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L.A. Visit: LACMA

After a couple days of garden tours, we were ready for something different. What better contrast can there be than a visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art(LACMA)? LACMA is located in central Los Angeles, midway between downtown and Santa Monica. Even though we have been to L.A. quite a few times, we have not had the pleasure of a visit. This trip, we made sure and scheduled time for a look.

With over 100,000 objects dating from ancient times to the present, LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States. LACMA’s seven-building complex is located on twenty acres in the heart of Los Angeles, halfway between the ocean and downtown. We knew we would not be able to see everything in one visit, and while we like seeing “old things” as much as the next visitor, what fascinates us is seeing what is new. “New” can often be something familiar but seen from an odd or interesting perspective. Fortunately for us, there is no lack of that at the LACMA!

After wandering through the various outside installations, we came upon California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way.” This exhibition is the first major study of California midcentury modern design. With more than 300 objects—furniture, ceramics, metalwork, fashion and textiles, and industrial and graphic design—the exhibition examines California’s role in shaping the material culture of the entire country.

Organized into four thematic areas, the exhibition aims to elucidate the 1951 quotefrom émigré Greta Magnusson Grossman that is incorporated into the exhibition’s title: California design “is not a superimposed style, but an answer to present conditions…It has developed out of our own preferences for living in a modern way.” It is interesting to see some of the stuff we grew up with now in a museum. It must mean we are getting old! The exhibition will be at the Resnick Pavilion until June 3, 2012.

The first we heard of Chris Burden’s Metropolis II was a story on NPR in mid-January. At the time, we made a mental note to remember to check it when we came out to L.A. Of course, we totally forgot about it and it hadn’t even registered when Kristin said we MUST see the scupture when we were at LACMA.

Metropolis II is a kinetic sculpture inspired by a fast paced frenetic city like L.A. The elaborate grid of interwoven system of 18 roadways, one six-lane freeway, and HO-scale train track are supported by steel beams. Miniature cars zip through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars, produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st Century city.”

NOTE: Photography by Lee Brennan

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