LACMA Paper Conservation Workshop Generously Funded by Linda Shaffer and Peter Loughrey

February 17, 2014

The science and research surrounding art conservation is a dynamic and evolving field of study. The paper laboratory in the Conservation Center at the Los Angeles County of Museum of Art (LACMA) recently held an informative two-day workshop on aqueous cleaning and stain reduction for works of art on paper. The class included lectures as well as, hands-on training, highlighting the use of ammonium citrate di-/tri-basic, sodium borohydride and agarose gels.  The workshop was taught by Antoinette Dwan (private paper conservator from Northern California). The workshop would not have been possible without the generous support and funding by Linda Shaffer (private conservator from Shaffer Conservation) and Peter Loughrey (Director of Modern Design & Fine Art from Los Angeles Modern Auctions).

Participants included thirteen conservators, including Antoinette Dwan (left), LACMA staff and other professionals

Participants included 13 conservators, from Antoinette Dwan (left), LACMA staff, and other professionals

Traditional methods of stain reduction include the use of oxidizing bleaches (not over-the-counter!) and exposure to sunlight (don’t try this at home). Over the two-day series, Antoinette Dwan described novel approaches to stain reduction which take advantage of the ionic properties found in ammonium citrate dibasic (ACD) and ammonium citrate tribasic (ACT) to break up “dirt complexes” and reduce discoloration and  sodium borohydride, a safe and controllable reducing bleach, also used to reduce discoloration and staining in works of art on paper.

Workshop participants placing various paper samples into multiple aqueous cleaning solutions

Workshop participants placing various paper samples into aqueous cleaning solutions

Paper conservator Linda Shaffer locally applying ammonium citrate di-basic for surface cleaning

Paper conservator Linda Shaffer locally applying ammonium citrate di-basic for surface cleaning

The completed test sample (below) presents the results of the various treatments undertaken in the workshop. The strip at the top was not treated and is typical of how paper ages over time. Notice the test sample was cut into sections allowing us to compare various treatment approaches. The results range from little or no stain reduction to a noticeable shift in color indicating a successful reduction of discoloration and yellowing.  These positive results were very exciting as the removal of stains and discoloration can both slow the deterioration of the paper substrate while also presenting a more aesthetically pleasing work of art.

     Completed test sample

Completed test sample

There are few opportunities to share information and spend time with colleagues is in a small workshop setting. As IMLS Fellows we were especially thrilled to take part in the workshop and learn new methods, techniques, and approaches to treatment from a seasoned professional such as Antoinette Dwan.

IMLS Fellows: Asti Sherring and Laura Moeller
Photos by Erin Jue and Gawain Weaver
Generously funded by Linda Shaffer and Peter Loughrey

This Weekend at LACMA: Dozens of Exhibitions and Installations on View, Docent-Led Tours, Free General Admission on Presidents’ Day, and More!

February 14, 2014

Enjoy Presidents’ Day weekend at LACMA with free tours, free public programs, and free general admission on Monday, February 17, as part of Target Free Holiday Mondays. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to come out for a day full of free art-making activities, live music, and fun. Performing at 12:30 and 2:45 pm, the band Quattro will put on a show that blends Latin pop and contemporary jazz unlike you’ve heard before. Plan ahead, as we expect a crowd!

Free general admission on Monday, February 17

Visit LACMA on Monday, February 17, for free general admission as part of Target Free Holiday Mondays

Visit over the weekend, and you’ll encounter over two dozen exhibitions and installations on view, including Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, Fútbol: The Beautiful Game, and David Hockney: The Jugglers. Add in the countless galleries centered around the collection, and you’ll have plenty to discover. With so much on view, free docent-led tours of temporary exhibitions and the permanent collection are the best way to digest everything we have to offer. This weekend check out 50-minutes tours of See the Light—Photography, Perception: Cognition: The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection on Saturday at noon, the galleries of American Art on Sunday at 2 pm, and the Modern Art galleries on Monday at 3 pm. For a full listing of tours view the online calendar.

