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The James Goldstein House, designed by John Lautner
Photo © Jeff Green

LACMA director Michael Govan's well-known passion for architecture paid off yesterday with the surprise announcement that James Goldstein will donate his 1972 John Lautner-designed residence along with its adjacent skyscape by James Turrell to the museum. Even in the non-conformist art world, Goldstein is a noticeable figure, wearing his white hair shoulder length and driving around in his 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, committed to following LA's basketball teams and traveling to Paris for the couture fashion shows. That dedication to his own beliefs contributed to his willingness to not only buy the house, designed by Lautner for Helen and Paul Sheats in 1963, but to commission Lautner continue to work on it from 1979 until his death in 1994.

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The James Goldstein House, designed by John Lautner
Photo © Tom Ferguson Photography

Sited just west of Beverly Hills, with views to the ocean, it is familiar to most people from the film The Big Lebowski. With Lautner's built-in concrete furniture, angular coffered ceiling, floor to ceiling glass windows, it comes off as a quintessential bachelor pad. Goldstein also donated the four surrounding lots that he has purchased over the years, his collection of couture clothing, contemporary art and $17 million as an endowment. The total donation is conservatively estimated at $40 million. This is not Goldstein's first donation to LACMA or involvement with Govan. When he had to move from his Lautner-designed office in Century City, Goldstein gave it to the museum in 2012, though it has not been on view. The museum will make it available to a wider public than has been able to visit Goldstein's private nightclub, "Club James." An additional benefit will be access to the 2005 Turrell, an early example of his use of colored LED lighting.

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Kota Ezawa, "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee," 2015
Duratrans transparency and LED lightbox
Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

Anyone might find themselves thinking about museums if they visit Christopher Grimes Gallery in Santa Monica. Kota Ezawa shows his lightbox recreations of the paintings stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The pictures have never been recovered and the museum still leaves the empty frames on view as documents of loss. (Also, according to the terms of Gardner's will, displays cannot be changed.) Ezawa used computer software to re-create the paintings but without the essential detail of Rembrandt or Vermeer. They can be recognized but only as ghosts of their previous selves.

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Kota Ezawa, "A Lady and Gentleman in Black," 2015
Duratrans transparency and LED lightbox
Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

Ezawa includes the paintings original titles but without attribution to the original artist, since he is now the artist. Ezawa also recreated black and white surveillance footage of the thieves, who were dressed in police uniforms, that is shown on a pair of vintage surveillance monitors on the gallery's front desk. German-born, Oakland-based Ezawa has previously used photographs that he has altered in his signature style and then re-presented. This work too is based on photographs of the missing paintings rather than the artworks themselves, adding layers of speculative and perceptual mystery to the mystery of the crime itself. On view through March 12.

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Kota Ezawa, "Empty Frame," 2015
Duratrans transparency and LED lightbox
Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

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