This Weekend at LACMA

July 18, 2014

Spend Friday with any of these exciting events ranging from film, art tours and exciting live music. At 7:30 pm, catch Spike Lee’s Malcolm X in the Bing Theater. For a more art filled day, join in on LACMA’s many art tours including John Altoon at 1:00 pm, Art of the Ancient Americas at 2 pm, Modern & Contemporary Art at 2:30 pm, and European Art at 3 pm. End the day with some relaxing Jazz at LACMA music featuring bassist Henry “The Skipper” Franklin.

Enjoying Jazz at LACMA

Enjoying Jazz at LACMA

Studio Session: Drawing with Color kickstarts this Saturday at 10 am at the Los Angeles Times Central Court; improve your drawing skills while exploring creativity and color. At 5 pm Latin Sounds presents the Cuban sounds of Orquesta Charonga led by Flutist Fay Roberts.

In the Bing Theater, come enjoy the film It Happened One Night at 7:30 pm. Check out some of LACMA’s additional art exhibit tours featuring Arts and Culture of Joseon Korea at noon, Ganesha: Elephant-Headed God at 1 pm, Art of the Pacific at 2:30 pm and many more.

LACMA9 Art+Film Lab photos © Museum Associates/LACMA, by Duncan Cheng

LACMA9 Art+Film Lab photos © Museum Associates/LACMA, by Duncan Cheng

On Sunday, Montebello Art + Film Lab presents a special Free Day at LACMA: Montebello with family fun activities, art gallery tours, and artist Nicole Miller’s film Nicole Miller: Believing Is Seeing at 12:30 pm. Kids can learn more about environment issues with the art course Eco-Friendly Art at 10 am. Stroll through The Work of Diego Riviera at 1 pm and catch Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic before it closes next week on July 27. Other ongoing exhibitions include Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandisnsky at 10:30 am, Art of the Ancient World at noon, and Japanese Art at 2 pm. Finally, there is no better way to end the weekend then with the beautiful opera sounds of the iPalpiti Artists Soprano Disella Lárusdóttir and Counter-Tenor Daniel Bubeck at 6 pm in the Bing Theater.

Lily Tiao

Night in Day

July 16, 2014

The night never wants to end, to give itself over

to light. So it traps itself in things: obsidian, crows.

Even on summer solstice, the day of light’s great

triumph, where fields of sunflowers guzzle in the sun—

we break open the watermelon and spit out

black seeds, bits of night glistening on the grass.

The exhibition Night in Day is named after a Joseph Stroud poem, which describes the dark of night as a powerful force that creeps into everyday objects, refusing defeat. Slivers of night might be found in rounded black watermelon seeds, the wings of crows, or the shimmer of volcanic glass. Black is the remnant of night in our day.

For this exhibition of 11 photographs from LACMA’s permanent collection currently on view in the exhibition, I have selected works by artists who have made the night a central part of their subject. Darkened city streets, glowing suburban structures, and starlit landscapes contain narratives cloaked in darkness, that, when surrendered to the light of day, offer the rare opportunity to grasp their shrouded details.

Larry Clark, Acid, Lower East Side from the portfolio Teenage Lust, 1981, gift of Barry Lowen

Larry Clark’s Acid Lower East Side (1968) is an arresting image of a young man making direct visual contact with the photographer. His white facial makeup and the fringe of his cape reflect the ambient light emanating from the street lamp overhead and shops that line the receding sidewalk. Alone on the cobblestone crosswalk, the man looks fierce, disagreeable, and mildly threatening—sensations that we can voyeuristically observe via the photograph from a distance. For this series, Teenage Lust (and Tulsa just before it), Clark photographed amid his friends and acquaintances, suggesting that this is not a stranger caught unaware, but someone who he was out with one night in 1968 on the streets of New York City.

Lewis Baltz, Night Construction, Reno, 1977, gift of Joe Deal, © Lewis Baltz, courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne

Lewis Baltz, Night Construction, Reno, 1977, gift of Joe Deal, © Lewis Baltz, courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne

Nighttime Construction, Reno, taken by Lewis Baltz nearly a decade later, offers the landscape of the American West as it was being transformed by a building boom and the systematic creation of suburbs and sprawl. Most closely identified with New Topographics, Baltz’s work aestheticizes the built environment with a deadpan, unromantic gaze. This is a rare nighttime view of home construction as workers presumably aim to meet a completion deadline. The photograph pictures the house’s plywood skeleton lit by a hidden source of light from within, giving the man-made structure a miraculous glow against the dark, silhouetted ridge.

