Now to December 3, 2017
Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz
Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz is the first major retrospective of one of the most influential Los Angeles artists of the 1970s and 1980s. Arguably the first of the many Chicano artists whose artistic, cultural, and political motivations catalyzed the Chicano art movement in the 1970s, Almaraz began his career with political works for the farm workers’ causa and co-founded the important artist collective Los Four. Although he saw himself as a cultural activist, Almaraz straddled multiple—and often contradictory—identities that drew from divergent cultures and mores, and his art became less political in focus and more personal, psychological, dreamlike, even mythic and mystical as he evolved artistically.
The first to focus predominantly on Almaraz’s large-scale paintings, the exhibition features more than 60 works and includes pastels, ephemera, and notebooks, mostly from 1967 through 1989, the year of the artist’s untimely death at age 48.
Now to February 4, 2018
Ancient Bodies: Archaeological Perspectives on Mesoamerican Figurines
Ancient Bodies: Archaeological Perspectives on Mesoamerican Figurines explores the central role of archaeological excavation in situating ancient art and artifacts in a cultural framework. In April 2006, archaeologists discovered a masonry tomb chamber while excavating a grand pyramid in the ancient Maya city of El Perú-Waka’, Petén, Guatemala. The tomb, dating to 600–650 CE, contained the remains of a ruler of the city and a rich array of funerary objects selected to accompany the ruler into the afterlife. Among these was an elaborate scene composed of ceramic figurines depicting an ancient funerary ritual. Mourners purposefully arranged the figurines in the tomb to tell a story, perhaps their own story, and archaeological excavation documented and preserved that story. This assemblage of 23 individual figurines is a compelling example of the critical importance of archaeological context, or provenience—the location of an object and its position relative to other objects. While each figurine is singularly expressive, their meaning and power are truly anchored in the story they tell when engaged together as a scene.
Ancient Bodies presents figurines from Burial 39, one of the royal tombs excavated at El Perú-Waka’, and nearly 50 additional figurines from LACMA’s collection that represent ancient cultures from across Mesoamerica. Through an archaeological perspective, this exhibition invites new ways to perceive and experience the meaning embodied by the figurines in LACMA’s collection.
Now to April 1, 2018
Found in Translation: Design in California & Mexico, 1915-1985
1915–1985 is a groundbreaking exhibition and accompanying book about design dialogues between California and Mexico. Its four main themes—Spanish Colonial Inspiration, Pre-Hispanic Revivals, Folk Art and Craft Traditions, and Modernism—explore how modern and anti-modern design movements defined both locales throughout the twentieth century. Half of the show’s more than 250 objects represent architecture, conveyed through drawings, photographs, and films to illuminate the unique sense of place that characterized California’s and Mexico’s buildings. The other major focus is design: furniture, ceramics, metalwork, graphic design, and murals. Placing prominent figures such as Richard Neutra, Luis Barragán, Charles and Ray Eames, and Clara Porset in a new context while also highlighting contributions of less familiar practitioners, this exhibition is the first to examine how interconnections between California and Mexico shaped the material culture of each place, influencing and enhancing how they presented themselves to the wider world.
Now to April 15, 2018
Creatures of the Earth, Sea, and Sky: Painting the Panamanian Cosmos
Ancient Panamanian art has not yet received the scholarly or public attention it deserves. Creatures of the Earth, Sea, and Sky: Painting the Panamanian Cosmos presents a unique opportunity to see a selection of extraordinary painted ceramics from LACMA’s collection, supported with loans from Drs Alan Grinnell and Feelie Lee. The dizzying slip-painting, covering every inch of the surface with strong, unusual colors and forming barely discernible figures, is identifiable only with ancient Panama.
The exhibition focuses on depictions of animals, real and mythical, that inhabit the different levels of the cosmos—the sea, earth, and sky. Artists disassembled readable images and merged them into hybrid combinations that are so abstract it makes identification impossible—and probably undesirable. The Panamanian aesthetic deemed naturalism far less important than the significance of unifying diverse cosmological beings into one multilayered image that captured a snapshot of the cosmos as experienced in shamanic vision quests.
As well as featuring ancient ceramics produced for elite burials, a few 20th-century textiles will be on display, showcasing both the ancient and modern fascination with bright colors, bewildering visuals, and the natural world.
Aljandro G. Inarritu: CARNE y ARENA [Virtually present, Physically invisible]