Posts Tagged ‘Renzo Piano’
“Everybody is concerned about time. You know we never have enough time to do anything, and especially to see art.” – Christian Marclay.Well I got PLENTY of time to see your art Mr. Marclay. Cinephiles of San Francisco rejoice! Christian Marclay’s The Clock is at SFMOMA through June 2nd, when the museum closes for those massive expansions you may have heard about. The Clock made big news two summers ago, when it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. The 24-hour-long video piece has been heralded as a masterpiece of time-based media, and has been show all over the country (New York, Boston and Los Angeles) and the world (Russia and Israel). Finally Norcal gets the opportunity to see this life-changing (I don’t use that term loosely) video piece.
My life was changed last year when I saw The Clock multiple times at LACMA—the museum purchased an edition of The Clock and had it on view during regular hours, as well as organized several 24-hour screenings. I went to one of the 24-hour screenings and stayed from 8:00PM till 12:15AM. This week, I went to SFMOMA and took in a mere two hours and 15 minutes of The Clock—from 2:45 till 5:00PM. Taking in another chunk of The Clock allowed me to see how the work varies at different times of day. SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS AHEAD. Read the rest of this entry »
LACMA’s near acre of new exhibition space, the Resnick Pavilion, means LACMA has a lot of exhibitions to program. And they seem up to the task. After the three inaugural shows (Olmec, Fashion, and Eye for the Sensual), LACMA has managed to keep the Resnick Pavilion at full capacity. There are three shows currently in the space: David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy, Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts, and LACMA’s ticketed blockbuster: Tim Burton. The shows keep with Michael Govan’s strategy for offering unrelated coinciding shows in the Resnick Pavilion.
Across from the Resnick Pavilion, is Renzo Piano’s other LACMA building, BCAM; it too has been kept full. The top floor is still stocked with Broadworks, the second floor is being deinstalled from the recent permanent collection show Human Nature, and the ground floor just had one of the massive Serra sculptures deinstalled, to make room for a new Burden work, which is going to be AWESOME.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
This above sign is misleading…
Because I am an avid reader of LACMA’s Unframed blog, I knew that LACMA was having a two-day only viewing of it’s brand-spanking-new building the Resnick Pavilion. Of course I made sure to get my self over to LACMA to see the building, I’ve been eager anticipating its completion since I attended the press conference announcing the museum’s Transformation Phase II. The day of the press conference all that was at the site of the planned building was a huge slab of concrete with red painted words announcing the Resnick Pavilion.
Well it turns out that LACMA had such great attention with its first preview, it decided to do another one-day-only viewing about a month later. I still feel special, but not as special. I especially wanted to see the building since I won’t be in LA when it opens in the beginning of October.
The soon-to-be-finished building is, like its neighbor BCAM, designed by Renzo Piano. (The new building has affectionately been dubbed the Baby Piano). The Renzos face each other, both faced (oh word choice) in travertine marble, and mirror each other with their mostly glass facades. Both buildings also have signature accents of red. The BCAM has “the spider” escalator in glaring fire-truck-engine red, and the new Resnick Pavilion has huge HVAC units painted the same optimistic color.
Surrounding the building is Robert Irwin’s Palm Garden, which has been an evolving project at LACMA. I am all for palm trees, and was sad when exploring Chicago earlier this summer to discover the palm does not flourish in climes where it tends to snow. Interior: The building may seem vapid, but that is because it was designed specifically for temporary exhibitions. The pavilion serves as a huge art warehouse, an acre of space with which the curator may do what with it he or she pleases. Think lots of temporary walls.
The whole front of the building (the side that faces BCAM of course) is nearly a whole wall of floor-to-ceiling glass. The use of natural light dominates the space; the Resnick Pavilion has the same saw-toothed roof that BCAM has, which allows plenty of natural sunlight to flood the interior.
The space is epically big. And of course Michael Govan wasn’t going to let the public sneak a peak at an empty building. A temporary installation of Walter de Maria’s The 2000 Sculpture, had been laid out with loving devotion inside the pavilion. All 2000 polygonal plaster rods of it.
The installation of de Maria’s work filled the entire central third of the building. There are two rows of support columns, which divide the interior into three long sections…Along the otter thirds of the space, one could see (what I think is the only problem with the building) rows and rows of vents.
The vents are violently distracting in the otherwise uninterrupted flow of the building. Maybe the vents won’t be so distracting when exhibitions are installed. Here’s me thinking wishfully.
Light streams in through the north end of the building as well. Another almost-entire glass wall looks out onto 6th avenue. It’s unclear where the planned land art piece, Levitated Mass, by Michael Heizer will be placed on the LACMA campus, but maybe it’s going to be somewhere out on that large patch of now, unremarkable dirt.
