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LACMA Current Exhibit: Archibald Motley – Jazz Age Modernist

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Motley Archibald ArtSince the Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist exhibit opened at LACMA in October 2014, we have framed an increasingly large number of prints of his work. His lively, vibrant, cheerful work is seemingly popular with people of all ages and walks of life.

The exhibit, in its final two weeks; will be ending on February 1st.

Archibald John Motley Jr. (1891–1981) is one of the most significant yet least known twentieth-century artists, despite the continued broad appeal of his paintings. Many of his most important portraits and cultural scenes remain in private collections and few museums have had the opportunity to acquire his work. In a survey that spans forty years, Archibald Motley introduces the artist’s colorful canvases to a wider audience and reveals the rich sociological and art historical underpinnings of his work.

Archibald Motley includes forty-three works spanning each period of Motley’s career, from 1919 to 1960.

Motley’s scenes of life in an African-American community, often in his native Chicago, depict a parallel existence of labor and leisure. His portraits are voyeuristic, but they are also examinations of race, gender, and sexuality. Motley did not shy away from folklore fantasies, directly addressing slavery and racism.Motley Photo

Motley was born in New Orleans, but during the first half of the twentieth century he lived and worked in a predominately white neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest side, a few miles from the city’s growing black community known as “Bronzeville.” Motley’s work examines this community, carefully constructing scenes that depict Chicago’s African-American elites, but also the worlds of the recently disembarked migrants from the South and other characters commonly overlooked.

In 1929, Motley won a Guggenheim Fellowship that funded a year of study in France. His 1929 work Blues, a colorful, rhythm-inflected painting of Jazz Age Paris, has long provided a canonical picture of African American cultural expression during this period. Several other memorable canvases vividly capture the pulse and tempo of “la vie bohème.” Similar in spirit to his Chicago paintings, these Parisian canvases extended the geographical boundaries of the Harlem Renaissance, depicting an African diaspora in Montparnasse’s meandering streets and congested cabarets.

He died in Chicago in 1981.

Motley Nightlife

Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist presents a full-scale survey of one the most important artists of the Harlem Renaissance, featuring the painter’s visual examination of African American culture during the Jazz Age.

The exhibition covers Motley’s entire career, including periods in Chicago, Paris, and Mexico. Motley received his formal training at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and went on to create strong and somewhat solemn portraits of his community, as well as vividly hued, lively scenes of crowded dance halls that reflect the colorful spirit of the Harlem Renaissance.

The exhibition features a number of paintings depicting the black communities of Chicago and Paris just before and after the Great Depression, and concludes with introspective moments of quotidian life in Mexico, made during the artist’s travels during the 1950’s.


 Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist

BCAM, Level 3.
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90036
tel 323 857-6000
October 19, 2014–February 1, 2015
For ticket or more info please check out LACMA website here.


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By Koren K

SOLD: Georgia O’Keeffe’s White Flower No. 1 for $44.4 Million

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okeeffe framed white flowerAt Sotheby’s New York auction of American Art, Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic flower painting “Jimson Weed / White Flower No. 1″ sold for a remarkable $44,405,000 – more than three times the previous world auction record for any female artist, according to a Georgia O’Keeffe Museum press release.

The American Art Auction of 70 lots went on to achieve a spectacular total of $75.4 million, well in excess of its $46 million high estimate, with ten works achieving prices over $1 million. Total for the three O’Keeffe paintings sold at the auction was $50,439,000.

Seven bidders competed for “Jimson Weed / White Flower No. 1″ but it was a prolonged battle between two determined bidders that drove the price to this record height – nearly three times the work’s high estimate of $15 million. The work is a well-known example of O’Keeffe’s celebrated flower paintings, which in turn stand among the most recognizable images in both art history and popular culture.

“Jimson Weed / White Flower No. 1″ was one of three works by the artist that were on offer from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, sold to benefit its Acquisitions Fund. Each work exceeded its high estimate, with “On the Old Santa Fe Road” fetching the second-highest price of the day at $5,093,000 (est. $2/3 million), and “Untitled (Skunk Cabbage)” selling for $941,000 (est. $500/750,000). This brings the group’s total to $50.4 million.

