Modern Art Collection has modern touches in its new home

| July 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

FRANK GEHRY designed the new exhibit space located on the top floor in BCAM.

An audio tour that tells of a Picasso lover in his youth, and a 1920s ragtime piece, are both just a smartphone click away in the new home of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent Modern Art Collection.

Walk past touchless doors to enter the light-filled, thoroughly modern galleries filled with 250 works of art on the top (third) level of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) at LACMA. The exhibit, which opened June 13, is a sweeping historical tour beginning before World War 1.

Works by 200 artists are represented in the Frank Gehry-designed exhibit space. The works range from Matisse’s painting, “Tea” (1919), to bold mid-century pieces by Rothko and Pollock. One room is dedicated to paintings and sculptures by Picasso.

WORKS BY Picasso fill one entire room in the new gallery.

“It’s the largest exhibit of Picasso west of Manhattan,” senior curator and LACMA Department Head of Modern Art Stephanie Barron says on the audio tour — one of six thematic audio tours in the exhibit. Post-war women artists and stories of migration and displacement are among other themes.

The Picasso tour, activated via your phone app by a QR code on the gallery walls, tells of Picasso’s life and work, including his subjects, in describing many of the 21 works in the room dedicated to the Spanish-born artist.

Music soundtracks can also be heard throughout the exhibit via your smart phone. In the German Expressionist gallery, a composition by Schoenberg accompanies a painting by Wassily Kandinsky. Marlene Dietrich singing “Wenn die beste Freundin” takes you back to a swinging Berlin cabaret posted at a lithograph by Jeanne Mammen.

TEA BY HENRI MATISSE reflects the artist’s interest in African art, depicted in the mask-like face of his daughter, Marguerite, right.

A section named Made in France features works mostly from Paris — the epicenter of the Avant-Garde from 1880 to 1930, Barron tells us on a brief walk through the exhibit.

San Francisco-based artist Miki Hayakawa’s “Portrait of Negro” (1924), is accompanied by a ragtime piece that was popular at the time. The artist was a Japanese emigrant and at the onset of World War II spent time in an internment camp, we learn.

Surrealism and North and Latin American galleries include works by Georgia O’Keeffe and Diego Rivera, as well as Magritte’s “This is Not a Pipe” — “one of our most well known works,” Barron says.

Abstract Expressionists in the collection include Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Ruth Asawa; Pop Art and Southern California Assemblage styles are represented by Roy Lichtenstein, Judy Chicago and Kienholz, among others.

WOMAN WITH GROCERIES by Jacob Lawrence, 1942.

Swing a door to enter “Central Meridian,” also known by its other name, “The Garage,” 1981, which is after the Modern era, but an interesting journey. Crickets chirp in this immersive recreation of a garage complete with a parked car and a moose head.

Each of the galleries includes new interpretive wall texts with recent scholarship information and engagement issues of provenance, colonialism and sociopolitical topics.

“This is years in the making,” Barron said of the exhibit.

In 2018, the collection was removed from its former home in the Ahmanson Building, which was demolished to prepare for a new museum at LACMA being constructed beyond the plaza east of BCAM. Purchase advance, timed tickets at LACMA is at 5905 Wilshire Blvd.

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