Reinforced concrete: the modern equivalent of stone in art?

| August 31, 2023 | 0 Comments

• New exhibit at LACMA

A new exhibition just opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). “Eternal Medium: Seeing the World in Stone” includes 125 works from circa 2200–1800 B.C. to recent pieces by contemporary artists. The exhibit curator’s focus is on the role that imagination plays in perceiving images in the natural markings of stone.

GALLERY VISITORS examine stone pictures and carvings.

DRAPED MARBLE (Carrara, St. Laurant, Brown Onyx) by Analia Saban, 2016.

Soon to be on view locally is how Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor, Hon. FAIA from Switzerland, imagines the natural and form-made markings of the modern medium of reinforced concrete. Visitors will be able to examine the product of his imagination when scaffolding, falsework and formwork — now encasing LACMA’s under-construction David Geffen Galleries building — are removed. The new building is expected to open near the end of 2024.

A — WESTERN PORTION of the new David Geffen Galleries building under construction in August 2023. Park La Brea and its apartment towers are to the north.


B — COMPLETED GALLERIES and their ceilings are beneath the in-process reinforcing bar (rebar) installation that will form the interstitial space separating the gallery ceilings from the building’s roof. On a single level, there will be 26 “core galleries” — concrete rooms where art generally can be displayed on eight walls (four interior; four exterior) of each room.


C — RECTANGULAR GALLERY WALLS are visible to the right of completed galleries whose ceilings will be poured using the tan plywood shown.

D — BRIDGE FLOOR over Wilshire Boulevard connects to the location of the new building’s galleries that will be above the ceiling of a 300-seat theater on the ground level on the south side.

$750 million goal

On Aug. 23, the art museum announced that its “Building LACMA” campaign had reached and exceeded its fundraising goal of $750 million.

Visible from above

It now appears that nearly one half of the 26 planned gallery rooms in the new building have had their walls and ceilings completed, constructed just like the remainder of the massive new building — in reinforced concrete. The museum’s Aug. 23 announcement indicated that the entire project is now more than 65 percent complete.

Materiality of stone

The new exhibition about stone, as described by LACMA, “brings together a wide range of mostly historical European stone carvings and pictures, juxtaposing them with the similar works in other mediums for context and comparison. Organized into nine interrelated displays, the show encourages visitors to appreciate the works’ optical effects and to look more closely at how they are constructed.”

The art on exhibit comes primarily from three collections: LACMA’s own, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the V&A’s collection, plus art from public and private collections in California.

The exhibition is in the Resnick Pavilion at LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., and it continues through Feb. 11, 2024. Learn more about this and other fall openings, plus the Geffen Galleries construction, at

E — CLOSE-UP VIEW shows roof at the west end, nearly ready for pouring and completion, in August 2023.

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