[All images from LACMA website.]

Besides hanging out at the beach and eating, we also checked out these exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). LACMA holds a special significance for me as my grandmother (זיכרונה לברכה) worked there for close to twenty years. I fondly recall going in through the back doors, seeing material in crates being unloaded from trucks and opened up in the spaces closed off to regular visitors. It was a real insider perspective on what it takes to keep a museum operating. That and everyone was always real nice to me, a young child with an interest in art, culture and history. Whenever I make it back to LACMA I visit my grandma’s department and remember her love, intelligence and sense of style. Unfortunately the department was being remodeled so I was not able to pay a visit this time. But I did see the following:

The Age of Imagination: Japanese Art, 1615-1868, from the Price Collection

The Etsuko and Joe Price Collection is world-renowned for its collection of Japanese paintings of the Edo Period (1615–1868) featuring screens, hanging scrolls, and fan-format paintings. The Price Collection reflects the eclectic diversity of a remarkably creative span in Japan’s history of visual art and is highlighted by some of the finest examples of the distinctive and compelling renderings of animal life by Ito Jakuchu (1716–1800), an artist who caught Joe Price’s eye five decades ago, when the artist was fairly unknown. The collection also features Kansai-region artists such as Maruyama Okyo, Nagasawa Rosetsu, and Mori Sosen, and artists of the Edo Rimpa school including Sakai Hoitsu and Suzuki Kiitsu. The exhibition has been on a four-city tour in Japan with enormous success; it was the highest-attended exhibition in the world in 2006.

Watch a video here.

Hosoe Eikoh and Butoh: Photographing Strange Notions

Hosoe Eikoh (b. 1933) is considered a preeminent contemporary Japanese photographer and filmmaker; he emerged in the experimental arts movement of post-World War II Japan. This exhibition consists of three series of works featuring butoh, an iconoclastic dance form often employing grotesque imagery and transmutation of the dancer into either an animal or person of the opposite sex. Two murals will be displayed, one based on the 2003 photographic series Ukiyo-E Projections and the other based on a series of photographs in which the butoh dancer, Ohno Kazuo, dances within projections of a folding screen painted by Soga Shohaku, an eccentric artist living in Kyoto at the end of the eighteenth century. These photographs will be transformed by the artist into a mural that expresses his interpretation of Shohaku’s work. A third series, Kamaitachi, will be presented as framed photographs. Kamaitachi refers to a swirling, cutting wind, in legend depicted as a supernatural being that haunted the Japanese countryside of Hosoe’s childhood. Using the avant-garde artist and dancer Tatsumi Hijikata, Hosoe created a series of photographs with the dancer seen as this wandering ghost, mirroring the stark landscape and confronting farmers and children.

Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement

Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement is the largest exhibition of cutting-edge Chicano art ever presented at LACMA. Chicano art, traditionally described as work created by Americans of Mexican descent, was established as a politically and culturally inspired movement during the counterculture revolutions of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This exhibition explores the more experimental tendencies within the Chicano art movement—ones oriented less toward painting and declarative polemical assertion than toward conceptual art, performance, film, photo- and media-based art, and “stealthy” artistic interventions in urban spaces. The exhibition includes approximately 125 works in all media, including painting and sculpture as well as installation, conceptual, video, performance art, and intermedia works that incorporate film, digital, and sound art. Artists featured are photographer Christina Fernandez, who documents the poetic and “phantom” in the urban landscape; Mario Ybarra Jr., who creates performances, site-specific installations and intermedia works; the “intermedia synaesthesia” of the seminal conceptual art group Asco; and the New York-based artist Nicola López, who creates dramatic installations with drawings that extend from the wall into the gallery.

Check out the slide show here.


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