As mentioned before the leviathan of an interior is divided into three segments by the support columns. And what a coincidence! LACMA is planning not one, not two, but three! inaugural exhibitions for the Resnick Pavilion (again all opening the beginning of October). Words cannot describe how sad I am to be missing this opening. I’ve anxiously watched the progress of this building and hope to see the finished product when I visit LA in winter, hopefully before these shows close.
Interesting: when I visited the Resnick Pavilion on the preview day it seemed like a lot of people (most those of us slightly older of age) where having severe problems with the steps in front of the building. LACMA had station guards (visible in picture on the left) to warn people about the shallow steps, which as you exited the building were actually invisible. A more recent visit revealed that the life-threatening steps have been jackhammered away. My guess is that someone (probably important and probably white-of-hair) almost tripped and died and may of have said something. I actually have no evidence of this, so I’m not suggesting anything. Yay safety upgrades!
Related: Apparently there is a was being waged in LA betwixt LACMA and MOCA! See this um, interesting Vanity Fair article. The online version doesn’t have the fab! photograph of Lynda and Stewart Resnick (yes the people that paid for this building) lounging in their Beverly Hills abode. I’ll try and scan my copy, because this photo is priceless.
California Academy of Sciences
Recently I took a trip north to San Francisco and of course I visited a few museums. The next few installments of Exhibition Inquisition are going to be about museums in Norcal, this is a way to gradually wean you off of Los Angeles reviews, as I will be moving to Chicago in fall. Also notice to Chicago: here I come.
I didn’t just visit art museums during my trip north, but also visited the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. I had been to the academy numerous times as a child, but hadn’t been since the Renzo Piano renovation had opened. Of course Renzo Piano is also the architect of the BCAM at LACMA, and the soon-to-be-opened Resnick Pavilion, also at LACMA. The architectural comparisons are fairly obvious: dominant cement and glass materials punctuated with accents of firetruck red. The elevator at the Academy is of a twin of the one at LACMA. Other than the obvious the Piano’s process of acknowledging the function and purpose of the building, and allowing that to dictate the form and design of the building. Critics aside, BCAM operates as it was supposed to: a white cube for the display of contemporary art. The Resnick Pavilion will do the same: a warehouse for creating temporary spaces for temporary exhibitions. The Academy of Sciences works the same way.
The building is dominated by two large spheres (one is a planetarium, and one holds an indoor rainforest) whose forms are embraced by the roof of the building. This can be seen in the architectural sketch by Piano. The entry space is dominated by a large T-Rex skeleton. I thought it was noteworthy that even in this contemporary space that looks nothing like a traditional museum, some vestiges were left, like the dinosaur skeletons being the first thing one see as they enter.
Behind this was an open air piazza that is nestled in-between the two orbs. Around the two large spheres is water; a visitor has to go below ground level to understand that the water goes many feet below and is actually the top of several large aquarium tanks. The building is a shrine to the sciences full of specimens and takes every opportunity to educate. Literally no space is left unoccupied by something thought-provoking or beautiful.
Old favorites are still around. The biggest celebrity of the academy is the extremely rare albino alligator named Claude. I remember seeing this baby both at the original academy and at the San Francisco Zoo at one point in time. The old white guy was return to an enclosure that is fairly similar to the original. Around the top of the case is a fairly tacky railing made up of bronze sea horses. The sea horses are one of the details from the original building that were left intact. A docent of the Academy (who knew my father, because my father knows literally everyone in the Bay Area) told me that his father was the artist who created the sea horses.
Below ground level was the aquarium space, which I have to say was not my favorite. Strikingly similar to the Pardo-designed display cases in LACMA’s Pre-Columbian galleries, were some smaller sized tanks filled with various species.
Curvatious glass forms refracted the light and distorted the forms of the sea creatures within giving them a freakish fun-house mirror effect. These smaller cases were accompanied by the large tanks full of many schools of fish, which were separated into several climates and locations.
I got thirsty while on the aquarium level and was amazed to find that even the act of drinking from the water fountain had been turned into an educational experience. The Academy took this moment to inform me about the benefits of tap water versus bottled water. This was similar to the moment I had when throwing away a piece of gum, where I was greeted with information about recycling which was mounted on the various trash and recycling cans.
Back upstairs are the more traditional displays of taxidermied animals, mostly mammals from Africa. Some oldies are still goodies. I was absolutely astounded by the amount of detail that had executed in these display cases, in one scene flora surround the fauna but are given as much attention, including a beetle that seemingly meanders across a flower.
The tableaus of frozen wildlife were mixed with staggered cases of live specimens and cases displaying only skeletons. At the end of the hall was the ever popular penguin display, which gets crowded several times a day during feedings. The coffered ceiling of the mammal hall had been preserved much like the seahorse balcony. The ceiling had been livened with a coat of fresh white paint, but the arched barrel vault remained.
