Exhibition Inquisition

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

Posts Tagged ‘Pompeii

Cult Statue of a Goddess (aka Aidone Aphrodite, aka Venus of Morgantina)

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Restitution Issue: J. Paul Getty Museum

Sure LA is hot right now with contemporary art, but some of its older holdings are getting a lot of press.  I’ve decided to take a minor tangent from exhibition critique and do a series of posts on issues of restitution in major LA institutions.  Some of these issues have been resolved, some are still being disputed, and some aren’t even creating waves (at the moment at least).

Now you see her, now you see something else.

At the end of 2010, a small party was held at the Getty Villa in Malibu.  This event wasn’t exactly a celebration; it was a farewell party.  The Getty finally had to say goodbye to the now infamous Cult Statue of a Goddess.  The larger-than-life-sized acrolithic sculpture had dominated the “Gods and Goddesses” room of the Getty Villa as long as I can remember.  Even though I knew she’d be gone by the time I got back to LA, I still wasn’t prepared to miss her so much.  In her place the Getty has placed the Mazarin Venus, a smaller and less-clothed sculpture.  While she is pretty, she doesn’t anchor the room quite like Cult Statue of a Goddess did.  This may just be my biased opinion, but the Mazarin Venus just isn’t as demanding a presence.  This will probably be a temporary issue; according to an LA Times piece: “Karol Wight, the Getty’s chief antiquities curator, said Zeus will be promoted to top star of the “Gods and Goddesses” gallery where the cult statue holds sway. Plans call for reconfiguring the room.”

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Collecting History: Highlighting Recent Acquisitions

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Museum of Contemporary Art

The wording of the title of the show “Collecting History” creates a convenient ambiguity.  Is MOCA presenting the history of its collecting?—probably not, since these are recent acquisitions, and therefore this is not a show displaying its history. More likely MOCA is claiming with this title that through these acquisitions MOCA is collecting (verb) history.

The introductory wall text is the only “educational” anything in the exhibition.  It has a nice tie-in to MOCA’s previous exhibitions, saying the museum acquired works from these amazing shows.  Some of these shows were critically well received, but these expensive shows were also one of the causes of MOCA’s financial problems.  The intro wall text provides catch-all terms such as “significant works,” “historical, mid-career, and emerging artists,” and also “local, national, and international artists.” So basically anything goes.

Titular Image: Öyvind Fahlström, Africa Banner

Titular Image: Öyvind Fahlström, Africa Banner

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