“We are excited about the record-breaking results of the Georgia O’Keeffe artworks,” said Robert A. Kret, Director of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. “It is wonderful to see Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic artworks receive the recognition and valuation they deserve. This sale will provide funding to strengthen and refine our collection, allowing us to represent the full breadth of Georgia O’Keeffe’s artistic accomplishments.”

Elizabeth Goldberg, Head of Sotheby’s American Art Department, said: “The outstanding result for Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 places Georgia O’Keeffe’s work in the top tier of 20th century artists on the market internationally, where it has always belonged. It was a particular privilege to present works on behalf of such a wonderful institution as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. To have achieved this result just one year after Norman Rockwell’s Saying Grace set a new benchmark for this category at $46 million shows that there is an amazing appetite in today’s market for gems of American Art.”

The previous auction record for any work by a female artist was $11.9 million, set by Joan Mitchell’s Untitled at Christie’s New York in May 2014. The previous auction record for a work by Georgia O’Keeffe was $6.2 million, set at Christie’s New York in May 2001.

That’s what I call – girl power.


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By Koren K

Museum Louvre Abu Dhabi to Receive 300 Works of Art on Loan

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Louvre Abu Dhabi Louvre Abu Dhabi announced it will receive approximately 300 loans of artwork from major French institutions for its opening year, which will complement the museum’s already growing collection.

The loans will include Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of an Unknown Woman (circa 1495), also known as La Belle Ferroniere, which will be loaned by Musee du Louvre, Edouard Manet’s The Fife Player (1866), and Claude Monet’s The Saint-Lazare Station (1877), which will come from the Musee d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, as well as a number of other pieces from French institutions.

Louvre Abu Dhabi will be first museum in the Middle East to show a Leonardo da Vinci painting. Art historians disagree about the true identity of the enigmatic woman
now known as La Belle Ferroniere, but her status as one of only a handful of undisputed portraits painted by Leonardo da Vinci – and as one of the great masterpieces of the High Renaissance – is without doubt.

 La Belle Ferroniere

The portrait, in which a serious-looking young woman dressed in red velvet stares out at the viewer, will form part of the first batch of about 300 works sent on loan

Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, said, “These outstanding loans from our French partners represent a collaboration that is symbolic of Louvre Abu Dhabi and its progress to date. This will be the first time many of these works will travel to Abu Dhabi or even the Middle East, and are a rare opportunity to see important art from French museums in tandem with the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection. Ultimately, we hope to offer visitors a unique experience from a new perspective that underlines the universal spirit of the entire project.” Fleur Pellerin, French Minister of Culture and Communication, said, “The announcement of the loans from French museums is within the framework of the intergovernmental agreement signed between the U.A.E. and France in 2007, as the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi represents a major step in this great project. It is an acknowledgement of both the extraordinary richness of our national collections and the expertise of our museums. These masterpieces loaned by the 13 partner French museums and public institutions will implement a new dialogue between different world cultures and civilizations, in a spirit of universalism that France is proud to promote throughout the world.”

The selection was overseen by TCA Abu Dhabi, Agence France-Museums and the lending museums in line with Louvre Abu Dhabi’s scientific and cultural program. It is an acknowledgement of both the extraordinary richness of our national collections and the expertise of our museums. These masterpieces loaned by the 13 partner

French museums and public institutions will implement a new dialogue between different world cultures and civilisations, in a spirit of universalism that France is proud to promote throughout the world.” The selection was overseen by TCA Abu Dhabi, Agence France-Museums and the lending museums in line with Louvre Abu Dhabi’s scientific and cultural program.

Louvre Abu Dhabi interior

The number of works loaned by French institutions will decrease over a 10-year period as Louvre Abu Dhabi continues to build up its collection. The works will be on show for between three months and two years, depending largely on the conservation and preservation requirements of each piece.

