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|Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)|
|Location||5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California
|Type||Encyclopedic, Art museum|
|Public transit access||Bus: 20, 217, 720 or 780 to Wilshire Bl and Fairfax Av|
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is an art museum in Los Angeles, California. It is located on Wilshire Boulevard along Museum Row in the Miracle Mile vicinity of Los Angeles, adjacent to the George C. Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits.
LACMA is the largest encyclopedic museum west of Chicago and attracts nearly one million visitors annually. Its holdings include more than 100,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present. In addition to art exhibits, the museum features film and concert series throughout the year.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art was established as a museum in 1961. Prior to this, LACMA was part of the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art, founded in 1910 in Exposition Park near the University of Southern California. Early trustee Howard F. Ahmanson Sr. made the lead donation of $2 million, convincing the museum board that sufficient funds could be raised to establish the new museum. In 1965, the museum moved to a new Wilshire Boulevard complex as an independent, art-focused institution, the largest new museum to be built in the United States after the National Gallery of Art.
The museum was built in a style similar to Lincoln Center and the Los Angeles Music Center and consisted of three buildings: the Ahmanson Building, the Bing Center, and the Lytton Gallery (renamed the Frances and Armand Hammer Building in 1968). The board selected LA architect William Pereira over the directors' recommendation of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the buildings. The LA Music Center and LACMA were concurrent large civic projects which vied for attention and donors in Los Angeles.
Money poured into LACMA during the boom years of the 1980s, a reportedly $209 million in private donations during director Earl Powell's tenure. To house its growing collections of modern and contemporary art, and to provide more space for exhibitions, the museum hired the architectural firm of Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates to design its $35.3-million, 115,000-square-foot Robert O. Anderson Building for 20th-Century Art, which opened in 1986 (renamed the Art of the Americas Building in 2007). In the far-reaching expansion, museum-goers henceforth entered through the new partially roofed central court, nearly an acre of space bounded by the museum's four buildings.
The museum's Pavilion for Japanese Art, designed by maverick architect Bruce Goff, opened in 1988, as did the B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden of Rodin bronzes. In 1994, LACMA purchased the adjacent May Department Stores building, an impressive example of streamline moderne architecture designed by Albert C. Martin Sr. LACMA West increased the museum's size by 30 percent when the building opened in 1998.
In 2004, LACMA's Board of Trustees unanimously approved plans to transform the museum, led by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano. An earlier plan for LACMA's transformation by architect Rem Koolhaas proposed razing all the current buildings and constructing an entirely new museum, estimated to cost $200 million to $300 million. The transformation consists of three phases.
Phase I started in 2004 and was completed in February 2008. The renovations required demolishing the parking structure on Ogden Avenue and with it LACMA-commissioned graffiti art by street artists Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee. The entry pavilion is a key point in architect Renzo Piano's plan to unify LACMA's sprawling, often confusing layout of buildings. The BP Grand Entrance and the adjacent Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) comprise the $191 million (originally $150 million) first phase of the three-part expansion and renovation campaign. BCAM is named for Eli and Edythe Broad, who gave $60 million to LACMA's campaign; Eli Broad also serves on LACMA's Board of Directors. BCAM opened on February 16, 2008, adding 58,000 square feet (5,400 m2) of exhibition space to the museum. In 2010, the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion opened to the public, providing the largest purpose-built, naturally lit, open-plan museum space in the world.
The second phase was intended to turn the May building into new offices and galleries, designed by SPF Architects. As proposed, it would have had flexible gallery space, education space, administrative offices, a new restaurant, a gift shop and a bookstore, as well as study centers for the museum's departments of costume and textiles, photography and prints and drawings, and a roof sculpture garden with two works by James Turrell. However, construction of this phase was halted in November 2010. In October 2011, LACMA entered into an agreement with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences under which the Academy will establish its proposed Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, originally planned to be adjacent to its Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, in the May building at a future date after a fundraising campaign.
Specifics about the third phase, which involves renovations to older buildings, have not yet been disclosed. In November 2009, plans were made public that LACMA's director Michael Govan was working with Swiss architect and Pritzker Prize laureate Peter Zumthor on plans for rebuilding the eastern section of the campus from the two new Renzo Piano buildings to the tar pits.
The museum's best-attended show ever was "Treasures of Tutankhamun," which drew 1.2 million during four months in 1978. The 2005 "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" drew 937,613 during its 137-day run. A show of Vincent van Gogh masterpieces from the artist's eponymous Amsterdam museum is the third most successful show, and a 1984 exhibition of French Impressionist works is fourth.
LACMA's more than 100,000 objects are divided among its numerous departments by region, media, and time period and are spread amongst the various museum buildings.
