Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art
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. 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. 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 Robert O. Anderson Building, which opened in 1986 (renamed the Art of the Americas Building in 2007). 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. The transformation consists of three phases. Phase I started in 2004 and was completed in February 2008. Phase III is scheduled to be completed toward the end of 2010. 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." Solar panels atop the pavilion attempt to cast BP as an environmental innovator. 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. 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 & Edythe Broad, who gave $60 million to LACMA's campaign; Mr. Broad also serves on LACMA's Board of Directors. BCAM opened on February 16, 2008. (An earlier plan for LACMA's transformation by architect Rem Koolhaas proposed razing all the current buildings and constructing an entirely new museum. ) Phase I of the Renzo Piano renovations required demolishing the parking structure on Ogden Avenue and with it LACMA-commissioned graffiti art by street artists Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee. On February 2, 2007, LACMA's director, Michael Govan, with artist Jeff Koons, revealed plans for a massive 161-foot-tall 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. In November 2009, plans were made public that 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.

  • Dr. Richard (Ric) F. Brown - 1961 - 1966
  • Kenneth Donahue 1966 - 1979
  • Earl A. Powell III - 1980 - 1992
  • Michael E. Shapiro - 1992 - 1993
  • Graham W. J. Beal - 1996 - 1999
  • Andrea L. Rich - 1999 - 2005
  • Michael Govan - 2006”“present

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 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 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. The Hammer Building houses the Chinese and Korean collections. 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 Pavilion for Japanese Art displays the Shin'enkan collection donated by Joe D. Price. The Contemporary Art collection is displayed in the 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m 2) 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. The Broads contributed $10 million to fund the purchase of Richard Serra's Band sculpture, on display on the first floor of BCAM when the building opened. 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 sculpture was inside the Grand Entrance building and the Fire Truck was outside in the courtyard. Both sculptures were removed after being on display for 3 months due to unexpected damage from patrons and wear.

Modern Art
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. Not displayed since its' original show at Washington, D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1967, the Ahmanson Building's remodeled atrium now holds Tony Smith's sculpture Smoke (1967). The massive black steel 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 work is currently on loan from the artists' estate.
  • October 13, 1967 Time magazine cover featuring Smoke sculpture by Tony Smith
  • October 13, 1967 Time Magazine article featuring Smoke sculpture by Tony Smith

Latin American Art
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. 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 Alí¿s.

Acquisitions and Donors
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 Mr. 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 2001, the museum lost out on the 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 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." 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 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. 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, Sargent, Eakins, Gustave Moreau and Chardin. 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 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. 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.


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