Yesterday, I was invited to attend a preview of In Wonderland: Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States at LACMA. The show is the first of its kind, defying the traditional presentation of female surreal artists as merely wives and mistresses. It also conveys how the art movement was able to reach new heights in North America, where gender barriers were being broken more quickly than in Europe and additional inspiration and energy was coming from Central America.
On January 14, Chris Burden’s Metropolis II will finally be unveiled at LACMA. The kinetic sculpture, which was slated to show in the fall, took a little longer to realize than expected. At this morning’s preview for members of the media, it was easy to see why. In the intricate piece, 1,100 Hot Wheels-like cars are led up magnetic conveyor belts and dropped onto tracks that weave through an idealized cityscape, crisscrossing with trains, trolleys, and other details.
Yesterday, I attended Press Day for LACMA’s new show, California Design, 1930-1965: “Living in a Modern Way.” With the intent of studying and showcasing the Golden State’s huge role in mid-century modern design, it features over 350 objects that range from textiles to furniture and stationery to toys. Yes, the Eameses, Neutra, Schindler, Magnusson Grossman, and other stars of the movement are present–and how–but the show isn’t merely a greatest-hits collection. Dividing the exhibition into sections of Shaping, Making, Living, and Selling, curators Wendy Kaplan and Bobbye Tigerman provide a balanced look at influences and influencers. In addition to the availability of new materials (molded plywood, plastic, fiberglass), technologies (aerospace, nuclear energy), and possibilities (travel, surfing), they stress the access and acceptance of ideas from Latin America and Asia.
From a Giant Robot point of view, mid-century was the moment when Pan Asian and Asian-American creators and cultures first made a dent in mainstream cool. It makes perfect sense when you see something like Ruth Asawa’s S.250 made out of steel wire across the way from La Gardo Tackett’s architectural pottery. Vaguely ethnic shapes and aesthetics are re-imagined in a modern way, cleaned-up but not necessarily sanitized. Teapots, textiles, folding screens, and many other pieces with similar multicultural lineage are scattered around the floor.
James Jean at LACMA. The 4pm event began with a artist talk. The below photo is a moment right before the event began. That’s James surmising the audience which actually surpassed the room size and spilled outside. Luckily there was a speaker outside so the folks could hear things clearly. We talked a little about sketchbooks which is something he was supposed to do, but then got into a jokey moment about the James Jean clones who got James into a little bit of trouble at school. Then the art. It’s something that he’s definitely deep into, and REBUS, the book has those images – they’re even quite recent. There’s also a new OVM scarf. It’s quite nice. The talk turned into a Q and A, and lasted for about 40 minutes, then the event turned into a signing with wine and cheese. Do check it out if you’re at LACMA.
More images below