Outside of the mammal hall is a crowded space full of smaller displays covering an array of topics including evolution and the Galapagos Islands. One space that was getting a lot of attention from the kids was a media center that just played newsworthy pieces on several gigantic screens. The media space was set in front of an audience of mostly empty chairs; this seemed to be the place the grandparents took a quick break from the screaming masses.
Next it was time to explore the rainforest dome. This portion of the visit required waiting in line as only so many visitors are allowed in the climate controlled dome at once. I was wearing a jacket and scarf the whole day at the museum, but quickly removed them once inside the rainforest dome. Inside is a whole different world, you enter at the ground level and slowly work your way up so that you can experience the different sub-environments. Birds and butterflies perch and swoop through the air all around the dome.
Then it was time for the planetarium show, which took place inside the other dome. The curved space was all encompassing and would have been a very serious experience had the documentary movie not been narrated by Whoopi Goldberg. I have to say I did prefer Whoopi to Oprah on the Life series, but that is mostly because whenever Oprah talked about mating I got creeped out.
The visit wasn’t over until we went to the roof of the building. Yes the roof looks like the set for the teletubbies show, but it’s actually a very practical and environmentally sound usage of a roof. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this roof is, but there is a lot to say and the Academy tells you most of the information on placards surrounding the accessible portion of roof.
All in all the new Academy of Sciences was everything I hoped it would be, so education, and yet so full of wonderful surprises. The building and its architecture makes an exclamation point to the statements within about recycling, global warming, and climate change. Even though I tried to see everything in one day, I’m sure each time I go back I will see and learn something new. Below is a slide show of additional photos, since I feel like I couldn’t explain everything in this one post.
P.S. How could I almost forget about the actual art installation at the Academy?! A few years back the De Young Museum, across the way from the Academy, organized a show of Maya Lin’s artworks. Linn who is most famous for the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. works in a variety of media. One of the last works in that exhibition, called Systematic Landscapes, were the preparatory sketches and designs for an artwork that was going to be installed at the Academy of Sciences once it reopened.
This work is called Where the Land Meets the Sea, and it hangs outside the Academy. The works is made up of a grid of seemingly randomly bent and twisted wires. The work actually is an exaggerated topographic map of a portion of the San Francisco Bay. Some of the high and low points have distinguishable references, like Angel Island. This artwork is simultaneously aesthetically beautiful, and would be appreciated without knowing what it represents or what inspired it, but upon further self-driven exploration is really an education tool. Job well done Academy of Sciences!
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Continuing their hold of the top floor of LACMA’s BCAM, the Broad Art Foundation presents Joseph Beuys: The Multiples. A collection of 570 multiples (from 1963-1986) fills the east galleries on the upper-most floor of the citadel for contemporary art. Since the second floor is now a venue for temporary exhibition, it seems the Broad Art Foundation is especially concerned with maintaining their stronghold on the top floor, and since it has been more than a year and a half since BCAM opened, its about time that a new installation of Broadwork was rotated in (at least to half of the floor).
Up the spider (the red, exterior escalator), and in through the colossal glass doors of the building…The first thing one sees is the Barbara Kruger freight elevator. To the right are galleries with more Broadworks, Warhols and Koons, and only one Baldessari left. But to the other direction, to the left, is the exhibition of Beuys multiples.
The first thing one sees is a rack with catalogs of the works in the exhibition. Honestly, to be up front about it, I think that looking through this nicely designed little book would be more interesting and manageable than this overwhelming exhibition. And then, Beuys confronts the viewer: an image of Beuys (on of the multiples in the show) is blown up and covers the entire wall leading into the exhibition. The title of the installation is superimposed on this large graphic. Yes this is an installation and not an exhibition, LACMA has made the distinction. What qualifications make something an installation instead of an exhibition are unclear.
The exhibition installation, was contained in six rooms, which are defined by the pre-existing walls. The plain white walls from which previously hung Rauschenbergs and Johns have now been painted a very, very dreary shade of grey. The color is oddly familiar, was it the same color used in LACMA’s Art of the Two Germanys exhibition, those crude metal display cases certainly look familiar from Two Germanys as well.
The introductory wall text explains several thing, it explains what a multiple is, and the history of multiples including Marcel Duchamp and his Boite-en-valise. Then came the rationale behind the organization of all those multiples, as well as some not-so-subtle bragging:
This presentation of the nearly complete set of Beuys’s multiples from the Broad Art Foundation is organized thematically within six rooms. The topics explored include Myth, Fluxus, teaching, environmentalism, political activism and the holocaust, and Beuys in America.