Florian Maier-Aichen, Untitled, 2007, gift of Sheridan Brown, courtesy of the artist; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; Gagosian Gallery, New York; and 303 Gallery, New York

Florian Maier-Aichen, Untitled, 2007, gift of Sheridan Brown, courtesy of the artist; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; Gagosian Gallery, New York; and 303 Gallery, New York

Florian Maier-Aichen’s 2007 photograph, Untitled, grants a bird’s-eye view of a mountain landscape woven with wispy clouds. At first glance the dark sky evokes a photographic nocturne, but the brightness of the mountain and reflective nature of the clouds suggest something else at work. From the top of Mt. Baldy, this scene was photographed with 4 x 5 black-and-white infrared film evoking an eerie, unnatural appearance. Commonly referred to as day for night in cinema, this technique is used by filmmakers to simulate a night scene. While the effect is convincing, it simultaneously conveys a level of discomfort difficult to qualify.

Since the invention of photography, artists have been capturing nighttime scenes—drawn to the technical challenge of photographing under low light conditions and to the creative challenge of capturing veiled moments that can easily go undetected. Night in Day offers a glimpse into these shadowy and mysterious narratives.

Rebecca Morse, Associate Curator, Wallis Annenberg Photography Department

Kimono: A Garment of Change

July 14, 2014

In Japan, the kimono is a strong symbol of this extraordinary culture. Kimono, which simply translates to, “a thing to wear,” suggests to some extent how these objects served as important artifacts that tell the narrative of Japanese culture. The current exhibition Kimono for a Modern Age showcases some of the exceptional garments that tell the story of Japan of the early 20th century to the present.

This ancient garment would passively see Commodore Perry’s 1854 gunboat diplomacy end 200 years of self-imposed isolation—a feudal sleep. William Gibson, a passionate fan, would write about kimono in an essay titled “My Own Private Tokyo,” in Wired publication: “the quintessential cargo cult moment for Japan: the arrival of alien tech.” And in less than 14 years, in 1868, the Meiji Restoration would restore Emperor Mikado from the shogun, thus ending the feudal period. By the end of the Meiji in 1912, the garment would see the embrace of the “Industrial Revolution’s full kit,” as Gibson would say, “steamships, railroads, telegraphy, factories, Western medicine, the division of labor—not to mention a mechanized military.”

Woman's Kimono with Geometric Pattern, Japan, mid-Showa period (1926–89), c. 1940, Costume Council Fund, photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

Woman’s Kimono with Geometric Pattern, Japan, early-Shōwa period (1926–89), c. 1940, Costume Council Fund, photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

By the time our beautiful kimono appears on the scene between 1910 and 1920, Western culture had infiltrated everywhere. Japan had become thoroughly modernized, and the nation would have a forceful military presence in a different Asia. The cosmopolitan lifestyle of café, cinema, department stores, and art movements, such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Cubism, inspired fresh designs. Even the Expressionist movement would waylay older traditions in the visual profile of the culture.

Woman's Kimono with Mountain Landscape, Japan, Taishō (1912–26)–mid-Shōwa period (1926–89), c. 1940, purchased with funds provided by Jacqueline Avant, photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

Woman’s Kimono with Mountain Landscape, Japan, mid-Shōwa period (1926–89), c. 1950, purchased with funds provided by Jacqueline Avant, photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

The industrialization spurred by World War I was background to Japanese life. In the new class systems, women were in the workplace, shops, and schools, and they moved in all aspects and were finding ways to express themselves and their independence. This transformation is told through the voice of our kimono, the boldness of Art Deco represents the independence of the woman who donned these patterns. Gone were handmade kimonos decorated with spring flowers and flowing streams, those delicate pastel iterations that represented the female posture and placement in the context of Zen Buddhism. The Jazz Age of the 1920s had captured the tempo, and it would be the new mood in this urbanized new world.

