The field trip to LACMA left me more or less unsatisfied, if I am going to be completely honest. Though the collection covers a wide breadth of works and boasts a fabulous campus, I found that much of what I wanted to see was either unavailable or required an upgrade payment. Fortunately I was able to visit the Guillermo del Toro exhibit, even if it required a little bit of lying. After becoming a “NEXGEN” member of the museum, I was granted free access to this exhibit, which was truly unique. The del Toro exhibit is intriguing because it allows patrons to see not only del Toro’s work, but his inspiration and roots. However, other than this exhibit, I felt a little let down. Nonetheless, I made the most of the time and enjoyed the visit itself, as Museum Row is quite gorgeous and the weather was flawless.
For this post, I chose to focus on the painting Bathers (1913) by German artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. This work, which is a moderately sized oil canvas (34 1/2 x 39 5/16 in.), can be found on the second floor of the Ahmanson Building. Though I saw many works that exuded modernism, I chose this painting because I felt as though it pertained to some of the recent class discussions on Primitivism and Exoticism. Bathers was hung in a part of the gallery that had other similar works, ranging from Cubism to Expressionism to Abstraction. Because most of these movements unfurled in similar eras, this painting fit right in. Aspects of this painting—such as the colors, the harsh outlines, and sparse background—remind me of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, a work that seems to border Cubism and Primitivism. The bathers themselves, who are nude and assumably in the wild, evoke a sense of primal life, as there is no indication of modern lifestyle within the canvas. It was actually pretty special to be able to view works in this gallery that we have studied in this class, as well as works that I had viewed in my two art courses over the course of this semester.
The LACMA experience was unexpectedly amazing. After almost two months of classes, I know how to apply the abstract ideas and descriptions we learned in class to the actual appreciation. I never had so much fun in any art museum before and never had I paid such attention to each artist’s brush stroke. LACMA did well on making people to experience and interact with art without having a solid background in art history.
One of the art piece that I was especially intrigued by is White Center, created by Mark Rothko in 1957. It is partially related to Expressionism that we talked about on class, however not exactly the same. This painting is under the category of Abstract Expressionism. The two “isms” shared some common ideologies, for instance both Expressionists and Abstract Expressionists believed that art could express the truth of the human condition.(Phillips p34) However, Abstract Expressionism is less objective and figurative. White Center only has two colors on the canvas, and the color pattern is similar to the stop sign which metaphorically made me stop in front of it. From my perspective, the two shades of red imply the chaos and disorder in the outside world that surrounds us everyday, whereas the center’s whiteness imply the calmness inside the painter’s mind.
The redness gets more intense in the center which seems to me that is pressuring the whiteness in the middle. Mark Rothko blurred the edges of each shade of red to make it looks less aggressive. This painting perfectly conveys the original feeling and mood of Mark Rothko as if the viewers could read his mind through only two colors.
This painting also related to my experience in Breathing Lights, which is a huge surprise of this trip. Both of them can help me meditate and think more deeply about what art is in real life.
I loved going to LACMA. It was a great opportunity to finally see some of the art or art similar to what we have talked about and viewed in the classroom. The first impression after viewing the art in person is that the artists we have talked about in class are even more impressive than I initially thought. My favorite area was the new artist gift section. I really enjoyed seeing George Braque’s painting first hand. I was enamored by “Boats on the Beach.” This painting is definitely more on the surrealist end of Braque and displays more colors than most of his paintings. I expected the colors on a lot of the paintings to be more washed out than they are on the computer, because photoshop allows for color enhancement, but I was proven wrong. If anything the colors are more vibrant! Additionally being able to see each individual brush strokes adds depth and intrigue to this painting. The painting is also quite large and it was framed in a beautifully white wood carved frame. I think going to LACMA made the whole class a lot more purposeful, because I got to apply the knowledge gained from the course to the paintings I looked at. I think I will go back to LACMA because I only got to go through one building really thoroughly. Great Experience!
This piece by Kandinsky perfectly shows many of the aspects of his painting we discussed in class. He focuses on shapes and colors for total abstraction, which he believed to be superior to representational art because of the stand alone nature of abstraction. Kandinsky thought that art could show a person’s soul through its unique qualities. This work shows many geometric shapes and lines, over a background of largely cream color, with sections of red and grey at the bottom and top to anchor the composition. The shapes are reminiscent of something musical, and the painting is both pleasing to the eye and detailed enough for lots of study. Seeing it in person was interesting, and while it did not change what I thought about the piece, it did show some colors in the painting I had not previously noticed.
I found my visit to the LACMA to be really fun and interesting to see different art pieces. My friends and I spent our time in the Ahmanson building in the Modern and Expressionist art exhibits. I saw a lot of Picassos and Pissarros, and I think the museum had a good diversity of artwork that I have never seen before. The work I saw that I felt connected with what we have learned in class was “Men and Women” (1969) by Pablo Picasso. Even though this work was done in a later period than what we’ve talked about in class this art piece still stays true to the Cubist principles we’ve talked about. The painting depicts a man and woman contrasted in white and black, and the painting semi-overtly shows the man penetrating the woman. Besides the sexual subject matter, the figures are still distorted as if seen from multiple perspectives. However, Picasso uses a lot of color in this painting opposed to earlier Cubist painting in which expression though color was avoided. The painting style looks more abstract than Cubist, but the underlying techniques still remain, as the painting is still ambiguously fragmented and over exaggerated. The LACMA had the biggest collection of Picasso paintings I’ve ever seen before, so it was interesting to see his creative process and how his art changed over time, especially after learning about him in class. “Men and Women” was displayed alongside the rest of the Picasso paintings, and the me that highlighted its difference in style compared to the other pieces due to his use of color and the way it was painted with heavy brushstrokes. This painting was also much larger than the other Cubist paintings so the eye was immediately drawn to it. Although this painting shows clearly a difference in Picasso’s painting style, the sexual subject matter and fragmented perspectives are very much in the conventional Picasso style. Going to the LACMA was a great experience in relation to the class because it allowed me to visualize the art we talk about in person, and having learned about the kinds of artwork I was looking at made it all the more interesting.