NEW TRENDS AT LACMA
JULIAN SCHNABEL'S BAD GIRLS
At LACMA, there is a chance to peek at things to come. Just to try new ideas, its permanent collection of 17th to 19th century art is reinstalled for a few months on the ground level of the Hammer Building. Its always enjoyable to see familiar works shuffled and mixed, so they look new and fresh.
Museum curators experimented with unusually bold colors for the walls of the galleries: red, blue, yellow, green. More significantly, a successful effort was made to mix examples of painting, sculpture, furniture, tapestry, drawing, and decorative art in one space, instead of traditionally separating them by medium. It is important to notice though, that there is nothing new about such interpretive presentation, which has been utilized by many museums for decades. LACMA likes to call it a new trend. That-s OK with me, if it makes them happy.
A recently acquired and newly restored Pieta, an early 18th century Spanish sculpture, is especially well displayed in a darkened gallery with the help of smart lighting. Almost life size and made from papier-mach- and molded linen, soaked in glue to make it rigid, the sculpture is purposefully not heavy so it could be easily used during religious procession. This is the only known example of such an artwork anywhere in the United States. A congratulation to LACMA for adding this rare object to its collection.
And, at the end, a few words about the Julian Schnabel exhibition "Big Girl Paintings" at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. Not big, but gigantic, his canvasses, with their fat ornate frames are meant to make a viewer jumpy, as if being poked in the eye. Inspired by some amateur portraits rescued from a thrift store, these Big Girls are just plain ugly creatures, without the innocence of their thrift store cousins. With two modestly successful art house movies to his credit, Julian Schnabel will be well advised to quit his day time job and to embrace Hollywood full time.