Friday, March 6, 2009

A day at the LACMA

Right this way. Following the lady in lace (Gloria Swanson).

Growing up, I hated museums. Like I think many youngsters do, I visited so many on school field trips. And I enjoyed getting out of class, don't get me wrong. It just seemed like the minute I stepped into one I would get an instant headache. Maybe it is all the standing, walking, looking... I don't know.

But as I have gotten older, my fondness for museums has grown. I think my love for art truly started to blossom in college as a writer (and later, editor) for the Arts & Entertainment section of my school newspaper. I learned that it can be fun to explore the halls of a gallery and try to find meaning in the paintings, photographs and installations lining the walls. And then, to take it a step further, communicate my findings to readers in an article. When I became A&E Editor, I almost felt this duty to let my peers know about the fabulous exhibitions going on in the Los Angeles art community. I even did a weekly museum series, profiling a new venue each week: The MOCA, the LACMA, the Getty Center and the Getty Villa. Those are some of the "big names" in the L.A. art scene, but in no way the only worthwhile ones. I've been to galleries both big and small and there is something to be said for each. 

Now, I would be no means call myself an expert on art-- just an art enthusiast, I guess. My favorite type of art, I would have to say, is photography. I am simply in awe a people who can take a beautiful photo and desperately wish I had not dropped out of my Intro to Photography class in college. Anyway, when I read about the Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 exhibit a couple months ago, I just had to go. It had been awhile since I had traipsed the halls of a museum and I was itching for a reunion. Trying to convince the bf to accompany me was another thing entirely, but I knew he would have no excuse not to go last Sunday. Mostly because it was the last day of the exhibit and he knew how much I wanted to go and, well, it would have simply been cruel to deny me!

This is the face of a girl who is happy to be at the museum.

So we went. And it was great. A bit warm outside, but great. I could tell RR was impressed (and possibly inspired?) by the exhibition as much as I was. I felt like I was reading the pages of the magazine's history--and celebrity history-- photo by photo. And I learned a lot about Vanity Fair, too. I didn't realize that the magazine folded in 1936, just 23 years after its launch, due to declining ad revenues. Forty-seven years later, the mag was revived. That's one heck of a comeback.

The exhibition consisted of framed vintage prints and contemporary photographs as well as a wall of some of VF's landmark issues. It was funny to see some of the same magazines that I had picked up at the grocery store checkout line on exhibit at the LACMA. But as someone who aspires to enter the world of glossies, I believe magazines can most certainly be art-- and the best ones strive to be. To go beyond the written word and tell a story through pictures. To capture the current culture in a word and an image.

I adored all the photos on display and couldn't possibly pick just one as a fave. They were all interesting and beautiful. But to give you an idea, on view was one of VF's most well-known and controversial photographs: a naked, pregnant Demi Moore. Click here to see some more of the famous photos I saw in the exhibit. (Side note: Have you guys seen this month's VF? Photographer-genius Annie Leibovitz "recreates" her Scarlett Johansson/Keira Knightley nude photo using the funny men of Judd Apatow's films. Hilarious.)

Other than Vanity Fair Portraits, I was also super excited to see the Urban Light exhibition. I have seen it while driving down Wilshire but had not yet had the chance to get up close and personal with the vintage street lamps. Unfortunately, we left before it got dark but I can't wait to go back at dusk to see them all lit up.

Chris Burden's Urban Light

Before leaving, we visited the fairly-new, three-story, 60,000 square-foot Broad Contemporary Art Museum. It is one of the largest column-free art spaces in the United States and, I have to tell you, it boasts the biggest elevator that RR and I have ever been in! It was a glass elevator that fit like 50 people!


The BCAM displays work from 1945 to the present from the likes of Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, John Baldessari and Roy Lichtenstein. Think pop art, conceptual art. Provocative, subversive. Funny. Amazing. Also on view in the BCAM was the very-interesting Art of Two Germanys/ Cold War Cultures, which featured the art of East and West Germany from during and after the war.

A view of the Hollywood sign from the BCAM.

To remember my day at the LACMA, I picked up a few souvenirs, including these two mini LACMA notepads with the image of a Baldessari-designed poster on the cover. 

I really wanted to buy this book on the VF exhibition but RR talked me out of it. He said it was too much money to spend on a book I wouldn't read. I said no, I will read it. And cherish it. But the $65 price tag was too rich for my blood so I put it back begrudgingly and picked up this print half-price. $6, seriously. Score! Now we just need a frame.

Photo by Nickolas Muray of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Joan Crawford in Santa Monica, 1929.

As you can tell, I had a fantastic time. Much has changed since those childhood field trips. I was actually sad to leave, even though my footsies were killing me!

So what's your take? Museum-lover or not-so-much?


insomniaclolita said...

I'm not so much of a museum lover, unless I'm abroad. France, or Italy, or other exotic places with all these cool museums.

Here we dont have that many great museums. And I visited them all as a student. And it's sad to say I'm not that much impressed.

Amber said...

I haven't gone to many museums in Canada but when I was in Germany last summer we visited tons of museums and it was actually REALLY interesting and I really enjoyed it.

I totally think photography is art too. We've been taking a bit of photography in my j-program and next year I'm enrolled in a photography course but I just can't get the hang of it like some of my classmates. I'm really jealous of people who can take beautiful photo's! That sounds like it would have been an amazing exhibit. I also think the photography in Vanity Fair is astounding, and DEFINITELY art!

Shoshanah said...

I do love museums, but I tend to prefer history or science museums over art museums. Like a natural history museum or the La Brea Tar Pitts.

Another good museum you should go to if you haven't already is the FIDM museum (aka the museum for the FIDM school). I would think at some point they show the students work there. But right now they are displaying costumes from movies from last year. I think its there till the end of March. You should check it out!