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LACMA: William Eggleston, Blinky Palermo and the new Resnick Pavilion

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The New Resnick Pavilion, Photo Courtesy LACMA

Currently there is a lot to see at LACMA and there was quite a crowd in attendance for a non holiday Saturday afternoon.  Maybe it’s the new Resnick Pavilion that is drawing a diverse array of people, certainly it was one of the main reasons I wanted to go, but I was pleased to see not only families but every age range from young to old in addition to people of all ethnic backgrounds.

Halley Collision Circuit by Blinky Palermo

First off to the Blinky Palermo Retrospective.  This work is interesting because the early work, while it is very Minimalist, upon closer inspection it’s also very painterly.  Instead of the super clean flat lines that you see from a distance, up close you see that the painting is intentionally messy.  Perhaps his best known works are the pieces of store bought fabric that Palermo had stretched like canvas and juxtaposes 2 or 3 canvases at a time to create a sort of modern homage to Abstract Expressionists like Mark Rothko.  This is an artist that other artists love and has been considered under rated but go with an open mind because most of the people I came across in these galleries had no patience for the work.  One young guy said to a friend “You can see how frustrated everyone is looking at these.”  They take slow looking because they don’t overwhelm with shock or a big statement you but they work on you as you give them more time.

Detail of Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France, by Élizabeth-Louise Vigée-Lebrun

Next to the Resnick Pavilion for the “Eye for Sensual: Sections from the Resnick Collection”.  This building is intentionally schizophrenic.  Like a super big and gorgeous pop up shop, the space is carved up into three different exhibits.  I imagine every show will be uniquely designed for the specific exhibit.  Which makes it another “white cube” when in reality it is a giant football field sized room surrounded by glass and natural light.  The Resnick Collection is in rooms filled with wall to ceiling mirrors, fancily papered walls and white pedestals.  The light is dim and the air chilly and sort of like a more luxurious Getty.  All this Rococo opulence would have been more fun if it were not taken so seriously, perhaps combining with an artist as over the top as Murakami in the Palace of Versailles.

Colossal Head 5, Municipality of Texitepec San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán

This stop, in the center of the Resnick Pavilion is to see the “Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico.”  This a real crowd pleaser with lots of people posing in front of the heads, a million photos were taken.  There is something magnificent about being in the present of an ancient (1400 BC) carved head that weighs 7 – 10 tons and was shaped with the crudest of tools.  Other artifacts are on display along with the recreation of a mural that could be straight out of manga inspired art of today.

Another exhibit within the Resnick Pavilion is the “Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915.”  This was peculiar viewing because the garments were staged to look like they were in crates with the doors removed and again, there was the super dim lighting.  This gave the whole exhibit a feeling of secrecy, like you just walked into the storage bunker at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  But this was a drab setting for clothing that has clearly inspired fashion for 300 years.  There is a huge array to be seen and a great mix of styles from silk embroidery to three piece suits.  I was continually struck by how tiny the clothing and mannequins were, it made me feel like a gigantic evolutionary thug with our society’s obsession for women to be tiny like they were 300 hundred years ago. Another show the crowds loved, they talked in hushed tones and read the placards with great interest.  It’s definitely dipping your toe into the history of our culture; couture Project Runway would admire.

Woman's Panier (Hoop Petticoat), 1750-1780

The final stop was the “William Eggleston: Democratic Camera – Photographs” exhibit.  This was by far the best of show.

En Route to New Orleans by William Eggleston 1971-1974

Fantastic photographs that beg the question – What came first?  Did Eggleston create the iconic American image or was it there for him to capture?  These images perfectly symbolize not the most stereotypical version of our image of America but of another more subtle yet equally recognizable America.

Memphis, Tennessee by William Eggleston 1965

Details like the curl of a pompadour, an over stuffed freezer filled with TV dinners and over flowing with ice, a lone rusty tricycle, or an old Chevy parked by a gutter filled with debris including a GE bag and a Burger King cup, junk that symbolizes the objects that are common in our lives.  Shooting mundane images that capture the beauty and essence of small moments, it’s these details that are more stunning than a more typical pretty sunset.  Using dye transfer printing, Eggleston was able to intensify colors giving the photos a surreal hue even though the subject is realistic.  With more than 200 photographs to peruse, this show will take you to places you may have never been but will feel like a part of your own personal history.

Memphis, Tennessee by William Eggleston 1970-1973

See the LACMA website for more details on all of the exhibits.