Louvre Abu Dhabi will follow the highest international standards and requirements for transport, presentation and conservation of works of art after a full restoration process is completed.

Born of an intergovernmental agreement between Abu Dhabi and France in 2007, Louvre Abu Dhabi will display artworks and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance – from prehistory to the contemporary. Spanning millennia, the items on display will originate from societies and cultures all over the world, but universal themes and common influences will be highlighted to illustrate similarities arising from shared human experience transcending geography, nationality and history.



By Koren K

Laddie John Dill: One of America’s foremost sculpture artists has been a leading figure in the use of industrial materials for more than 40 years

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By David Rosenfeld

At first glance Laddie John Dill’s studio in Venice seems more like an industrial machine shop than an artist’s studio. A fence lines a storage yard with rusted parts and

Artist Laddie John Dill

Artist Laddie John Dill with his pup at his studio in Venice. Photo by Westside People

scraps of wood and metal. Without any noticeable entrance, a visitor hollers over the noise of a saw blade until the chain-link gate opens by remote.

It’s one of Laddie’s three assistants who lead me inside where a row of sunroofs bring in natural light. Hanging on the wall are some of the original neon tubes that lit up the art world, you could say, 40 years ago. It were these neon tubes with argon gases in fact that represent some of the first works that made Dill a fixture in the contemporary American art world beginning in the late 1960s, a time eclipsed by Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollack.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “But I also worked my butt off.”

Dill is well-respected these days in the art world as a pioneer in the use of industrial materials. It was an activity in which he has always felt at home. If he wasn’t an artist he said he’d likely be a truck driver. The 70-year-old who grew up in Malibu enjoys long hours on the road taking commissioned pieces to cities across the country.

Known for his use of sand and cement with reflective light, Dill has long been at the forefront of a modern American art movement that followed on the heels of an older generation of artists like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, both of whom gave support and encouragement to a young Laddie in his 20s.

New York, 1970

It all goes back to New York in 1970. Dill and his girlfriend at the time found themselves without a place to stay. So he called the only person he knew, the famed sculptor Jasper Johns. Johns wasn’t home, but he let the pair stay in his studio, which was a century-old former bank building on the lower east side of Manhattan.

“All the booths had been removed and it was like a museum,” Dill said. “I remember having the luxury of sitting on the couch in this bank and watching him paint this gigantic encaustic painting using wax and oil that was shown in the Montreal World’s Fair. When people knew I was staying there, they were all wondering who the hell is this kid from Malibu.”

They would soon find out. That same year Dill got his first break when Iliana Sonnabend offered him a show with the famed Sonnabend Gallery in New York, which handled Andy Warhol. His first show with experiments in light and space were at the Sonnabend Gallery in Paris and then in New York in February 1971.

“Other than that, no one else was really showing any interest in my work,” Dill said.

Shortly after that Robert Rauschenberg gave an equally praiseworthy blessing of Dill’s work when the pair collaborated on a show together in Los Angeles.

Is that art?

Laddie John Dill

An early work from 1971 with neon light and sand by Laddie John Dill called Red Tide.

Today, Dill’s work is shown in galleries and museums around the world. Individual pieces sell for tens of thousands of dollars. And his commissioned work for

companies like Northrop Grumman and University Synagogue in Irvine are among his proudest. When we sat down together, Dill talked about his motivation for using industrial materials and his outlook on modern art.

“I always wanted to use materials that are not necessarily associated with art making,” he said. “It’s not as revolutionary now. A lot of artists use other things. DeShaw was quoted as saying he’d rather spend time in a hardware store than a museum. I’ve always identified with that kind of mentality.”

The result has been a number of styles Dill calls activities. One is a technique where he uses tempered glass and an emulsion of oxides and cement to create images that look like aerial views from the Hubble Telescope. Another is the use of industrial grade aluminum, the kind manufacturers use to make airplane fuselages. Dill buffers the surface and cuts it to shapes that resemble leaves. When it comes to the interpretation, Dill said he doesn’t mind the question of whether it’s art.

