes Now on View

February 11, 2013

In Japanese culture, the crane is a symbol of good fortune and longevity and has played an integral role in art and literature. Chances are you’ve seen cranes depicted in some form or other in popular Japanese art (if you’re anything like me, when you were young, you also may have read—and been slightly traumatized by—Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes). Those (non-origami) depictions were likely copied—or at the very least heavily influenced by—Maruyama Okyo (1733–95), a painter who revolutionized the practice and taught or influenced generations of Japanese painters.

Maruyama Okyo, Cranes (detail), 1772 (An’ei period, 1772-1780), gift of Camilla Chandler Frost in honor of Robert T. Singer

Maruyama Okyo, Cranes (detail), 1772 (An’ei period, 1772-1780), gift of Camilla Chandler Frost in honor of Robert T. Singer

Through the perseverance and diligence of Robert T. Singer, curator of Japanese art, LACMA recently acquired a pair of Japanese screens depicting cranes (read the Los Angeles Times article that explores the acquisition of Cranes in depth) by Okyo that has never before been displayed in the United States. In fact, the pair of screens, created in 1772, has almost never been shown in public anywhere. They were displayed in Japan twice, in 1996 and 2004, and even then only for a matter of weeks. Measuring five-and-a-half feet tall and twenty-two feet long, the screens are in immaculate condition and represent the highest achievement in Japanese painting.

Maruyama Okyo, Cranes (detail), 1772 (An’ei period, 1772-1780), gift of Camilla Chandler Frost in honor of Robert T. Singer

Maruyama Okyo, Cranes (detail), 1772 (An’ei period, 1772-1780), gift of Camilla Chandler Frost in honor of Robert T. Singer

Okyo’s screens are so rare and valuable, in fact, that the Japanese government has registered four out of the artist’s last five pairs of screens as National Treasures, making it impossible for them to leave Japan except for on loan.

And the fifth pair? Now at LACMA. After Singer’s two-year campaign to acquire the screens, LACMA was granted an official export license by the Ministry of Culture of Japan in honor of the museum’s concerted effort to strengthen and highlight its collection of Japanese art.

In addition to Cranes, LACMA’s has other paintings by Okyo, including the adorable Five Puppies.

Maruyama Okyo (attributed to), Five Puppies, 18th century, gift of Carl Holmes

Maruyama Okyo (attributed to), Five Puppies, 18th century, gift of Carl Holmes

The screens are on view now in the Pavilion for Japanese Art.

Jenny Miyasaki


This Weekend at LACMA: Caravaggio Closes, New York Noir Film Series, Shinique Smith at Charles White Elementary, and More

February 8, 2013

This is it, folks: Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy has entered its final weekend and Sunday is your last day to see this phenomenal show. Tickets for this exhibition are timed, so reserve yours in advance to ensure that you get to see the exhibition. (Plus, your Caravaggio ticket also gets you admission to Stanley Kubrick and the rest of the museum!) Call 323 857-6010 or click here to reserve your tickets.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Ecce Homo, 1605, Musei de Strada Nuova, Palazzo Bianco, Genoa, Italy, photo © Musei di Strada Nuova

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Ecce Homo, 1605, Musei de Strada Nuova, Palazzo Bianco, Genoa, Italy, photo © Musei di Strada Nuova

Speaking of Stanley Kubrick, Saturday sees a daylong symposium dedicated to the master filmmaker—Into the Archive: Re-Viewing Kubrick. Scholars from the University of the Arts London, Stanley Kubrick Archives, and Victoria & Albert Museum will give talks on Kubrick and his films—see the full schedule here. This event is sold out but there will be a standby line.

Sue Lyon as Dolores “Lolita” Haze, Lolita, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1960–62, GB/United States, © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., photo by Bert Stern

Sue Lyon as Dolores “Lolita” Haze, Lolita, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1960–62, GB/United States, © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., photo by Bert Stern

Partly inspired by Stanley Kubrick, tonight (Friday) we kick off our latest film series, New York Noir and Neorealism. All of the films we are screening in February feature New York of the late 1940s-early 1950s—the same period in which Kubrick was documenting the city through his photographs in Look magazine (which you can see in the exhibition) and in early film work like Day of the Fight and Killer’s Kiss (the latter will screen on February 23). The series begins tonight with Jules Dassin’s 1948 noir classic The Naked City, followed by the 1947 corker Kiss of Death.

Families—there are a lot of options for you this weekend, both on campus and off. As mentioned on Unframed earlier this week, artist Shinique Smith has opened Firsthand at Charles White Elementary School near MacArthur Park. (The school is formerly site of the original Otis campus, hence there is a fully functioning gallery space.)  The exhibition is a combination of original works by Smith, objects from LACMA’s Costume and Textiles collection, and works made by Charles White students. You can see the exhibition and enjoy family-friendly tours on Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. There will be activities and chances to make art as well.

Shinique Smith, Swaying Beauty, 2007, gift of Schiff Fine Art, © 2013 Shinique Smith, photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Shinique Smith, Swaying Beauty, 2007, gift of Schiff Fine Art, © 2013 Shinique Smith, photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Alternatively, here at LACMA on Saturday we are offering family tours of the collection (in English and Spanish), with emphasis on artworks proven to be a hit with the little ones. Don’t forget, your children can sign up—for free!—to be NexGen members at the museum. One of their benefits as museum members is they get to lug one parent along with them, also for free. Even more family activities are available the next day, during Andell Family Sundays—including artist workshops and a chance to check out The Ancient Maya World.

The weekend closes out with a free Sundays Live performance from pianist Svetlana Smolina, performing pieces by Schubert, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, and Bolcom.

There is still more happening at the museum. Check the list of featured exhibitions on view, plus even more on view all over campus, including Lost LineWalter De Maria, and Robert Mapplethorpe. (On Mapplethorpe, have a listen to the latest Modern Art Notes Podcast, featuring LACMA curator Britt Salvesen and artist Catherine Opie talking about the exhibition and the artist.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Cedric, N.Y.C. (X Portfolio), 1978, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, partial gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust, 2011, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Robert Mapplethorpe, Cedric, N.Y.C. (X Portfolio), 1978, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, partial gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust, 2011, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Scott Tennent


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