Happy New Year from sunny Southern California!
Over the winter holiday we kept moving and our minds and hearts wandered with more inspiring experiences. To help us along in our inspiration we visited LACMA – Los Angeles County Museum of Art – an amazing campus filled with over 100,000 pieces both antique and current of amazing art and interpretations of art.
With son Nathan and niece Olivia in tow, we first visited an awe-inspiring exhibit, Levitated Mass by artist Michael Heizer. This structure is composed of a 456-foot-long narrow corridor constructed on LACMA’s campus, over which is placed a 340-ton granite megalith, or as the kids aptly hailed, “that is a ginormous rock!” The narrow corridor gradually descends to fifteen feet in depth, running underneath the boulder. The feeling of standing underneath this huge rock amidst a long cement hallway, for lack of a better description, was overtaking. As you walk toward the boulder, the amazing feat of engineering and the components that help to suspend it there overtakes you. You just sit under it and wonder.
Heizer conceived of the artwork in 1969. He then discovered the exact appropriate boulder some decades later, in Riverside County, California. The boulder is one component of the artwork, as is the 456-foot-long slot beneath it and the surrounding environment. It was awesome.
With hands out-stretched and reaching to touch shapes in a room that were mere light projections, we entered James Turrell’s: A Retrospective. This exhibit explores nearly fifty years in the career of James Turrell (b. 1943, Los Angeles), an artist from Pasadena, CA (Yay!) and a key artist in the Southern California Light and Space movement of the 1960s and 70s. The exhibition includes early geometric light projections, prints and drawings, installations exploring sensory deprivation and seemingly unmodulated fields of colored light, and recent two-dimensional work with holograms – Nathan and Olivia were mesmerized by the holograms. One section is devoted to the Turrell masterwork in process, Roden Crater, a site-specific intervention into the landscape just outside Flagstaff, Arizona, presented through models, plans, photographs, and films.
We just sat there and stared, like the Thinker and wondered at Chris Burden’s Metropolis II. An intense kinetic sculpture, modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city. Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one six lane freeway, and train tracks. Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars produce in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st century city.” And it was stressful, and wonderful. The kids loved it.
Pressing on, we next explored an exhibit by one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, Alexander Calder: Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic. The artist explores his radical translation of French Surrealist vocabulary into American vernacular. His most iconic works, coined mobiles by Marcel Duchamp, are kinetic sculptures in which flat pieces of painted metal connected by wire move delicately in the air, propelled by motors or air currents. His later stabiles are monumental structures, whose arching forms and massive steel planes continue his engagement with dynamism and daring innovation. Although this will be his first museum exhibition in Los Angeles, Calder holds a significant place in LACMA’s history: the museum commissioned Three Quintains (Hello Girls) for its opening in 1965. The installation was designed by architect Frank O. Gehry.
Perhaps the most enjoyable for Nathan and Olivia, was the SEE LIGHT – Photography, Perception, Cognition: The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection. As LACMA describes it, “This exhibition of 220 photographs from the Vernon Collection takes a historical perspective, identifying parallels between photography and vision science over time. The earliest commentaries on photography, published at the moment of its invention in the late 1830s, positioned the medium between art and science. As a scientific instrument, the camera operates as an infallible eye, augmenting physiological vision; as an artistic tool, it channels the imagination, recording creative vision. Much of photography’s authority and fascination resides in its interdisciplinary grounding. Whether we analyze it as a science or admire it as an art, photography’s power may never be fully explained, but it will always offer revelations about vision, perception, and cognition.” Kids were offered paper and pencil to make their own renderings & interact with the exhibit to engage their own perception and understanding. Nate is drawing camera lenses and Olivia is drawing a French lady’s hat.
Technical copy about exhibits courtesy of LACMA.