Saturday, November 15, 2008

|Muse|um: LACMA After Dark

We arrived long after dusk, having driven amongst the tail lights and twinkling skyscrapers. Ascending in a peculiar elevator of red steel and glass, we stepped out onto a vast concrete plaza where masses of heavy architecture rose into the darkness, box like and un-ornate. Before them a gleaming cluster of chrome chairs sat steely in the incandescent light of a hundred streetlamps {2}. Inside the cold bare foyer of the Ahmanson building, a wide flight of stairs stretched toward a wall of glass, and sounds of robust jazz echoed from a courtyard. We turned to press a button on a 1960s wood paneled wall. Impatiently I looked up toward a distant ceiling. A shrill note, and the doors slid open, at once we were whisked to the Far East galleries on the fourth floor.For a time I scribbled notes on strangely exotic sculptures with millennial lifetimes, their multiple arms suspended, as effortlessly as particles of dust, in the still air of dimly lit galleries. Academic assignment complete, we left to wander the parquet floors of 18th Century European Painting, after a time turning down a narrow passage lined with small oval portraits {3}. Eventually we found ourselves in a sparse labyrinth of deserted rooms, where great white walls and smooth hard floors played host to eerie canvasses of splatter, line and vacuous color. We wandered on in silence, lost in dizzying worlds of Pop Art {4} and Pollock. Finally we made it to a gallery lined with a perimeter of tidy little frames. From them visages of the past peered into the room - among them Fred and Adele, Amelia and her plane, a dapper Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford at the local Santa Monica shore {5} and Gloria Swanson veiled in black lace {1}.

Snapshots: {1} From the Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 exhibition, at LACMA through March 1st (a wonderful showcase, so if you're in the LA area, plan a visit!). Photo: Edward Steichen, A Much Screened Lady—Gloria Swanson, 1924 (detail), Condé Nast Publicatiobns {2} Faraway me in Chris Burden's Urban Light installation (2008) {3} Profile of a Young Woman's Head, Louis-Léopold Boilly, circa 1794 {4} Unidentified {5} From the Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 exhibition, Nickolas Muray, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr and Joan Crawford, Santa Monica, 1929, Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Publications.

5 comments:

LBB said...

You have a such a way with words, Livy! Makes me realize its been far too long since I've last been to an art museum...and the "street lamp" photo is intriguing!

nkp said...

I hope you don't mind, but I posted about your blog on mine. It's purely for my own enjoyment, but your images are so absolutely exquisite and your writing skills so equally lovely, I was completely wowed! I look forward to coming back many times to your gorgeous blog. Thanks for sharing!

inchmark said...

I might have to check out that exhibit.. LA's not too far from us.

Nicole said...

Love you blog so much I've featured it in my post today called introducing 3...

Nicole
x

Susan said...

I've seen that couple on the beach picture so many times and never knew who they were until now, thanks! Your blog is great fun to peruse, just a visual treat.

Post a Comment