The Modern Art collection is displayed in the Ahmanson Building which was renovated in 2008 to have a new entrance featuring a large staircase, conceived as a gathering place similar to Rome's Spanish Steps. Filling the atrium at the base of the staircase is Tony Smith's massive sculpture Smoke (1967). The modern collection on the plaza level displays works from 1900 to the 1970s, largely populated by the Janice and Henry Lazaroff collection. The plaza level galleries also house African art and a gallery highlighting the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies. The second floor of the Ahmanson Building has Greek and Roman Art galleries.
The Contemporary Art collection is displayed in the 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM), opened on February 16, 2008. BCAM's inaugural exhibition featured 176 works by 28 artists of postwar Modern art from the late 1950s to the present. All but 30 of the works initially displayed came from the collection of Eli and Edythe Broad (pronounced "brode").
In December 2007, the Modern Art holdings were greatly expanded by the gift of the 130-item Janice and Henri Lazarof Collection. The collection features significant works from: Constantin Brâncuşi, Edgar Degas, Alberto Giacometti, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, and Camille Pissarro.
"Back Seat Dodge ’38 (1964) by Edward Kienholz, is a sculpture portraying a couple engaged in sexual activity in the back seat of a truncated 1938 Dodge automobile chassis. The piece won Kienholz instant celebrity in 1966 when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors tried to ban the sculpture as pornographic and threatened to withhold financing from LACMA if it included the work in a Kienholz retrospective. A compromise was reached under which the sculpture's car door would remain closed and guarded, to be opened only on the request of a museum patron who was over 18, and only if no children were present in the gallery. The uproar led to more than 200 people lining up to see the work the day the show opened. Ever since, Back Seat Dodge ’38 has drawn crowds.
The Art of the Americas Building has American, Latin American and pre-Columbian collections displayed on the second floor and temporary exhibition space on the first floor. Formerly known as the Anderson Building, the the Art of the Americas Building comprises galleries for art from North, Central and South America.
LACMA's Latin American Art galleries reopened in July 2008 after several years renovation. The Latin American collection includes pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, Modern and contemporary works. Many recent additions to the collection were financed by sales of works from an 1,800-piece holding of 20th century Mexican art compiled by dealer-collectors Bernard and Edith Lewin and given to the museum in 1997.
The pre-Columbian galleries were redesigned by Jorge Pardo, a Los Angeles artist who works in sculpture, design and architecture. Pardo's display cases are built from thick, stacked sheets of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), with spacing of equal thickness in between the 70-plus layers. The laser-cut organic forms undulate and swell out from the walls, sharply contrasting to the rectangular display cases found in most art museums.
The museum's pre-Columbian collection began in the 1980s with the first installment of a 570-piece gift from Southern California collector Constance McCormick Fearing and the purchase of about 200 pieces from L.A. businessman Proctor Stafford. The holdings recently jumped from about 1,800 to 2,500 objects with a gift of Colombian ceramics from Camilla Chandler Frost, a LACMA trustee and the sister of Otis Chandler, former LA Times publisher, and Stephen and Claudia Muñoz-Kramer of Atlanta, whose family built the collection. A sizable portion of LACMA's pre-Columbian collection was excavated from burial chambers in Colima, Nayarit and other regions around Jalisco in modern-day Mexico. LACMA boasts one of the largest collections of Latin American art due to the generous donation of more than 2,000 works of art by Bernard Lewin and his wife Edith Lewin in 1996. In 2007, the museum signed an agreement with the Fundación Cisneros for a loan of 25 colonial-style works, later extended until 2017.
The Spanish Colonial collection includes work from 17th and 18th century Mexican artists Miguel Cabrera, José de Ibarra, José de Páez and Nicolás Rodriguez Juárez. The collection has galleries for Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo. The Latin American contemporary gallery highlights works Francis Alÿs.
The Hammer Building houses the Chinese and Korean collections. The Korean art collection began with the donation of a group of Korean ceramics in 1966 by Bak Jeonghui, then president of the Republic of Korea, after a visit to the museum. LACMA today claims to have the most comprehensive holding outside of Korea and Japan. The Pavilion for Japanese Art displays the Shin'enkan collection donated by Joe D. Price.
Los Angeles sculptor Robert Graham created the towering, bronze Retrospective Column (1981, cast in 1986) for the entrance of the Art of the Americas Building. The Ahmanson Building's atrium was remodeled to hold Tony Smith's Smoke, which had not been displayed since its original 1967 presentation at Washington, D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery of Art. The massive black painted aluminum artwork is made up of 43 piers, and is 45 ft (14 m). long, 33 ft (10 m). wide and 22 ft (6.7 m). high. The newly fabricated work was initially on loan from the artist's estate, but in 2010 after several months of intense fundraising efforts, "the museum acquired the work for an undisclosed amount reported to exceed $3 million and [with an insurance valuation of] 'over $5 million.'" The purchase was "made possible by The Belldegrun Family's gift to LACMA in honor of Rebecka Belldegrun's birthday," per the museum.