Josef Sudek, Scaffolding in Grand Apse of St. Guy, 1928, The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection, gift of the Annenberg Foundation, acquired from Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin

Josef Sudek, Scaffolding in Grand Apse of St. Guy, 1928, The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection, gift of the Annenberg Foundation, acquired from Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin

Great for a special occasion The Art of Wine: The Best of Bordeaux art and wine tour takes place on Saturday at 6 pm. Make reservations online or by phone. Lastly, guests on Sunday will be treated to a free art workshops at the weekly edition of Andell Family Sundays beginning at 12:30 pm and a free classical music concert in the Bing Theater featuring the 70-member Colburn Youth Orchestra with Maxim Eshkenazy conducting at Sundays Live at 6 pm.

Roberto Ayala

Love Hurts: Heartache, Jealousy, Sadness, and Tragedy

February 14, 2014

Few subjects have inspired artists over the centuries as much as love. But these works of art don’t always capture a scene of bliss. In fact, artists have depicted everything from love and lust to heartache, jealousy, sadness, and even tragedy. The following works of art are all currently on view on the third floor of the Ahmanson Building. We’ve partnered with to create this self-guided tour for Valentine’s Day.

A version of this post was originally published on Check them out on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Judgment of Jupiter

John Deare, "Judgment of Jupiter," 1786–87, gift of Anna Bing Arnold

John Deare, Judgment of Jupiter, 1786–87, gift of Anna Bing Arnold

John Deare, an English sculptor who spent his entire professional career in Rome, was commissioned by the Royal Academy to create this relief for an exhibition in 1787. Deare’s sculpture is a scene is from Homer’s Iliad, depicting a fateful decision that would ultimately lead to the Trojan War.

Jupiter sits among the gods at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (at left). All were invited except Eris, the goddess of discord. As payback for the slight, Eris tosses a golden apple inscribed “to the fairest” among the guests. Minerva, Juno, and Venus each claim it. Jupiter wisely refuses to pick the most beautiful goddess, and hands the apple to his messenger, Mercury, who flies above. Jupiter instructs Mercury to pass the apple—and the thankless task —to the mortal prince, Paris. Each goddess offers Paris a bribe—Juno would make him the king of Europe and Asia, while Minerva would grant him wisdom and skill in war. Paris chooses Venus, who presents him the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife. She is Helen of Sparta, who becomes Helen of Troy. The Greeks’ expedition to retrieve her is the mythological basis for the Trojan War, symbolized by Mars, the god of war, shown at the far right.

The Perfect Accord

Jean-Antoine Watteau, "The Perfect Accord" (detail), 1719, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation

Jean-Antoine Watteau, The Perfect Accord (detail), 1719, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation

Many works of art created in the Rococo period (roughly the first part of the 18th century) depicted scenes of aristocrats at play. Jean-Antoine Watteau excelled at depicting these scenes, which often included an ironic or satirical twist. The artist is credited with inventing the genre of fêtes galantes—scenes of bucolic and idyllic charm, suffused with an air of theatricality. In The Perfect Accord (1719), an older gentleman plays a flute, attempting to woo a lovely young lady. A jester to 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 punchline is the painting’s title, which suggests the couple will make beautiful music together. In reality, French society would have considered the unattractive older musician a completely inappropriate match for the beautiful young lady, making this a scene of discord.
Diana and Callisto

François Le Moyne, "Diana and Callisto" (detail), 1723, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation, courtesy of and © Museum Associates/LACMA

François Le Moyne, Diana and Callisto (detail), 1723, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation

Callisto, the daughter of a king, has taken a vow to remain a virgin and is serving as a nymph of the goddess Diana. Jupiter disguises himself to avoid detection by his long-suffering wife Juno, separates Callisto from the other nymphs, and impregnates her. Callisto’s pregnancy is later discovered when she is bathing in the woods with Diana and the others, which is the scene depicted in Diana and Callisto (1723) by François Le Moyne, who worked during the Rococo period in France. French aristocrats loved these scenes because they were an acceptable way to visually show erotic tales of lovely nude women. Furious, Diana expels Callisto from the group. Callisto subsequently gives birth to a son, Arcas. Juno gets her revenge by transforming Callisto into a bear. Years later, as Arcas is about to kill his mother with a javelin, Jupiter places Callisto and her son among the stars, where we know them today as the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, respectively.
Cupid Wounding Psyche