Woman's Kimono with Mountain Landscape, Japan, Taishō (1912–26)–mid-Shōwa period (1926–89), c. 1940, purchased with funds provided by Jacqueline Avant, photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

Woman’s Kimono with Abstract Hemp-Leaf Pattern, Japan, early Shōwa period (1926–89), c. 1935, Costume Council Fund, photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

The bold kimonos were known as meisen. They were inexpensive and off-the-rack, ready-to-wear kimonos. Parallel to the Jazz Age Moga-modern girl was the West’s gypsy gamine, the flapper, flaunting her drop-waisted styles. And countering the society’s move toward industrial order, the Japanese homegrown Dada movement, known as Mavo (a Futurist group), would attempt to have its voice heard in the maelstrom of change—the boundaries between art and daily life.

The zeitgeist was not unlike the “floating world” of the Edo period, where compelling urges were daring and new, and social norms were pushed. Western culture, particularly that of Europe, were drawing and seducing Japan into the modern world. The Earthquake of Kanto of 1923 killed 150,000 people and destroyed large parts of Tokyo, which was rebuilt along Western styles such as Art Deco. It was a vivid indication of how deep these influences were.

Woman's Kimono with Mountain Landscape, Japan, Taishō (1912–26)–mid-Shōwa period (1926–89), c. 1940, purchased with funds provided by Jacqueline Avant, photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

Woman’s Kimono with Large Dewdrops (mizutama), Japan, early Shōwa period (1926–89), c. 1935, purchased with funds provided by Grace Tsao, photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

Upon seeing this bold example of clearly one of Art Deco’s graphic fascination with the Zebra stripes stylized in such a fluid matter, I was quite taken aback. The wavy black stripes on white ground were sometimes, sparingly though, shadowed by a gray stripe, which would end in small red-and-orange rectangles of various lengths. These hints at abstraction were a delightful surprise. And to learn from the didactic, it was a meisen—a ready-to-wear from the 1920s that was really thrilling. In my first collection for the House of Worth, I took the theme of the Japanese kimono and obi as a way of reimaging suits and dresses. Maybe it was all those Akira Kurosawa movies that endeared this dream. There was the Seven Samurai, Rashomon, and Ran, in which flowing cloth created its own spell, its own dashing drama. These were pure visual thrills. I must confess, I knew little of its history, but saw it as a natural armature to visualize a new look. To trace this history now is a lesson—it’s never too late to know more.

Hylan Booker


This Weekend at LACMA

July 11, 2014

In the Bing Theater the latest film series from Academy @ LACMA, By Any Means Necessary: A Spike Lee Joints Retrospective, continues with She’s Gotta Have It at 7:30 pm and Bamboozled at 9 pm. Celebrating the visual imagination, intelligent discourse on race relations, and edgy style of writer-director Spike Lee, this series includes several special introductions including writer-director Justin Simien and actor-comedian Damon Wayans on Friday night. For live music see Grant Geissman & the Bop! Bang! Boom! Band at Jazz at LACMA at 6 pm.

In Inglewood at the LACMA9 Art+Film Lab see the cultural mashup from 1999, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, featuring a score by RZA and starring Forest Whitaker on Friday at 7 pm. On Saturday at noon participate in a free Composition Workshop and learn how to create an expressive image on film. All levels welcome! The LACMA9 Art+Film Lab resides at the Inglewood Public Library through July 27.

On your visit to the museum on Saturday enjoy any of the free, docent-led tours including a 50-minute walkthrough of South and Southeast Asian Art at 2 pm or the popular Highlights of the Museum tour at 3 pm. In the late afternoon Bobby Rodriguez LatinJazz ensemble performs at Latin Sounds in the outdoor amphitheater behind the museum at 5 pm.

Martinus Rørbye, Palermo Harbor with a View of Monte Pellegrino, 1840, oil on canvas, Gift of the 1990 Collectors Committee

Martinus Rørbye, Palermo Harbor with a View of Monte Pellegrino, 1840, gift of the 1990 Collectors Committee

Sunday, see Visions of the South before it closes. This exhibition presents paintings, prints, and photographs from the museum’s expansive collection to explore the evolution of the concept of the south in European art over centuries. Elsewhere in the galleries, Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic enters its final weeks on view. Iconic works abound in this exhibition designed by architect Frank Gehry. Admission to this special exhibition also grants you access to this summer’s Van Gogh to Kandinsky. Families are invited to Andell Family Sundays at 12:30 pm and a project around Korean treasures. Finally, close out the weekend with a concert from accordionist and composer Nick Ariondo and Friends during Sundays Live at 6 pm. Cheers, it’s the weekend!