“I got this from Jasper,” he said. “I wanted art that asks questions more than it answers. Is this art? I like that question, because it pushes the envelope. It engages you. I don’t find that question insulting at all. It’s not the point of it, but it’s not supposed to be totally accepted either. A lot of people would say this is not art. It’s just an exercise in materials. But I think some of the greatest art was not totally accepted in its time. That’s my only problem with the art world as it is today. It’s market driven. They buy too much with their ears.”

New art history

Painter Charles Arnoldi has been a friend of Dill’s for more than 40 years. The two shared a giant studio in downtown Los Angeles together in the 1970s where Dill filled his entire half of the floor with seven tons of sand and a mattress in the corner.

“You had a bunch of very creative individuals in Los Angeles at that time who didn’t feel like they were trying to make the next New York or European step,” Arnoldi said. “We weren’t following art history. And we felt sort of liberated. People were trying all kinds of innovative, new moves using less traditional materials. So what you had was this burst of creativity that was very unique and original.”

Laddie John Dill

This 9-foot-wide piece made in 2000 with glass, cement and natural oxides Laddie John Dill calls Glacial Collission

For Dill, working with light beams and mechanics were a natural extension of a childhood growing up with an engineering stepfather and a screenwriting mother.

“My mother basically raised us,” Dill said. “She encouraged us to do whatever we wanted to do as long as we made a commitment to it.”

He described a home where his tinkering stepfather would remove the backs of the television sets and laser beams he toyed with might be shining down the hallway.

“I don’t use these materials for shock value. It’s more the idea of using things that are associated with other walks of life or other worlds,” Dill said. “People all over the world look at something differently. Germans see materials. In Korea and Japan they see more imagery. They pick up things that resemble objects in nature. To them this tells a whole story. I think that’s pretty interesting.”

For more on Laddie’s work visit his website here.


By Koren K

Film Academy to Pay LACMA $36.1 million for Movie Museum Lease

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By LA Times Reporter MIKE BOEHM
LACMA Film Museum

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will pay more than $36 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for a 55-year lease on the former May Co. department store building and adjacent land where the academy plans to build a movie museum scheduled to open in 2017.

The deal may seem pricey at first glance, with the full $36.1 million to be paid by Oct. 1, according to LACMA spokeswoman Miranda Carroll. She said the academy paid a $5-million installment last year.

But once the large up-front payments are made, the academy, which is raising $300 million for its museum, will be in the clear for 108 years. The lease on the building known as LACMA West went into effect Oct. 18, 2012, said Academy Museum spokeswoman Morgan Kroll. After 55 years, the academy has the option to renew it for an additional 55 years at no further cost.

Kroll said lease payments are $28 million for the building and $8.1 million for adjoining land on which the academy plans to build the David Geffen Theater, a 1,000-seat cinema with a large see-through dome.LACMA Movie Museum

The May Co. store, built in 1939 and featuring a distinctive black- and gold-painted Art Deco-like sculptural column at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, will be the main movie museum building, housing exhibition galleries and several spaces for screenings and lectures.

LACMA Director Michael Govan said that the art museum and the academy hired independent appraisers to calculate a fair market price for the land and building and that they agreed to abide by the outcome.

“The idea was not to haggle, not to make an issue of money; whatever was fair was fair,” he said. “We were sensitive about [avoiding potentially adversarial negotiations] because we’re going to be neighbors forever.”

An outline of the lease agreement first emerged in LACMA’s most recent audited financial statement, posted on its website. It will provide a welcome infusion of cash for the art museum, which had struggled since the recession under financial restrictions imposed by agreements with bankers concerning $343 million in construction bonds used to build the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, the Resnick Exhibition Pavilion and the BP Grand Entrance.