François Boucher, "Cupid Wounding Psyche," 1741, gift of Hearst Magazines,

François Boucher, Cupid Wounding Psyche, 1741, gift of Hearst Magazines

The story of Cupid and Psyche was well known from antiquity and, like other tales with similar erotic content, acceptable for decoration in such a setting. Although she isn’t a goddess, Psyche is so beautiful that Venus, the goddess of beauty, becomes jealous. Venus sends her son, Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with an ugly mortal by piercing her with one of his legendary arrows. As Cupid arrives at her side, Psyche awakens. Cupid, about to strike with the arrow, is so startled by her beauty that he scratches himself instead, and falls in love with her. After a series of calamities, godly tests, and other events, the lovers are reunited and Jupiter makes Psyche an immortal, so that she may marry Cupid. Cupid Wounding Psyche (1741) was painted by François Boucher, one of the most influential artists of the 18th century. His painterly technique and playful, colorful pastorals and genre scenes of Parisian society helped to define the Rococo style. You have to look up to see this love story—Cupid Wounding Psyche decorated an aristocratic home in Paris and was supposed to hang above a door in a room used for informal entertainment.
The Sleeping Danae Being Prepared to Receive Jupiter

Hendrik Goltzius, The Sleeping Danae Being Prepared to Receive Jupiter (detail), 1603, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation

This love story has it all: lust, greed, and gold. Danae was the daughter of the king of Argos. Upon learning from the oracle at Delphi that he would be killed by his daughter’s son, the king imprisons Danae in a bronze tower to keep her childless. Jupiter is smitten by Danae’s great beauty, and disguises himself as a shower of gold coins that rains down upon the sleeping princess—the hero Perseus is born from this encounter. Perseus eventually kills his grandfather by accident, thus fulfilling the prophecy. The Sleeping Danae Being Prepared to Receive Jupiter (1603) was painted by Hendrik Goltzius, the leading Dutch engraver of the early Baroque period who later became a renowned painter. The Dutch valued hard work and wealth, but not greed. Goltzius’ painting celebrates the innocent beauty of the princess, but also provides a warning. Does love or gold conquer all?

Under the Dome

February 13, 2014

Although I slipped into James Turrell’s Light Reignfall Perceptual Cell at LACMA five months ago, its obvious connection to Griffith Observatory’s Samuel Oschin Planetarium did not cross my mind until I experienced another Perceptual Cell in Yucatán a week ago. Planetaria and Perceptual Cells both use domes. These two different domains of light, however, do very different things with them.


Samuel Oschin Planetarium at Griffith Observatory

Nonetheless, the initial immersion into the Perceptual Cell—before the perimeter lights ignite the eyes—recalls the effect we so deliberately designed and executed into the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. We want people to feel they are outside under the sky even though they are indoors in a very contrived room. That means the planetarium dome must be perceived by every person in the audience as pristine, luminous, and remote. Architecture and lighting must conspire on behalf of a blue celestial realm an indeterminate distance away. The vault has to distract the eye from the floor, the circular wall, the furniture, and the instrument, and from everyone else in the room, and persuade everyone there is no ceiling, just an infinite dome of sky.

This is not easy. The dome is 75 feet in diameter, and big domes are usually compromised by the materials and structures required to build them. A visit to almost any other planetarium in the world will confirm the hard truth under the dome. The illusion is betrayed by the construction. The visible artificiality of the dome prohibits the suspension of disbelief. The frame of the dome and the panels of its surface intrude on the projected imagery and remind the viewer the dome is solid: a screen, not an environment.

Unlike most modern planetarium domes, Griffith Observatory’s original planetarium induced the uplifting “cathedral effect” with a smooth plaster canopy constructed in 1935. I was troubled, then, by the dome demolition and replacement that theatrical impact and new technologies required as part of the Observatory’s major renovation and expansion, completed in 2006. I was reluctant to introduce visual distractions into a room that depends on artful deception to immerse people into an artificial but persuasive sky, but I had no choice.