Roberto Ayala


Miracle Mile Architecture, circa 2023: Zumthor, Piano…Gehry?

July 10, 2014

For the last year or so there has been a lot of talk about new, major works of architecture proposed for the Miracle Mile—more specifically the stretch of Wilshire Boulevard from Fairfax to Curson. First to come will be a renovation and new façade for the Petersen Automotive Museum, followed in 2017 by the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures—a design by Renzo Piano making adaptive reuse of the 1939, A. C. Martin–designed former May Company department store. It will be adjacent to two more Piano buildings, LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion and BCAM.

Meanwhile work continues on the development of a new building on LACMA’s campus to be designed by Peter Zumthor. As was detailed in a recent New York Times article, with additional information in the Los Angeles Times yesterday, the Zumthor plan has (literally) taken a new shape since it was unveiled in an exhibition at LACMA last year. In order to preserve areas of future research by scientists at the neighboring Page Museum, Zumthor has smartly moved portions of the building away from the La Brea Tar Pits and instead bridging over Wilshire Boulevard to the land owned by the museum on the southeast corner of Spaulding and Wilshire.

© Atelier Zumthor and Partner

© Atelier Zumthor and Partner

By moving roughly a quarter of the building (about 100,000 square feet) over and across the street, Zumthor’s design lightens the impact on Hancock Park. His design also opens up approximately two acres of new, open park space while improving pedestrian flow. The move also connects LACMA more directly to the vibrancy of Wilshire, with views up and down the boulevard as well as space for public and social activities on both sides of the street.

The building would be comprised of two levels—a large horizontal gallery level, and five pavilions at the park level that support the permanent collection galleries and house a variety of museum programs. Its square footage would be roughly the same as the four current buildings it would replace, but gallery space devoted to LACMA’s collection would increase by about 50,000 square feet (the equivalent of adding another Resnick Pavilion to the campus). That’s not insignificant, especially considering that LACMA has added more than 18,000 artworks to its collection in just the last seven years, including transformative collections of modern art, photography, ancient American art, and European fashion, as well as masterpieces by Thomas Eakins, Maruyama Ōkyo, Henri Matisse, and others.

© Atelier Zumthor and Partner

© Atelier Zumthor and Partner

Zumthor’s design is still in the feasibility phase, meaning there is a long way to go. Elements of the building program are still being fleshed out, as are realistic timeframes, costs, and fundraising plans (all dollar amounts you’ve seen attached to the project, which seem to fluctuate wildly depending on what article you read, are at this point conjecture). That said, the hoped-for timeline would see the building completed by 2023.

Why 2023? Because that is the year the Metro arrives at Wilshire and Fairfax, connecting the Miracle Mile to other parts of Los Angeles as never before.

Which brings us to the latest news published by the Los Angeles Times today—the possibility of a commercial, mixed-use development across the street from LACMA, perhaps designed by Frank Gehry.

The site in question would be on land owned by four parties, LACMA being one. (As the article says, LACMA owns the lot at the corner of Ogden and Wilshire, which amounts to about one-third of the larger site.) Metro will use the entire site—on the south side of Wilshire from Ogden Drive to Orange Grove—for staging the construction of the new station. As with other new stations—for instance, the Hollywood and Highland station and complex which opened in 2000—development of the site will follow. The precise nature of the future development, in terms of its design and program, is very preliminary.

LACMA and our neighbors on the site all agree that the development should be of significant architectural and civic value that will contribute to the neighborhood and Los Angeles. Although no architect has been selected, Michael Govan expressed his hope for Frank Gehry in the article. The two worked together previously on Gehry’s iconic Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, and Gehry has worked with LACMA most recently on the exhibition design for Calder and Abstraction and the 2012 Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective. “That’s my dream,” Govan said in the article. “I’m jealous that New York has a Gehry tower and we don’t.”

All of these projects are long-term endeavors that will surely go through many ups and downs over the next nine years. Ultimately we hope that the Miracle Mile—already known for its history of fantastic architecture—will feature works by three Pritzker Prize–winning architects on one short stretch. It would be an incredible achievement for Los Angeles.

Scott Tennent, Director of Executive Communications


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