Posts Tagged ‘Robert Irwin’
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.
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 »
“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).
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]
Museum of Contemporary Art
It’s been a long while since we (yes, the royal we) posted about a MOCA exhibition, which is sad since it was the museum that was closest to where I used to live in LA. A lot has happened since Collection: the First 30 Years opened not so long ago. MOCA is under new management, Jeffery Deitch from New York. Changes are afoot, and Deitch wasted no time organizing new exhibitions. The show is curated by (non-MOCA employee) Julian Schnabel, who like Hopper, is also a director slash artist. The show is, of course, Dennis Hopper: Double Standard. The show was being organized while the famous director/actor/artist? was still alive, but sadly Hopper passed before the show opened in the beginning of July. The show is presented at the Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo.
You enter the space down a flight of stairs and immediately see the ass of a large colorful sculpture of a man in a sombrero. This retrospective is not organized chronologically which I actually don’t mind in the slightest, the groupings are thematic or organized by medium. There is a combination of large-scale sculptures, photographs and other media in the first room—an introduction to all the kinds of media that Hopper dabbled in. As previously mentioned, the first thing you see is the ass of Salsa Man (2000) a massive pop sculpture of a mustachioed man holding a tray. You have to walk around the man to see him frontally which is the kind of curation that demands movement.
This movement gets visitors to the wall text, which is actually chalk full of information, but is still all the info provided for the whole show. Some things at MOCA will never change. Other than thanking the sponsors (duh the Broad Foundation, which doesn’t own any Hopper works), the intro walltext also gives a concise rundown on the works in the show. It explains Hopper’s interest in AbEx, how all but one of his AbEx paintings were destroyed in a fire, which begs to question: Where is this one painting MOCA? It also explains the gap in Hopper’s artistic production from the end of the 60s until ’81.
Salsa Man is paired with a sculpture on the same scale Mobile Man (2000), both face out away from the rest of the exhibition towards the large garage doors of the gallery space. This seemed odd to me, until I looked at photos from the opening reception where the garage door was open and people entered the exhibition that way. This enforces speculations about the purpose(s) of this show, is it really to promote this artist?—Or to be attendance booster? And what kinds of people (Hollywood types) is Deitch trying to get involved with MOCA? Regardless the garage space in interesting considering its similarity to Hopper’s mixed-use home/workshop space out in Venice.
The second room is dominated by Bomb Drop (1967/68/2000); I have no idea what the slash in the date is for (maybe it is a recreated piece) thanks for the explanation MOCA. The piece is very reminiscent of that Oldenberg Swiss Army Knife Boat (that wonderful prop). This is pretty much characteristic of Hopper’s work, it was obviously inspired by other artists, many of whom he was besties with. This room seems to be devoted to Hopper’s dabbling (yes I’m going to use this word multiple times) with Pop Art. A Coca Cola Sign (1962) hangs in this gallery. It is labeled as a “found object,” which begs to question the authorship of the piece, did Hopper even consider this one of his works, or was it something he had in his house that he hung on one of his walls?
The next two rooms, and my favorites, were all about photographs. The curators used the whole length of the walls and hung works on high and on low (much more stimulating than hanging them all in a row at the standard level). The photographs were clustered into themes: Pop Images, Civil Rights, Spain and Bullfighting (very Manet), Celebrity Friends, Artist Friends…Instead of having labels on the wall visitors were provided with laminated cards attached to a ring (kinda cheap) with all the info listed there. It was a fun game (for a while) to focus on one photo and attempting to find its label on the laminated sheets.
The most telling clumping of photos was the ones of Hopper’s celebrity artist friends. Present were: Larry Bell, Bill Al Bengston, Robert Irwin, Allan Kaprow, Craig Kauffman, Ed Kienholz, Claes Oldenberg, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol. (Notice a lot of big LA names—who’s looking forward to PST?—I am!) This wall of famous artist friends is very telling about the kinds of people Hopper surrounded himself with, and makes a lot of sense when examining his artistic practices.
Following the two photography rooms, was a room with three humungous paintings. All of them were blown up versions of photographs from the previous room. The title work Double Standard (2009) was accompanied by Biker Couple (2000) from a ’61 photograph, and Rope (2003). I wonder if Double Standard was commissioned specifically for this show, it’s unclear how these works were executed, and whether Hopper actually painted them himself, or if they were just printed on huge canvases. No collection or other notation is mentioned on the labels for these works.
At the back of the gallery is a dark theater with seating where there is a selection of movie clips called “Excerpts on Freedom” edited by Julian Schnabel. It features clips from movies Hopper either acted in or directed: Easy Rider, The American Dreamer, Out of the Blue, Apocalypse Now, Giant, The American Friend, True Romance (damn that’s a lot of imdb links). This theater acts as a kind of footnote: oh yeah and Hopper was an actor and director. But wait, that’s what he is actually most known for, you’re trying to convince me he was an artist remember MOCA.
Another wing of the exhibition features additional large scale photorealistic paintings. Henry Geldzahler (2009) form the Met, and Lichtenstein (2000) no collection mentioned hang with Warhol with Flower (2004) from a ’63 photograph in the other room.
The exhibition as a whole was much better than expected, I thought that the curators might attempt to deemphasize Hopper’s influences (his artist friends) and promote Hopper as more original then he really was. The show is very honest; the writing is on the wall: in the form of Hopper’s portraits of his famous artist friends.
And now for your delight I present a complete waste of money spent shooting and editing a girl flipping through the Hopper exhibition catalogue. Really? Really! Is this necessary for any reason MOCA?
Oh and in case you missed it, MOCA has a blog. Who knew. The curiously titled The Curve looks like it is fairly old, but didn’t go public until fairly recently. And look they do posts just of installation shots (I’m sure a lot of work went into crafting this post). Now you don’t even need to go see the exhibition.
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.