Each of the six rooms came complete with a title in white, an educational paragraph, and weirdly integrated quotes. The format was very thorough. And through all of the piles and masses of multiples, I looked always first for the paragraphs, to get some guiding hand through the many, many, many multiples. (Do you get the point that there are a lot of multiples?)
MYTH: the paragraph addresses the mythology Beuys created around himself, that he was a pilot in the German air force during WWII and was shot down over Crimea, and then was nursed back to health by the Tartars. Well that was educational. There was a LOT of stuff. Cases and cases, cases against the walls, lots of stuff hung from the walls, a long case (set on hobby horses) aligned along the hypotenuse of the room to allow for eve more stuff to be cluttered into the room. There was so much stuff, that really it was the odd piece that stood out. One such piece was Sled 1699, (which had its own descriptive wall text). The work was set on a short platform that required some very flattering squatting for closer inspection, and was surrounded by black tape so I wouldn’t squat too close.
FLUXUS and PERFORMANCE: This room had the same format of title and wall text. The quote that was integrated in: “Actions, Happenings and Fluxus will of course release new impulses which will, we hope, create better relationships in more areas”—a vague quotation. In this room were also display cases, posters, artifacts of performance art, photographs documenting performances. A major difference from the last room was the tiny video monitor set into a short little pilaster-like architectural element. Some simple dark wood chairs were set in front of monitor; you had to sit close to really see the video.
ENVIRONMENT: If I thought the previous two rooms were crowded, I had no idea what was to come. The Environment room was the most crowded room, absolutely stuff-full of things. There was very little blank space on the walls, there were so many things hung from the walls that it necessitated a completely separate diagram labeling all of the works. Some multiples from the same sets hung together, sometimes in rows, sometimes not. In this room were more of the wooden chairs (no video) just to take in part of the gallery. This room was hung like a Parisian salon; frames rubbing up against one each other. The work that separated itself from the rest was Hare Stone (1982, Basalt with gold spraypaint), again this piece was displayed on a short platform, but this time was partitioned off with metal wire fence (saw it in the Your Bright Future Show).
TEACHING in the F.U.I.: This was the sparsest room, seemed nicely relaxing on the eyes, especially after the environment room. This room was nicely packed in, instead of cramped, there was an ease of the packed-in-ness that did not exist in the environment room.
POLITICAL ACTIVISM & The HOLOCAUST: more posters, more cases, more photos, same medium, slightly different subject matter. The thing that set this room apart was the almost feature on Braunkreuz. In the 1960s Beuys created this material called Braunkreuz, an opaque reddish-brown medium of paint mixed with other materials. Beuys marks his objects with crosses that allude to the steel cross, reclaiming symbols of Germany and Nazism. See, I learned so much from the paragraph in that room. Another video monitor and chairs were in this room in the same configuration as in the Fluxus room. There was a lot of education in this room, which was really necessary for this exhibition.
BEUYS in AMERICA: this room had an ease in the cramped quality of the space as well. This might have been because the objects hung from the walls utilized the height of the wall: some things high and some things low. A big banner was one thing displayed awkwardly up on high (like that one photograph in the Collecting History show at MOCA). In this final room was also a wall text likening Beuys to Yves Klein (French) and Warhol (American), claiming all of these artists created a artist-celebrity personality. This is a nice attempt to create a continuous flow into the corridor which leads to the west-side of the top floor of BCAM.
In the hallway are some photos and objects, displayed in a tall case, from a collaborative project between Beuys and Warhol, but no information in provided, how frustrating. A continual comparison was made between Beuys and Warhol, and then also to Koons. Two TV monitors with seating, two bookshelves full of books, and more upholstered chairs and a comfy couch created an odd domestic-like space in the cold sterile setting of BCAM. Continuing with the usage of quotes, the curators include one quote each from Beuys, Warhol and Koons.
The west gallery on the top floor had been changed from its inaugural form, but only slightly altered and is still full of Broadworks. One wall was removed, which effectively eliminated the space that had previously displayed Baldessari, and now there is only one Baldessari left, on the wall which remains oddly alone in the space. The Koons had been spread out to fill the space. The space behind the lone wall is still only for Warhol: some works have been removed and tons more Kelloggs boxes have added, huge piles of boxes actually, created mountains of faux-cardboard containers.
It is great to see contemporary art in a space that was constructed to showcase exactly that. The Beuys installation is a fitting example of post war German art because of its nice connection to the Art of the Two Germanys show. But it also seemed like the installation was a way for the Broad Art Foundation to maintain its claim the top floor of BCAM as exclusive space to display their art. Also the wording of the text seemed to not-so-subtly brag about their near complete collection of Beuys’s multiples.
It was also exciting to see LACMA at night, especially the space of BCAM, which is lit so different at night, it really is a must see. Especially when you get to scamper, swing, dance through my favorite public artwork in Los Angeles, Urban Light.