Then, when we most needed innovation in dome fabrication, it was unexpectedly and cheeringly developed by Spitz, a dome manufacturer.

This new dome technology was a necessary, but insufficient, condition. Sophisticated lighting is also required, but most planetaria don’t get it because audience perception of the soaring vault is not usually incorporated into planetarium production values. In most planetaria, the dome is treated as a surface, but it should be a habitable place.

James Turrell, Light Reignfall, 2011, Gaswork, courtesy of James Turrell, Pace Gallery, and Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, installation view at Garage Center for Contempoaray Culture, 2011, © James Turrell, photo © Florian Holzherr

James Turrell’s Perceptual Cell domes are smaller than Griffith Observatory’s planetarium but exquisitely crafted to create the same initial response. Once inside, the reclined observer has a sense of horizon. The eyes and brain, however, transform the space into something indeterminably larger. In Light Reignfall, even my feet seemed very far away in light that seemed tangible. Although the space is completely transparent, the ambient interior light conceals the dimension it illuminates. It’s a good spherical surface, and the inverse-square law of brightness offers no hints of its true extent.

Once the program in a Perceptual Cell gets underway, its alliance with the planetarium dome ends. The content on the planetarium dome persuades the audience it is looking out into the universe. In the Perceptual Cell, the geography is indeterminate, and the content is abstract. People see something that resembles phosphenes, those sensations of colorful shapes and patterns in the non-visual field of view that are generated by pressure on the retina or other non-luminous stimulation.

A review of online commentaries by those who have experienced Light Reignfall in Los Angeles confirms the ambiguity in depth perception. Many report they could not tell where these kaleidoscopic, luminous, and colorful patterns originate—outside the eye or in, and in fact, it’s both. The stroboscopic display onto the dome from the perimeter lights exploits the neurophysiology of our optical apparatus and brain. Photographs of the interior of a Perceptual Cell in operation reveal at most a partial wash of a single color and none of the complex and dynamic effects the participant experiences. What people see is not on the dome but in the brain, and I believe much of the action involves intricate manipulation of retinal afterimages, an effect generated by the retina’s photoreceptors. Audiotones are also used to move the mind into these luminous and geometric visions.

In Light Reignfall, I primarily sensed streaming rivulets and flowing cells of multicolored light pouring down in every direction from the zenith in my field of view. The pace of change in color, brightness, and texture was strong and rapid, and ranged from showers to torrents. Despite the fundamental visual theme, I also retain the memory of rich and frequent variation and of shifts from and back to the primary trend.

The Metasphere in Yucatán produced generically related imagery, but it differed greatly in detail from Light Reignfall. Geometric figures—especially a honeycomb of hexagons delineated in concentric colors—dominated my mind’s eye. When I closed my eyes, the same lattices were apparent, but colors changed and intensity diminished. There were also episodes of laminar flow and a distinct impression of a dark spot—a black hole—in the middle of the patterns, about halfway up the “sky.” Even though these effects are not phosphenes, they seemed even more like them. Phosphenes for me, however, usually play out on a distinctly black background that was not as evident here.

I remain amused by the liability release, the helpful female technicians in laboratory attire, the panic button, and all of the other ornamental elements of LACMA’s Perceptual Cell installation. A venture into the continuous and commonplace operation of the eye and brain is staged as an expedition into unknown territory, and in fact, as under the planetarium dome, the destination is infinity and beyond.

E. C. Krupp is an astronomer and the Director of Griffith Observatory. He will be in conversation with LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan on Tuesday, February 18, at 7:30 pm, as part of the Director’s Series. Reserve your tickets here.

Derelict Electronics at the Art + Technology Lab

February 12, 2014

Last weekend, we hosted our first workshop at the Art + Technology Lab for the public. Noise artist Ryan Jordan of Derelict Electronics, led the session, which centered on the construction of crystal amplifiers, solar cells, and diodes with raw minerals and detritus. Wielding glue guns and soldering irons, participants assembled their own custom instruments and then tested them out on a specially designed sound system in the Lab. Here are some photos from the fun and noisy afternoon.