Plans to renovate the May Co. building for about $50 million had to be abandoned: Among other things, LACMA needed the money to keep its liquid assets above thresholds required to avoid a possible bond default. Money from the Academy Museum’s lease will make it easier to meet the requirement while continuing to make interest payments that are projected to exceed $15 million a year, according to information LACMA made public in August in conjunction with a refinancing of its debt.The Academy Museum’s payments will help LACMA’s efforts to bounce back fully from the recession, which blunted a funding campaign begun in 2003 to raise $450 million to revamp its campus.

Moody’s Investors Service has noted LACMA’s financial constraints in periodic ratings of its bonds since 2010, when it first placed a “negative outlook” on them as an advisory to potential investors. Although Moody’s continued last summer to give the museum high marks for a “consistently robust” financial performance for exhibitions and other day-to-day operations and did not lower the museum’s A3 bond rating, it cautioned that at that point, LACMA had “very thin” liquid assets relative to its debt. Nevertheless, in Moody’s rating scale, the A3 ranking — seventh on a 14-rung scale — signaled to investors that the LACMA bonds carried a “low … risk” of default.That report showed that the campaign to fund new construction in the 2000s eventually pulled in $339.3 million in gifts and pledges — 75% of LACMA’s goal. Members of the museum board provided $268 million, 79% of the amount raised.

Govan said LACMA’s financial picture has improved considerably since that bond analysis. Along with the lease payments from the academy, he said that LACMA quietly has launched a fundraising campaign leading to an April 1 celebration of its 50th anniversary in Hancock Park (what’s now the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park previously did double duty with both art and nature exhibits).

“We’re already tens of millions into our campaign for the anniversary,” Govan said, declining to say what its goal was because “I don’t want to spoil the fun of the announcement.”

Even with a successful campaign to mark the anniversary, LACMA still figures to face the heaviest financial lifting in its history when it turns to the completely separate funding of an ambitious plan to replace the buildings on the eastern end of its campus (except for the Pavilion for Japanese Art) with a huge single structure, designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.

The preliminary estimate for construction is $450 million, with an additional $200 million to be raised for operating and other expenses. If that estimate pans out, LACMA’s fundraising target would be 6.6% higher than the $610 million campaign by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for a new wing that’s under construction.

LACMA does not lack for potential funding angels. Orange County real estate magnate Donald Bren, now honored as a life trustee, has been on the LACMA board since 1986, and his wife, Brigitte, is also a board member. Forbes Magazine has estimated Bren’s net worth at $15.3 billion, roughly 21/2 times the size of Eli Broad’s fortune.

Resnick Exhibition PavilionThe board roster also includes Barbra Streisand, Lynda Resnick, who shares an estimated $3.5 billion net worth with husband Stewart (they gave $45 million to fund the Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, which opened in 2010), Edward P. Roski Jr. (a $1.1-billion net worth per Forbes) and William H. Ahmanson and Wallis Annenberg, who head big Los Angeles charitable foundations that are proven LACMA backers.LACMA also can expect a boost from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is paying the museum $1.1 million to use a lot it owns for 20 months of “exploratory work” on its Wilshire Boulevard subway project. Then, when it begins digging the tunnel, Metro will use the lot as a construction staging area for an estimated 10 years, either buying or leasing the parcel at a price to be negotiated.For Govan, going with the tear-down and rebuild plan, targeted for completion in 2023, is the essence of frugality. The older buildings’ age is showing, he said, and it would cost an estimated $320 million to fix them.To illustrate issues LACMA is starting to face with its older buildings, Govan noted that the museum recently had to put its collection of 17th century Dutch paintings in storage because of problems with skylights in their gallery and that an electrical failure had hit the eastern end of the campus, forcing a film screening to be moved.

Moody’s had a point when it began raising questions about thin financial reserves in the wake of the recession, Govan said, but things are changing rapidly. “Without further fundraising, if you did the math, you couldn’t repay the bonds. But that isn’t the case.”

Govan said the museum board “unanimously supported” moving ahead with the Zumthor design, despite the expected price. “We have a strong board, and they’re fully confident.”


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By Koren K

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