Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Art & Technology and Program

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LACMA

When I read the news this week that LACMA is bringing back its legendary Art and Technology Program, I basically freaked out.  But before I get into the new program I wanted to re-explore the original program.  (I knew this grad school paper would come in useful for something.) I gleefully just re-read the program’s catalogue: A Report on the Art and Technology program of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Long title, amaaaaazing read.

Plug it in!

Plug it in!

ART AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM, 1967 – 1971

In 1967, the five-year-old Los Angeles County Museum of Art began a multi-year project called The Art & Technology Program.  The Program placed artists into residencies within technology companies with the intention that these corporations facilitate and/or fabricate the creation of new works, which would be shown in a culminating exhibition at the museum.  The Art and Technology Program was the brainchild of LACMA’s curator of Modern Art, Maurice Tuchman. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chapter 1 (Part 2): LACMA’s BCAM – A Museum Within a Museum

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Even though Eli is not involved with the museum any longer, his name is still on that building. We should have never called it a museum. How can LACMA have a museum? LACMA is the museum.”
Lynda Resnick, LACMA Trustee[i]

In February 2008, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The Renzo Piano-designed BCAM is not an autonomous museum; it is one of several buildings on LACMA’s museum campus (the largest American art museum west of Chicago).

The original LACMA was not exactly popular. Ed Ruscha’s 1968 vision of the museum.

The original LACMA was not exactly popular. Ed Ruscha’s 1968 vision of the museum.

LACMA was founded in 1961, when it seceded from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in Exposition Park.  The new art museum opened in 1965 with three buildings designed by William Pereira: the Bing, Ahmanson and Hammer buildings.  In 1986, the Art of the Americas Building (then the Anderson Building) opened, and was followed in 1988, with the Pavilion for Japanese Art.  The museum continued to grow when LACMA purchased the neighboring May Company department store building in 1994. (LACMA is currently collaborating with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to bring a museum to the vacant building.[ii])  In 2001, plans for a tabula rasa campus designed by Rem Koolhaas were scrapped due to its ambitious scale (all existing buildings would have been raised) and lack of public support (a proposed bill would have provided public funds for the project, but was not passed by voters[iii]).  Then in 2004, the board approved a multi-year capital campaign called Transformation.[iv]

Michael Govan, Wallis Annenberg Director and CEO of LACMA, inherited Transformation when he took LACMA’s helm in 2006 (little more than a year before BCAM’s inauguration). Exciting, high profile, high-cost building projects are Govan’s specialty. Before coming to LACMA, Govan had been the director of the Dia Art Foundation where he oversaw the renovation of an old Nabisco factory in the Hudson River Valley, into Dia Beacon—a gargantuan facility capable of housing many large-scale, contemporary art installations. Before Dia, Govan worked under Richard Armstrong at the Guggenheim Foundation and aided in the realization of the Guggenheim Bilbao.   Govan had the resume required to lead LACMA during Transformation.  Eli Broad was on the search committee that lured Govan to LACMA.[v]

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Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Today only, except not.

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.

Yes, of course it’s in the Baldessari-designed LACMA font.

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.

LACMA's Westside

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.

When will this red cease to be an accent 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.

Reflections of BCAM

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.

Term of the Day: "Sawtoothed"

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.

Like throwing a hotdog down a hallway.

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.

Equivalent to wire hangers.

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.

Room with a view.

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.

Coming soon to a pavilion near BCAM!

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.

Never forget to thank your donors.

– H.I.

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!

Taking care of a lawsuit-waiting-to-happen.

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.