The Los Angeles County Museum of the Arts is the largest museum of the country, comprised of multiple buildings and several outdoor exhibits. I might even recommend that if you’re in the LA area for more than a few weeks, find a way to spread out your visit to LACMA over a couple weeks — allow yourself to take in a few exhibits at a time (it may be tough due to admissions costs, but if you’re an LA county resident, it’s free after 3 pm). LACMA truly has such a large collection that it’s nearly impossible to appreciate it all unless you have enough time. That being said, I will detail several select current exhibits worth exploring, and there are plenty more depending on your interests.
The museum’s current rotating exhibits, including 3D: Double Vision (through March 31, 2019), attracts the most family audiences giving the exhibit’s content. Visitors can go from piece to piece, some requiring 3D and filtered glasses, exploring not only the variety of aesthetics and visual styles for 3D pieces, but the history of 3D as well as how it reflects American sentiments throughout the ages. Exhibitions that take a holistic approach to art — acknowledging it as a form of expression influenced by society and always in flux rather than what is often considered an elitist, inaccessible and isolated part of culture — are often the most rewarding.
Metropolis II (ongoing), created by Chris Burden in 2010, is a huge kinetic piece that connects pieces of track for toy cars with sculptures of buildings and metropolitan entanglements. When thousands of cars move through the multi-laned, multi-leveled track (available free with general admission during certain days and times), the movement simulates that of a city and is truly a visual and architectural wonder. It might be a car or toy lover’s dream, but it’s also a complex sculpture that is every bit design as it is aesthetics. Even if it’s not active when you visit, the sheer enormity of the detail of the piece is enough to spend a while just simply staring at it.
Rauschenberg: In and About LA (through February 10, 2019) highlights the work of American artist Robert Rauschenberg, popularly known for his works using unconventional materials as well as abstract expressionist and modernist works. This exhibit puts some of Rauschenberg’s works in conversation with one another — ones that were created by him while in and around the LA area, as the name suggests. Many of the works are LA-influenced and have pieces of LA embedded in the works in different forms.
The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy (through September 16, 2018) highlights the diversity of chiaroscuro works, diving into the breadth of works created by the artists and the form. Chiaroscuro, a form of woodcut that creates an illusion of depth, layers several colors of ink (think of the Obama “Hope” poster) on different woodblocks and prints them on top of each other. Like 3D: Double Vision, this exhibit takes a more holistic look at the medium and form, taking into account a breakdown of the form, the methods, and the materials used. Like me, you might spend a while staring and wondering how the artists carved out each individual layer on separate woodblocks, eventually cohering to create one full piece.
LACMA’s nooks and crannies are also filled with delightful little treats, including some installation pieces that you might not even recognize as art pieces unless you read into the museum’s brochures or online content. One such example is the Miracle Mile light piece and Barbara Kruger’s 2008 graphically designed mural piece in an elevator shaft, “Untitled (Shafted).”
Contact Olivia Popp at oliviapopp ‘at’ stanford.edu.