The twelve monumental bronze sculptures from Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads arrived at LACMA earlier this week. LACMA’s art preparation and installation teams have been working hard to unpack and wake these sleeping giants–some of which weigh nearly a ton.
The animals arrived two by two...
Unfastening the first of the sculptures--the ram.
Four installers plus one crane slowly lift the ram.
Repeat x 12
Next step is to unwrap and place the sculptures into position.
The dragon, snake, and horse stand tall next to the Resnick Pavilion, awaiting the arrival of their zodiac counterparts.
Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads opens this Saturday at LACMA. A general admission ticket is not needed to see the work, so come by, take a picture in front of your zodiac sign, and enjoy the magnitude of these brilliant sculptures.
David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy opens at LACMA this Sunday (on view starting tomorrow for members). Curator Carol S. Eliel calls Smith one of the greatest American sculptors of the twentieth century—we’ll have more from Carol next week on Unframed. First, we asked Brenda Levin of Levin and Associates Architects for a sneak peek at her design for the installation.
David Smith installation at LACMA
In what ways did Smith’s work inspire your design?
Our design was inspired by Smith’s own exploration of space and form. He often layered the placement of his sculptures in relation to each other to create a new art form through photography and what he called collages in space.
Geometry is an important theme in this exhibition. Does it play a role in the installation design as well?
Smith wanted to exaggerate and exploit the pictorial quality of his geometric sculptures when he placed them in groups. We attempted to replicate that experience. The scrims are a notable feature of the design. How are they intended to affect the visitor’s experience?
The scrims, in effect, create the context of landscape, sky, and light that Smith used to explore these techniques of producing three-dimensional collages, documented in his photography and drawings. We looked at these same
ideas through the use of the translucent scrims in a naturally lit space, creating the illusion of sculptures layered in space.
After having such intimate access to Smith’s work, what’s your impression? Anything you would suggest a visitor look out for?
Make sure you study the photos and drawings… they are a wonderful surprise.
As we bid adieu to Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700–1915, we have one more noteworthy tribute to the sleeper hit of the Resnick Pavilion inaugural season. Jean Claude Wouters, a dancer and artist—whose wife, a fashion journalist, covered the show for the French press—once took part in a ballet in Brussels in which he wore a crinoline very much like those that give structure to some of the garments in our exhibition. Exhibition curators Sharon Takeda and Kaye Spilker invited Wouters to revisit the crinoline and its relationship to the body in a series of exploratory movements, performed in the Resnick Pavilion and documented here.
Jean Claude talked about the experience:
I performed with a crinoline when I was 24. Thirty years later, you can imagine! The body, everything changed.
The crinoline being round creates a trajectory like that of the orbital lines of the planets. I moved first to the east, then the west, then the north, then the south.
I was blindfolded. I didn’t want for the people to see my face, it is like a mask. I wanted to be like a sign in a space, my body and the crinoline – it’s not about the human expression. At the same time being blindfolded, I had to feel the space with my skin and body. It’s like letting yourself fall into the water, to be totally immersed in the space.
I had two black Japanese pebbles in each hand. The sound you hear is the pebbles. That’s why I make certain gestures with my hands. I was making my own music, through the reverberation of the sound in that huge space of the Resnick Pavilion.
I am no longer a dancer and I do not pretend to be one. It had to be very honest and of course human, clumsy, a normal person in a particular situation. At the same time, it felt daring, being a fifty year-old man, in a crinoline, barefoot in a museum, in front of someone filming. It’s something you would not do! But what is a crinoline, how do you move with a crinoline, impose movement on the crinoline? For sure, I wanted to do something with no thought. If I was one of my friends who is a dancer or choreographer by profession, it would have been organized and well-conceived in advance. Me, I came like a crazy wild madman; I have no craziness in me, but it was this kind of thing, like Antonin Artaud, or like Tatsumi Hijikata (initiator of Japanese butoh).
There is a phrase from Wittgenstein that I like very much – I translate it this way: “The human body is the most accurate image we can have of the human soul.”
I also think of this story: in a colloquium on religion, there was a Shinto priest. An American professor asked him, “But ultimately, what is your theology?” The Shinto priest thought about it for a moment, then said, “I think we don’t have theology; we dance.” Dance is a way of being alive, moving, being aware of your surroundings. We all dance all day in this way.
One day over the summer, André Leon Talley stopped by for a visit. He and Michael Govan visited the lab where curators and conservators were hard at work preparing Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915, which opens on October 2 in the new Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion. On the spot, Talley decided to shoot a selection of costumes beneath the Tony Smith sculpture in the Ahmanson Building for the September issue of Vogue. Editor Lisa Love soon arrived on the scene. Here’s what she had to say about the collection.