Monday, June 9, 2014

LA County Museum of Art (LACMA)

I'd been planning on visiting LACMA pretty much from the moment we stepped foot in California, especially after I found out that, in honor of World Cup, they have a temporary soccer-themed exhibit (still there through July 20). I finally got around to it this past Thursday, exactly one week from the opening game of World Cup.

LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles. It's open every day of the week except Wednesdays (and major holidays). Adult general admission tickets are $15.00; there are a couple of special exhibitions that cost extra. I decided on a general admission ticket. There is parking on-site. It's $10.00 and you can pay by card. If you hunt around, you can probably find cheaper parking nearby but it wasn't worth the trouble to me. The museum is also accessible via public transit.

Here is the "Urban Light" installation (by artist
Chris Burden) at the entrance to the museum.

The museum is made up of several different buildings. I first went into the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. This building houses the soccer exhibit on the top floor. Here's the view from the top of the outdoor escalator:

You can also see the Hollywood sign from up there, but I was unable to take a decent picture of it with my camera phone.

I really enjoyed the soccer exhibit, which included a wide range of mediums. I especially liked the various video compilations, including one that used visuals and audio to make you feel like you were in the stands of a crowded soccer game, and another one that showed soccer players and coaches celebrating with one another after amazing plays (both of these were quite joyful). Here are a couple of my favorite pieces (you can see my reflection in the first one, haha):

"Post Match, 06:02:2013 Grouping" by Leo Fitzmaurice
These mini soccer jerseys are made out of cigarette cartons.

"Samuel Eto'o" by Kehinde Wiley

I visited another exhibit on the same floor that I neglected to catch the name of. I think it was "Californialand" and it was also temporary.

There were two more floors in this building that I passed up, as I'm not terribly keen on contemporary art. I moved on to the Ahmanson Building. On the first floor, I toured Art of the Pacific. This stuff was really cool. It was mostly woodwork and it was amazing. I only took one picture because I'm of the opinion that woodwork doesn't look nearly as cool in pictures as it does in person:

Flute ornament, Biwat People, Papua New Guinea,
c. 1925

On the second floor, I found both modern art and German Expressionism. I like German Expressionism but most modern art isn't my cup of tea, so I didn't linger here. However, here are some of my favorite paintings:

"Apocalyptic Landscape" by Ludwig Meidner
Amazingly, this piece predates WWI. Strangely prophetic.

"The Orator" by Magnus Zeller
I find the facial expressions here moving in a vaguely unpleasant way.

"The Jewel" by Jay DeFeo
No picture could convey how thick the paint on this was.

There were two more levels of the Ahmanson Building that I neglected. One level houses ancient & European art. I didn't mind missing those because I saw a lot of that recently at The Getty. However, the other level has Islamic art and south Asian art. I'm sorry to have missed those.

I next went to the Art of the Americas Building. On level 2, I saw a special exhibit that I neglected to write down the name of but it was really cool. It was basically tall, white lamps in a very dark room. When you first walk in, you can hardly see where you're going. It was very disconcerting. I liked it because it was art that created a strong feeling, the best kind of art.

Up on level three is the American art. I liked the way it was set up because, if you start on the far end and work your way around, you go from art in the 1700s to contemporary art. I walked it backwards but that's okay. I didn't mind. I really enjoy a lot of American art because it includes things like beautiful furniture, tile work, and glass work, all things that I love. Here are a few of my favorite pieces:

"California Poppy Field" by Granville Redmond

Fireplace surround from Patrick J. King house, Chicago, designed
by George Washington Maher, made by the company of
Louis J. Millet

How amazing is that fireplace above?

There was a whole room of vases and every single one of them was amazing. Like woodwork, I think vases don't look as awesome in pictures as they do in person. The one below was my favorite. The edge was designed to look like a cityscape:

Cityscape, from the Urban Bowl Series by Jay Musler

On the fourth floor is the Latin American art. It was set up the same way as the third floor, with ancient art on one end, leading to contemporary art as you walk through. I did this one backwards as well. I loved the interior design of the rooms that held the ancient art:

And if you know me at all, you probably won't be surprised to learn that this was my favorite piece:

Skull with Mosaic Inlay, Mexico, Oaxaca, or Puebla,
Mixtec or Zapotec, 1400-1521

I tried to go in the Hammer Building, which houses the Korean Art, but it was temporarily closed. I see on the LACMA website that it will be through June 29. Since it was closed, I went to the Pavilion for Japanese Art, which I had been planning on skipping.

The pavilion was a very pleasant surprise. I liked the way it was set up: a gently sloping, circular walkway that takes you past several beautifully painted Japanese screens. Here is one of them:

"Birds and Flowers" by Imanaka Soyu

Once you reach the top, you find yourself at the entrance of the gallery where the rest of the art is. The front of the gallery is the more contemporary Japanese art. As you walk toward the back, you find the older art. Here is some samurai armor:

Gosuku Type, 18th century

I was at LACMA for about three hours. At the time, I didn't feel like I had missed much, but I can see now that there is still a lot to explore. I definitely plan on going back. I could see myself visiting there at least once or twice a year. 

If you're planning a trip to LA and are fond of art, I think a visit to LACMA is a safe bet. I highly recommend it!


Patricia said...

I too am a fan of the fireplace. And I'm interested in the scale of the Urban Light sculpture.

Also! "Outdoor escalator!" Such a sunny climate thing.

balyien said...

The escalator does have an awning though. :)

"Urban Light" is really cool. It's significantly bigger than the picture indicates. I went in for a tight/close shot because I thought it looked cool.