A Stroll Through LACMA

May 14, 2015

LACMA. An appreciation.

(First published May 14, 2015)

The Los  Angeles County Museum of Art is free to county residents weekday afternoons, so every few months I schedule my LA visits so I’ll be free to spend a couple of hours there. In 1965, when LACMA opened, I lived a few blocks away, so it’s really my home museum. I know it pretty well, the layout and the collection, but I never get tired of it.

I love to wander through its halls and gardens, visiting my favorite pieces and always seeing plenty that’s new…either newly displayed or newly noticed by me. I take pix, except for the few displays where photography is banned; pix of the works and also of the captions for reference and later study.

I DIDN’T START at Chris Burden’s  iconic 2003 installation URBAN LIGHT, where I caught a good shot of three kids taking a selfie, but let’s say I did. I didn’t end at the RELIEF OF NI’ANKHNESUT, 23rd century BC Egypt, but I may as well have. Between them, 43 centuries…most of human history. Including

  • German Expressionism and the Bauhaus in the Ahmanson Building. The Ahmanson was LACMA’s first building. I remember when each of its four floors was open to the central quad. The Asian collection was on the first floor and you looked down on it. I liked that. I never knew why they closed it off. I guess they plan to tear down the Ahmanson and replace it with something more modern and functional. I’m skeptical. I hope they keep the extraordinary German Expressionism exhibit. I particularly like Magnus Zeller’s 1920 oil painting, THE ORATOR.
  • Millard Sheets’ 1931 ANGELS FLIGHT at the Art of the Americas Building, another of my favorites. I remember the cable railway up Bunker Hill as it was when I first knew LA circa 1960. Always like to see it. Two other interesting LA paintings that I don’t remember noticing before: Gloria Stuart’s WATTS TOWERS I, and Ben Shahn’s APOTHEOSIS about labor activist Tom Mooney. And a wonderful mahogany bas relief carving, HOLLYWOOD, by Robert Witt Ames.
  • DeWain Valentine’s 1970 RED CONCAVE CIRCLE at the Resnick Pavilion. Also a great piece by David Hockney that you walk right into as you enter the pavilion: 18 synchronized video screens. Crazy!
  • PLAGUE IN AN ANCIENT CITY, Michael Sweerts, Flanders, c. 1652.
  • The Netsuke Collection in the Japanese Pavilion. I love these. I only started paying attention to them after I read The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal.
  • Assyrian Reliefs from Nimrod, another group that I rarely fail to stop at for awhile.

And lot’s more! What a great afternoon stroll.


May 2015


The time is now. Or is it?

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