Surrounding the BCAM building and LACMA's courtyard is a 100 palm tree garden, designed by artist Robert Irwin and landscape architect Paul Comstock. Some of the 30 varieties of palms are in the ground, but most are in large wooden boxes above ground. Directly in front of the new entrance to LACMA on Wilshire Boulevard is Chris Burden's Urban Light (2008), an orderly, multi-tiered installation of 202 antique cast-iron street lights from various cities in and around the Los Angeles area. The street lights are functional, turn on in the evening, and are powered by solar panels on the roof of the BP Grand Entrance.
Originally Jeff Koons' Tulips (1995–2004) sculpture was inside the Grand Entrance building and Charles Ray's Fire Truck (1993) was outside in the courtyard, both lent by the Broad Art Foundation,. Both sculptures were removed after being on display for 3 months due to unexpected damage from patrons and wear.
On February 2, 2007, Michael Govan, with Koons, revealed plans for a 161-foot (49 m)-tall Koons sculpture featuring an operational 1940s locomotive suspended from a crane. The sculpture would be located at the entrance on Wilshire Boulevard, between the Ahmanson Building and the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. By 2011, after "the fundraising climate soured and Koons’ California fabricator, Carlson & Co, went out of business after completing a $2.3-million feasibility study" and a $25 million estimated cost, Govan said "We don't have a final method of construction, and I don't have a final fundraising plan."  Koons said they are now working with the German fabricator Arnold, outside of Frankfurt, to do an additional engineering study, and Govan says he has committed to spending half a million dollars for that study. The museum has J.B. Turner Engine (1986), a small Koons piece which was shown in the 2006–2007 “Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images" exhibition.
Levitated Mass by artist Michael Heizer is the latest project at LACMA. On December 8, 2011, this 340-tons boulder, 21.5 feet wide and 21.5 feet in height, was ready to leave its quarry in Riverside County, after months of postponements. It sits atop the 456-foot-long trench which allows people to walk under and around the mass rock. The move started on February 28, 2012 and completed on March 10, 2012. The art piece was opened on June 24, 2012 by Heizer, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
LACMA's film program was founded by Phil Chamberlin in the late 1960s. In 2009, LACMA announced plans to cancel its 41-year-old film series, citing declining attendance and funding. The decision drew widespread criticism from cinephiles, including film director Martin Scorsese, who wrote an open protest letter that was published in The Los Angeles Times. In response, the museum expanded its movie offerings and partnered with Film Independent to launch a new series. In 2011, LACMA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced partnership plans to open a movie museum within three years in the former May Co. building.
The $54 million Resnick pavillon was made possible by a $45 million gift from the philanthropists for whom it is named. On March 6, 2007, BP announced a $25 million donation to name the entry pavilion under construction as part of LACMA's renovation campaign the "BP Grand Entrance." The $25 million gift matches Walt Disney Co.'s 1997 gift for Disney Hall as the biggest corporate donation to the arts in Southern California. Previously, in 2006, LACMA had announced that the new entrance would be called the "Lynda and Stewart Resnick Grand Entrance Pavilion", in honor of their $25 million gift.
On January 8, 2008 Eli Broad revealed plans to retain permanent control of his roughly 2,000 works of modern and contemporary art in the independent Broad Art Foundation, which loans works to museums, rather than giving the art away. Mr. Broad, as recently as a year prior, had said that he planned to give most of his holdings to one or several museums, one of which was assumed to be LACMA. However, LACMA remains the "preferred" museum to receive works from the Foundation.
Broad, previously vice chairman of LACMA's board of directors, financed the $56-million Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) building at LACMA; he also provided an additional $10 million to buy two works of art to be displayed in it. BCAM displayed 220 pieces borrowed from Broad and his Broad Art Foundation when it opened in February 2008. In 2001, LACMA was criticized for hosting a major exhibition of Broad's collection without having secured a promised gift of the works, an act that is prohibited at many prominent art institutions because it can increase the market value of the collection.
In December 2007, Janice and Henri Lazarof gave LACMA 130 mostly modernist works estimated to be worth more than $100 million. The collection includes 20 works by Picasso, watercolors and paintings by Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky and a considerable number of sculptures by Alberto Giacometti, Constantin Brâncuşi, Henry Moore. Willem de Kooning, Joan Miró, Louise Nevelson, Archipenko and Arp.
In 2002, the Annenberg Foundation gave the museum $10 million to establish a special endowment fund to support exhibitions, art acquisitions and educational programs at the discretion of its director. In recognition of the gift, LACMA named its leadership position the Wallis Annenberg directorship. In 2001, Wallis Annenberg endowed a curatorial fellowship program with a $1-million gift. In 1991, the foundation contributed $10 million to LACMA's endowment and in 1999 it donated $100,000 to provide arts education training for Los Angeles elementary school teachers.
