Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Free Day at LACMA

I love going to a museum and turning a corner and having a sweet surprise.  My favorite happening of this sort was in NY in 95 at MoMA and when I turned the corner and found Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, staring back at me.  My visit Monday had a wonderful surprise as I was just breezing through a collection I already thought I knew and had seen.  I found a new treasure or Easter egg in the back of the Art of the Americas Building, 3rd floor. It was R.B. Kitaj's Covers for a Small Library, a temporary exhibition of interesting prints.  It's on view through July 4, 2011.
It's the artist's personal collection from his time in New York when he had self proclaimed "bibliomania".  Authors included Kafka, Joyce, Nabokov, Camus, and (my favorite) T.S. Eliot.  The body of work is enlarged photo facsimiles prints of book jackets, showing all the damage and handling and love these books had before coming into Kitaj's personal collection.  The prints are large, (I am guessing 11x17 possibly).  Most of the prints were marked 63/150-not sure of who owns the collection on display. Favorites of the artist (and mine) are titles like Ezra Pound's How to Read, Margaret Mead's The Coming of Age in Somoa, Dimestore Paperbacks like Jack London's The People of the Abyss, A Pelican Book published by Penguin Books, a beautiful cover of a book about Edward Weston, and the City of Burbank Annual Report.
The last treat and something new to see, was Steve Wolfe on Paper, 2nd floor of the Ahmanson Building. As an ex-scenic painter, the trompe l'oeil of the artist's vinyl records was amazing.  It was hard to believe and it always begged for a closer look, one of the record works had a slight thumb print that finally saidI'm not vinyl, quit doing double takes! Besides the record renderings, there was also mixed media and collage. My favorite was a sweet little piece of a spider web that was framed at a right angle and demanded being hung in a corner.  As an artist, it's time to start remembering it can be and sometimes should be fun-for both the artist and the observer.
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