Last Saturday night LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) celebrated its 50th anniversary with a big party and exhibition. I guess my invitation got lost in the mail, but they did invite me to come by on Monday morning to see the exhibition, entitled "50 For 50" which opened to the pubic this week and will run there (5905 Wilshire Blvd, LA 90036) until Sept. 13th of this year. It is a spectacular art exhibition and I strongly suggest that you gather your family and/or friends and pay it a visit....or two. The museum's CEO/Director Michael Govan told me that they had raised $5 million at the weekend party attended by 750 museum supporters, some of which will go toward the creation of the bold new building they are planning designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. He said they had embarked on an ambitious program to acquire new art to augment their collection, and that they had received roughly $200 million worth of new art as "anniversary gifts" on top of the $500 million worth of art recently pledged by a friend of the museum, the irrepressible Jerry Perenchio. (He has been a buddy and subscriber to my restaurant newsletter for over 20 years. We recently broke bread at Ginny Mancini's house, where Jerry was accompanied by actress Anjelica Huston.) I saw a Gala picture of Disney Chair Bob Iger accompanied by his beautiful wife, LACMA Trustee Willow Bay, who actually recruited me here to Huffington five years ago when she was Senior L.A. editor.
We walked through the show, entitled "50 For 50 - Gifts On the Occasion of LACMA's 50th Anniversary" and even this usually-skeptical observer was pleasantly astonished by some of the acquisitions. Another friend, LACMA Trustee and Co-Chair of the Gala, Lynda Resnick, along with husband Stewart (Fiji Water, Pom, Justin and Landmark Wines) had donated a stunning version of Hans Memling's masterpiece, Christ Blessing." I was stopped in my tracks by a Monet landscape showing the artist's wife which I had once seen in the home of the donors, Wendy and Leonard Goldberg. The Goldbergs also donated a stunning Claude Monet work, Two Women in a Garden. My old friend Steve Tisch, he of the N.Y. Giants, gave an interesting 1964 painting by Vija Celmons called "T.V." which shows aircraft combat. Not my cup of tea. Govan was enthused about a wooden serpent headdress from Guinea given by Bobby Kotick; I was not excited by it but interested that it had been in the studio of artist Henri Matisse for many years. He told me that the acquisitions won't officially become the museum's property until a date of the donor's choosing.
Lynda has noted that the acquisitions range from 13th century Africa to modern-day Los Angeles. Six of Perenchio's donated paintings were on view, including works by Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Edouard Vuillard. Co-Chair Jane Nathanson and her husband, Marc, donated works by Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and George Segal, along with Andy Warhol's seminal Two Marilyns (1962).
Personally I was most impressed by the new David Hockney work which you encounter at the entrance to the Resnick Pavilion. The Juggler (2012) is the artist's proof two from an edition of 10+ two artist's proofs, 18 digital videos synchronized and presented on 18 55 inch screens to comprise a single artwork, duration 22 minutes 13 seconds. Hockney often uses cutting-edge technology, including Polaroids, iPads and video to continually explore how to represent various perspectives of a singular event. In this work, a gift from the artist, 18 fixed cameras recorded a procession of jugglers as John Philip Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever" plays in the background. Displayed as a multiscreen grid, the film opens the viewing experience to various moments rather than a singular one. For Hockney, this perspectival blending "forces the eye to scan, and it is impossible to see everything at once...it gives back the choice to the viewer and hence it seems to me, brings about possibilities for new narratives." I think Hockney is an authentic artistic genius and this alone makes the exhibit a 'must.'
In the past 50 years, LACMA has established itself as a world-class museum with one of the strongest collections in the world. The more than 120,000 objects which make up the collection are due to the generosity of its donors. I personally am respectful of the fact that LACMA is making an effort to embrace my film world, with frequent film events and screenings ....and when the Academy Film Museum is unveiled next door, we will have a mighty community there of all the arts at our beck and call.
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