Sunday, December 30, 2012

levitated mass, warhol, and holiday school projects at lacma

The tree is packed and the lights are down. Best feeling of the year. Seriously. And, then thoughts turn to holiday school projects

Heizer - Levitated Mass LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art

assigned by unsympathetic teachers, with contributions invariably required by parents.


Alex needed to visit a museum and take pictures of four pieces of art and describe them and include what is successful vs. unsuccessful about the work. My job has always been projects. Albert's is Spanish. Seems fair.

I decided this was a great opportunity to head up to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and check out Levitated Mass.

Levitated Mass by artist Michael Heizer is composed of a 456-foot-long slot constructed on LACMA's campus, over which is placed a 340-ton granite megalith. The slot gradually descends to fifteen feet in depth, running underneath the boulder. As with other works by the artist, such as Double Negative (1969), the monumental negative form is key to the experience of the artwork.
Heizer - Levitated Mass LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


The monolith was moved to LACMA in June 2012, taking a hundred mile journey from Riverside and some $10M in donations to move it. There were plenty of critics of the rock given the hard economic times that the country is in. But honestly, it is pretty cool.

Alex is working on his project using an iPad. Times have certainly changed.

Heizer - Levitated Mass LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


We couldn't walk under the rock because LACMA closes off the passage during the rain. Big disappointment. Southern Californians really just can't handle rain, and the rock is no exception.

Heizer - Levitated Mass LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


After seeing the rock, we wandered into the museum to find art items two through four for Alex's evalutation. Right away we hit this little baby.

The 2000 Sculpture, by Walter De Maria, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


The 2000 Sculpture, by Walter De Maria, was created in 1992 and consists of 2000 polygonal solid plaster rods in a pattern of 5 7 9 7 5 - 5 7 9 7 5. Talk about getting lucky.

A pioneering figure in the development of minimal, conceptual, land art, and installation art, Walter De Maria has made minimalist horizontal sculptures that occupy entire rooms since 1969. Measuring 10 x 50 meters (approximately 33 x 164 feet), The 2000 Sculpture was first exhibited at the Kunsthaus Zurich in 1992. It is one of a series of works by De Maria featuring groupings of ordered elements using precise measurements.


The 2000 Sculpture, by Walter De Maria, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Honestly, this sculpture is a bit bizarre by typical sculpture standards and certainly takes up a ton of valuable Southern California real estate. But Alex was entranced. He studied the polygons and took pictures from many angles.

The 2000 Sculpture, by Walter De Maria, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Part of the appeal of the structure is its interplay with the architecture of the building. Supposedly.

The 2000 Sculpture, by Walter De Maria, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art

We wandered around the rest of this pavilion but nothing else allowed photography. We cut across the walkway, entered another building, turned right and walked straight into:

Chris Burden's Metropolis II, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


What in the world? This structure is a GIANT tinker toy Hot Wheels set with hundreds of cars racing around. Alex was ecstatic. Coolest art. Ever. It was created in 2006 by Chris Burden and is called Metropolis II (implying a Metropolois I somewhere).

There is a viewing deck where you can look down. Note the size of the humans.

Chris Burden's Metropolis II, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Chris Burden's Metropolis II is an intense kinetic sculpture, modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city. Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one 6 lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks. Miniature cars speed 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. 

This model is just so intricate. You can look at it for hours.

Chris Burden's Metropolis II, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Here is a YouTube video interviewing the artist. You get a feel for what he is up to.


A woman stands in the middle of the thing and operates it. She doesn't appear to be thrilled with her job. The dozens of children standing around envied her a great deal.

Chris Burden's Metropolis II, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Next thing that caught Alex's eye was this flashing TV rendition of the flag.

Nam June Paik, Video Flag Z, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


And the video flag caught a young mother's eye as well.

Nam June Paik, Video Flag Z, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Nam June Paik, Video Flag Z, one of the foremost video artists in the world, was among the very first to use video as an art medium. This arrangement of eighty-four television sets mimics the format of the American flag. Through electronic programming, the ever-changing images flicker in a dazzling array across the zones of stars and stripes. For this version, specially commissioned by the museum, Paik included countless images borrowed from classic Hollywood films as his tribute to Los Angeles.

Nam June Paik, Video Flag Z, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


And a video of the TV screens ... it viewed best animated. It was created in 1986, but restored recently (TV tubes had to be replaced, etc.).



Alex had his four pieces of art. I encouraged one more. Just to be on the safe side.

Andy Warhol and the iconic Cambell's Soup Can paintings, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


I explained to Alex about Andy Warhol and the iconic Cambell's Soup Can paintings, painted in 1964. LACMA has a large and a small can painting.

Andy Warhol and the iconic Cambell's Soup Can paintings, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Warhol's art continues to be controversial to this day but regardless, it did usher in the pop art movement of the 60's, unquestionably.

Andy Warhol and the iconic Cambell's Soup Can paintings, LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


I added a sixth painting just for me.

Homage to the Square, by Joseph Albers, LACMA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art


I really do love green. This is one of many Homage to the Square, by Joseph Albers, 1957. Albers was a German Bauhaus artist who immigrated to the United States, when pressure from Nazi Germany essentially shut down the movement in Germany.


Homage to the Square, by Joseph Albers, LACMA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art


He did hundreds of these squares, studying color, always inside concentric squares. Very soothing. And these little beauties have gone for well over $1.5M when they come up for auction. It isn't so much the simplicity of the idea. It is being the guy who first thought of it. Like Warhol. Or pole decorators.

PostScript: Alex got a 100% on this project. I was really proud of him. I will post the video he did at a later date.

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6 comments:

  1. I'm thinking Homage to the Square needs to be a DIY project. Wouldn't that be fun? Thanks for sharing. I'll put it on the list of places to take our son! ;)

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    1. I had the same thought on DIY and Homage to Square. It is a great idea and could easily be copied for home use. If we just did a craft project and didn't try to resell, who would care? We can't be the first people to ever have this idea? They are wonderful.

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  2. I viewed the Levitated Mass a few months ago, and I'm really trying to see the point of it. The only thing I can come up with is that maybe there were naysayers among the local peasantry when Stonehedge was first contstructed and we're still viewing the site and trying to figure out WHY!

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    1. Well... I am not sure. I went online and tried to look up the artist's thoughts. Got nothing. Apparently he is pretty tight lipped about his works. Levitated Mass will surely endure for many years past the life of the museum, one can only assume. But I still don't understand what the point was. Maybe like the pyramids? But they were for burying pharaohs. Right?

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  3. What a great project, and how cool that you and Alex got to experience it together.

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    1. It was an interesting afternoon for sure. Looking for art that would appeal to a 14-year-old boy alone was kind of intriguing. I didn't even bother showing him the French Impressionists.

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