Derelict Electronics participants at work on amplifiers and solar cells.

Derelict Electronics participants at work on amplifiers and solar cells.

The amplifiers made in the workshop were based on the design of the Adams Crystal Amplifier of 1933, a precursor to the modern transistor, now ubiquitous in the contemporary electronic and digital world.

The amplifiers made in the workshop were based on the design of the Adams Crystal Amplifier of 1933, a precursor to the modern transistor, now ubiquitous in the contemporary electronic and digital world.

Many of the instruments were also intended to be crude aesthetic objects in their own right.

Many of the instruments were also intended to be crude aesthetic objects in their own right.

Artist Ryan Jordan and a workshop participant test an amplifier.

Artist Ryan Jordan and a workshop participant test an amplifier.

The request for proposals just closed a few weeks ago, and we’re considering our first wave of proposals for artist grants in the Lab right now. We expect artists with projects in development will hold future workshops and demonstrations in the new facility. Watch this space for more information and upcoming programs.

Joel Ferree
Art + Technology Lab Program Manager

An Interview with Artist Hassan Hajjaj

February 10, 2014

Hassan Hajjaj, whose work My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume  I, 2012, is currently on view in the Ahmanson Building, also has a piece featured in the just-opened exhibition Fútbol: The Beautiful Game. The artist sat down with LACMA’s Erin Yokomizo to talk about My Rock Stars Experimental and his working process.

Erin Yokomizo: Hassan, your work is the focus of the current exhibition, Hassan Hajjaj: My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1, curated by Linda Komaroff, curator and department head of Art of the Middle East. The three-channel video installation features nine separately filmed performances by an international array of musicians—your “rock stars.” How did you select your subjects?

Hassan Hajjaj: All my subjects were people around me who I admire. Most of them are friends, or if not, they’re friends of friends; it kind of happened naturally. I was shooting stills for My Rock Stars, and I got to the point with a lot of them where I thought: how can I show these people why they’re rock stars?

Once I recognized this, I started to make a list of people around me that do this kind of thing and it happened from there. A lot of the people I’ve filmed are people from different parts of the world who either live in London or are passing through London or just living in London for a period of time, so it was set up documenting them in that period of time.

Hassan Hajjaj, My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1, 2012, Mandisa Dumesweni, purchased with funds provided by Art of the Middle East: CONTEMPORARY, courtesy of Rose Issa Projects

Hassan Hajjaj, My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1, 2012, Mandisa Dumesweni, purchased with funds provided by Art of the Middle East: CONTEMPORARY, courtesy of Rose Issa Projects

EY: You are also the creative vision behind each featured musician’s clothing as well as the tapestries used in their set designs. How much does each individual artist and personality influence what you select for them?

HH: I normally have things already made, and when I choose the person I’m shooting, I’ll work out the backdrop and what they’re going to wear. But saying that, some of the artists [in My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1] are wearing their own clothing. I couldn’t really touch them as they already had this flamboyance, this kind of rock-star character identity. If that’s the case, I might just add sunglasses, shoes, and socks to accessorize them. But I’d say 80% of it is all my design, and the others I just kind of add on to.

EY: I’ve seen background footage on how you shot My Rock Stars Experimental. I liked the fact that you documented the work in public and out on the street.

HH: All the Rock Stars stills and music are done in the street. I think one of the reasons I do it in the street is to capture that moment. If you have somebody performing in the street, you’re going to really see if they’re comfortable in their own skin. It’s a sense that they’re real rock stars: not aware of anything, they just go for it. Sometimes when I shoot, we’ll have crowds. I’ve had people jump in the stills to pose with the performers. For me, the street shoot is exciting; it makes my heart beat; it’s kind of “guerilla-cized.” You’re worried about the rain, you’re worried about the car noises . . . it keeps me in check.

EY: Your work has been shown in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East; and you’re having somewhat of an L.A. moment as well with the presentation here at LACMA, your one-man show at Gusford Gallery, and your work is also included in LACMA’s just-opened exhibition, Fútbol: The Beautiful Game. Do you find differences in the way your work is received around the world?

