Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

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This morning we headed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). I really wanted to see this famous installation that sits outside the main entrance.

This work is titled Urban Light by Chris Burden. It consists of 202 restored cast-iron street lamps and is meant to represent a civilised city – safe after dark and beautiful to see. Wouldn’t it be nice if cities were safe after dark – especially for women. Maybe one day. As you can imagine, it is a hot spot for photographs. I couldn’t resist running between the lamp posts and posing for a quick snap.

Little did I know that LACMA consists of five separate buildings, each displaying remarkable collections. Currently, three of the buildings are undergoing renovation. We visited the German Expressionism Gallery, 3D: Double Vision, and American Art since the 1950s.

German Expressionism Gallery

As well as having a permanent display containing works by some of the Bauhaus greats, this gallery also had a small temporary exhibition space. On show now until 26 August is Picturing the Masses: Germany, 1900-1938.

This was a really interesting exhibition that sought to portray mass movements. This not only included crowds of people, but also mass production and the mass dissemination of ideology. For example, there were catalogues containing mass produced products and film footage of Nazi party rallies.

I was particularly drawn to this artwork titled Crowds with Shape of Reason Missing by John Baldessari.

Even if you are familiar with the original image, this white space allows the visitor to project their own imagery into the piece. It literally could become anything you wanted it to be.

The layout of this exhibition can be seen below.

The contrast between the red in the display cases and the grey walls aesthetically suited the works perfectly. Almost every work was on paper in either black or white, or muted colours. The only two exceptions were the works by Cesar Klein and Max Pechstein.

Cesar Klein’s work is the top image

As red stands out in both works, this complemented the red in the display cases.

I was really excited to see a couple of works by George Grosz. In a nutshell, his work depicts the decline of German society. Considering the work selected for display was titled The Entire Population is a Bunch of Malingerers you get the idea he was critical kind of guy. In the work pictured below he has categorised the urban masses of Berlin into characters such as wealthy industrialists who benefited from hyperinflation and World War I. I love his work, and others similar, primarily because he wasn’t afraid to hold a mirror up to society and point out the bad and the ugly.

In the permanent display was a good old Bauhaus chair. So sleek, so practical.

3D: Double Vision

Although the American Art section was mostly closed, the ground floor had an exhibition about 3D technology. It was a lot of fun. Throughout the exhibition there were three different types of 3D glasses that allowed visitors the chance to interact with the artworks.

The first were the classic red and blue anaglyph glasses. They helped works like these of the moon come to life.

There were also plastic 3D glasses used by modern cinema and cardboard lens viewers. Each work had a small symbol indicating what glasses to wear, if any. I can imagine that this wouldn’t be suitable for everyone, however, it was an interesting way to encourage a level of interactivity with the works.

Dotted around the exhibition space were also small cabinets containing historic objects. These included aerial surveillance images and machines used to gain a sense of depth during World War II.

The exhibition also tackled the fears surrounding the onset of this new technology. For example, in the 1950s there was genuine concern that the introduction of 3D might lead to the blurring of reality and illusion.

It was a really fascinating look at the impact of 3D technology on entertainment, art and politics.

Audience member in 1952 watching one of the first 3D films
The Illusionist by Sigmar Polke

American Art since the 1950s

One of the final galleries we visited displayed American art since the 1950s. There were some classic works on display by Warhol, David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein.

While walking around this gallery I noticed a small room off to the side containing some new acquisitions. This one literally lit up the room.

Jump Rope by Idelle Weber brings a sense of anonymity to those engaged in everyday activities. Seeing pop art by a truly remarkable female artist put the biggest smile on my face. You might recognise Weber’s work as her depiction of a man in a suit became the silhouette image of Mad Men. I hope they move this work to be with the other examples of pop art!

Final Thoughts

What really stood out to me at LACMA were the great visions supporting the temporary exhibitions. The permanent galleries were typically art gallery in feel and style. The temporary exhibitions, however, were well-designed and innovative. I wish I could visit again in the future when new exhibitions are released!

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