In 2001, the museum lost out on the modern art collection of Nathan Smooke, a former museum trustee and industrial real-estate developer whose heirs sold much of his collection rather than donating it.
In 1996 the museum suffered yet another serious blow when the Gilbert Collection of Italian mosaics and other decorative objects, promised as an eventual bequest, and parts of which had been on display for decades, was withdrawn. The would-be donor claimed that the Museum had reneged on a written agreement to provide more exhibit space for it. The collection is considered one of the finest in the world of its kind. Moreover, unlike the Hammer and Simon collections, it did not remain in the Los Angeles area but was removed to the United Kingdom.
Long-time trustee Robert Halff donated 53 works of contemporary art in 1994. Components of that gift included Joan Miró, Jasper Johns, Sam Francis, Frank Stella, John Chamberlain, Matthew Barney, and Jeff Koons. It also provided LACMA with its first drawings by Claes Oldenburg and Cy Twombly.
In 1990, Max Palevsky gave 32 pieces of Arts and Crafts furniture to LACMA ; three years later, he added an additional 42 pieces to his gift. In 2000, he donated $2 million to LACMA for Arts and Crafts works. He supplied about a third of the 300 objects displayed in a 2004-05 LACMA exhibit, "The Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe and America: 1880-1920" and in 2009, the museum presented "The Arts and Crafts Movement: Masterworks From the Max Palevsky and Jodie Evans Collection."
Armand Hammer was a LACMA board member for nearly seventeen years, beginning in 1968, and during this time continued to announce the museum would inherit his whole collection. Hammer's collection included works from Van Gogh, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Eakins, Gustave Moreau, Edgar Degas, and Paul Cézanne. When LACMA was offered a collection of works by Honoré Daumier, Hammer bought the works on the promise that he would give them to the museum. To LACMA's surprise, Hammer instead founded the Hammer Museum, built adjacent to Occidental's headquarters in Los Angeles.
In the early 1970s Norton Simon, the Hunt's food magnate, donated his collection the Pasadena Art Museum, forming the Norton Simon Museum, after making some indication of donating the work to LACMA.
From 1946 to his death in 1951, William Randolph Hearst was LACMA's largest benefactor. He remains the largest donor to the museum in number of objects. His donations formed the museum's collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, medieval and early Renaissance sculptures, and much of the collection of European decorative arts.
Over the course of the LACMA's history, ten art councils — each supporting a specific area of the collection — have acquired or helped acquire nearly 5,000 works of art for the museum. Founded in 1952, the Art Museum Council is LACMA’s first volunteer support council and supports the whole of the museum's endeavors. The Modern and Contemporary Art Council, founded in 1961, is the longest-running support group for contemporary art at any museum in the country. In 1986, the Annual Collectors Committee weekends were started and have raised a total of $16 million for the purchase of 157 works, valued at $75 million.
Andrea Rich won praise for doubling the museum's endowment, to more than $100 million, and for increasing attendance and pursuing programs and acquisitions that might appeal to the varied segments of the city's diverse population, like Islamic, Latin American and Korean art. Rich resigned in part because of disputes with Eli Broad, including one over hiring a curator for the new Broad contemporary art center. In 2008, LACMA made a formal offer to merge with MOCA and to help that museum raise new money from donors.
Although attendance has grown in recent years, it still remained at 914,356 visitors in 2010. In 2011, around 1.2 million visitors went to LACMA, making it the first time the museum has broken the one million mark. The museum's endowment grew from $99.6 million to $106.8 million that year. The Los Angeles County covers more than a third of the museum's operating expenses.
LACMA is governed by a Board of Trustees which sets policy and determines the museum’s strategic direction. Board membership is one of the few concrete ways to measure philanthropy in the museum world. LACMA costs $100,000 to join, with annual dues in the same amount. The museum currently has 50 active board members; 30 of them have joined since 2006, including Barbra Streisand, songwriter Carole Bayer Sager, collector Dasha Zhukova, TV journalist Willow Bay, producer Brian Grazer, Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman Michael Lynton, and former Warner Brothers executive Terry Semel.
Titian, Portrait of Jacopo (Giacomo) Dolfi, 1532
Rembrandt, The Raising of Lazarus, 1630
Rembrandt, Portrait of Martin Looten, 1632
Georges de La Tour, Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, 1640
Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Arthur Atherley as an Etonian, 1791
Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Cherries and Peaches, 1885
Mary Cassatt, Mother About to Wash Her Sleepy Child, 1880
Paul Gauguin, The Swineherd, 1888
Pierre Auguste Renoir, Jean Renoir as a Hunter, 1910
George Bellows, Cliff Dwellers, 1913
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