Hassan Hajjaj, My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1, 2012, Poetic Pilgrimage, purchased with funds provided by Art of the Middle East: CONTEMPORARY, courtesy of Rose Issa Projects

Hassan Hajjaj, My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1, 2012, Poetic Pilgrimage, purchased with funds provided by Art of the Middle East: CONTEMPORARY, courtesy of Rose Issa Projects

HH: I think the Rock Stars has been a fun show because it seems to be global. I think when you put art and music together most people like music and people take an interest in art. The response I’ve had from people has been quite incredible. What’s interesting is when you highlight a certain kind of people and you bring them into like a gallery. For example, in Dubai it’s more of an Arab country, there’s an expectation that you should have Arab art, so it was nice to kind of flip it and show something that’s worldly. It’s perceived in the same way; so far it’s been very positive.

EY: Speaking of the Fútbol exhibition, your work Feetbol is featured in the show. Do you have personal interest in the sport?

HH: 100%. That’s my favorite game to play, so I’m very happy to be part of another show at LACMA. Also, it’s the World Cup this year, and I think it’s incredible to highlight a sport and to bring it to a gallery. I’m definitely a big fan.

This Weekend at LACMA: L.A. PRINT 4.0, Contemporary Curator Franklin Sirmans in Conversation, Final Weekend of Monterey Park Art+Film Lab, and More!

February 7, 2014

Fuel your weekend with conversations, presentations, free film screenings and workshops, and world-class art. To start, take part in L.A. PRINT: 4.0, a panel discussion on fine-art printing and digital technology, on Saturday at 1 pm. On Sunday, at 2 pm, contemporary art department head and curator Franklin Sirmans, who organized Fútbol: The Beautiful Game, is in conversation with chief curator of contemporary art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Trevor Schoonmaker about soccer through the lens of art. Also, the first Art + Technology Workshop, Derelict Electronics with Ryan Jordan, takes place on Sunday at 11 am. Then of course Sundays Live, with conductor Maxim Eshkenazy at the helm of the Colburn Chamber Orchestra, at 6 pm on Sunday, will stimulate the senses. All programs are free and open to the public.

Ryan McIntosh, Lifespan of Technology, 2013, 2013, edition of 10, published by Intellectual Property Prints

Ryan McIntosh, Lifespan of Technology, 2013, 2013, edition of 10, published by Intellectual Property Prints

At the Monterey Park Art+Film Lab the bevy of free programs reaches the end of the line. This weekend community residents are invited to participate in two sessions of Oral History Drop-ins on Friday at 3 pm and later on Sunday at 12:30 pm; free screenings of the films The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada on Friday night and To Live on Saturday night; and a Mini-Docs Workshop on Saturday at noon, all at the East Los Angeles College site. We look forward to seeing Monterey Park residents at LACMA come April 6 for their Free Day at LACMA, the culminating component of each lab site. Our next stop: Hacienda Heights, beginning on February 21.

For more family fun, circle the wagons and check out the free family day at the Charles White Gallery near MacArthur Park, featuring the colorful exhibition Kaz Oshiro: Chasing Ghosts. For this project, artist Kaz Oshiro presents two of his medium-bending sculpture-paintings alongside pieces from LACMA’s collection, as well as a collaborative work between Oshiro and local-area students. Visit the gallery on Saturday at noon to join a tour of the exhibition and a hands-on art project. The weekly installment of Andell Family Sundays on Sunday at 12:30 pm at LACMA gives families another opportunity to spend the weekend sparking creativity.

Install shot of Kaz Oshiro: Chasing Ghosts, 2014, Los Angeles County Museum of Art   Artist Kaz Oshiro works with a student on a collaborative painting project.

Artist Kaz Oshiro works with a student on a collaborative painting project.

Lastly, see in our galleries the exhibitions Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to IconicJohn Divola: As Far as I Could Get, and the finals days (closing February 16) of Masterworks of Expressionist Cinema: ‘The Golem’ and Its Avatars.

Roberto Ayala

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